I had a great trip to Barcelona, that fine European city, with its long straight main streets set out in a grid, and its myriad back streets, with the buildings so close together that people could almost shake hands with their neighbours across their balconies. These balconies are a ubiquitous feature of the city (see Photos 1 and 2 – taken with a small camera, so not the usual quality) and there are many different shapes and designs. It’s a city for walking around and taking a turn off the main streets as often as you can. How else will you find a hammock shop?
The main purpose of the visit was for my pal Roger and me to see the famous FC Barcelona play football (aka soccer) in the amazing Nou Camp Stadium. This is a once in a lifetime experience for most people, so it is worth spending a fair bit of money to get a good seat. When you first go into the stadium – which holds 95,000 people when full – you are amazed by its size and brightness. The game we saw did not start until 10pm, and this is another new experience, certainly for people in the UK and many other countries. We were not disappointed as we saw some of the best players in the world now – Neymar, Fabregas, Pedro and Tello – and some of the best players of all time – Xavi and Iniesta. Unfortunately, the world’s best and best known footballer, Lionel Messi, was injured, and did not play.The level of skill and the movement of the players was way beyond the level which Roger and I see when watching our own team Hibernian FC, aka The HIbs or The Hibees but it was also much better than any football to be witnessed in the UK or in most of Europe. All in all, a unique and unforgettable experience, especially as we had seats very close to the pitch.
I’m sure that for many, many people, the main reason for visiting Barcelona is to see the various buildings and structures designed by Antoni Gaudi. The first visit was to the Palau Guell (see Photo 3 for the exterior) which is a good introduction to Gaudi’s extravagant designs and it has a magnificent interior. The largest and most famous of Gaudi’s work is the still to be completed Sagrida Familia. This amazingly complex building was started in 1882 and is expected to be finished in the next 20 years. It is like something that you have never seen before. The outside of the building has, in some respects, the shapes and structures of other cathedrals but when you look at some of the spires, you see Gaudi’s unusual designs. (See photos 4-6). It is a very good idea to book online if you are visiting as there are extremely long queues throughout the year. Gaudi’s cathedral is not to everyone’s taste and you have to decide for yourself whether you like aspects of the architecture. Another of Gaudi’s sites which is very worth while visiting is the Cascada situated in the extensive Ciutadella Park. Here you see another example of Gaudi’s extravagant mind with a waterfall running down the front of an ornately decorated building – it’s a stunning sight.
We also visited the Maritime Museum. Unfortunately, my wee camera gave up the ghost at this point, so photos, but the website shows the truly magnificent galley ship which was rowed – mainly by slaves. One interesting feature is that you can see inside the bottom of the ship where sailors worked in very cramped conditions. If you were going back in time to this ship, you’d want to be an officer. It has a very ornate bow and stern. You can also get an excellent 3 course lunch, including a beer or wine, for 10 Euros – great value.
So, back from 23-25 degrees in Barcelona to 10 degrees (feels like 7) and a stiff northerly wind in Dunbar. I turned my poetry calendar to Thursday 10 October and found a poem entitled “October” by X.J. Kennedy. Around here, many of the trees are turning to their autumnal colours. The poem begins “Flat-tired, the years sets out roadside flares” and later “Trees’ signals od distress/Turn more flamboyantly demonstrative”. Impressive imagery.