LAS RAMBLAS

LAS RAMBLAS

Gaudi lamppost and bench

Gaudi lamppost and bench

We spent three days in Barcelona, Spain, mostly touring Architect Antonio Gaudi’s work, Gaudi’s architecture is all over the city, like this lamppost with it’s stone bench. Pretty comfortable too. I think you will agree you have not seen a lamppost like this—ever, unless you have been to Gaudi’s city of Barcelona. His architectural works also dot the perimeter of Las Ramblas, the city’s most interesting street.

Human Statue

Human Statue

Its fame with tourists has affected the character of the boulevard, with charming cafes and souvenir kiosks. Las Ramblas can also be roughly divided into seedy and non-seedy areas. This distinction becomes a lot clearer during the nighttime when the Southern-most end of the Ramblas becomes something of a red light district.

Las Ramblas Artists

Las Ramblas Artists

Even so, you will find dozens of restaurants and beautiful shops along the full length of the Barcelona Las Ramblas, along with artists hawking their wares.

Did you know there is a Miró on Las Ramblas? The famous painter Joan Miró actually created part of the Ramblas. Many thousands of people walk right over the Miró circle on the Ramblas every day and don’t even know it!

Miro circle

Miro circle

Entertainment is prevalent with street performers, acrobats, impersonators, and musicians. Costumed actors were the most fascinating with expert disguises as human statues.

Human statue

Human statue

barcelona-las-ramblas-eating-outPeople watching is a must while you sit on the Ramblas with a jug of sangria, it’s an absolute must!

If you abide by the conservative fashions,, it will be harder for those pickpockets to find you. Hint, hint, shorts scream tourist, tourist, tourist, making it easy for the seedy. Are you up for the challenge?

Thanks for the images go to Barcelona-touristguide.com.

EXPERIENCE ESPARDRILLES

EXPERIENCE ESPARDRILLES

Leopard & black

Leopard & black

Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia (Spain) and the Occitania region since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles goes as far back as 4000 years. Traditional espadrilles have an canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by all.

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

A must when in Spain, is to visit an espadrille workshop. La Manual Alpargatera, the workshop we shopped, started their business just after the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s. The shop is near the Ramblas, the most popular street in Barcelona. La Manual is a must visit for the informed traveler and a yearly appointment for the folks of Barcelona. Tom and I enjoyed selecting the sole, the tops, the colors.

Like picking candy, which one?

Like picking candy, which one?

Yes! We did, we went shopping in Spain. The espadrille is an ecological light shoe made with natural materials like hemp and jute. The soles can be rubber. Those are for street walking. Jute soles are more delicate, but they are so soft, it’s tempting to wear them for everything. You can get sneakers, or high wedgies. Men wear them as well as women and children. images-7 images-9

Tom bought a couple of pair, I bought several, in different colors, for me and for gifts. The owner of the store worked with us. He told us to buy them one size smaller because they stretch. It’s difficult to get them on, but once you do, they fit fine, and they do stretch.

In those 4000 years, the tradition has survived, with variations, you can imagine, but the basics have not changed. The shoe offers comfortable footwear that fit any feet. images-10 images

Care is easy. Wear on dry ground. If they get wet, the hemp/jute (vegetable fibers) soak up the water. The drenched sole will deform due to weight of the wearer’s body. But they can be redeemed. Wash them with soap and water right away. If hand sewn, wash by hand in cold water, rinse well and dry. This prevents rot. For the washing machine, use a short program and cold water. White or cream colored espadrilles sometimes yellow if the canvas dries before the sole. If that happens, when dry, clean the canvas with bleach mixed in water to whiten.

Here’s where – Carrer d’Avinyo, 7 – 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. +34 933 010 172 – amanualalpargatera.coml

Are you espardrille owners? What do you like about them?

 

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

Antonio Gaudi, unappreciated in his brief life as an architect. His genius gave life to an edifice in Barcelona, never before done . . . anywhere. We were witness to his genius in 2010.

Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Spires of the church.

Spires of the church.

Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.On 19 April 2011, an arsonist started a small fire in the sacristy which forced the evacuation of tourists and construction workers; the sacristy was damaged, and the fire took 45 minutes to contain.

Stained glass windows

Stained glass windows

The stained glass windows were placed perfectly to permit sunlight penetration, spreading colors from the stained glass onto the massive columns.

La Sagrada is an architectural wonder, however, yet unfinished. Worth a trip to Barcelona. Then you can see other works of Gaudi’s architectural ingenuity.

You can purchase your ticket on-line the day before to avoid the long lines and make sure you include a trip up to the top of one of the towers for an amazing view!

For those of you who have been and seen, what details were your favorite?

 

THE BIG CITY

THE BIG CITY

NY statueoflibHasn’t everyone been to the big city? New York City. That’s also known as the Island of Manhattan. That plot of land in-between two bodies of water, the Hudson River on the Westside,  and the East River on the, well, you can guess.

 

The Westside has the Battery with the Statue of Liberty,

Ellis Island in the distance

Ellis Island in the distance

Ellis Island and One World Trade Center and Chinatown. The East Side has Gracie Mansion (NY Mayor’s home) and the Brooklyn Bridge, a historic landmark. Battery Park, seen here,  is worth a visit.

It’s because of Lana, our house guest, that we visited all these places, neglected when you live in their midst. Here’s pieces and pictures of the city. Over the city sounds you can  hear the hawkers selling food, pictures (a law prohibiting hawking by Spider Man and his friends is coming), clothes, souvenirs, and more. Below there are photos of St. Patrick’s under renovation, the flags at Rockefeller Plaza, city view lights, cars, people, Lana taking it all in.

One World Trade Center (Renamed from Freedom Center)

One World Trade Center (Renamed from Freedom Center)

 

Ellis Island

Ellis Island close-up

P1110523 P1110536 P1110534 P1110513 P1110391 NYchinatwn nystreetview1 P1110500You have to love living here with all there is to explore. When’s the last time you toured “the city”?

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