Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Three Days in Barcelona - #5: Mar Mediterraneo and La Pedrera

The last afternoon in Barcelona, Saturday, the 11 of November, the day of planned protests about Catalonian Independence.  Earlier in the day, I went to the Museo Historica de Barcelona.  My plans for the afternoon involved a quick tour of the Chocolate Museum, a short walk to the beach, and a final Gaudi House, Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera.

The Chocolate Museum was nothing special.  I shouldn't have bothered.  Then I walked towards the beach, and found the railroad tracks in my way.  It took a while, but I finally found a way to cross them (on a bridge).

 A few more blocks, and there is is, the Mar Mediterraneo!  The Mediterranean Sea!  I'd never seen this Sea before, so now I saw the sea.
 Here's a selfie of me walking on the beach.  You know what that means!
 Yes, I went wading!
 And my finger got in the way...
 Then I washed off (they have lovely little shower areas), and walked back out, planning to take a bus.  And there's the protestors, gathering in the distance.  I went the other way.  (I don't know enough about the issue to really have an opinion, though I do have a vague sense that self-determination is very good, but also at the same time that breaking into a small region might increase costs for defense and such for the whole area.  So I have no business telling Spain or anyone else how to organize themselves.  And I went the other way.)
 I asked a police officer (there were a lot around) and he kindly pointed me to a metro station, much closer than the bus stop even!  So off I went, back to Passeig de Gracia, and to Casa Mile, La Pedrera!  You enter on the ground floor, and there's once again a big light well.  But this one's even bigger than the ones at Casa Battlo.  (The whole apartment building seems way bigger.)
 But it plays with shapes and colors!
 You go up to the roof first.  Amazing!  The chimney toppers are amazing (and were copied for at the Sagrada Familia Passion façade for Roman helmets).
 The way they glow in the sunshine!
 Somehow familiar and alien at the same time!
 You can see the Sagrada Familia in the distance.
 And a familiar four armed cross.
 These chimney toppers are glass mosaics from champagne bottles, but I could never catch the light right with my camera.  In person, they're stunning.
 Inside, catenary arches!
 And a chain display showing catenary arches.
 With a mirror so you can see them as arches looking structural.
 And a structural model.  (This is from another church catacombs.)
 Inside one of the apartments that belonged to the Mile family.

 Doesn't that tub look inviting!

And that ends my visit to Barcelona.  More than a month after it actually happened.

I need to get back in grading jail and finish grading.  I leave the Abbey tomorrow and head to London to read at the British Library for about 10 days.

And then home to the great (and icy) north woods.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Three Days in Barcelona - #4: Museo de Historia de Barcelona

After visiting the Casa Battlo, I headed east, planning to make a shortish stop at the Museo de Historia de Barcelona.   Then I had plans for a visit to the Mediterranean Sea and the Chocolate Museum.

I think what I expected from the City History Museum was basically what I'd expect from a good City Museum in the States, a couple of really interesting rooms with artifacts.  It's pretty small on a map of Barcelona, and I had trouble even finding it.  It's not like, say, the V&A where you see this huge building.  Nope.  The entrance is modest.  And so were my expectations.

I was wrong.  So, so very wrong.

You start out in this smallish room with some pottery and Roman statue heads.

 You can see right out the window into a little plaza in the center of the building.  That's how modest this feels.  But oh, what a lovely statue head!
 Here's an even better one, with a look out to another area of the plaza.
 But at the end of this room, there's a little elevator thingy.  It goes down.  Well, I think, I'm going to a basement room.  And I was, sort of.  Except it was the basement of the whole area, over to part of the Cathedral (see map).  You can see from the picture below that there are lights off pretty distant, and there's someone on a walkway at the left part of the picture.  Basically, you're on a walkway built just above and through the ruins of the Roman fortification, basilica, and so forth.
 Here's a bit of description.
 And a map.  (Click to embiggen.)
 The walkways take you through the ruins, with helpful explanations all around, and then up from ancient Rome to early Christian ruins.  Then up to the area with more modern history.
 Floor tile.  Gorgeous floor tile!
More Roman statue heads.  These are from a burial/memorial area, and are statues that memorialize individuals.  So these statues represent individual people who lived in Barcino.

 And here's a mosaic, restored partially.
Tiles under the laundry floor.
Explanation (I tried to turn it, really!)
 Look how deep the tile pieces are.  Really interesting!
 Back from the previous picture to see a wider view of the tile work.
 Garum and salted fish factory.

 I tried to turn this, too.
 Early Christian symbols.

 The Baptistry Pool as it is today, deep underground.
 The Palace chapel.  Now we're back above ground, but way over from where we started.

What to say about the Museo de Historia de Barcelona?  If you go to Barcelona, you should put it high on your list of places to spend some time.  It's fascinating, and so very cool to walk among the Roman ruins, knowing there's a bustling city just above you!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Canon Question

I'll explain why later, but for now, I just have a question.  Interpreted broadly, what literature in English written between, say, 1475 and 1700 should every English major have read?

(I'd love to hear why you've chosen your choices, too!)

Three Days in Barcelona - #3: Casa Battlo

Our hostel was just a block or so from Casa Battlo, one of Gaudi's iconic building designs.  So on the third morning, I started there.  (The third day I took a lot of pictures, so I'll break it down a bit.)

This is the staircase up from the ground story entrance.  It has a sort of vertebrate feel to it.  But also smooth and rounded.
 Interior hall on the first floor (European style).  The windows really bring through light.
 As, it seems, is usual, light and color are big in Gaudi structures.
 Here's a little warming area with a place to sit.  So inviting!
 Looking out over Passeig de Gracia (one of the main streets in Barcelona).
 A closer look at the glass work.  Luscious!
 Ceiling light fixture.
 Gorgeous floors!
 Up the central part of the building is a light well.  It's tiled in blues, darker above, lighter below.  The upper windows are smaller, and the lower windows bigger, to let in appropriate light (and heat).
 An interior window.
 In the back "yard."  Mosaic work in tile.
 Looking up at the back of the building from the back yard area.
 Columns just inside the room in the picture above, seen closer.
 The light well as you go up.  (People still live in some of the apartments in this building!  Is it wrong that I want to live in a Gaudi building?)
 Near the top.
 On top of the building, there are service areas for workers to do laundry and such.  The spaces are rounded with these catenary arches (I think they are...)
 Laundry area.
 On the roof, the famous chimney tops!
 The light well from above.
 One of Gaudi's four armed crosses.
 More of the service area.  Note the swirl of venting in the door at the end of the hallway.
Casa Battlo was amazing.  One of my favorite places after Sagrada Familia, for sure.