El Primera Dia

I woke this morning and walked down the Ramblas, stopped for a coffee, snapped a photo of George Orwell’s plaza, and ended at Port Vell. The port is filled with boats, dog walkers, and joggers, mostly sleepy around 8 a.m. There is a large, colorful sculpture of a head-shaped thing, and a long promenade with bike lanes. I snapped my first photos of the city around here. From Port Vell you can see the cable cars which run up to Montjuic, the hill top on the west side of the city.

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I walked along the beach at Barceloneta and along to Port Olimpic, which at that hour of morning were filled with older folks doing stretches and yawning. The sun is hot in the morning. I walked up through La Ribera afterwards in the direction of Torre Agbar, which I could see, but never reached. My new sandals started rubbing my feet the wrong way. One should never begin travels in new sandals, if one expects to do much walking.

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I headed back through the streets until reaching Las Ramblas, where I bought a newspaper, "El Correo" and then walked past my hotel on Carrer Sant Pau, and through El Raval for a few blocks. Arab merchants have shops along the narrow streets, greedily eying all the tourists who squeeze through.

After ignorantly walking into some important looking library, then turning around and leaving, I found my way to La Mercat de Boqueria. The market was outdoors, but covered in a large awning. Vendors in dozens of stalls were selling all kinds of fruits, vegetables, fish and meats. Locals were shopping for fresh cuts and tourists grabbing salads-to-go. Walking back down the Ramblas, I went back in the room for a bit, slept for a few minutes, and ventured back outside.

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I took the Metro to Vallacarca, grabbed a Queso y Jamon Croissant, and entered Parc Guell. The famous park, designed by Gaudi, actually sits atop a hill from which there are views of the city below. Tourists throbbed, speaking French, English, Spanish, German, and eastern European languages. The park is filled with whimsical benches, some covered in colorful bits of ceramic, others in drippy stone that look like permanent sand castles. I took photos of musicians, playing the guitar, playing some Asian stringed thing, and a band called "Made in Barcelona" who played a Bob Marley cover, and sold me a CD.

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Before leaving I asked an information helper person where the fountain with the lizards were, in Spanish, and was answered in English, which seems to be the normal reaction to my attempts at bilingualism. I also had a helpful Samaritan (or Croation?) snap my photo con la vista.  

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After leaving Parc Guell, I headed for the Picasso museum in the Barrio Gotic, inside what was once a giant mansion, centuries ago. Picasso’s work was represented from his earliest, most traditional renaissance-style portraits, through his Parisian dabbles in Lautrec-like pornographic sketches, onto his modernist Cubism staples. Picasso’s progression from realism into the cubed-faces, backwards noses and bold color he became famous for was fascinating. Another artist was featured, Deek Van something, who reminded me of Matisse. (Or what I know of Matisse. I can’t pretend to be literate of the fine arts.)

For dinner, I returned to Port Olimpic where I had 1/4 Pollo con “chips.” the service was slow, but I couldn’t tell if it was beneficially slow, allowing me to soak up the evening beach view, or carelessly slow, in order to resent the American tourist. Afterwards I walked back to the Hostal Opera, snapping a few photos of the street-lit Carrer de Jaume on the way.

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