Biking around Barcelona, Spring 2013

Biking around Barcelona, Spring 2013

April 3, 2013 | ART, Barcelona, travel | No Comments

barca room largeBarcelona
Dennis had a very difficult time booking us an Airbnb in Barcelona but after 2 days (when he booked out whole trip from home last month) of struggling, he found us a tiny studio apartment that took us back to student days, simple, small but adequate. Cozy, quiet and simple. Pretty much like staying at your daughter’s college flat when she stays overnight with friends. The very narrow steep stairs up though would not please everybody.

stairs barca photoIn fact, Airbnb is perhaps not for everybody. Some places are just a spare room in someone’s house with access to the kitchen, etc but some are whole houses or apartment suites and the prices spread across a huge range. It certainly has taken a LOT of money out of the hotel economy in just 4 years since it began in San Francisco with a couple of guys, an idea and an air mattress! We’ll probably offer it ourselves in Gibsons as we have a nice setup for it downstairs and it seems like a good way to meet some interesting people and make new connections.

Airbnb prices/night so far have been:
London, pull-out sofa in living room $78 Can/night
Valencia, old town, small 2 bedroom apartment $70 Can/night
Valencia, suburb, larger 1 bedroom apartment $60 Can/night
Barcelona, tiny studio flat $78 Can /night
Toulouse, studio apartment $60 Can/night
Olonzac, small terrace house gite $50 Can/night

Airbnb is all booked and managed online and via mobile phone and text message. As we are not using our phone$$ while we travel (on airplane mode and through secure wifi only), it makes it a little trickier but manageable.

Within minutes of our stepping out of a cab in the tiny twisting street of the Born district in old town Barcelona, Dennis was targeted by a young guy who grabbed his jacket from behind, saying “There’s shit on your jacket, look, look”. I could see he was up to no good and shouted to Den to not let the guy touch him. He let go and wandered off. Sure enough there was some brownish goop down his back but luckily it washed off very easily. Obviously, the guy had somehow squirted it on and then tried to appear to he helping him tackle the problem but we were not buying his program. I guess pickpockets have figured out that most people do not actually carry much of value in their shoulder bags, leaving them for handy maps, water bottles and mints while keeping money and travel docs secretly zipped into inside pockets on coats. A nearby store offered us their washroom to wash up in. That is a big advantage of traveling with a pal, you get 2 pairs of eyes on the look out.

In Valencia Dennis was also targeted by pickpockets on a crowded subway train home one evening. A brutish fellow had pushed onto the train in front of others and then, when underway, somehow slid Den’s wallet out from his front jeans pocket. Dennis sensed this though and wheeled around and confronted the guy and putting his hands into the thief’s own pockets. Suddenly his (obvious) accomplice found the wallet on the floor several people away and handed it back to him. Jerks.

We’ve now looked up the word for thief and will be ready to shout it out and point if we do become successful targets of them. It pays to have these words on the tip of the tongue and just have run through the scenario beforehand and be prepared to put up a noisy embarrassing scene if it seems safe to do so. Otherwise, of course, just hand over the cashola and get on with other things. Pickpockets are not looking for violence or attention but for easy targets who don’t notice and don’t take action against them. We happened to get off the subway at the same station as these guys and they suddenly acted nervous that we were following them now. They kept looking back at us and then split up as if they were not actually connected. Bastardos. Still, there is very high unemployment, even among the well educated so one really has to keep the radar up, especially is busy touristy cities.

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Disegual, a FAB Spanish design outfit and happily, loads of people wear it, making even dark winter coats more lively!

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Treats for the eyes!!! Not the hips… Resist, resist….

IMG_9698Having visited Barcelona’s major Gaudi sites on our last visit in 2009, we spent this short 3 day visit just noodling around with no major objectives except to visit the MEAM, museum of contemporary figurative art which was well worth the trip! Housed in a lovely smallish palace, there are about 270 pieces from 200 artists, most of which feature the human form and condition in styles from chunky sculpture to ultra smooth almost airbrushed highly photographic work which actually leaves me hungry for more traces of the hand of the maker. I respect them but would not wish to live with such highly finished work as it seems to leave nothing left to the viewer but to admire its perfection.

Market scenes…

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Spices…

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Shellfish…

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Peppers…

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Tripe…

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Wonderful funghi…

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Plump fruit…

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Charcuterie, something for everyone but vegetarians…

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The next day, we hopped on and off city buses and walked around Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia cathedral, well into its more than hundredth year of construction. We did not join the very long line up but the inside is much more finished than our 2009 visit. Still if we really wanted to go in, we would have arrived first thing in the morning and not in the afternoon with piles of others from every nation.

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Barcelona is an architectural delight, no matter where you wander. Just look up…

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We biked past the mosaic columns of La Palua du Musica and got our picture taken in the same spot as we had a few years earlier.

Paula Den Barca 2013-001 Paula Dennis Spain mosaic small

We hopped into quite a few art galleries on a good gallery street whose names escapes me and found them a very mixed bag as usual. Some galleries display very little in their spaces and the places are very spare, very cerebral and makes me feel hungry for more visuals. The one we enjoyed the most was the tiniest gallery I have ever seem called the Art Window, showing lovely works by Anna Tamayo, works in oils paints with some encaustic and decoupage.

Anna Tamayo

Anna Tamayo

Barcelona, city of art, architecture and good tastes…

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Processional carriage….

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Fresh palm fronds for Palm Sunday…

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No matter where we look here, we see the super selling (but very poorly written ) novels, the Shades of Gray series. I wish better writers would get such great exposure. Such twaddle…

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Tasty treats with aubergines and anchovies, two tasty things that start with A. Off on the train to Toulouse next…
Bye for now – Paula


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