14 January 2015

Good Reason for Bad Blogging - ¡Hola! (Part 2)

Our next five days were spent in the beautiful city of Barcelona.  Though we flew into Paris, we decided to take the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse or high-speed train) to Barcelona.  I remember learning about this train in my high school French class and was excited to be able to experience it.  Including several stops, the trip took a total of six hours.

My simple point-and-click takes terrible night photos.  But its motion shots are crisp and clear.  Weird right?  These photos of the French countryside were taken on a train that was traveling at around 200mph!


In the background is the beautiful Pyrenees mountain range.

We stayed at Hotel Nouvel in the Gothic Quarter - an historic part of the old city.  The hotel is a less than 5-minute walk to the Plaça de Catalunya and is situated on a small street between two major streets:  La Rambla and Via Laietana.  The location was perfect with lots of shops and food options.  We walked everywhere and only took the subway when needed.

Day 1: After checking in at the hotel, food was a must!  We walked around the area and found an organic market a short distance away.  The food was so good, we went back three more times.  If you ever visit Barcelona, add this place to your list.  I don't know the street name, but it's near the Plaça de Catalunya a few doors down from KFC and called Woki Organic Market.

After dinner, we walked around some more to get a feel for the neighborhood.  We stumbled upon the University of Barcelona where an outdoor market was going on.  We met this baker who was into making really big bread.  Do you see that thing?  It was pretty tasty, but would not leave any room in my checked bag for fabric.


Day 2: On Sundays, most museums are free after 3p.  So this was our day to hit up as many museums as possible.  Not wanting to wait until 3 to begin the day, we set out to see Barcelona's Arc de Triomf.
Breakdancers!


I was interested in seeing the Textile Museum, however it was closed until February.  So we went to a couple of famous churches in the Gothic Quarter:  The Santa Maria del Mar and the Cathedral of Barcelona.  
Inside Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar.
Outside the Catedral de Barcelona
The international bird.
Before going to the Picasso Museum, we stopped at a local eatery and had some good paella.


Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the museum.  The exhibits showed Picasso's range of works from the time he was is in school up to his death in the 70s.  It was very interesting to learn how his style changed upon visiting Paris and meeting various individuals.
 
Day 3:  While walking around the city on the second day, we ran into a bike tour (Fat Tire Bike Tours) and asked about their schedule and tours.  We were basically told to show up at 11a at their office and wait for the guide.  So for our third day, that's exactly what we did!  We took a 2.5-hour bike tour around the city.  Most of the sites we had already visited by walking the first couple of days, but it was still nice to do a mini slow roll and see some new things.

Unnamed "Fountain at the Park" (near the Barcelona Zoo)
The beach!  Oh to be here during summer...

The meeting location for the bike tour was at a public square between the President's and Mayor's office buildings.  In the center of the square was a very large nativity scene.  It was beautifully crafted with a lot of thought put into the detail.
 
 
 

Alas, no nativity scene is complete without...wait for it...waaaaait for it...

...a man taking a dump!  Thank you Barcelona. Seriously.

(I did a little Googling and found that "El Caganer" (the shitter) is a Catalan Christmas tradition and is supposed to bring good luck.  Awesome.)

After the tour and lunch, we headed out for some fabric shopping.  My new intention is to only buy fabric during travel since the stash has far exceeded epic levels.  I exercised some restraint by visiting only one fabric store in Barcelona:  Ribes & Casals.  Granted I went there twice, but at least it was only one store.  That has to count for something, right?


 
 
All fabrics are very reasonably priced and comparable to what we pay in the States.  I could have easily spent a couple of hours here just browsing.  In total, I walked away with four pieces.

 left: navy blue quilted nylon outerwear fabric
right:  dark purple polyester knit

 grey herringbone suiting with black velour design

 army green quilted lining fabric 
I thought this was coating fabric.  Oops.

Day 4: We started bright and early with a tour of Antoni Gaudi's most famous design:  Basilica de la Sagrada Familia or the Sacred Family Church.  Started in 1882, the church is still under construction and isn't scheduled to be finished until 2026.  I'll just let the pictures describe its majestic beauty!

 
 

I loved this church so much not only because it was beautiful, but because of all of the mathematics Gaudi used in its design.  So many parabolas, ellipses, and hyperboloids...be still my nerdy heart!
La Sagrada Familia is definitely worth a visit.  Inside the church is a museum and active workshop of the current construction and design.  If you're ever in the area, definitely check it out!

Next, we went to Montjuic or Jewish Mountain.  On this mountain is a castle that was part of an old military installation as well as the 1992 Olympic Stadium.  This was a fantastic place to get a great panoramic view of the city.

This is definitely not a statue!  When I asked if he was ticklish, he started smiling.  Hah!
 
 



Next we went to Park Güell where some of Gaudi's mosaic monuments and designs reside.  The "monument zone" is accessible by fee, but the rest of the park is free.  This is truly a beautiful and peaceful space.

 
 
 
 
 

Day 5:  Our last day in the city was spent visiting the Historic Museum of Barcelona, walking the waterfront, and taking in the sites on La Rambla (street known for outdoor markets and vendors).  Barcelona began as a Roman settlement named Barcino; the ruins of the settlement are preserved 5 meters under the square known as the Plaça del Rei.  This, and surrounding areas, is a part of the historical museum.

 It was very interesting to read about the history of the city and to see some of the actual ruins.  Since flash photography wasn't allowed, some of my photos aren't very clear.

  
 
 
 

Finally we headed back to the hotel by walking along La Rambla.  In addition to shopping and food tents, there were quite a few performance artists.  These were my favorites:
John Lennon Music Box
The Predator
The Mad Hatter
In all I had a wonderful time.  My friend and I travel well together and enjoyed all of the sites.  It was certainly nice to get away after a stressful summer/fall.

It's time to get back to sewing and talking about sewing. I hope to post my long-overdue sewing 2014 year in review next.

Until next time, peace and blessings.
L

12 comments:

  1. Barcelona looks and sounds amazing! I've always wanted to go there, and now I REALLY want to go there. Thank you for sharing your trip and pictures with us! BTW--Do you have a pattern in mind for that quilted outerwear/coating fabric? I picked up 3 yards of something similar recently, and I have a jacket design in my head, but don't know of any actual patterns that exist that match it. (There is a McCall's that's "close enough" that I can probably modify, though, I guess.)

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    1. I am the mega enabler for travel. If you get the chance to go, definitely do it!

      As for the quilted coat fabric, I have a few ideas: Simplicity 2508, 2311, 2812, 2153, or 2057. I really like 2057, but I don't know if I have enough fabric for all of the details. I bought 3 meters, but since this is a Project Runway pattern, I didn't calculate any totals beforehand. What pattern is close to the jacket of which you're thinking?

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  2. Wow - thanks for bringing us these wonderful pics....... man taking a dump....... hmmm ..... at least it got me laughing.

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    1. You're welcome! The "man taking a dump" figurine was definitely picture worthy!

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  3. Thank you for the laugh ... man taking a dump ... and the time to put this post together, it has been a lovely journey from my desk. You were quite restrained in your fabric shopping and there is one piece that would have followed me home that you showed in the shop :)

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    1. You're quite welcome. I'm glad you were able to journey with me. =)

      It was hard, but I had to limit my fabric purchases. I only had one checked bag and didn't want to risk going over the weight restriction. I go out of my way to not pay any baggage fees!

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  4. Lovely trip L! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful vacation with us! I would love to be able to take a trip like that!

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    1. Thank you Myra! If you can, do it!

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  5. What an amazing place - and how wonderful to actually walk through Gaudi's architecture - I am seriously jealous :) The cathedral is just magical. And as for the vernacular potty humour - it has it's own naive charm - probably about the meaning of life :)

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    1. Gaudi's designs were majestic. His eye for color, nature, and math (squee) is nothing short of remarkable.

      Yup, El Caganer goes about fertilizing the Earth and symbolizes good luck. Apparently, one can buy them all over the city, but I didn't know that at the time. Methinks I should make one at the pottery studio. =)

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  6. It is amazing how much I have learned about the world since I began reading sewing blogs. What a fabulous trip! So happy you were able to enjoy it all. Hope you are feeling better. I really enjoyed reading about Barcelona.

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    1. This is one of the things that I enjoy most about blogging: you can meet so many people around the world and share in their adventures (sewing or otherwise). I read exclusively sewing blogs and, like you, have learned so much about many things.

      Thank you for reading along! I am feeling better, though I have a lingering cough and sinus issue. I'm not feverish or overly fatigued, so that's a good thing. I hope you are doing well too my friend!

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Thanks for commenting! I appreciate and read them all - even if I can not personally respond.

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