It’s been a nice long weekend thanks to the public holiday here today, and I’ve spent much of it being a “good tourist” and visiting a few places that have caught my eye for one reason or another. I just can’t do whistle-stop tourism though, I’ve learnt, and the thought of literally running from one tourist hotspot to another, thankfully isn’t a problem given that I have Barcelona on tap 24/7 whenever I want it. While I was in Madrid recently, I was queuing outside the Reina Sofia art museum and a group of girls in front of me had a cast-iron itinerary that left not one second open to chance. They’d literally split their time into hour-long slots with various sights given an appropriate amount of viewing time before shooting off to the next one. Just the sight of this sheet of paper over their shoulder made me feel a bit sick I have to say. Even though I only had a short time in Madrid myself, I was happy to stroll out of the Museum later and casually drift wherever the breeze took me (which not surprisingly was in the direction of a shady tree in the rather stunning Retiro park nearby with a good book).
I’ve kind of screwed-up my blog I have to admit, and time has ticked by so fast since my last entry that I’ve spent a few weeks thinking about how the hell I can start again without it seeming like a massive jolt caused by nearly 3 spacious months of potential blog entries that never made it into being. Do I frantically write-up everything based on my failing memory, or do I somehow skip the missing chunk of time? The whole point of blogs is that they are published “in the moment” and don’t hang around like some old politician waiting to retire (or die, whichever comes first) so he can suddenly feel free to slag-off in his memoirs everyone he’s ever known. The thought of such a jolt has put me off sitting down and writing something, so the problem has just got worse, and my blog has grown into the proverbial gorilla in the corner of the room that everyone knows is sat there gorping at us, but we’re all desperately trying to ignore. Well, I’ve now decided (again, because yes, I’ve been down this route before) that there’s no point waiting and moaning, so I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to come back from the dead as it were, is to do it in the style that Bobby did in Dallas. Let’s face it, nobody questioned anything in the 80’s, did they? We were all far too busy wearing giant shoulderpads and breakdancing, so I’m hoping the same logic will apply now to my blog. Yep, the last 3 months have all been nothing but a dream and I’ve now reappeared in the shower as if nothing as happened! Pretty nifty, eh? The episodes of “the show” where I had a fab weekend in Valencia for Las Fallas (apologies to TimG for not writing that one up!), and the marvellous time I had in Madrid, along with all the other great things I’ve done in the interim, were all just a figment of Pam’s overactive imagination. Either that, or she’d been drinking some of Sue Ellen’s “special” fruit juice again! If my blog ever slips again in the future (which it surely will), I reckon the next time I’ve got the perfect soap opera based solution to explain things… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju8YH6ewoqQ Hello?? Can you put me through to Aaron Spelling, please??
(Like I said, nobody questioned anything in the 80’s!!) jeje.
Anyway, after all that, I feel better now, so it’s back to Barcelona and the here-and-now.
Mid way through last week, I made my mind up that the long weekend would be predominantly spent doing two of my favourite daytime activities – firstly, strolling around Barcelona and secondly, flaking out in the sun with a good book. I’m pleased to say I’ve managed to succeed on both scores.
I’d set my alarm nice and early for 9am Saturday morning (so naturally I didn’t get up until gone 11am, but hey, it’s Saturday). My vague plan to go to the gym for an hour before heading out to “be a tourist” had suddenly (and rather conveniently) become the first casualty of my weekend plan, so I sacked that off and just lazily got ready to head straight out. After seeing the film Perfume at the cinema last year, and recently watching it again on DVD, I wanted to check out one of the locations that they used, as much of the film was shot around Barcelona. The scenes where they are playing hide and seek in the maze and the twins are abducted were filmed at the Laberinto de Horta, which is not too far from here. So, that was my plan for today then - go to the Laberinto with my camera and practice taking some photos. Ah yes, that’s another thing that I’ve been moaning about a lot lately – the quality of my photos. In a word, they’re shit. Having a nice place to experiment seemed like the right way forward, so I set off, camera at the ready.
When I arrived at Horta, I was immediately pleased to see how tranquil and tourist-free it was. Crowds annoy me even at the best of times, so I didn’t want to get frustrated by them and end up heading home earlier than I should. First job – have an ice cream. Mission accomplished there and even had a pleasant chat with the old woman on the kiosk. Over at the actual entrance to the park-proper, I strolled past the security lodge with my MP3 turned on and didn’t hear the man calling me back at first. Turns out that you have to pay to get in! At €2.05 per person though, it’s pretty reasonable. But why the 5 cents? I asked the guy why they’d come up with such an odd price, but he just laughed and said he had no idea, but was sick of having to have stacks of small change for all the people paying with whole Euros.
Inside the park, it was absolutely stunning, so I immediately reached for my camera to take some snaps. Just my luck, my camera snagged and refused to fully open the lens. After fiddling with it for ages and trying to get it to come back to life, I had to give up, and so I continued my tour of the gardens a bit miffed that I couldn’t do the one thing I’d wanted to do originally which was practice taking some pics. I even tried as a last resort to get just a couple of pics with my camera-phone, but for some reason that also decided it wasn’t going to work either! Great.
After a while, I left the park and jumped back on the Metro heading straight through town and out of the other side slightly to the Palau Reial gardens near the University. These gardens are nothing to write home about (although nice enough) but I just wanted somewhere that I knew would be quiet so I could flake out in the sun and read my book. The book I’m currently knee-deep in is actually one written by a friend I know here in Barcelona. He’s a Cuban dissident (already sounds glamorous, eh?) and has basically written a book all about his experiences trying to escape from Cuban back around 1990. Joking aside, it contains lots of insights into Cuban life that fascinate me, so I’m loving reading it. It’s desperately sad in places, and even more so given that I know the person who all this has happened to. There are plenty of obscure Spanish words that I struggle with, so it can be a pain to read it when I’ve not got my computer handy but I know enough to follow it even if I miss the odd intricate part slightly. Ironically enough, the book has only been published in French so far, as my friend escaped from Cuba and ended up living in Belguim for about 13 years before coming to Barcelona. The copy I’ve got is his original Spanish pdf document version, as the book isn’t available in Spain, otherwise I’d be plugging it heavily here.
After here, I headed home to get showered and cleaned up ready to go back to where I’d bought my camera from just 4 months ago, in the hope that they’d replace it there and then. The guy on the service desk was polite enough, but he pissed me right off by taking one look at the extended (and jammed) zoom, and telling me “está torcido!” (it’s twisted) and that I’ve obviously knocked it at some point. One thing I’m sure of though, is that this camera has been well looked after, and there is no way it’s been knocked at any time. He just shrugged and still claimed it was still knocked despite the fact that I made him hold it up and see that there wasn’t a hint of it being off-centre. The upshot though was that it was still broken and the procedure is to take it to a place over near Sagrada Familia for them to fix it under the guarantee. Apparently, with a fair wind, they could have it back to me within a month. A month!!!! Christ tonight!!!
Anyway, I headed home extremely miffed (stopping for dinner on the way – pissed off or not, I still like to eat!). A bit of drama on the way home was that I saw a guy crash his motorbike. It was awful, but luckily he was more or less OK and immediately got on his feet. The bike made one hell of a noise as it slid down the road, and he was lucky that no cars were following directly behind or he’d have been run over for sure.
I got home and went to show my flatmate the camera evidence, and guess what!! It worked perfectly! The lens immediately retracted smoothly and without any problem at all! I couldn’t believe it but was very pleased. So far, it’s continued working fine, so I’m hoping that my luck holds out and it was just perhaps a bit of dust that’s worked its way loose again. I felt like going straight back to the shop and showing the snotty guy just how "torcido" my camera wasn't!!
Knowing my luck though, it would've immediately jammed in his presence! jeje
Sunday morning, I managed to actually get up on time, so I went to the gym. This is always an eye-opening experience given the incredible spread of people that are members of this particular gym. We’ve got’em all! The usual musclemen who stand there staring at their own ever-expanding arms after every tiny bit of exercise, along with the skinny and semi-unfit types like me who go because they know they should, but aren’t entirely sure why! There are also some great characters in this particular gym too. My favourites are two old ladies who spend more time exercising their jaws while chatting than any other muscle they might have! There are two machines directly facing eachother – one for working your inside thighs and the other for the outside – and these two old dears spend most of their time on these, barely moving their legs at all and instead just gassing away to eachother! It’s all the funnier because one of them dresses in a J-Lo style terry-toweling tracksuit with giant gold earrings and tons of make-up. If she ever broke a sweat (which is unlikely) her entire face would just slip right off! There’s also a old man who comes to the gym in brogue style shiny leather shoes, socks pulled up to his knees, a pair of tight shorts, and an Air Force type shirt buttoned firmly up to the neck. What is he thinking?? Ah well, it gives me something to giggle at. I’m sure there are plenty of people pointing at me and finding something to laugh at. It all makes the world go around at the end of the day.
After the gym, I went to Horta again, in the hope of getting some pictures this time, and I wasn’t disappointed thankfully. The sun was shining and I had a lovely afternoon. I can’t describe it in words very well, so you’ll have to take a look at my lovely new Flickr webpage photo album that I’ve set up. Check it out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pepino_esp/sets/72157600304804399/
The park is only relatively small, but I strolled around the park for a couple of hours taking as many pics as possible. I’m happy enough with the results. Much better than my usual standard, that’s for sure!
Well, I better wrap up now as it’s late and if I don’t finish this post tonight, I’ll never finish it!