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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Barcelona

Chris was able to join me on my recent work trip to Barcelona. I flew in a day earlier than Chris to visit a hospital in Girona (Lina took pictures which I will post). I had an uneventful flight through Amsterdam, but Chris took a flight that connected through and had a 5 hour layover in Madrid. He planned in advance and took a bus from the airport so he could walk around Madrid for a couple hours.
Palace in Madrid

Museum of Jamon

I worked through Thursday and then Chris and I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Barcelona together. We started out most mornings in the Boqueria, an open air market right across the street from our hotel in the historic, gothic part of Barcelona. The main tourist street in the old town is called La Rambla and is where street performers pose and vendors sell everything from postcards to pet rabbits. At night, prostitutes gather at the water's edge of the avenue. At the Boqueria, we ate big bowls of fruit, fresh squeezed juice, fried balls of salt cod and strips of Spain's famous Jamon (aged ham). Other than Jamon, we ate lots of tapas. The restaurants line up small pieces of foods on glassed counters, which anyone can grab via the toothpicks stabbed through them. In many places, when you want to pay the bill, you simply count the toothpicks.
We spent most of Friday touring the architecture of Antoni Gaudi, who died in 1926. We didn't take a tour of his houses or apartment buildings (the first picture below), but we did go inside and up the spires of his famous church, Sagrada Familia. The church was partially constructed before Gaudi's death, construction ceased and was re-started several years ago. The builders estimate that the church will not be complete for 25-30 years since funding depends on private contributions and tourist fees. The exterior of Sagrada Familia. When complete, another huge spire will emerge from the middle of the church topped by a giant cross.
We paid the extra 2.50 Euros to take the elevator up the spires and walked the bridge between two. The views up close and out to the sea were incredible. I admit that my legs got a little shaky going down the stairs.

Sketch of the finished church The last location on the list was Park Guell, which Gaudi originally intended to be an upscale, gated housing development. As a housing development, the design failed, but today the acreage is open to the public and includes a couple fanciful houses, a structure intended to be an open-air market and shaded walkways that resemble the interior of a wave, among other constructions.

Saturday, we explored the Gothic part of town again, visited the Picasso Museum and walked along the beach. The weather was crisp and sunny. Chris and I didn't think the Picasso Museum was a great investment of time, since most of his major works are housed in other museums. I cannot emphasize how much the Jamon is part of the culinary culture in Barcelona. It appears on every menu and the animal legs hang from the restaurant ceilings as though a prop in a horror movie. Except these are real flesh and bone, with an entire leg often priced over 100 Euros.
Crossing the street Sunday morning to hit the Boqueria, we encountered processions for Palm Sunday. People paraded to the beat of drums and trumpet carrying sheafs of palm leaves while above their heads a statue of Jesus was carried.
After breakfast, we rented a scooter and drove to Montjuic, a hill high above the city. We didn't tour the museum or castle at the top (involves taking a tram or hiking the mountain), but instead drove as far up as we could. Afterwards, we drove into the business district and back along the water and later took a last walk through the Gothic Quarter.

2 Comments:

Blogger Heidi said...

Love hearing about your adventures! :)

8:04 PM  
Blogger Katrina Custer said...

So cool! Loved the motorcyle ride!

2:39 PM  

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