Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

BCN: Miró

Along the eastern edge of Montjüic lies The Miró Museum. Even if you are very familiar with Miró's work, you will see pieces here that will surprise you, particularly the paintings from early in his career.

The museum is very thoughtfully spaced and lighted; the architecture includes walkout decks to showcase some of Miró's brighter, metal-based sculptures. They are simply stunning against the starck white stucco of the exterior and the deep blue of the sky.

Another surprise, the in-house cafe is excellent and reasonably priced, so make sure to stop for bocadillos (small sandwich) and cafe solo (espresso).

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

BCN: Montjüic

Montjüic is another lovely hillside park. Its a pleasant 2-mile stroll from La Rambla and a good way to see the southwest part of the city along the sea. The "hill" can be approached from many directions; sister and I tried them all, the southern most approach off the main street was definitely the kindest.

There are some must see items here: The 1992 Olympic/ 1929 Worlds' Fair site, The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, and The Miró Museum. Between those sites are many surprise gardens and walkways, all of which offer breath-taking views of the city.

1929 World's Fair & 1992 Outdoor Olympic Stadium

1992 Indoor Olympic Stadium

Olympic Telecommunications Tower

Olympic Statue

Random Montjüic park with tree pagoda

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Closer

View from Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

A gaggle of Barcelona's younger set

Rooftops to Sea

Over The Oranges To The Harbor

The other attraction here is the Fountain of Lights but that only comes alive at night. Considering we had many tapas to try that night and remembering the universal rule of *tapas covers fountain*, we would have to see the fountain on a return trip.

Next - The Miró Museum.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

BCN: Gaudí House

The house where Gaudí lived is also within Parc Guell. I was surprised by the house; I was expecting something larger. I was expecting something more grand, more ornate with more linear defying architecture. But there was none of that. Still it was interesting and I'm glad I saw it. Oh yeah, it was pink, yes, Gaudí lived in a pink house. Ick.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

BCN: Parc Güell

Parc Güell - Signage

Parc Güell is a beautiful, hilly park and yet another Gaudí achitectural showcase and in fact, was where he lived for a time. The park is located in the northern neighborhood of Gracia. From La Rambla its a 4 mile hike but I highly recommend the walk, since you will see things by foot that are easy to miss otherwise.

Parc Güell - First Front House

Parc Güell - Second Front House

After passing the entrance and marveling over the two houses in the front you reach the stairs with the famous dragon fountain. It was hard to photograph the dragon fountain, apparently noone knew they were supposed to clear the area when I took out my camera. Tourists!

Parc Güell - Gaudí's Dragon Fountain

Behind the dragon fountain there is a semi circular seating area. Beautiful tile work which photos hardly do justice.

Parc Güell - Sister @ Tiled Seating Area

Behind the seating area is what I called the hall of columns. From far away the columns look white and shiny but really they are covered in light colored mosaic tiles; none of which are exactly white, they are light shades of gray, blue, yellow and pink. The entire ceiling of this area is covered in mosiac pieces, mostly looking like elaborate sun dials.

Parc Güell - Hall of Columns

On the way up to the "roof" of the Hall of Columns there is an interesting arched walkway. Asymmetric is an understatement; its almost impossible to walk through the archway without leaning to one side.

Parc Güell - Arched Walkway

Finally, on top of the Hall of Columns is the Serpentine seating. A long ribbon of mosaic tiled seating that created a huge semi circular public area. It was covered in tourists so I didnt get any really good shots.

Parc Güell - Serpentine Seating

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

BCN: La Boqueria

La Rambla is the big walking street in the heart of Barcelona. There are sidealks on both sides of the street with a quadruple sized sidewalk in the middle of the street, usually housing all sorts of street vendors. Its busy all hours of the day and night. And I mean Barney's annual sale kind of busy. While it can be oppressively touristy, once you know the street, you can get anywhere by foot.

One day while taversing La Rambla we came across this open ar market called La Boqueria. "Market" is an understatement considering you could have done all of your grocery shopping, had lunch, espresso, picked up a few Christmas presents and a date for Friday night.

Sister and I became daily visitors for the fresh juice stand. Sure they had fresh squeezed orange juice. But why bother with that when you can have fresh blackberry juice. Or kiwi. Or pineapple-coconut. Or mango-papaya. Or raspberry-apple. Or that crazy bright pink fruit that looks like a kiwi on the inside.

La Boqueria, Approach

La Boqueria, Closer

La Boqueria, Side

La Boqueria, Meat

La Boqueria, Fruit

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BCN: La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is the unbelievably massive and elaborate Catholic church Gaudí designed in the late 1800's. Construction began in 1882 and is still going. Dont worry though, even after 127 years of construction, it is scheduled to be complete in 2026, a mere 100 years after Gaudí's death.

When you see the detail, both internal and external, you begin to understand why this church has taken so long to build. Looking up from the bottom floor onto the ceiling, you realize that there are no squared off intersections, everything is rounded. Everything is covered in mosiac tiles; however did they get the tiles placed so high on ceiling back in 1880 something and still make it look like cohesive artwork from the ground? Scaffolding? Pulley system? Was there alot of alcohol involved?

Sagrada Familia - Front

Sagrada Familia - Front, Closer

Sagrada Familia - Stained Glass

Sagrada Familia - Front Windows

Sagrada Familia - Ceiling Detail

Sagrada Familia - Back

Sagrada Familia - Back, Closer

Whatever you do, make sure you take the elevator to the "top" of the church so you can walk around. Walk straight past the front elevators, which will be swarming with people waiting a hour, to the back elevators which will be empty. Also, be prepared to walk sideways, since the paths in and out of the tourets will be very narrow. The views of the city and the detail at the top of the building are alone worth the rather steep $20 price of admission.

Sagrada Familia - View From Top

Sagrada Familia - Peace Pillar

Sagrada Familia - Orange Pillar

Sagrada Familia - Gold Pillar

Sagrada Familia - View To Torre Agbar

Torre Agbar, the building looking like a 30-story vibrator, is an interesting piece of architecture in itself. Its covered in 5000 windows, which open and close relative to the ambient temperature. Thats interesting but whats more fascinating is that each of the windows has an embedded LED. The whole building changes colors at night in swirling, asymmetrical patterns.

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