Tag Archive | Barcelona

CBBH Photo Challenge: Reflection

I don’t often get around to rummaging through old photos and picking out specific themes. But I felt like taking up the challenge from Marianne of East of Malaga today and putting up some photos with the theme of the month.

I’ve seen some neat galleries on other blogs, but I don’t know how to set up a gallery here so I guess I’ll just bumble along with the old traditional way: plunking down photos one by one!

Ciutadella Barcelona

This was from our trip to Barcelona. Seems such a long time ago!

Calle Larios Malaga

Larios Street (calle Larios), the major pedestrian thoroughfare of downtown Malaga, is so beautifully lit up at night.

Chunky Statue

Thought this was a most unusual perspective on reflections, this statue, in Torremolinos, is polished so smooth you can even make out the details on the building it’s reflecting.

Malaga Street

These nocturnal alleyways are lovely in black and white too, and more mysterious at that.

Nebulous Reflections

I’m not going to tell you what that one is! I’ll leave it up to your imaginations!

Rio Chillar River

This was a scenic gorge you can wade through on the Chillar River near Nerja.

River Malaga

Shadows in the Water

This could be any city, any riverbank, any reflection.

Well, I would like to link to Toby at Travels With Toby, who reminded me about the CBBH Photo Challenge. She’s travelled a lot, and with any luck, one day she’ll be my neighbour here in Spain!

Then I’d like to recommend another blog even though it isn’t really related to travelling, photography or Spain, A Sprinkle of Al Sharq. What Sprinkle and I both have in common is we’re both single mums! I know lots of single mums but even with that, I think we’re still a minority.

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Subways Around the World

Well I was sitting around thinking about what sorts of things I like to read about in a blog. And I thought, well, in a blog, I like to read about places that people go to visit, things that they see there, who do they meet, what do they eat or drink. I like to read about restaurants that they go to and who they go with, what they talk about and what they eat.

I like blog posts about walks in the country, and what it was like to walk through the countryside. What the people saw and did there. Not great, dramatic, Indiana Jones type strolls through the world. Just little observations.

I was telling a friend that I like to read blog posts that say things like: well we went for a holiday in NYC and we found the subways really crowded. People in the subways in NYC are very strange because no one looks at anyone. The lights go off all the time but no one gets anxious, it’s normal over there. (I say this, of course, because I live in a place where it’s not normal for the lights to go off all the time on the subways, here if the lights go off, there’s an emergency!)

Or on the other hand, I might like to read: in Barcelona the subways are really neat, you can watch TV while you are waiting for the train so you don’t get bored, because there are televisions on the platform. There is also a sign that counts down the seconds till the next train is supposed to arrive.

So then I thought I’d make a blog post about subways around the world. Maybe it’s not the most transcendental, thought-provoking, wisdom-infused sort of topic that could occur to me. But, well, if someone else were to write a post about subways in places I had never been to, I know I would be interested in reading about it.

And it’s always nice to blog about things you would like to read about in other blogs. I think.

Well, so, let’s begin with NYC then. As I said, in NYC people never look at each other. In the subways I mean. And people tend to edge away from creepy looking fellows. The subways are very noisy – or at least they were when I was there, many years ago. There were also trains that drove straight through the station with a deafening zzzzzzzziiiiiiiiiiing!!! without stopping, if I recall. No wonder people found it easy to commit suicide there.

Once again I say that because it contrasted with the subways I was used to. So let’s talk about the subways I was used to.

Until I went to New York City I had only ever seen subways in Montreal. Subways (called metros) in Montreal are really neat. They “sing” when they take off. They are (or were) sky blue in colour, very distinctive from other trains that I’ve seen. And they looked very clean and new too.

Well, I’ve already mentioned subways in Barcelona. The ones in Madrid, on the other hand, are quite a nightmare. The reason is because of their ex-cru-ci-a-ting slooow-neeess! I used to live by a line where the train always seemed to sit about half an hour on the track without moving – and I didn’t live anywhere near the end of the line, either. It wasn’t near the centre of the city or on a very popular route, but then again, shouldn’t they make all the lines equally efficient?

If you have the time and can get over this little hassle, however, I do recommend that you drop by the Goya metro station. There you can see, all along the walls, engravings by Spain’s famous anti-war painter and artist, Francisco de Goya.

Well I guess by now you might be waiting to hear about more populous metropoles. Who cares about metros in Montreal or Barcelona anyways, right, you might be thinking. It’s not like lots of people go to Montreal or Barcelona anyways.

All right. So, how about Paris? Romantic ads in a romantic Romance language decorating all the walls. World-famous names like L’Arc de Triomphe or Champs-Élysées for every station. I remember being quite dazzled by the metro there, because it was the first time I had seen TV screens and flashing signs in a subway station. Since then I’ve discovered a few more, however (such as Barcelona for example), so they no longer dazzle me. How quickly we get accustomed to things, I do say!

The London tube is a real labyrinth. It takes forever to get anywhere on it, and you have to go up and down lots of stairs (fortunately they’re mechanical stairs) all the time in order to change lines. Many train lines also pass through the same set of tracks, so you have to be looking out all the time to make sure you read where each train is going before you board it, or you will not end up at your desired destination.

I remember encountering the first and only wooden mechanical stairs I have ever seen in London tube stations. I believe (but wouldn’t know because it has been ages since I last passed through this fascinating city) that they’ve since been changed for the more normal, conventional metallic escalators due to fire hazards.

In London the people are always rushing around. They are looking at the floor, or at their briefcases or their watches. It’s a different sort of apathy from what you could encounter in NYC, however. In New York City people were hostile, distrustful. Almost paranoid you could say. They deliberately hardened their hearts in order to ride a train in New York, and they watched their own backs.

In London, however, people weren’t hard, or hiding beneath a tough armour. They were just simply distracted, worried. They always looked like they were afraid they were going to arrive late for something.

Although I suppose if you have to depend on the subway, in any city, it’s almost inevitable that you will arrive late much of the time.

Now, Rome is another story altogether. It’s very difficult to get anywhere on the subway in Rome, because the system avoids much of the centre of the city. Too many valuable archaeological sites there. So it’s nice, because it’s always nice to be able to count on some sort of transportation that isn’t dependent on the fickleness of street-level traffic patterns. But it may take you a long time to get where you want to go if you have to by-pass the centre all the time. And chances are good that there may be no metro at all in the vicinity of where you want to go.

People on the metro in Rome are very nice, though. They don’t look all stressed-out like in London, nor do they look like they think you’re going to murder them all the time like they do in New York.

Mexico City, Mexico D.F., is one of the world’s greatest cities. It is so vast and extensive, even an airplane takes quite some time to cover over this territory. As you can imagine, its metro system is also humongous. However, in one of the stations (I don’t remember the name, sorry) they have a bewitching display of aboriginal Toltec art, vast and powerful stone heads. If you are in the area and can find out where it is exactly, I do recommend that you check it out. And if you go there, I’d love to hear about it, so leave me a comment, please! Which station is it in?

Oh, I guess I’ll finish with something a bit more original: Vancouver’s very own Skytrain. The Skytrain is really neat. It’s new, clean, silent and efficient. You never have to wait a long time for a train and these vehicles sure do move fast. I believe they cover a good number of Vancouver neighbourhoods and even go out to several suburban areas like Surrey. Unlike subways, this system moves around above the ground like an elevated train.

People in Vancouver are friendly, perhaps even a little bit naïve, compared to the tough dudes you’ll find in more established urban areas. So you might see that the people who ride with you on the Skytrain will probably act, in general, quite nice and polite.

Of course I can’t end without a little note about our very own Malaga subway. Well, it’s under construction! So not much to say about that. However we have high hopes for it – once it finally opens in about 50 years’ time.

The Barcelona That Tourists, Well, Some Tourists DO See: Barcelona II

All right, so, as promised, here at long last comes Barcelona II.

We left off Part I with this intriguing photo:

What intriguing photo, you’re probably asking. That’s just a short, stubby palm tree sitting in some super dirty, icky, muddy water.

Yes, but…… Where?

In Barcelona, of course!

In this lovely park, the Ciutadella, where we went for a ride in a little rowboat.

Ciutadella Barcelona

Our expert oarsman, ie. my best friend’s almost teenage son, kept pushing our little boat into the palm bushes, which were sticking out of the water in the middle of the lake.

Here you can see a panoramic view of the lake with its myriad pretty little palm bushes all sticking up out of the murky waters.

Ciutadella Barcelona

Note how low these bushes hang out over the water. Now imagine spending the greater part of your visit to this park ducking around underneath these bushes, in your little rowboat that your friend’s almost teenage son persists in pushing out underneath these bushes.

I said in the previous post that Barcelona had more famous monument look-alikes to boast about. I don’t think it will be necessary to label what famous monument this is supposed to resemble:

L'Arc de Triomf

To its credit, this catalan city has nationalized this version by dubbing it with a local, non-francophone name: L’Arc de Triomf.

It’s a great place for kids to play, and to ride your bike, rollerskates or skateboard around. A lot safer than its Gallic version, I do admit. A friendly, family-oriented open area in the heart of downtown.

Well, occasionally it is nice to get away from the typical tourist haunts and strike out to virgin lands. This is an example of what Barcelona can look like outside of Barcelona.

Rubi Barcelona

No, here it isn’t raining, even though it looks like the deluge I described in the previous post, Barcelona I but never succeeded in capturing in all its drama.

Sabadell Waterfall

This is just a waterfall – from underneath.

Now moving on to more familiar, touristic haunts. Here is a vestige of The Mysterious Barcelona.

Pont del Bisbe Barcelona

Everyone takes photos of this beautiful and mysterious covered bridge in the Barri Gòtic. Nonetheless there is nothing ancient about it, in spite of its appearance and architecture, since it was built at the beginning of the twentieth century (in 1929, actually, so I guess still sort of the beginning). It was named for a bishop, el Pont del Bisbe, as a tribute to him even though said bishop was only assassinated during the Spanish Civil War, after the bridge was already constructed.

People in Spain are always saying that Christopher Columbus POINTS, and of course he is always pointing towards America. This is why he points:

Colon Barcelona

Although in reality he is actually pointing towards Italy and not out over the Atlantic.

I wonder if he is indicating the way to Genova, out of nostalgia perhaps.

Whenever I see these lovely waterfront homes by the port, I always wonder what it must be like to live in one of them. Must be luxurious to snuggle snoozily into your eiderdowns as you gaze out through your bedroom window at the famous marina, and at the envious tourists staring awe-struck up at you as they fantasize about your idyllic life.

Barcelona Waterfront

Finally we mustn’t forget that immensely privileged chalet in the country where some of my friends now live.

Garden Barcelona

It isn’t their own home, however. But what a marvel, to be able to actually rent such a quaint and tranquil little dig in the middle of the forest.

Sure beats living in a 50 m.² (500 sq.ft.) 1-bedroom-with-a-walk-in-closet in da inna big city!

Of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without an exhaustive up-and-down along its busiest pedestrian thoroughfare, the famous Ramblas.

Ramblas Barcelona


Barcelona Smiling Lobster

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The Barcelona That Tourists Never See, Part I

Well, it appears that I’ve been sort of absent for quite a bit of time now. But that is because we have been busy travelling around. You know, it’s summertime, everyone’s on vacation.

So I expect that at this time of the year, lots of blogspots pop out with all sorts of travel tidbits and enviable descriptions of the most exciting holidays you can imagine. Postcard-perfect photos of exotic beaches in the Caribbean (or in the Seychelles, or in the south Pacific), cultural tours around venerable European capitals.

So I’m just going to pile on yet another such post to the list of travel posts popping up lately on blogspots around the world. But well, I’ll try and give it a twist. So I won’t be putting up the same old photos of the same old tourist sites that you can dig up in about a thousand travel guides already or find dotted around all over the internet.

Instead, I’ll try and put up photos of places that tourists won’t see and will never go to.

So here is the first such post (more coming up later I hope teehee!):

“The Barcelona That Tourists Never See, Part I.”

Our trip to Barcelona was fairly long, over a week. I lived in Barcelona for 6 years, so running around the typical tourist mill wasn’t really on our agenda.

Instead, I took the kids to see the places where they spent their earliest childhood years and sent them back on a nostalgic stroll through memory lane. My son re-visited his old pre-school. He said it looked a lot smaller than he remembered it!

These stained glass windows are perched on a fairly normal family home on a fairly normal street. You don’t need to be the proud proprietor of an architectural wonder in order to display something so beautiful and offer your family the possibility of enjoying such a delightful sight every day.

I wanted to take the kids to the countryside where they used to collect snails (after my son got over a major snail-slug-ant-and-every-other-bug-with-more-than-2-legs phobia), but surprise of surprises, we got thugged on the head by a freak summer storm (aka hurricane, cyclone, monsoon maybe?) that lasted for several hours. We took refuge at the local suburban train station:

Well, you can’t really make out the rain too much here, but then again it also wasn’t pouring cats and dogs yet. We thought the worst was about to pass. Well we could think again, the worst hadn’t even arrived yet at the time of this photo. But since I had no intention of spending an entire, precious day cooped up in a tiny little rural train station (quaint as that might sound), in the end I plunked a plastic bag over my youngest son’s head and we set off. My son felt a little ridiculous though, as he sort of looked like a walking white shopping bag.

So, what my kids remember most about their childhood home now is the lowly but spectacular train station.

This storm turned out to be of such a magnitude that apparently many localities got flooded and it made big headlines on the national news. We even got friends and acquaintances calling us up to find out if we were okay, or if by some chance a tidal wave had swept us all out to sea.

So, what does this photo have to do with The Barcelona That Tourists Never See? Well not much, actually, it’s just a lamp that’s hanging on the ceiling of a friend’s favourite dug-out.

But I can assure you that tourists never see it.

So, so much for our journey down memory lane.

However, there is so much more to do and so much more to see in Barcelona, that we weren’t put off by a little bit of unexpected climatic conditions.

The Palau Nacional de Montjuïc or National Palace of Montjuic. Well I said I wasn’t going to stick anything touristy onto this post, but this is such a beautiful location, the Plaza de España in the centre of Barcelona. Besides which I’ve been surfing around a bit on the net and no one else has made quite exactly the same photo of this monument.

No, actually, other people have uploaded much more beautiful, professional, slick photos of this monument onto the internet.

This palace sports a gigantic and stunning water fountain (called Fonts Màgiques or Magic Fountains), which nonetheless doesn’t show up here on this blog, because when we were there the fountains were dry and barren.

However, when the fountains are running, they are the centre of a most exquisite and magnificent light-and-music show, where the enormous sprays of water are displayed in all their glory reflecting a choreography of coloured spotlights that dance around in harmony following the melody of a musical soundtrack.

If you ever get the chance to pass through Barcelona just when they happen to be putting on one of these shows, I thoroughly recommend that you check it out. It’s free, and the show lasts for quite some time.

The only problem you might have is if you go there with a baby (like I did), and your baby is the crying, plaintive type, and gets bored and restless real easy.

The columns of the Palau Nacional at sunrise.

Barcelona likes to flaunt imitations of famous international landmarks. So here is Barcelona’s version of Venice’s Piazza San Marco:

Next week, I shall regale you with yet another monument wanna-be.

Well, The Barcelona That Tourists Never See, Part II should be coming up. In the meantime I’ll end this post with a couple of intriguing pics, of places tourists never gape over:

And in the next post I’ll reveal, what in the world exactly is that anyways? And where is it? (Hint: it’s sticking out of water. It’s just that the water is so murky it doesn’t look like water.)








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