Travelogue: Three Hours in Barcelona

I mentioned in my first dispatch from Barcelona that my schedule this year prohibited the sort of experience I had outside of the conference last year.  While I had two full days last year with no commitments at Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona, this year the organizers kept me busy every day of the event.

Good for making efficient use of my time on an overseas business trip.  Bad for taking in the sights.

I had three hours on Friday between my last shift of booth duty and the speakers’ reception, and I decided to make the most of them; hence my promise of pictures when I posted from JFK.

I left the Convention Center with two goals: to return to La Font de Canaletes, and to make an appropriate addition to my wife’s collection of souvenir spoons.

I walked two blocks from the Centre Convencions to the El Maresme/Forum subway station on the L3 line (hover your mouse over each picture for a brief description; click to enlarge).

El Maresme/Forum subway entrance the L3 line, Barcelona

One transfer to the L4 line later, I was at the top of La Rambla de Catalunya and back at La Font de Canaletes, which once again defied my efforts to take a decent picture of it (although the two drinks I took from it were both quite refreshing, just like last year):

la Font de Catalenes la Font de Catalenes

The Rambla is an excellent place to do the tourist thing, so while I was there I went in search of a spoon for Gale.  I found one with a fairly intricate reproduction of a Gaudi building known as La Pedrera:

Gale's spoon (the spoon that launch 10,000 steps)

It occurred to me that the spoon, while beautiful, wouldn’t make much sense to Gale without a picture of the actual building to back it up.  I asked the shopkeeper where the building was, and after much deliberation I was sent into the Gothic Quarter, where I renewed my acquaintance with the Barcelona Cathedral and also found a bit of American consumerism in a fairly jarring place:

Barcelona Cathedral Old World Europe meets New World North America

Yes, that’s a Foot Locker store in a Gothic building in the photo on the right.  This shook me up sufficiently that with two exceptions (there were simply too many McDonald’s to photograph, and I couldn’t get a decent picture of the faux Wanted posters of the Burger King which plastered the subway), I made it a point to take pictures of any American stores I found on my walk.

Which was about to get much longer, because the shopkeeper totally pointed me in the wrong direction.  I stopped at a currency exchange and determined that I had been sent southwest when I really needed to go northwest.  A perusal of the map showed that I had the longitude about right; a simple two mile walk was all that stood between my quarry and me (that’s a multi-lingual pun, by the way; La Pedrera is Catalan for “the quarry”).

Off through the Gothic Quarter I went, with strange harbingers of home following me everywhere.

this place sells vitamins..  really. *another* Foot Locker

the only store I saw named after a US state; there was also one of these in the mall across the street from the Convention Center

Once I got out of the Gothic Quarter and on to Passeig de Gràcia, I knew I was heading in the right direction.  A walk in Barcelona is never a terrible thing, and this one was quite pleasant.  I even landed a bonus Gaudi building when I literally stumbled onto Casa Batlló:

Casa Batlló Casa Batlló

The mosaics on the front of this building are truly remarkable; click the link above to see some photographs which do proper justice to the place.

Another half mile or so up the road and my goal was apparent: La Pedrera, a symphony of harmonious asymmetry, a mosaic of a different sort:

La Pedrera from the opposite corner La Pedrera: detail from the roof

La Pedrera: detail of assymetrical balconies La Pedrera: assymetrical balconies from below

La Pedrera: more assymetrical boundaries the author in front of La Pedrera

My only regret is that I didn’t have time to go into either building.  Remember, this was a three hour tour (a three hour tour).

I needed to get back across town before the reception, but not before taking one more picture of an amazing piece of architecture and one more piece of American commercialism in an unexpected place:

crossing of Avinguda Diagonal and Passeig de Gràcia Dunkin Donuts in the subway (note the change of emphasis (Dunkin Coffee) for the European market)

I made it back for the speakers’ reception with five minutes to spare.

It’s a great life when work gives you the opportunity to see new and remarkable things.  My thanks to the shopkeeper who pointed me in the wrong direction!


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