Monday, 22 July 2013

A week in Barcelona

Life's been a bit busy over the past few months, but at last we have a few weeks at home, so we can catch up on the garden and relax a bit.  The week before last we were at the 10th International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology in Barcelona, where Jenny and several of her colleagues were speaking.  Fortunately it was in a big, modern, air-conditioned hotel, as the outside temperatures rose to the mid-30's centigrade.  This is the view from our room!
This old palace now houses the National Museum of Catalan Art.  I didn't go in, but we did have a drink in the cafĂ© on the terrace outside the entrance.

I didn't go to many of the talks, so generally went rubbernecking in the mornings when it wasn't quite so hot, then retired to our room in the afternoon where I could work on the website from Jenny's project.  Since the hotel provided wifi and I'd taken my laptop, this was easy and I got a lot done.

I'd got the site pretty much completely translated into Spanish and just needed to tidy a few bits up, so it was a useful way to spend the time.

Naturally I also practised my Spanish.  Many of the locals don't speak any English, and the Spanish is slightly different from the Andalucian Spanish I've learned, so occasionally just understanding what was going on was a bit of a challenge.  Good fun, though!

We walked into the old city and visited the cathedral, but architecturally speaking, the high point was always going to be the Sagrada Familia, the church designed by GaudĂ­ and still a long way from completion.

This view, taken from a terrace of the palace above, shows the familiar profile, along with the resident cranes.  What's not obvious is that there are a further 10 spires yet to be built, making 18 in all, the tallest of which will be 170 metres tall.

We took the lift up the spires by the south doors.  They are only about 60 metres tall and there's not much space for tourists up there, but then they only let a few people up at a time.

It's advisable to book tickets online, which I did from the hotel and as a result we got in with almost no queueing.  A friend also booked online the previous day and had to wait an hour, so it's a bit of a lottery.  Definitely worth the effort, though.  Fantastic building.

Actually, there are quite a lot of really fascinating buildings to be seen just as you move around the city, with wide, tree-lined streets and interesting frontages in a wide variety of styles.

We ate lots of really great food, of course!  The best patatas bravas I've ever had.  In Barcelona they seem to dollop Marie Rose sauce on them, which works brilliantly.  Also slow braised calve's cheeks and excellent fish, of course.

One thing we won't try again was the ears.  We couldn't imagine they were real ears, so figured the translation was wrong and they'd probably be some sort of mushroom.  Wrong, they were pigs' ears!  There's really just skin and a bit of sub-cutaneous fat either side of the cartilage that shapes a pig's ear, and it was a rather tasteless, amorphous tissue.  One taste was enough!



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