Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Going through some of the Barcelona photos.   This great city was the port of our departure.

After we stowed our bags at the hotel, Rob talked Alex and I into heading underground.   The subway was a tangled maze... Here in Toronto we really only have two lines to contend with, but Barcelonians seem to have at least eight spiderly legs to navigate.  We traveled a few stops along one line and then transferred to another to get to La Segrada Familia.

Exhausted after the long flight, and in a bit of a daze. Cameras in hand. Snap-happy, we were.  It is just so easy to point and shoot.  I made a genuine effort to turn off the camera every now and then to remind myself the view was much bigger than the digital fragments caught by my camera.  Of course, no sooner did I turn it off than another shot  presented itself.

In 'Girls Like Us', Carly Simon said she would often come across her mother standing and staring off into space, and when asked what she was doing, she would say, "Taking a picture with my mind."  There were many times on this trip when I tried to absorb myself in the scenery,  putting all my senses to work, even using my skin to register what it felt like to be in that place, at that moment.

Which brings me to standing in La Segrada Familia, and feeling as though I'd been turned into some kind of ephemeral underwater plant.  The vaulted ceiling arching so high above.  Such a vibrant space, light spilling against curves.  I've never been in an interior - let alone a church - that seemed to capture so much contradiction within its walls.  Sacred, profane, dark, light, fleeting, eternal.  Could have spent days there.  The sound in the background was loud, shrill construction:  electric drills, welding tools, heavy objects scraping against the floor.  Construction started here in 1883 and they are working frantically because the Pope will be coming to consecrate the building November 7, 2010.  Masses are supposed to start being held again in September 2010.  But the building will be far from finished - I think construction is scheduled for the next 100 years.

From there we ventured to La Rambla.  This street is made for walking, and goes on for miles.  We kept veering off the straight path to explore the narrow streets.  And then suddenly, right ahead of us, we came across St. Josep, the market we wanted to see.  Alive with colour, a tumble of smells and delicious sounds. We grabbed a fistful of macadamia nuts - the biggest I've ever seen - and continued to munch on them as we wandered.

Some of the graffiti we came across was quite artful, others, not so much.  Seeing 500 year-old doors defaced by inarticulate blotches was sometimes distressing.  In other places the swatches of colour brought dark corners to life.

We had a light supper and fell into our beds.

The next morning, we took one of those tour buses for a whirlwind two hour tour.  The buildings and balconies rushed past, we climbed up the mountain and back down again, snaking our way past the port.  The city seems so livable, with lush green parks,  wide boulevards.  Sexy-curvy Gaudi buildings, sleek steel, glittering glass, gothic cathedrals - everywhere a picture. I raised my camera like a periscope in the air, snap happy again, not even bothering to use the viewfinder.

Then time to grab the luggage and head for the boat.

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