Monday, February 26, 2007

A Most Curious Creature

Yes, this is a female

I thought it was just my imagination until this phenomenon was independently verified by one of my brothers while visiting. I'll call it The Transformation.

(While reading the following, imagine it being spoken by someone with a sophisticated, British accent.)

It seems that a fair amount of Spanish women undergo a metamorphosis starting around their mid-50s. They begin to shrink to 4'11" in height. Their heads become thick and blockish. These heads are then adorned with some variation of a Golden Girls hairdo. It's quite disturbing and does not bode well for the future of humanity. It's unknown whether The Transformation affects all Spanish women or just those of Catalunya. In any event, tread lightly as they are nasty and brutish.

A creature with husband

A stylish creature

Has the creature spotted me? Fear grips me.

A creature shopping

A creature out for a stroll

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Barcelona, Spain - Gothic Quarter

The corner BBQ pit

Last Sunday, after rambling down Las Ramblas, I took a stroll through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The restaurant, above, had a great set-up. The corner of the building housed a wood-fired BBQ pit that was roasting chickens. Brother Beamis would kill for this set up. Can I get an "Amen," Beamis?

From Wikipedia:

The Barri Gòtic ('Gothic Quarter' in Catalan; Castilian: Barrio Gótico) is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. Many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. Remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen around Tapineria and Sots-Tinent Navarro to the north, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west and Carrer de la Palla to the south. The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic although open to service vehicles and taxis.

It smelled wonderful

Looking toward Pasage de la Paz

Sunlight strains to reach the narrow street

Plaza Reill

Light and shadow

An Arabic flavor to the overhead walkway

An arch above an arch

The cathedral, which is being refurbished

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Barcelona, Spain - Las Ramblas

A gremlin of some sort

Las Ramblas is a kilometer-long pedestrian mall in the center of Barcelona. It forms a divide between the Gothic Quarter to the east and the El Raval Quarter to the west. It extends from Plaza Catalunya on the north end to the Christopher Columbus statue on the south end near the harbor. It's full of cafés, merchant kiosks, artists and street performers.

The street performers usually have some sort of elaborate costume along with a lot of body paint. They stand still and silent until change is thrown in the container at their feet. When the coins hit the container, they begin some sort of routine, usually pretty lame, based on their character. One of our favorites is the Che Guevara character, but he wasn't performing the day I took these pictures.

Ronaldinho - Barcelona soccer star

A ferry princess

Something out of a Terry Gilliam movie

A young boy tempts Death

Your guess is as good as mine

A young girl poses with Indian warrior

A little person doing card tricks (tee hee)

Edward Scissorhands

Friday, February 02, 2007

Leaving Barcelona Like the Colts Left Baltimore

The story you are about to hear is true. No names have been changed to protect anyone.

Eduardo can't leave the dining room without straightening all eight chairs

Cast of Characters:

Giovani - Owns two apartments; ours and another one upstairs. Currently in Brazil.

Eduardo - Minion of Giovani. Lives in upstairs apartment. Overseeing our apartment.

Angelo - Former apartment mate. Now lives upstairs.

Matt and I signed a lease with Gio to live in his apartment through the end of May. Part of the lease was that we agreed to a set of House Rules; which are, basically, to clean up after ourselves, keep the noise down in the late hours and take turns cleaning the common areas of the apartment once a week. Fair enough. There are 9 people living here, so you want to keep things tidy.

Well, Eduardo, who is an obsessive/compulsive, likes to leave notes on the whiteboard in the kitchen when he feels the place isn't up to his cleanliness standards. Here are a few instances of what he considers dirty. Someone left a bottle of water on the coffetable overnight - note on the board. Someone left a couple dirty dishes in the sink and went to work - note on the board. We had a party on a Saturday night where people brought snacks and drinks. The leftover stuff was left on the dining room table on Sunday for anyone to help themselves to - note on the board. Then a reminder was put on the whiteboard that we all agreed to the House Rules and that we need to follow them. This pissed everyone off, because no one saw these as problems. Now, everyone is pissed at Eduardo, becuase he's being a busybody. A busybody who DOESN'T live here. The atmosphere in the apartment was getting pretty bad, so Matt and I decided to send an email to the owner asking him to help resolve some issues.

Eduardo can't leave the living room without symmetrically straightening the pillows on the couch. The pillows, as they are in this picture, would kill him.

In addition to asking Gio to have Eduardo back off of his cleanliness crusade, we also had a problem with Angelo, the former apartment mate. When he moved upstairs, he found a friend to take over his old room. For some reason, Gio allowed Angelo to keep his key to OUR apartment so he could visit his friend whenever he wanted. We didn't think this was right and we said so.

We got an email reply from the owner. It basically said that Eduardo was acting as his agent while he was in Brazil and that he had free access to our apartment to enforce the House Rules. In addition, he told us that Angelo was a "trusted friend" and that he could keep the key to OUR apartment. Needless to say, we weren't happy. Then, Eduardo paid us a visit to discuss the email we sent. I won't get into the whole argument, but it ended with Matt calling him a liar and kicking him out of our room. He had it coming. This happened last Saturday.

This pain-in-the-ass living situation, in addition to some other factors, has lead to our decision to cut our Spain adventure a little short. We're coming back to the States at the end of February.