Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Barcelona Day 2

Please click on the small pictures to see the larger versions.

"Hola, parla angles?"

I say that constantly here in Barcelona..."Hi, do you speak English?"

Usually the response is..."A little..." and we go from there.

Today I decided to start my day at Montjuic. Montjuic means "Jewish Mountain" and it was named after an important Jewish cemetery that existed here in the Middle Ages.

My bus dropped me off at the Plaza de Espana, which is at the foot of Montjuic. The plaza was built in 1929 on a site that used to be used for public people seems to just use it to park their scooters.

There was some sort of convention going on...called Bread & Butter Barcelona, so I had to go around it so that I could get to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya or MNAC.

It was also built in 1929 and it houses one of the most important medieval art collections in the world, as well as many incredible paintings...this one is called "Santa Agnes". It was painted by Massimo Stanzione in 1635.

I toured the museum for a while and I felt bad just blowing through some of the galleries...I knew that I should give these paintings the proper respect because these are world-class paintings, painted by masters who spent sometimes years painting them...but on the other hand, I was dying to ride the funicular!

So after 2 hours went by, it was time to ride the funicular! But first I had to walk 45 minutes to get there...I will NOT be gaining weight on this vacation...cabs are conveinient but EXPENSIVE!

The funicular is basically just a cable car skyride sort of thing that took me to the top of Montjuic.

At the top is Castell de Montjuic, which is an 18th century castle. The original structure was built in 1640 during the War of Segadors to resist King Felipe IV's forces.

But now it is a place to get some spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas.

See me in the picture above? See that tall metal tower next to my head? My next stop was the beach exactly where the top of the tower hits the beach in this pic. Do you think I walked?

Hell no! I'd still be walking...I took a nice 15 Euro taxi ride. Best 15 Euro's I spent today because, when I got of the taxi, this is what greeted me...

That's right, the Mediterranean Sea! I was so excited to see the sea...ha that's funny. The Mediterranean has always seemed so exotic and so far away. Well, today I took off my shoes (and socks!) and walked in the surf. It was awesome but a little nerve-racking because these beaches were topless beaches...topless for men AND women. Don't get me wrong, I'm cool and all, but I was not in a bathing suit and I had a camera around my neck. I felt like I was being watched to see if I was watching, which I wasn't! at least not much...

I didn't take any close-up photos, I made sure to stay extra-wide to protect the know who you are...

After drying my feet off and noticing a blister on one of my toes, I decided to make the hour walk back to La Rambla, although today I was going to go from the southern entrance whereas yesterday I entered La Rambla from the northern side...La Rambla is the "main drag" of Barcelona. It is absolutely filled with folks shopping, eating and walking.

On the way I passed the Monument a Colom, which is a statue of Christopher Columbus pointing resolutely out to sea.

It was built in 1888 and it commemorates his return to Spain after discovering the Americas. He is at the very top of this 262 foot tall statue...

Well, that ends day 4 in Spain. The weather has been fantastic and the heat is no worse that Alabama this time of the year. I am drinking water and "Coke light" as they call Diet Coke.

So far I have maybe 45 pictures of my adventures, but as of tonight, I have taken over 800 photos so far. I am not sure I want to upload so many pics to my Flickr account...we'll see. What do you think?

Tomorrow I am going to visit the La Sagrada Familia, which is a church that was started by Antoni Gaudi in 1882 and construction continues today. Some say it should be completed by 2030. Here is a current photo...

After that, I will be taking the high-speed train back to Madrid.

Until tomorrow!

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