A Travellerspoint blog

If is not Ronaldino it is Nadal

sunny 27 °C

The Spanish love their sports, and none more than football (soccer). We are drawing to the end of the soccer season and there is just one more week of interclub matches. There is a game on each weekend and lots of talkback and sports shows where everyone gets a chance to have their say. There is one show called ‘Don’t tell me…' (that you don’t like football). The second part of the name is not even used usually. There was almost rioting in the streets when Ronaldino was sent off a couple of games ago. The bars all televise the games and the atmosphere is almost as tense as being at the the game itself. Ronaldino does his share of TV ads, complete with mum and brother. The local tourist shops do a roaring trade of number 10 Barcelona soccer shirts. Sometimes you see a whole family of them!

Barcelona have two soccer teams. Barca (pronounced Barsa) and Espanyol which sounds like a spanish team and had us confused for a while until someone explained to us it was a local, home-grown Barcelona team. Everyone follows the soccer and it is important to have a favourite team and follow it religiously.

At the moment we are watching Nadal and Federer play the Roland Garros final. Rafa as he is affectionately called here is looking the strongest at the moment. The locals will be very happy tomorrow if he wins. He is their golden-haired boy who can do no wrong, and features in a series of TV commercials for Cacaulaut – (like Milo) and Nike and maybe some others too. He is in huge posters around the city and over the cover of magazines and newspapers all the time …. that is when the limelight is not taken by Ronaldino.

PS: Rafa won – so everyone will be in high spirits tomorrow.
nadal.jpg soccer_shirts.jpg

Posted by dworgan 09:41 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Art is in the air

sunny 26 °C

You can’t get away from it – art is everywhere in Barcelona. From architecture, to lamp posts, from parks to street sculpture; it is just part of the life.

Barcelona being an old city has buildings dating back several hundred years, and these of course are majestic and ornate, but the buildings from the 21st century, especially the Modernist period, are the ones that dominate the streets. There are carved cherubs, stone flowers, ornate iron work, sculpted columns, spiral staircases and tile work. Gaudi was not the only architect to leave his mark on Barcelona - he was just the most extreme with his free-flowing style.

Modern buildings too, in many cases, spurn the idea of flat walls or unimaginative roof lines. An unusual balcony, a curved wall, a glass panel … there is often something a bit different.

The streets are also used as open air galleries and exhibition spaces. It is a lovely way to interact with the artwork. The works are appreciated by the tourists and locals alike and I think it makes for an interesting environment to be able to sit in the shadow of a sculpture and eat lunch or have a coffee, or walk past them as you go to and from work.

There is a new exhibition in Plaza Real starting today right outside our tango room. It is recycled 'rubbish' made into statues - much like the 1000 or so chinese soldiers all standing in order. I'll include a picture soon.

Even the graffiti is very good quality and more artistic than just names and writing.
sculpture.jpg sculpture_2.jpg graffiti.jpg

Posted by dworgan 08:20 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

We are learning tango!

sunny 26 °C

It is fun and the teachers, Claudio y Diana, are very good, and very patient. There are about 5 or 6 couples and we meet for 1 1/2 hours each Tuesday in a room at the Pipa Club. When we arrived we discovered it was frequented by usually old, pipe smoking men. It has a Sherlock Holmes feels to it and the decore is of the same period. Fortunately though we don’t have to share their smoke and they only have to deal with our dancing when making their way to the toilet.

This is the beginners class so we are not the only ones who don’t know what to do. There are one or 2 other foreigners but the rest are locals.
We have learnt about 4 different steps and are slowly getting better at putting them together.

All the females wear high heels, so I have been trying to learn to walk/dance in my new shoes.

The steps look great and easy when Claudio and Diana do them … we have a long way to go. As well as the lesson there are open dance nights during the week where for an entry fee you can join in and practice your steps or watch how the good dancers do it.

I haven’t learnt dance before but I am finding it very enjoyable. After another 4 weeks we might be able to show off back home. It is a shame we won’t be here longer.
postal_Pab..iksberg.jpg claudio_y_diana.jpg

Posted by dworgan 03:02 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Someone to show around

sunny 26 °C

We have had our first visitor. Michael Agzarian dropped in for the weekend from Sweden. It is hard to image how close the countries are. He did have to get a few flights but total flying time is less than flying across Australia.
So for a few days we did touristy things like go out to restaurants in the centre of Barcelona, shopping, ice creams on La Rambla, sculpture exhibitions, travel the metro, walk the old quarters, lunch in cafes, and generally take in the sights. It was nice to have someone besides us 3 to share things with.

Without any Spanish Michael managed to make himself understood surprisingly well, always getting what he wanted in the end – shopping for clothes, getting the markets to sell him fish even though they were shutting, internet connection , haircuts, and a taxi to meet him outside at 4.30am.

(I am writing this as I watch the soccer on TV and Ronaldiño who plays for Barcelona has just got sent off. The crowd is going wild.)

We visited a monastery in the mountains about an hour outside Barcelona called Montserrat. It was an amazing place with sheer rock outcrops in strange and striking shapes. There were a lot of people there as well as school groups filling in their last weeks before the long summer holidays start.

The cathedral was beautiful with a long queue of people waiting to touch the ‘Black Virgin’ statue. A choir of alter boys sang and then also a choir from Slovania sang too.

We walked up the mountain a bit but you could really spend a long time there walking and seeing the sights.
montserrat.jpg montserrat_2.jpg michael_.jpg

Posted by dworgan 11:11 Archived in Spain Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Give me Australian beaches any day

sunny 26 °C

It is not that the beaches here aren’t nice; the water is cool and clear, the sand is raked clean daily and the facilities are impressive, it is the CROWDS, and it is not even summer or the holiday season yet!

There are thousands of people, all trying to claim a place on the sand. It is almost impossible to walk through, without flicking sand on someone.
There are groups of teenagers all armed with their MP3 players and mobile phones, groups of pale German/Swiss/English tourists who will perhaps regret their day at the beach tomorrow, as well as a lot of coconut oiled locals. There is hardly a hat in sight - the Cancer Council obviously hasn’t had much impact here.

The CROWD consists of all shapes and sizes and no one is shy. Topless bathing is very popular, even regrettably among the older, larger, and very old, very large group. It is very disconcerting for me, let alone Max (15 years) not knowing where to look or how to avoid such sights.

But when you finally muscle your way in between a few other towels, lie down, get out your book or close your eyes, you could almost image you are somewhere else … except for the general chatter of voices, phones, people signally to lost others their location and vendors battling their way through the crowd selling ‘beer-cerveza-icecream-helado-water-agua?’ in every language.

There are chairs you can hire, windsurfers and small sail boats for the adventurous, fixed volleyball courts for the athletic, toilets, outdoors showers, cafes on the edge of the sand from which drift tempting seafood smells and the sound of enthusiastic diners.

No many people are in the water though – the waves are nothing to talk about and I only saw one lifeguard for the entire beach! Only very few (probably foreign beachgoers like us venture into the deeper, open water. Jeff’s feet even float and that is saying something. –it is very salty.

beach_volleyball.jpg beach_crowd.jpg beach_cafe.jpg beach_bikes.jpg

Posted by dworgan 08:15 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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