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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Barcelona, Day 2 [20051125|23:10]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Rising lazily at around eleven, we sauntered over to the Mercat de la Boqueria, just off La Rambla, for breakfast. We watched pigeons flying over the Roman tombs in the Plaça de la Vila de Madrid. We admired delicious ingredients, drank fresh-squeezed juices, nibbled at chocolates and gawked at a Romanesco, although it wasn't as perfect as the one in the link (via taische).

Plaça de la Vila de MadridShellfish counter

Romanesco, Mandelbrot, rah rah rah!

We had a café con leche at Escribá, famous for its pastries and for the building it occupies, the Antiga Casa Figueras, a fine example of modernista architecture. It's appropriate because we spent the day haphazardly wandering the Ruta del Modernisme, gawking and photographing and generally being obvious tourists.

Pavement tile marking the Ruta del Modernisme

The first building that enchanted us along the route was the Palau de la Música Catalana. Due to the overcast skies, narrow streets and the neck-craning height of the elaborately decorated façades, I couldn't get a good shot of the entire building, but I think the details capture some of the feel of it.

Pretty tile mosaicsCurious deep-set pigeonhole windows

The gauzy wire sculpture makes it look as though a cloud has decided to perch atop this building.

Fundació Antoni Tápies

Of course, the highlight of the journey was arriving at the Casa Batlló, which stopped both of us in our tracks.

Closeup of the large front window

We grew footsore and hungry, so we decided it was best to stop, have tapas and café con leche and save the visit to the interior of the building for another day.

With a little tomato on bread

By the time we walked back to our hotel, the sun was setting.

Plaça de Catalunya at dusk

After a good preparatory nap, we went back out to Els Quatre Gats for dinner. The young Picasso held his first exhibition in this modernista hangout in 1900. The food is on the heavy side and it's not cheap, but the interior's worth spending some time to drink it in. The restaurant portion consists of an enclosed two-story courtyard, the center of which seats parties larger than two, while the balcony that runs around three sides seats couples. Marco and I sat on the upper level and derived much entertainment from watching the diners below, particularly a very large Catalan man who commanded a table for four all by himself, ate with great relish, and surveyed all the neighboring ladies with a proprietary eye. I wanted to take his picture but was deterred. Boo!

While wending our way towards El Raval, we passed by the ominous Església de Santa Maria del Pi, which, despite being fenced off by some nasty-looking spikes, sported some bad spray-paint graffiti at the bases of its looming towers. We crossed the Plaça del Pi to the Xocolateria la Xicra. The hot chocolate was as thick as custard and incredibly rich. I couldn't finish mine.

Església de Santa Maria del PiSipping my xocolata calenta

At my insistence, we visited the Plaça de George Orwell. Well, we had to, didn't we? I mean, he wrote an eyewitness account of the Spanish civil war and he called it Homage to Catalonia. The sculpture standing at one of the points provided the only real attraction of the triangular plaça. The middle was a construction zone and the shops at the outer edges radiated dereliction.

SignageYou can't see all the pigeon poop at night

After passing many greased mullets, the most popular Catalan hairstyle, we finally arrived at the Bar Marsella in El Raval. It's one of those dives that managed to strike the magical balance between crustiness and subtle modernity that make for a hip joint. It also features low prices and a huge, impassive bartender whose method for making mixed drinks doesn't involve a lot of the mixer. More winning traits.

Bar Marsella interior

We got there just before the Friday night rush hit at midnight and parked ourselves on a pair of stools at the bar. Over the course of the evening we had a number of conversations in English and Spanish, learned from a tiny, bubbly woman that the word for "bad cheap bourbon" (or any other crap liquor) is "garrafón," and got amazingly sloshed.

Preparation of absinthe

This was the last picture of the night, taken by the aforementioned bubbly woman whose name I don't remember. Dr0nk much? I think so.

Just before the pain hit

[User Picture]From: omniana
2005-12-01 18:56 (UTC)
So fun to read. Thanks!
That's an impressive cauliflower.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 10:14 (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad.
According to the link at the top no one can agree on what to call the thing (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli). The author suggests simply calling it a Romanesco, which is a great name, so I concur. Heh.
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[User Picture]From: prosicated
2005-12-02 14:26 (UTC)
I think I might like to marry your architectural photographs. =)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 19:06 (UTC)
That's a remarkable coincidence. They say they've been looking for that special someone for a long time.
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[User Picture]From: prosicated
2005-12-02 21:03 (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: sparklepbass
2005-12-02 14:36 (UTC)
i love the composition of the first picture, and, oh!, the building is so gorgeous. more architects should design rounded pink things...
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 19:07 (UTC)
The Gaudí buildings are all about the curves and the soft luscious colors. So pettable. Mmm.
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[User Picture]From: kreie
2005-12-02 14:44 (UTC)
I just want to save your pictures so I know where to go this summer. ;)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 19:09 (UTC)
Okay, but BEWARE the absinthe. It is EVIL.
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[User Picture]From: kreie
2005-12-02 19:46 (UTC)
But see, for all I know, you could be lying bcause you want all of the absinthe in the world to yourself. I can find out only by verifying it for myself.

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[User Picture]From: enn
2005-12-02 15:23 (UTC)
o o o o o o !
cutest. ever ever ever!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 19:10 (UTC)
Thank you. It was such a happy day.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 19:13 (UTC)
Yes! Once we went inside we were even more impressed. It lets in so much light, and with the rich wood floors and window frames and the stained glass, the whole thing has a perpetually inviting glow.
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[User Picture]From: seismic
2005-12-03 20:48 (UTC)
Oooooooooooh. I love the pigeon shot, the gauzy, wire sculpture and the front window. Verra nice.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-03 21:58 (UTC)
What's frustrating about the pigeon shot is that I took it with my Powershot and not the dSLR. I don't think I have enough control over the dSLR to deliberately compose an overexposed-but-effective action shot like that. *grumble* Need more practice!
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