Giddy Up Europe

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Barcelona, July 25 - 29

Boys and girls, I finally found my way back to Spain since the summer of 2000 when I was in high school. Railing it down the coast and through the Pyrannies, we made it into Barcelona pretty late at night. Barcelona has lots of Gaudí works, including buildings, a park, and the Sagrada Familia. Las Ramblas is the main thoroughfare where there are shops, cafes with al fresco seating, mimes (but really, they're just posers), artists, guys who sell cans of beer at night, club promoters, and tons of tourists. You take that down toward the water where there is the Monument of Columbus pointing the wrong direction, Barceloneta (the marina area with an aquarium, clubs, and shops), and a bridge that dissappears between 1:00 and 7:00. Oh, and check your Spanish because you're in Catalán country, folks. Paella (mariscos), sangría, cerveza, and tapas are the specialties. ¡Por arriba, por abajo, por al centro, por al dentro!

Here's a closed-roof market right off Las Ramblas. They offer fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, and have tapas bars for you to grab a bite while you shop. Check the dude on the right.

Here's a sample of Antonio Gaudí architecture. He was into naturalism, so his stuff is pretty funky.

And here's another building that now has a Gaudí exhibit, but I didn't go in.

So here's one of the things that you should go to when you're in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia. It's a cathedral that was started in 1882 under the direction of Antonio Gaudí for 40 years until he was run over by a streetcar. Kind of a gruesome ending, however, he was buried in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia. But it's really the most interesting look at a cathedral you will ever see since it is currently under construction. Its naturalistic form is completely different from those you will see at any other cathedral. Every time you come back to see it, more and more will be added, however you will probably not see it completed in your lifetime. Since construction began in 1882, roughly over 50% of the entire structure has been built. Strange to see a building that was started before your grandparents were alive and will not be done until your grandchildren are old and grey.

Here's the Passion Facade, which is basically done. It will be one of three facades depicting the life of Christ and shows a fairly haunting view of the Passion.

For the admission fee (reduced for students), you really get the best value around for sites like these. When you enter, you get into the nave and see laborers constructing what will be original portions of the cathedral. There are technical engineering drawings, CAD designs, and force diagrams posted. The pillars supporting the nave were conceived using trees as a model, going along with the naturallistic style.

Here is one of the bulletin boards in the nave showing inspiration for the design, including hyperbolloids, CAD images, predesign, and actual photos of construction. Do you mechanically engineer? Well, I guess this really is civil. Bastards.

Here's the Nativity Facade, which is also basically done. It includes animals chiseled out of the walls and inside the cathedral, there is a room, where you can check out metal molds used for the design. But more importantly, capri pants! I got them in Greece, but I think they're a little long. And I only brought white socks.

You can walk up the spires to the bell towers and check out a view from almost 100 meters. Takes a little while to walk up, since it's single file, but the few seconds you get to look out while you are between spires is really sweet.

Here's a free body diagram showing the distinct buttress design of the Sagrada Familia. I guess this is really a force diagram, though.

If you go down into the museum below the cathedral, you can see real engineers at work with hard hats and everything. Here's an architect behind glass working on some scale models.

What will it look like when it's all said and done? Well, there's a model for that too.

Gaudí also designed a church that utilized an innovated hanging model. Basically it's a wireframe model that has little sacks and is upside-down. This allows gravity to determine the most efficient design using the least amount structural material. There's also a theater that shows a short film about the cathedral and Gaudí in several languages. It's a lot of fluff, but air-conditioned!

Well, there's also Las Ramblas where a lot of mimes go to entertain and make a quick euro. Some just stand around and do a little dance and pose for a picture if you give them change, but the good ones, like this one of Charlie Chaplin have an interactive routine going on.

There are also artists that will paint portraits of you. This kid is getting his for 50 euros, which is like 65 dollars. Pretty pricey. But the final outcomes do look pretty good, but I think they take a couple hours to complete.

On any given night, you're also going to want to come to the Barcelona Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. At least to check out the amazing water fountains that run upto it on Montjuïc. Barcelona being right along the water does have it's benefits.

Going up the escalators and turning around from the last picture, you see the Font Mágica (here lit up in red) and the fountains going down to the Plaza España. It's kind of like Vegas and the lights change color, the sprinklers rotate, and the water is sychronized to classical music.

Going up a little closer and it looks like a volcanic eruption.

Even closer. Ever see "Ocean's Eleven?"

Yeah, I took a ton of pictures of the fountain, but here you get to see that lots of people sit, watch, and relax. Also, the people are tiny, so you get an idea of how big the fountain actually is.

And here's finally a really close one with me in it. Some Australians took this for me and were confused when I started talking to them in Spanish.

So I hit up the waterfront, Barceloneta, and checked out the discos a couple nights. Here's a shot from Star Winds of some girls that asked me to take their picture. The one in pink actually is the one who signaled me to take it, but she seems a little unprepared for picture taking. Yeah, they were wasted and the guy in the background thought it was hilarious. The discos in Spain don't light up until maybe two or three in the morning and go until six or seven. I had to walk past some prostitutes going home that night and even had to fight off a pickpocket. Good times.

Barcelona is also where Allison and I went separate ways. I stayed in Barcelona for a couple extra nights, while she went to London. But out last night out we went tapas hopping and had a lot of sangría. We went out to about three or four places, had a couple liters of sangría, though she might have had to drink some of mine at the end. We had alcachofas, mejillones, patatas bravas, calamari, chorizon, and champiñones. Possibly more, but I don't recall. It was a good time and we saw a clown performing with the passersby at one of the cafes we were at. He was a heckler and made fun of tourists, but the locals had a good time scaring him, stealing his stuff, and even biting his ass (which he wasn't a fan of). Tubes is in Europe! Text me.


  • At 01 September, 2005 04:54, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yo what happened to ur camera? it seems like its all taken from ur cell phone...anyway spain looks nice so did u get laid


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