Let's get ready to Rumblas...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  ,
Monday, September 11, 2006

Who is the greater genius - Gaudi or Ronaldinho? Oh the life to have the achievements of each offered to be experienced day after day. The phrase 'living the dream' seems appropriate. Gaudi is the first to present his argument - the mysterious and marvellous facade of Casa Batllo magically lighting Passeig de Gracia as I emerge from the airport train. Casa Batllo? Brillinat. 1 - 0 gaudi. Ronaldinho, having heard that I was pitting him up against Gaudi, turns up at the incredible Camp Nou the following night for the champions league game against Levski sofia, determined to find an equaliser. He does... and how. The poor bulgarians had nothing as Ronaldinho, in the final minute and with vintage Ronaldinho class, elegantly skipped past one defender and delivered a wonderful finish into the top corner. Barcelona 5 - Levski Sofia 0. Gaudi 1 - Ronaldinho 1. But really - how do you compare the impact of an individual has by his remarkable, lively and inspiring architecture to another individual leading a football mad city to be the champions of europe - leading a team that symbolises the catalan identity? Perhaps impossible. Impossible. Although despite this, I'm leaning towards Gaudi, Ronaldinho penalised points for not having a great game an passing way way way too much to Motta.

The impact and influence of Gaudi's work, however, is ever present. It's almost, without fail, brilliant. In truth, I'm experiencing some indecision as to the most impressive aspect of gaudi's masterpieces. is it the sheer magnificence, enormity and mythical legend of La Sagrada Familia? Is it the hypnotic undulating roof of Casa Mila, bizarre almost eastern looking sculptures reaching for the sky upon the quarry's ceiling? what about the energy and playfulness of Parc Guell, with its fairy tale gingerbread houses, magic vibrant salamanders and the single, continuous, impossibly elaborate mosaic bench? No - surely it's the facade of Casa Batllo - the wavy dragon back bone sitting above the bone-resembling balconies, the ocean of light blue, blue and turquoise tiles and the fluid window settings and beams - impossible to draw your eye from during both the day, when the sun reflects amazingly from the multi-coloured mosaic, and at night, when the subtle lighting gives an entirely different,a lthough none less magnificent, impression. Gaudi? Brilliant. And not brilliant in the same way that $1 beers in Prague are brilliant. Truly brilliant. but I'm experiencing more indecision - perhaps Parc Guell...

Modernism is an irrepressible part of Barcelona. Not just Gaudi. Let me drop a few names because it's fun. Picasso. Dali. Miro. Decent group of avant guard artists really. having each spent significant parts of their life in Barcelona, each of them have a gallery in their honour exhibiting some of their finest works. yeah - I got quite a bit of a modern art fix in Barclona. For the record - the Fundacio de Miro, in my opinion, is the finest of the 3. Quality... The Miro work was great, but the temporary exhibition also featured pianos: smashed, painted with erotic images, with chandeliers dropped upon them. Miro and pianos...

In some ways, Barcelona has been a bit of a struggle. A struggle to see everything - somehow a week not being enough to see all of the sights that I hoped to see. A struggle to find any continuing sobriety - sangria being way too cheap and good, and some bottles of wine actually in a bottle being sold for a ridiculous 38 cents (although, perhaps a more appropriate price, given its quality, would be 24 cents). A struggle to find a Spanish phrasebook that was apparently left by a friend at a hostel but somehow was not there (special thanks to ShaneMasterShane for overlooking to leave it in Barcelona). A struggle to keep any semblance of a budget in a city where all the sights are fuck-off expensive but, at the same time, must see (Casa Batllo - 16.50 euros - killing me). A struggle to not die in the torrential rain that flooded the streets following the Barcelona football game. Yep - it was often a struggle. Just a general struggle. Regular readers of this blog may find that this is a constant theme.

The struggle involving the money (see above) was the only struggle that I managed to battle with some degree of dignity. Well, perhaps not dignity. You see - I'm armed with the finest weapon that an impoverished backpacker can possess in western europe - the Turkish lira. by some stroke of genius - and surely amidst some political controversy - the Turkish 1 lira coin looks almost identical to a 2 euro coin; a 1/2 lira coin like a 1 euro coin. Turkish lira? Worth nothing. Euro? Dominates. So - are you thinking what I'm thinking? Exactly - I can't believe that the Freo Dockers actually won a final either. Anyway - the problem is, because the coins look so similar, it often ends up being the case that I, completely unintentionally of course, sometimes offer a Turkish Lira instead of a 2 euro coin for payment of goods. For some reason, it only seems to happen at massive chain stores (my conscience couldn;t do it to the old lady at the bakery). sometimes, KFC gets 2 euros less that it should. So does carrefour. And starbucks. Turkish lira? Weapon against globalisation. I predict tough times ahead for McDonalds.

Barca? Love it. There's a lot of excitement and character in the place. Florist after florist cramp together alongside bird sellers and street artists on las ramblas. the human statues constantly try t out do each other in the ridiculousness of their costume; the massive gothic cathedrale is, indeed massive and gothic. Barri gotic and Born, in particular, charm whilst you walk through their bohemian backalleys. Eclectic markets stalls set up anywhere, all things kitsch and random available for purchase; the fountain at the palau Nacional dances; the harbour relaxes. And tapas and paella are easily some of the best foods that I've had in europe. A new achievement - not a single kebab eaten in a city since 6 June 2006. My body feels significantly better for it. Barcelona is the only city that I've visited on what I like to call "the post-world cup European adventure of the devil of the death from hell" that I've been to before. Having returned once, I know that I will return again. I can't bear thinking that I won't.

So to the top 5. Above I have briefly mentioned the crazy human statues. Barcelona is quite known for them. This Top 5 is dedicated, indeed, to their own dedication in pursuit of this art which history will no doubt show to be as great, influential and meritorious as that of Gaudi and Picasso. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of all of the artists whom I wish to feature - a pictorial top 5 would have been perfect. Therefore, I will have to describe to you the best I can the "Top 5 most ridiculous human statues on Las Ramblas:

5. green goblin man of the devil of the death from hell - So much green paint. Crazy. Everyday. So much paint...
4. Camouflage army soldier shooting AK47 automatic rifle at rival human statue immediately adjacent.
3. Eccentric pirate, armed with a thin an flimsy sword, looking extremely anxious as an AK 47 is pointed at him.
2. massive skeleton man - huge oversized head the same size of a person - in a massive skeleton costume. Gives High 5s. Wicked.
1. 70's glam disco clowns. One male. One female. Metallic silver paint all over them and their clothes. That's that best I can describe them. Constantly smiling, as a disco ball rotates above their head. To them goes 1 Turkish lira.

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