Man Made Beaches and Artsy Design

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
1
9
35
Trip End Nov 24, 2009


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Where I stayed
Hostal Malda

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Friday, September 25, 2009

Beaches in Barcelona are interesting, to say the least. First of all, there are dozens of bay-shaped beaches all in a row. Each bay has to be at least 300 yards long. All the beaches are man-made, so the "sand" is sand mixed with dirt and debris from what I think is late-night partying remnants. There are thousands of people too: foreigners (many Germans and English), topless women, old men gambling in Speedos, old women loudly gossiping, and annoying people selling stuff. I have never been to a beach where you can't sit longer than 3 minutes without having a random person come by asking you if you want a massage, a beer, a Coca-Cola, a coconut, or a press-on tattoo. We literally had to say no over 20 times to Asian ladies coming around asking to give us massages. And there were the same Middle Eastern men carrying coolers walking around talking like auctioneers to try and sell their beverages and coconuts. And then more men would come around with binders full of different fake tattoos you could buy from them. And from the conversation I overhead with the group of German tourist kids way too close to us, you can also buy cocaine and ecstasy from them. It was the most annoying beach excursion ever. The water was pretty murky and full of debris. And the bottom was completely rocky. Overall, even though it was really nice to spend the day in the sun and get to go swimming (even in some small waves), I don’t think I would recommend a Barcelona beach. But then again, I might be pretty biased because I’m from Maui. I don’t know.

After the beach, we were walking back to our street and we ended up in the center of a huge parade. It’s a festival week here in Barcelona, called Merce 09. There are so many people in this city, it’s unbelievable. When we first got here I just thought it was the most crowded place I’ve ever been in but now I realize many of these people must just be here for the festival. There are constant parades and stages set up in plazas all over town for concerts. We got to see part of a concert after dinner. It was a funky Spanish band playing to a group of a couple thousand people packed into a square by the big cathedral.

Today (day after beach day), we went to the Eixample district. It’s an area of Barcelona that is mostly modernisme. “Wide sidewalks, hardy shade trees, chic shops, and plenty of Art Nouveau fun make the Eixample a refreshing break from the Old City.” –Rick Steves. It’s also the area Antoni Gaudi (Barcelona’s most famous Modernista artist) spent many years of his life designing buildings, lamp posts, and a giant cathedral. We saw the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family Church)- his most famous work. It’s a massive cathedral that is completely crazy looking. His style is hard to describe; very curvy and different materials used than you’d expect. He also designs things with function in mind- but in a way that looks dysfunctional. It’s really impressive. Another building he is famous for is the Casa Mila- it’s an apartment building he designed in the early 1900’s. We got to explore an apartment in it (turned into a museum) fictionally furnished, the attic, and the rooftop. The rooftop/terrace is by far the most impressive thing in my opinion. I can’t even describe it so you’ll just have to wait to see a picture. After Casa Mila, we saw the Block of Discord. It’s a whole city block home to Barcelona’s top Modernista buildings (one is Gaudi-designed). The buildings look like they are trying to outdo each other in creativeness. That’s why it’s called the Block of Discord.

Tomorrow we are flying to Prague, Czech Republic! I am really excited for it and am definitely ready to see Eastern Europe. It’s been a good two weeks here in Spain but now I’m ready to move on.

Until next time,

Michelle

My thoughts on Gaudi… Sagrada Familia is as impressive as the Cologne Cathedral with a completely modern mix of style, color and pure Catholicism. I’d call it a kind of artistic train wreck, with tons of construction (it is on schedule to finish in the next 50 years) turn of the century Gaudi style with a modern twist that I feel is a bit disconnected. Gaudi knew he would never see his masterpiece finished and left it to the imagination and musings of following designers to add to and finish his work.

La Pedrera the nickname for Casa Mila was an amazing place. Its nickname means stone quarry because it appears to be carved out of rock. Right on the corner of what was the main thoroughfare of the time (Still a huge busy street), Casa Mila stands out almost a century later. I can’t imagine how thought provoking his buildings were back then; when I can’t think of anyone who has created such thoughtful and useable spaces even today. It is still lived in today and the city owns the 4th floor up. One really interesting thing about the apartment is that he designed most of the furniture. He was hired by a wealthy couple to design the building with a home for them inside. He went a step further and designed specific furniture and even fixtures that would flow with his overall design. Hopefully some of my pics will give an idea of what it was like. Also the attic in which the museum is located was like walking in a whales’ rib cage. The roof is completely supported by the brick arches (rib cage) in the attic, as Gaudi didn’t want to add direct weight to the structure.

I will try and give more of an effort to add some of my views in the upcoming blogs. On a side note one major accomplishment was accomplished today! I finally had genuine Spanish Horchata that I have pretty much wanted since we decided to go to Spain, it has been one of my favorite drinks since I was a kid living in Cali. Oh and the beach was nice, a very “Euro” beach if you know what I mean (Kelly would have really appreciated it). It was such a cool part of the city and Gehry’s “fish” at the entrance to the Olympic village was quite pretty. Off to Praha, pretty excited about Eastern Europe and I hope all of you are excited to hear about it as well.

-Andre

PS-
We didn't take many pictures in Barcelona because of the immense threat of having our cameras stolen. Barcelona is the craziest pickpocketing place we've ever been to (and have heard it's the worst in Europe). We didn't bring our cameras with us on multiple occasions because we didn't want to risk it. That's the reason why there are no pictures of our beach day or just plain pictures of wandering around the city. When we did have our cameras with us, it took most of our energy to keep a good grip on them.
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Comments

nancyk136
nancyk136 on

Mom loves you
I love reading your impressions and descriptions of the sights - thanks for doing this blog! xo

mdaa
mdaa on

Re: Mom loves you
Thanks Mom! I love you too!
I just uploaded pictures of Barcelona to both of our Barcelona blog entries. I also added a 'PS' at the bottom of the 'Manmade Beaches' entry.

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