Walking, walking, walking

Trip Start Mar 01, 2005
Trip End Jan 01, 2006

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Today, I decided to take a trip out to Park Guell. Another one of Gaudiīs designs, only in the shape of a park. Took the metro out, as it was at least a kilometer further away from my hostel and the walk yesterday. Got off the metro and then took some escalators up the hill to get to the park. Outdoor escalators, thank you, thank you, thank you! Once at the park, I followed the winding paths to the main square type area. Along the way you pass through this sort of passage way of rock pillars wrapping around the side of the hill. Quite intersting. Lots of trees and the sun shining, and of course, full of people. The square is sort of surrounded by this huge bench in a sort of winding pattern of tiles and colors and shapes. Itīs so hard to describe, hopefully I can put up some pictures soon enough. The whole park has a few buildings all designed by Gaudi, and they sort of resemble fairytale like castles. Kind of like in the candyland board game if anyone remembers that. Wait for the pics is all I can say. So I wakled around the park for a while, watched people, checked out the guys selling scarves, jewelry, and art along the paths, and then wandered up a hill towards the sounds of music. Sure enough in the middle of a bunch of shaded trees were a two guys singing, playing the guitar, and a cello? I sat down on a bench for a while and just listened to the guy sing whatever he was saying in Spanish. It was so nice. It was just a small little spot underneath some trees in the middle of the park with a small group of people sitting around and listening. Thatīs one of the things that I love the most about Europe. You can not get through a day without coming across music. Alleys, parks, squares, streets, bars, castles, houses, balconies, there is music everywhere. I absolutely love it. I guess you could call it "living out loud" literally, which is not something that you get a lot of back home. I mean I would never sing in the car on the way to work in anything. NO WAY!, someone might SEE me! Competely different here. Then I walked along a little further up a hill to get some more amazing views of the city, and there was another guy sitting on a bench playing a guitar. I think you could just close you eyes in Europe and just follow your ears. Itīs great.
Left the park at around 3, and decided to walk down to the Sagrada Familia. Not too too far on the map. My plan was to go down there just because, and then take the metro down to the Cathedral in the Barri Gothic. Gothic Quarter. So I got down to the Sagrada Familia, wandered a little bit and then decided that it would be more fun to just walk down to the Cathedral and see the area a bit. So I zigzagged down streets in the general direction of the Arc de Triomf, taking pictures of balconies along the way. Best balcony award goes to the city of Barcelona I must say. Eventually got down to the Arc de Triomf just after 5 or so. I was trying to get down the the cathedral before 6, because I had read in a guidebook that on Saturdayīs there is some dancing that takes place in the cathedral square called Sardana, and I wanted to check that out. Standing on the edge of the Arc, and looking at the streets to my right, I was lost. Just looking in to the Barri Gothic and I was lost. Itīs a maze of narrow little streets and reminded me a little of Valenciaīs old town. I have been excellent about no getting lost since leaving Valencia, so this is not going to beat me. Needless to say after only one wrong way and turning and doubling back, I made it to the Cathedral square just before 6.
Wasnīt sure what to expect, but there were certainly a lot of people around, and a band/mini orchestra was setting uo on the steps of the cathedral. Hmmmmm? Interestingly, most of the people appeared to be senior citizens. Now I must say my knowledge of Sardana before arriving at the cathedral was of an image I saw on a lapel pin of a group of people, arms raised holding hands, standing in a circle, dancing obviously. I didnīt see any traditional costumes around, so just after six, the band began to play. All of a sudden little circles of elderly people started to form around piles of their personal belongings. Hun? Then they started to dance. Hand held, and their feet doing simple little steps back and forth. The tempo would pick up a bit and the steps would change and maybe become a little faster. The the music would hit itīs peak, and the circles would raise their hands in the air and start to jump! All the while, feet moving to little steps, in the circle. After the first few songs, the sqaure was full of all these little circles of people dancing. I couldnīt wipe the smile off my face and had to suppress my giggles. Not because it was funny, but because it was REAL! It wasnīt like going to a show and seeing flamenco, this was just a ton of people who showed up because they wanted to take part in the dancing. It may take place every saturaday and sunday from April to Oct. or something like that, but it wasnīt like these people had to show up. Heck, I could have taken part if I had wanted to...I didnīt! Got some videos on my digital camera so I will try to put one on. I watched for about 45 minutes, and I absolutely loved it. It was so...I donīt know. Put a big smile on my face though. Geez, why donīt we do these kind of thigns back home! Winnipeg would be so much more exciting if we all sang and danced in the streets no?? So after that, I found my way down an alley of shops packed so full of people you could hardly walk. The center alley off the cathedral square towards La Ramblas. Great place to shop I must recommend it. Then down La Ramblas, grabbed some food, and then back to the hostel.
As I walked in, one of the guys who organizes activities at the hostel told me about the pub crawl that night and said I should think about going. Hmm, yeah sure. I canīt think of anything more fun than going out with a huge group of people who will all get extremely drunk, and being the only one sober enough to witness it all. Whoohoo! So of course I ended up going. AH! Didnīt know anyone, but figured it was either sit around the hostel ANOTHER night or go out an maybe meet some people. Long story short. 4 bars and 1 nightclub. 98% of the people on the pub crawl were from Canada and the US. It was basically crappy. The bars werenīt great at all, and the nighclub had a few too many weird 30 somethingīs standing around dancing by themselves. I could not thing of anything that I would have rather have not been doing that night. But I tried it anyways. Thatīs what counts. So it was a late night, and after walking what could have been 10km. that day I crashed once I hit the bed. Whew!
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