Sunday, June 17, 2012

Photos: Traveling IV

A final set of photos from this trip. One of my last planned visits was to see the famous Casa Batlló's, Antoni Gaudí's lavish house, designed for Josep Maria Jujol in 1877 and redesigned in 1904-6, that (in)famously appears to have no straight lines in its face. It spectacularly droops like candle wax, or creeps like the stone efflorescences in a Max Ernst painting, dominating the already grandiose architecture of the grand Passeig de Gràcia's most over-the-top block, the Illa de la Discòrdia (or "Block of Discord"), so labeled because the neighboring manses, by Barcelona's most famous Modernist architects Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Antoni Gaudí, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Enric Sagnier), visually and visibly strive to outstrip each other, though Gaudí easily wins the prize. In local parlance, the house is known as the Casa dels ossos (House of Bones, in Castilian: Casa de los huesos), and if you stare at it long enough, it does start to appear to be growing new excrescences. (Like the Sagrada Familia, but in reduced form.) Just as with the Temple, so here, mobs of tourists, and a pricey entry fee, so I snapped (not so great) photos and got back on the Metro.

It was the highlight of a tour through L'Eixample, the neighborhood surrounding and north of the University of Barcelona; also in this area is Barcelona's main gay district, though I learned that to see it at full flower, it was probably best to visit after 6 pm. Many a shop, though none of the restaurants, shuttered for la siesta, which I'd completely forgotten about. Though thoroughly worn out, I definitely enjoyed seeing Barcelona again, and hope to get back soon. I was even able to have a complete conversation in Spanish, from pickup to drop off, with my cabbie, and on the first leg of my return flight read a couple of the books I bought, one by a young Spanish poet named Juan Vico, which received a prize in 2011, and one by the Argentinian author Carlos Skliar. I'll post translations of excerpts as soon as I can. My cabdriver--I am not becoming Tom Friedman!--stated what I'd observed, that the city had grown in infrastructure and racial and ethnic diversity, and Catalan cultural consciousness since 1990. The days of Franco's ban of this distinctive Romance language, or the absence of black and brown faces, was long gone. What the future promises, especially given the Eurozone crisis and Catalonia's own economic problems, remains to be seen, but the city is and will probably continue to be a jewel.

I concluded part of my return by staying in a relatively inexpensive, Japanese-style pod-hotel, Yotel, in Amsterdam's airport. It took a few minutes to figure out how to turn on the lights and connect to the Internet to Skype home, but I would recommend it for non-claustrophobics and non-acrophobics. It's like sleeping in a chamber of the spaceship in 2001, though without Hal threatening to wreak havoc. Reserve in advance though; I thankfully had so I wasn't denied a room but there was a line of people looking for an affordable option, their computer system was down, and the beleaguered young attendant seemed almost ready to bolt if he was asked another question.... On the second leg of the flight home, I finally read Julian Barnes's Man Booker Prize-winning novella The Sense of an Ending, after having recommended it, based on a number of strong reviews, to a student who enthusiastically polished it off and then came to my office hours to ask: "Professor, what happened at the end?" He wasn't testing me, I realized, but actually confused. I read the book and now what happened, so he'll receive an email, if he did not subsequently reckon it or consult Wikipedia. As tight as a Swiss watch's gears, that plot of Barnes's, yet also perhaps a bit melodramatic too.
OBAMA (British Africa) Ales and Stouts
OBAMA British Africa gin & rum, ales and stouts
VOTA (assemblage with cardboard)
The Mary Astor, L'Eixample
Mary Astor Cafeteria, L'Eixample
Art and mess
Street scene, near Blanquerna
Calle Moncada
Carrer Moncada
The Umbracle, in the Parque La Ciutadella
Umbriacle, in the Parc de La Ciutadella
Street art, Barcelona
Door art
Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Gaudí's Casa Batlló, on the Passeig de Gràcia
Casa Batlló
The crowd in front of the Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
The Museu Antoni Tàpies, with the wire cloud on its roof
Museu Antoni Tàpies (with the wire cloud on its roof)
La Mulata, in L'Eixample
La Mulata, in L'Eixample
In L'Eixample
Street scene, L'Eixample
Galerie de Arte, L'Eixample
Galeria de arte, L'Eixample
Pub Fiction
Pub Fiction, L'Eixample
Yotel Pod
Yotel Hallway, pods on either side
The Yotel pod, straight on

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I loved Barcelona, too. It's a pleasure be mentioned for you. Thanks

    Carlos Skliar