- You more-or-less live in the metro and count on it to get you basically everywhere in the city. You have your home base metro stop; mine was Clot, with Line 1 (red) and Line 2 (violet) for all my transport needs
- You hate motos (motorcycles), both when you are driving and when you are walking. They weave in and out of every square milimeter of traffic like they had nine lives to spend. They also seem to go at least 10 km/hr faster than everyone else.
- Whether driving or walking, as soon as the other light turns red, you begin going. When a pedestrian, if the stop light is red, you start walking; when driving, if the pedestrian has a red "no walk" person, you're at least changing gear.
- While waiting to cross the street, you always stand part-way out into the street to see if there's a car coming or if you can cross now now now
- While on the metro, you start pressing the door button or open the door handle the second the train enters the station, even though it won't open until the train stops. You also feel a great anxiety to be the first to press the button, and you feel personally culpable if the doors don't open the second the train stops, like you didn't press it well enough
- You always say "Adéu" when you leave a locale, even if the entire time you were speaking in Spanish
- You find words of Catalan slipping into your everyday Spanish. Some of my main culprits: "mica"/"miqueta", "molt bé", "trucar"/"truca'm"/"trucada", "bon dia", "adéu", "sortir"/"sortida", "tornar", "arribar"/"arribada", "museu" (respectively "poco"/"poquito" (little), "muy bien" (very good), "llamar"/"llámame"/"llamada" (to call/call me/a call), "buenos días" (good day), "adios" (goodbye), "salir"/"salida" (to leave/the exit), "regresar" (to return), "llegar"/"llegada" (to arrive/the arrival), "museo" (museum)).
- You can easily sleep through the sounds of sirens, garbage trucks, yelling revelers, and constant road traffic no matter what the hour
- You own a black motorcycle-style jacket. Bonus points if you have more than one, and more bonus points if the others are in different colors as well
- You both love and hate Las Ramblas
- You use l'Fnac as a place to meet people so you can browse the books if they run late
- You love sitting in Plaça Catalunya and people-watching
- Even if you don't really follow football (aka. soccer), you love Barça matches and ruthlessly cheer on every goal against the opponent
- Dinner is way too early if it's before 10
- After every meal you drink a little coffee (tallat/cortado; small espresso with milk). You basically just drink coffee always, and you expect it to always be excellent, even from the little corner bar
- You know that if you want to do anything out in the evening, before 10 is too early
- Pa amb tomàquet is the perfect snack always.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Karen came and visited me last weekend and, with her urging, I finally entered one of my favorite—and most well-known—landmarks of Barcelona: la Sagrada Família. I had always been told that, because it’s currently a “work in progress” until we don’t really know when (current prediction is 15 years, but it looks like it will take longer, just like all architecture projects…), it wasn’t worth the 10 euros to enter. I even had heard a few “It’s just like any other church”-es. But I can definitely say, without a doubt, that all of those people are quite wrong
La Sagrada Família is an absolutely astounding architectural marvel inside, even though it is under construction, and you learn all about the historical and physical process of creating this obra maestra when you go inside. Yes, the fact that there is scaffolding everywhere inside and the noise and dust of construction is bothersome, but, a) I have yet to see a church in Europe that’s not currently en obras, and b) that in no way detracts from the masterful architecture that is to be seen inside the church. In fact, seeing what has already been done, what parts of Gaudí’s dream temple have already been completed, almost made me excited to see the scaffolding because I cannot wait to see what will come in the future years as they continue the work.
The thing I find the most interesting about the continual construction of la Sagrada Família is that now any architect who takes up the mantle of continuing to direct the project must be brave enough to attempt to insert himself or herself in Gaudí’s mind and try and understand the way this architectural genius worked. It is, in part, because of this that the project is continuing at such a slow rate, even though we do have so many more advanced architecture techniques than during Gaudí’s time. Many of Gaudí’s plans and maquetas for la Sagrada Família were burned or destroyed during the Spanish Civil War when the anarchists broke into his study on the grounds of la Sagrada Família. Fortunately they didn’t attempt to destroy la Sagrada Família itself because, as the story goes, one of them realized that Gaudí had died poor like them and therefore his church shouldn’t be destroyed. Because Gaudí was such an experimentalist with his architecture, he tried every technique that he used in la Sagrada Família in smaller forms in his other works. He often said he never would have dared to do the things he did in la Sagrada Família on such a large scale if he hadn’t first attempted them in various aspects of his buildings. We don’t know what other experiments he may have done if he hadn’t been struck down by a streetcar. La Sagrada Família could have a very different structure than the one we know today. It could be exactly the same. He could have completely new ideas for how to construct the remaining façades. Since la Sagrada Família was his grand masterpiece, the culmination of all of his work, he used his best and most inventive techniques in it. But, no architect today can say that he or she has the mind and exact thinking pattern as Gaudí to be able to recreate his ideas and extrapolate from there to form new ones to reshape the plans for today’s Sagrada Família. No one dares put their name and stamp on Gaudí’s masterpiece, and I doubt that if I were an architect I would have the guts to do it either! Working on the temple so changed one master sculptor that he became an extremely devout Catholic, just as Gaudí was.
When we went inside la Sagrada Família we got to not only see a little bit about the process of the construction and walk inside the spectacular forest-like congregation, but were able to go up the main towers to look out over Barcelona. Because of the construction, you can only go up the towers in elevator (and pay 2 euros more, but oh well, it means that I’ll get to see the finished Sagrada Família 2 euros faster!), but we were able to descend them by foot, exploring the connecting spiral towers along the way. It was absolutely magnificent, looking out over Barcelona from the birds’-eye view behind the dove-studded tree on the old façade. Knowing that I was inside one of those iconic towers and seeing how high I was, comparing that to how much even higher the central tower will be, looking down upon the continuing construction project, examining up close and personal the parts of the church that I had only ever seen from the ground, far away with my neck craned and eyes squinted to focus it better, was all astounding. In total we spent almost 4 spectacular hours exploring all the nooks and crannies we could of la Sagrada Família, and I would call them four very well spent hours with 12 well-spent euros to attempt to get inside the head of this masterful architect and come to a more personal understanding of his most personally valued project.