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Posts Tagged ‘Gaudi’

Long Way Down

In Europe, Spain on July 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Girl on the steps at La Padrera, Barcelona

The weekend in Copenhagen was great, not so much the city, can´t say I´m a fan, but the time with everyone from the trip was exactly what I think all of us needed.  When you are not with the people you share experiences with, it comes out in a torrent when you finally do meet again, and it turned into 2 days of reminiscing and reminding each other what we went through.  There was a lot of catching up, drinking, dancing, and just sitting around and relaxing.  The rest of it I´ll leave in my memory banks to be restored only when with the Culture Vultures.  But I love them all and have no problem posting that.

Since I was leaving at 4am from Adam and Anne´s place outside Copenhagen, I decided to stay up until the cab came which meant it was the long haul from 9am the morning before.  I got back to the airport around 5am and was greeted by that overwhelming stench of sausage.  The flight back to Barcelona was fine and I was able to pull myself together enough to get cleaned up and head into the city for the day.

I went to La Padrera to check out another of Gaudi´s feats, and ended up having to press rewind on my audio guide 1000 times as I kept blanking out and not understanding what was going on.  After that I managed to down a coffee and resurrect a little, but wandering around Barcelona with no sleep for 36 hours was difficult and I´m a little surprised I wasn´t mugged as I must have looked totally vulnerable and out of it.  I wanted to sleep at the airport on the way to Malaga but that didn´t happen, so by the time I landed I was on the edge and ready to rip someone´s head off.  I looked for my dad or brother and when I didn´t see them, figured I had not communicated that they were supposed to get me.  I had no phone number and didn´t know the address of where we were staying.  I found the internet but the f”·$%ing @ key was nowhere to be found and I was cursing at the computer when I realized there was a line of sympathetic (or scared?) people behind me.  Finally I stomped back to arrivals and saw Dad and Andrew there.  Turns out people aren´t supposed to come from outside to the arrivals so they were waiting there but I never saw them.  Then they start telling me about their trip from hell with the ill functioning Tom Tom GPS unit which is geared for North America and not Malaga.  Took them ages to get to the apartment and I guess by the time they had to come back to get me they were at the end of their ropes.  So the Block family was more like the Griswolds last night and only a long sleep could save us all.

But, we managed to get to the apartment and I´ll describe it this way although it will probably make people roll their eyes if it doesn´t give them the totally wrong impression.  I have to explain that the happiest place in the world for me is definitely the lineup to the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland.  I love the night ´sky´, the fireflies and the slightly humid, sticky air that surrounds you before you get on the boat.  Well that´s what I thought of when we got out of the car and entered the complex.  The lights from the other apartments were lending a warm glow to the courtyard, the sky was dark but still luminescent, the crickets were chirping, and the air was sticky and warm.  Mom was sitting on our deck waiting for us and it was just like coming home after being away a long time.  I´m very grateful for this part of the trip, not just because we are staying in a great place, but because it´s where we´ll chill out and take it easy for a bit.  We´ve got a few places to visit in Andalucia, but we´re all agreed that hanging by the pool, going for walks, and eating meals on a patio is what we want to do for now.  And that´s fine because the end will come too quick and we´ll have to head back to our busy lives in Canada.  May as well enjoy the sun and relaxation while we have it, and it´s pretty great just to be together for this time as well.

More to come when we can pry ourselves away from the water.

The Three Musketeers doing what they did best, somewhere outside Copenhagen

Barcelona First Days

In Europe, Spain on July 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

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Mom and Dad have a timeshare that is fairly international and they know if they want us to join them, they need to pick a destination my brother and I are interested in.  This time they picked Spain so on Saturday morning I flew out ahead of everyone else for a two week vacation.  It started well enough on the leg from Vancouver to Toronto, but then took a slight header south due to the Bradley Cooper double header to Barcelona.  I took sleeping pills to knock me out for the 7 hour flight, but each time I woke up to the living nightmare of his blue eyes staring at me either from the A-Team (so very very bad) or Limitless (I can only imagine how awful that one was).  Nevertheless we arrived without further incident and I managed to make my way to our accommodations for the next week.

We are staying in an apartment on Carrer de Valencia and Passeig St. Joan and it is AWESOME.   Wrought iron balconies and a direct view of the spires from La Sagrada Familia which is only about a fifteen minute walk away.  Mom and Dad showed up a few hours later and we went for dinner and then a walk to keep ourselves awake til 9pm.  Because it was Sunday the city was fairly dead and I was looking forward to seeing what happens when everyone goes back to work.  This morning we headed to La Sagrada Familia so the parents could jump on a city bus tour while I´d go in the basilica to check it out.

First impressions of a ´busy´Monday morning – very quiet and relaxed compared to home, and no joke, these are some of the nicest drivers I´ve ever had the pleasure of observing.  Even when you almost get clocked stepping out in front of a moving vehicle, they don´t even honk or yell at you.  They just do that Catalonian wave thing and as soon as you´re safe on the sidewalk they´re on their way.  I´ve heard one horn since being here and have not seen one driver gun for a pedestrian or cyclist.  And speaking of cycling, it is so nice to see parents with young kids riding around the city.  Note to Vancouverites who hate the bike lanes, you´re not very nice.

La Sagrada Familia is wonderful and I didn´t think I´d ever want to spend that much time in a church, even on a Sunday morning.  What they´ve done with the light in there is beautiful and serene, and despite the hoards of tourists it´s all very calming and easy to meditate if that´s what you want to do.  I loved the choir lofts, rooms for 1000 singers, and the 2000 kg bronze statue of Christ outside hovering above the entrance as He ascends to heaven is also magnificent.  I hate using adjectives like awesome, cool, etc., but whatever ones used here are only appropriate for the awe that place inspires.

Then I headed to Parc Guell to see where Gaudi lived and to view some of the architecture in the park.  Once again very lovely, as you step out of the trees colourful mosaic roofs and crosses appear and you can wander down the meandering paths to pass through covered arches where musicians are playing.  My favourite was Yerko who was playing a kora, an instrument from western Africa.  Since I just finished reading ¨The Book of Negroes¨I´m drawn to anything that comes out of the book, and luckily the kora is one of them.

I spent about an hour and a half wandering through the gardens to make the most of the mountainous hike to get up there, and was struck by how many of the street vendors are immigrants from different areas.  Normally in other European places the street hawkers are from one area of Africa but this time there were Afghanis beside Pakistanis beside Ivory Coast beside Korea.  It was a most diverse group of people and I wish I had time to sit down and get all their stories.

It was very warm today which inspired some guys to wander around with their shirts off and I had the (mis)fortune of observing some very odd body hair patterns.  It was all natural as far as I could tell, I´ve never seen hair grow like that on a stomach.  And this was the first time some of them had seen the sun so the white mosaic tiles were not the only things reflecting light in the gardens.  All in all it was a lovely first day in the city and a pleasant way to start the vacation. Barcelona is lovely and I completely get why people decide to stay here forever after arriving.

And now a word about gladiator sandals.  I hate them.