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10:39am on Friday, 1st July, 2011:

Barcelona Vignette


I took some photos when I wandered around Barcelona missing keynote speeches on Wednesday. I'll start, though, with one I took inside my hotel room:

That's what the local temperature did to my 400g bar of chocolate (now eaten). It's hot here, and quite humid, too (51% according to the display in the air-conditioned airport where I'm writing this). I'm glad I brought two spare shirts with me...

This is the view from the top of the former bullring where Gamelab was held:

That avenue headed by the Venetian towers that leadsup to the large building on the hill was lined with fountains, but I didn't see them switched on until last night so didn't know they were there until then. There are large exhibition halls in the buildings that run alongside, and Gamelab will probably be held in one of those next year. The imposing building at the end is the National Museum of Catalan Art. I didn't have time to pay it a visit, though.

Here's the rest of the square outside the hotel:

It was busy at all times of day and night. 2am was no different to 2pm.

Barcelona is ringed with hills. Here's one to the north:

A nice mixture of the ancient ecclesiastical and the modern "look, if you want to receive television and radio signals, this has got to go here".

No visit to Barcelona would be complete without a trip to the Sagrada Familia church, a building the architecture of which I loathe in full knowledge that I'm supposed to love it. Here's a picture I took that, remarkably, has no cranes in it:

I walked round the building (literarally — I circumnavigated it) and was interested to note that it's not supposed to be the colour that it is. It's been stained that way by traffic. Newer parts are a much lighter colour:

That actually makes it look a lot better in my opinion — less intestinal. Maybe I'll revise my view of it once they've finished it and cleaned it up.

What you don't see in the usual photos of the Sagrada Familia is its setting. It's in the middle of a bunch of, well, tenement blocks. Here's what's opposite that famous frontage:

I don't know if they were part of the original design concept...

This building looks as if it ought to be famous, so probably is:

Here's a nice fountain or something on one of the side streets off the Ramblas main shopping drag:

This is Barcelona's cathedral. As you can see, cranes and scaffolding are not the sole prevail of the Sagrida Familia:

Apparently, the stained-glass windows inside are pretty impressive, but I didn't go in because as an atheist I always feel a little awkward in religious buildings being used for worship. It's similar to what I've felt on those rare occasions when I've accidentally wandered into the ladies' toilets: I'm not supposed to be there...

This little bridge connects two parts of the cathedral complex:

You can imagine the instructions to the architect: "and here, I want a cute bridge".

Aii! One of those disturbing mannequins again!

It's not just the expression, it's that the head is too small for the body...

Here's a random picture of one of the side streets that come off Las Ramblas:

These are packed with individual, independent shops specialising in a wide range of goods and services. This is the photo that, when my wife and kids see it, will make them want to come to Barcelona...

The famous Las Ramblas itself is a long street chunked up from shorter streets. It's basically a wide road with more chain-store and international shops to it and a ton of eating places:

It does seem to be split into informal sections, though. This is part of the one where artists sell their wares and do portraits and stuff:

Here's a statue/colmn combo to honour, oh, let's say Christopher Columbus:

They've extended the Ramblas concept out into the harbour with a large entertainment complex. Who cares about those, though, when there's a cablecar that crosses the water?

If I ever get some spare time in Barcelona again I am so going on that...

This would have made a great 3D picture, but the boat at the front was moving:

For those of you who feel robbed of a photo of the large entertainment complex, that's it in the background.

I like this feature on the metro, where they light up the stations where you've been so you can tell where you are:

This would be impossible on the London Underground, of course, because the light bulbs in the display would die and never be replaced.

This butterfly decoration on a building is either famous or trying to be famous:

Finally, here's what my mobile phone automatically displays as a background image in this part of the world:

Perhaps a little idealised, I think.

That, then, is my experience of Barcelona. Given that it's #9 on my list of cities I'm not all that fussed about visiting, I suppose I should be honest and confess that it was actually a lot less brash and football-focused than I was expecting, and I'd actually look forward to coming back here some time in the future.

Ha ha, just as I was about to close this window a teenage boy tripped over nothing while walking on the perfectly flat floor to my right, and he fell smack on his face.

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).