Fantastical, humanistic Barcelona
A true model for curbing drug and alcohol addiction and promoting healthy life choices. It would be almost impossible for anyone to remain isolated and lonely here. So many public spaces accommodating every age. It grows dark outside my hotel window, yet a vigorous soccer game has young and old still shouting frenetically. The avenues are broad, with lanes for bicyclists, skateboarders, roller bladers and skooters. Some streets have sidewalks between single lanes with trees and benches and restaurants. Every few blocks is a roundabout with trees and benches at minimum, sometimes also flowers and a fountain. Between my hotel and the beach is a very very wide promenade dedicated to those learning to roller blade and after that a tremendous skate park: a huge concrete structure with deep wells and long deep curved walls where people on skateboards, roller blades and skooters all attempt wild and dangerous maneuvers, frequently within seconds of each other. There are rails for skaters to skate on top. Next to the skate park is a grassy park. On the other side is a huge city building for indoor sports. Then there is the beach, a wide three-tiered affair. The top avenue is for runners, cyclists, skaters and walkers, as well as spectators. The entire top tier is lined with benches above a high wall so that folks can just look out over the beach at the gorgeous blue sea. Today there were hundreds of people on these benches. Then below it, accessible every sixty meters or so by sloped concrete or stairs, both used by skaters, runners, whoever wants, is another wide sidewalk. Erected here and there is permanent fitness equipment, seriously - stair steppers and other machines found in gyms. Granted they are a bit squeaky from the sea air, but still well-used. Permanent ping pong tables are affixed to the concrete as well. There are restaurants, some with music, plenty of public toilets, tables where old men play dominoes and a game that appeared to be a poker game though I did not recognize the suits: one looked like bowling pins and another like vegetables. Will have to google that one. The beach has fantastic playground equipment. In fact, much of the play equipment had me marveling. We wouldn't dare permit most of the commonly accepted sports here for fear of lawsuits. And yet everyone is having so much fun! (Wouldn't I love to see the tort of simple negligence abolished from our legal system; what a drastic improvement it would mean to our social relations and to the acceptance that humans err and accidents happen; that's just the way it is.) The beach also has many permanent volleyball nets, well-maintained. In addition to the many volleyball games I watched going on today, there is another played with a tennis ball and open hand, four people, two to a team. People build elaborate sand castles: saw two Aztec ones with fires burning in them and of course your typical obscene ones thrown in to elicit euros from tourists. At the port, a lovely port, which is actually four separate ones (I visited the maritime museum today and got very excited over the marine operations as I really like both the complex logistics of it and the romanticism of voyaging) vendor tents are set up and of course musicians play here and there, their instrument cases open for tips. I love the musicians in the subways best; heard a melancholic accordion tune in an underground tunnel today that ripped my heart out, moments before the crooner with his microphone and background speaker on the train had us smiling wistfully. I often wish I had more expendable money handy when I encounter these folks as they contribute so much to the ambience.
Then there is La Rambla, the long avenue cutting through the historic Barri Gotic, with architecture so beautiful I found myself photographing telephone numbers to find what it would cost to rent a flat.
And then of course - Gaudi's influence and that of his contemporaries, whimsical, organic, stunning, awe-inspiring and kooky all at once. All embraced by the City.
Taken from the hilltop above Parc Guell, Gaudi's abandoned utopian residential project now a park, to give a better idea of the scale of the church.
The photos below were taken at Parc Guell, before I settled in with a lovely bottle of Cava under a windy tree canopy listening to a violin quartet.
The community water supply would have fed from an elaborate and beautiful system of viaducts before coming out of a salamander's mouth. Only two houses of the proposed sixty were built, but the infrastructure begun is very cool.
And don't even get me started on the food in Barcelona. I suppose it is merciful that internet service at my hotel was feeble and my photo stream did not link up all of my photos - the fresh squeezed fruit juices at the mercados, the many delightful tapas, the jewel-like sangrias...