Monday, June 6, 2011

Barcelona, cont'd

Barcelona is a very walkable city, at least in the central part. Most of these narrow streets are restricted to local traffic only, and drivers patiently wait for pedestrians and delivery trucks alike without honking horns. I've read that its density surpasses New Delhi. Children kick soccer balls around in the back streets while adults chat in doorways and from their balconies. Garbage and recycling bins are located in every block and these are cleared daily. The streets are clean--there seems to be an army of city staff dressed in fluorescent yellow and green sweeping up any refuse.

We spent most of the morning in Montjuic Park which is the site of the 1928 international exposition. One of the featured areas is El Poble Espanyol, built to showcase the architecture of each area of Spain, e.g. Catalunya, Aragon, Andalucia, and so on. At first glance, to my untutored North American eyes, it all looked the same...narrow balconies, iron railings, stonework...but as I continued to look more carefully the differences became more obvious in the shapes of the doors and windows, the use of tile or whitewash and so on. Best of all, the buildings are all working artisan studios and I enjoyed one in particular, that of a dressmaker who pieces together unique clothing out of linen, cotton and lace. Most of the fabric is cut and pieced on the bias so the garments all drape beautifully. She dyes the clothing after construction. I tried on several pieces and finally opted for a blue dress with long sleeves and a very wide skirt. I wore it out to dinner last night feeling very grand.

On Saturday we lined up for about an hour to get into Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi's most famous life work. It's now known as a basilica and is only about half finished--there are still construction cranes raising four more towers. The main entrance is at the "Passion Facade", a very austere group of sculptures representing the last week of Jesus' life. Inside it's an enormous space, full of light, and feels like being in a huge grove of trees which was Gaudi's intention. The roof was finally completed only a few years ago. The choir loft can seat more than 1000 singers and apparently 8000 people could be seated in the nave. We spent more than 2½ hours exploring this grand space (along with a few thousand other tourists) and it was a relief to get away from the crowds to another delicious lunch of paella at a sidewalk café.

Lloyd is off to his conference this morning feeling very optimistic that the sessions will be interesting based on what he’s read in the abstracts. And I’m just about to set off to some yarn and fabric shops!

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