A Travellerspoint blog

Just another Saturday in Barcelona

On the Saturday, my host Juli and I headed into town to watch what was supposed to be a parade of the Giants. As it turned out, there was no parade and even then we arrived behind about 10,000 other people in the small Square in front of the Town Hall to watch the festivities. It was a real squeeze getting through the crowds to be able to see anything. (Why is it that really tall people always seem to push their way in front of you and then hold their cameras up high, to block the view of everyone behind them? I couldn´t even call them names like arseholes, just in case they spoke English). After about 15 minutes we manage to worm our way close enough to take a few photos, and settled in to enjoy what was going on. Each of the gigantic couples were taking turns to glide onto a stage and do a little dance to a traditional tune played by a group of musicians on medieval instruments. The locals all knew the songs and clapped and sang along. After about an hour of this the eyes started to glaze over, so we asked a handy policia how long before the Castellers ( human tower builders) performed, and was told another hour or two. This gave us plenty of time to escape the crush of the crowds and take a coffee break. The problem was that in the half hour it took us to find a cafe and have a coffee, another 5000 people had arrived and blocked every entrance to the square. It wasn´t meant to be, so we took off to have a look at some of the churches and museums just up the road. It was good fun, but the highlight was a place called the Palau de la Musica. Juli said it was the coolest building in Barcelona, and I had to agree it was very, very cool on the outside. It is a concert hall built around 1905, and is supposed to be as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. Unfortunately you have to buy a concert ticket to check out the inside. Like many of the stunning buildings around the world the streets around it are narrow. This makes it a bugger to get a decent photograph, because you just can´t step back far enough to get it all in. Juli enjoys walking, so we walked all the way back to the apartment, where I ate lunch then collapsed into a long well deserved siesta...

Pairs of historical archetypal giants

Pairs of historical archetypal giants


Kings, Queens, merchants and peasants

Kings, Queens, merchants and peasants


line the Placa de San Jaume

line the Placa de San Jaume


waiting for their turn to dance

waiting for their turn to dance


an elegant traditional dance

an elegant traditional dance


while the crowd claps and sings along

while the crowd claps and sings along


then its back to the Gothic quarter

then its back to the Gothic quarter


for a coffee and break from the crowds

for a coffee and break from the crowds


in the Placa del Rey, where we stop

in the Placa del Rey, where we stop


to view Roman ruins under the Historical Museum.

to view Roman ruins under the Historical Museum.


and rub the golden hand, because people do

and rub the golden hand, because people do


as does Juli, my guide for the day.

as does Juli, my guide for the day.


up the road is the Palau de la Musica

up the road is the Palau de la Musica


The wow factor comes into play

The wow factor comes into play


from the entrance arches

from the entrance arches


which used to be ticket offices

which used to be ticket offices


the tiled columns with busts of famous composers

the tiled columns with busts of famous composers


the corner sculptural group ( the Catalan Song)

the corner sculptural group ( the Catalan Song)


and carries on down the side

and carries on down the side

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Another side of Barcelona

After running around trying to sort out a doctors visit yesterday it was a relief to wake up this morning with an arm less swollen and an urge to get this travelling show on the road. I decided to catch a bus into town and wander around for a while to discover areas I didn´t get a look at the last time I was here. My purpose for coming to Barcelona was to experience their annual Festival de la Merce, which takes place in various venues in parts of the town I am not familiar with. So I went to find the Cathedral by way of the Gothic Quarter and then checked out the waterfront. There are magical little elements on every street which gives Barcelona a flavour all of its own. Everywhere I went I heard the dulcet tones of every kind of British accent that you could imagine. Bright pink is a popular colour on the faces, arms and legs of the lads and lassies over for a weekend of nonstop partying. Blackpool on the Mediterranean. Came home to another nightmare session trying to edit photos with a laptop that keeps crashing. Hope the ones I rescued do the subject matter justice...

Palace of the Army Inspector General

Palace of the Army Inspector General


open to the public this weekend

open to the public this weekend


joins palace to the Basilica La Merce

joins palace to the Basilica La Merce


leads to Gothic quarter

leads to Gothic quarter


you must look up

you must look up


in the Gothic quarter

in the Gothic quarter


the 14th century Basilica Santa Maria Pi

the 14th century Basilica Santa Maria Pi


and arrive at the Cathedral Barcelona

and arrive at the Cathedral Barcelona


with a sound stage for this weekends festival

with a sound stage for this weekends festival


building Cathedral started 1298

building Cathedral started 1298


inside is a courtyard with geese

inside is a courtyard with geese


and a koi pond

and a koi pond


and tiny doors

and tiny doors


inside stretches up to the heavens

inside stretches up to the heavens


with coffins as wall art

with coffins as wall art


and magical vaults

and magical vaults


and chandeliers

and chandeliers


it adds up to a great cathedral

it adds up to a great cathedral


which imparts a real sense of awe

which imparts a real sense of awe


meanwhile down by the waterfront

meanwhile down by the waterfront


is a magical little park full of these

is a magical little park full of these


and statues from the Barcelona Olympics

and statues from the Barcelona Olympics


and Polynesian outriggers

and Polynesian outriggers


and of course the famous Las Ramblas

and of course the famous Las Ramblas


with beautiful drinking water fountains

with beautiful drinking water fountains


and beautiful buildings

and beautiful buildings


like this one designed for an umbrella merchant

like this one designed for an umbrella merchant


the Port, Montjuic, and Christopher Columbus

the Port, Montjuic, and Christopher Columbus


the port building

the port building


a 3 person lift goes to the top viewing platform

a 3 person lift goes to the top viewing platform


a removable walkway leads to the Maremagnum shops

a removable walkway leads to the Maremagnum shops


when yachts need to leave their moorings

when yachts need to leave their moorings


the walkway slides back and people wait

the walkway slides back and people wait


cruise liners in port

cruise liners in port


Barcelona- city of sails

Barcelona- city of sails


and pirate ships

and pirate ships


Carlos found me a great hat..

Carlos found me a great hat..


I found me a great bakery...

I found me a great bakery...

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Cadiz- the good, the bad, and Henry Moore..

The day started out well. It was barely 18 degrees and sunny when I arrived at Utrera Railway station for the hour and a half train trip to the coastal town of Cadiz. It was a bonus that my prepurchased old-man gold card gave me a 40 percent discount on the 24 euro return fare. Cadiz is the oldest inhabited city in Spain. Way back in 1104 BC a settlement was founded there by the Phoenicians, and because of it´s strategically positioned deep water port on the Atlantic Ocean, it has been the home of the Spanish Navy since the 1700´s. Today it is also a popular port of call for cruise ships carrying thousands of Brits heading to and from the Mediterranean. During the train trip I had to keep an eye on my watch and try to work out how far we had come. On the outskirts of Cadiz there are at least 3 or 4 stops where the signage mentions the word Cadiz. This was where I made my rookie mistake, when all the people in my carriage got off the train at a station called Estadio Cadiz. I followed them out into the modern business and shopping district and began my one hour walk of nearly 5 kilometers to the old city of Cadiz (two rail stops further on). At least I was walking in the right direction. It was worth the walk when weary me arrived at Cathedral Square and saw that I had stumbled into the first day of a major Henry Moore Exhibition. The Tate of London endearingly describes Henryś sculptures as ¨ lumpy and bumpy and sometimes have holes right through them¨. His work was as important to sculpture in the 20th century as Picasso´s ( a contemporary whom he met in Spain) was to painting. By then I was ready for lunch, so I wandered around a bit looking for a famous fried seafood takeaways that Linda and Carlos had recommended. I found it eventually and ordered some shrimp fritters and a paper cone full of 250g battered baby squid. I cheated by writing it down in Spanish before I left Utrera or I might have ordered something from the menu that wasnt so yummy ( like battered squid balls). I found a bench in the shade just up the road, where I started to tackle this huge amount of fried seafood. An old woman pointed at the baby squid and said something in Spanish. I offered her one from the bag, but she shook her head. I also offered one to the Brit. who had just escaped from an English language walkabout tour group and sat down to light up a smoke. He wasnt interested but wanted to know if I was from the cruise ship too. I asked him what part of England he was from and he said that he was a Lancashire County Councillor on a holiday cruise with his wife and son. When I told him I was from Clitheroe he nearly dropped his cigarette. When his wife and son turned up he said you´ll never guess where this fella comes from and we had a laugh at how small the world is, before they headed off to join the other hordes from the ship. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the alleyways of old Cadiz, where I found places like the Cadiz Museum. This was three floors of paintings and antiquities in a quiet square. It was allright, but not amazing ( a bit like the Cathedral which I looked around earlier ) The best thing about the museum was that for oldies with an EU passport it was free entry, and they had a lovely clean toilet where I got rid of the flask full of coffee that I had been drinking all day. The day got away on me and I headed for a lookout tower called the Torre Tavira. It was down lots of side streets and I must have walked right past it, because the next thing I knew I was back down on the waterfront and needed to find the central railway station for the train back to Utrera. Walking past an icecream shop at the port I couldn´t stop myself from buying a two scooper. Stracciatella (vanilla with flakes of chocolate) on top of a real fruit strawberry icecream It didn´t taste as good as it looked, it tasted better. Blood, sweat and tears went into this blog. My laptop photo editing programs keep freezing and crashing ( I have tried several) and a few hours were spent in frustration until the computer decided to give me a break and came right. Hopefully it doesn´t persist, cos I do enjoy putting this up.....

Puerta de Tierr- gateway into Old Cadiz

Puerta de Tierr- gateway into Old Cadiz


Cadiz old town rooftops

Cadiz old town rooftops


beautiful buildings

beautiful buildings


on every lane

on every lane


and around every corner

and around every corner


culminating in cathedral square

culminating in cathedral square


building began in 1722

building began in 1722


presently host to Henry Moore sculptures

presently host to Henry Moore sculptures


sitting in the square around cathedral

sitting in the square around cathedral


a similar sculpture

a similar sculpture


sold in 2012 for NZ$35 million

sold in 2012 for NZ$35 million


so somebody must love them

so somebody must love them


meanwhile not far away

meanwhile not far away


in a square outside Cadiz central markets

in a square outside Cadiz central markets


which look like this inside

which look like this inside


and sell local fruit, veges, and wines

and sell local fruit, veges, and wines


together with lots of shellfish

together with lots of shellfish


and other bounty from the sea

and other bounty from the sea


typical old Cadiz narrow winding alleys

typical old Cadiz narrow winding alleys


with amazing architecture

with amazing architecture


with interesting doorways

with interesting doorways


surmounted by fabulous porticos

surmounted by fabulous porticos


some squares are shaded by exotic trees

some squares are shaded by exotic trees


brought back from the Americas

brought back from the Americas


just another day in Cadiz

just another day in Cadiz


walking into town along Campo del Sur

walking into town along Campo del Sur


looking towards the Cathedral

looking towards the Cathedral


this is the first view of Cadiz

this is the first view of Cadiz


that ship´s passengers see

that ship´s passengers see


and the last view I see heading to the train

and the last view I see heading to the train

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

You gotta start somewhere...

Almost a week into another period of solo travel and it has been a struggle to get started on the blog. When you are out of practice it is hard work, and takes a while to get into the habit again. September started with the glamorous wedding of my youngest daughter Sandi to a lovely man called Stephen Brown. I got a chance to dress up and wore a bow tie for the first time. I also got a chance to rock a humorous bride´s father speech. One of the lines was ¨ When I asked Stephen ¨Who are you?¨, he thought for a moment and said ¨ I´m not complicated, what you see is what you get¨. ¨There aren´t 50 shades of Brown¨ ba boom.. Had a reasonably good trip to Spain with a day´s hotel break in Beijing after a 14 hour flight, followed by a 11 hour flight to Paris and then an easy 2 and a half flight to Seville. I was unhappy after Air China said my only suitcase was overweight and had to be checked in all the way to Paris. No change of clothes or toileteries for 3 days and you start to smell a bit. Smelly Alan arrived in Utrera on the 6th and has been taking it easy since, because of jetlag and temperatures in the high 30´s. Ventured out to the annual Utrera Feria late last night and was amazed at how much of a buzz it was. Next week promises to be a little cooler so am planning to take a couple of day trips to Cadiz and Cordoba. On the 21st I begin a month long stint of travel visiting Barcelona, Milan, Malta, Naples and the Amalfi coast, Santorini and Malaga. My stay in Utrera and visits to Cadiz and Cordoba are just a warm up practice for those places, and I must admit I need the practice. When I left New Zealand, I wasn´t even sure I wanted to do more traveling. I was feeling a bit weary of it all and old-age was trying to seduce me into settling down to a life of comfortable non-existence. A week in Spain and I no longer hear that Siren´s call. I got my travel mojo working again and it feels good.. Just a few photos, some of which have already been on Facebook. .

At Sandi´s wedding.

At Sandi´s wedding.


beautiful tiled exterior

beautiful tiled exterior


wrought iron is also a speciality

wrought iron is also a speciality


church in Utrera town square

church in Utrera town square


stork nest in bell tower

stork nest in bell tower


beautiful cast iron street lamps

beautiful cast iron street lamps


Carlos mother Carmen and her friend Isabel

Carlos mother Carmen and her friend Isabel


main entrance gate to Feria

main entrance gate to Feria


each street at the fair is illuminated

each street at the fair is illuminated


they used 450,000 bulbs this year

they used 450,000 bulbs this year


my favourite

my favourite


goofy fairground ride

goofy fairground ride


sponge bob too

sponge bob too


rides for tiny children

rides for tiny children


and for the young at heart

and for the young at heart


I passed on this one

I passed on this one


but the family enjoyed themselves

but the family enjoyed themselves


one of 90 casetas, with drink, food, and flamenco.

one of 90 casetas, with drink, food, and flamenco.


flamenco dresses are everywhere

flamenco dresses are everywhere

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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