Winding Down

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Things are winding down as we near the end of our trip. We’ve seen the big sites and we’ve accomplished most of what we wanted to accomplish.

Today we took it real easy. We witnessed the dancing and then we just walked about Barcelona, taking it all in.

We had a nice big lunch around 2 pm in pizzeria style Italian restaurant run by an Asian family.

This city is beyond cosmopolitan.

Barcelona – La Sardana

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Sundays at noon (or thereabout) the locals have a tradition of gathering in the square in front of the Barcelona Cathedral for some traditional Catalan circle dancing called La Sardana.

A small orchestra gathers on the steps of the cathedral and the dancers form a circle in the square.

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There are instructors there to teach those who want to learn and the main circle gets quite large

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If you want to join in the dance you go into the circle and drop you coat and/or bags in the center of the circle and join hands.

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Soon you see smaller circles of dancers popping up.

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These appear to be family groups or groups of friends.

The music is traditional Catalan and very pleasant to listen to.

Initially the square was jammed with tourists, but after the first few dances many wandered off to see other things and the remaining dances were less crowded with onlookers.

Cynthia and I both tried our hands at learning the dance, but we couldn’t quite get it right…but it was sure fun to watch!

It’s a shame that the one time we visit Barcelona that the cathedral is being renovated. The scaffolding is not as picturesque as the front of a Gothic church would have been as a backdrop…

Here’s a fairly representative Youtube video

Dali Museum

On the agenda today was a day trip to Figueres to go to the Dali­ Theatre and Museum.

It’s a two hour train ride from Barcelona and it’s not the good train. It’s the commuter train that stops about 10-12 times along the way in various small Spanish towns.

It’s a rather joyless train ride and when you get to Figueres there is only ONE thing to do, and that’s visit the museum. Figueres itself is rather bleak and unpleasant.

You walk from the train station for about 5 minutes, following the signs to the museum. You definitley know when you’ve arrived as the building is quite unique.

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As far as art museums go, this place is very cool. It’s more of a theater than a gallery. There’s plenty to look at and some of the art is interactive.

There’s two things in the museum worth noting.

The first is a collection of various pieces in a room that are rather interesting and unusual.

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You then see there’s a staircase and an odd piece of glass that people are climbing up to look through…

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When you climb up and look for yourself all of the objects combine to form the face of Marilyn Monroe

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The other item that blew me away was the ceiling painting of dali and his wife Gala ascending into heaven or dancing in the sky…?

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I can’t convey in words or pictures how cool this painting was. To even capture as much as I did in a snapshot I had to set my camera up, set a timer and lay it in the middle of the floor at with the lens at it’s widest angle (18mm).

After our tour of the museum we headed back to the train station and made our way back to Barcelona. Our adventure left us a bit worn out and since it was rather late we opted for dinner in the hotel and we watched the rugby match.

Rugby World Cup

I don’t know if it’s a big deal in the US right now or not, but the Rugby World Cup has been VERY big news over here. Right now we’re in the hotel room and watching the final between England and South Africa.

Keep in mind that Cynthia and I have never watched a rugby game in our lives and the rules elude us almost completely.

As of now, I am trying to sort things out watching a game I don’t understand being described in a language I don’t speak.

Cynthia’s getting bits and pieces, but basically we’re just figuring it out on the fly…which, due to our current travel fatigue, is amusing us to no end.

If you were listening in right now you would hear things like:

“What’s the deal with the green hood-headed guy?”
“Ooooo! He looks like he’s getting squished ow ow ow!!”
“They’re just kicking it back and forth”
“The referee has knee socks to match his spiffly blue shorts”

Cynthia’s rooting for South Africa. I have thrown my lot in with England.

The Magic Fountain of Montjuic

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The picture above is completely unmodified, straight out of the camera. And what you see in the picture above is simply the backdrop to the Magic Fountain of Monjuic.

This very beautiful and very large fountain literally dances and changes colors to a soundtrack of classical music and popular moview themes.

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The above pictures are taken at the street level, below the fountains.

The next set of pictures show the fountain when looking down from the space halfway up the side of the hill, approaching the building you see in the first picture which is the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

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I must say, it was a fantastic experience to see this fountain which had it’s first performance on May 19, 1929 during the Great Universal Exhibition. Cynthia was delighted as well.

We both agreed that we LOVE Barcelona and that it’s “a pretty darn cool place“.

I mean, c’mon! It has a magic fountain!

Park Guell

We visited Park Güell today. This park was designed by Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914.

Originally it was going to be a housing site, but when that did not work out it was turned into a municipal park.

It’s most famous for the mosaic tile work, specifically the pieces in the entry to the park. I especially like the multicolored mosaic dragon fountain.

It’s a very cool space. You can see Gaudi’s hand in even the littlest details

It’s a real joy to walk around. Even with the crowds in the main area you can still find some quiet spots where you feel quite isolated and calm.

I have some more pics in the gallery.