Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Barcelona part 3.5: guell park picnic

Despite very cold, yet distinctly spring-like weather yesterday, it has been snowing all morning. It's a very bright and pretty snow, but at this point, it's no match for a beautiful warm day. Thus, I give you these. A glorious afternoon, warm and windy, having lunch in Guell Park.

Here is where we ate:

Here us our view from the picnic table:

Here is me and Catherine:

Here we are on a walk through some dusty backroads:

Here is some bright sun:

Here is a little hill, where we saw lots of people sitting. We were curious about why so many people were camped out up there, so we took a look for ourselves.

It was beautiful.

Monday, February 27, 2006

barcelona, pt. 3: gaudi goin' on

One of the main tourist attractions in Barcelona is the architecture of Gaudi. Indeed, it really is something to see all of these works in person. We set out one day to see all of the buildings, but quickly realized that some of the 'minor' ones somewhat blended in to the surrounding structures. Here are the most interesting ones we saw.

You know what - these pictures are kind of crappy. If you want, just look up gaudi + barcelona, and you'll find more interesting shots.

The Sagrada Familia:

The construction on this began in 1882 as a temple for the royal family. Actually, Gaudi died when we was hit by a car while walking home from overseeing construction one day in 1926. The temple is still under construction -- it's estimated that it won't be finished for another 30 years. It's really amazing to see something like this - that will plausibly last for hundreds and hundreds more actually being built. Even the postcards for the Sagrada Familia are outdated, since it constantly keeps growing.

Finally, Park Guell:

Unfortunately, pictures really don't do this justice. Entering the park is like stepping into some little fairy land overlooking the city. It's tucked up on the north end of the city, in the charming Gracia neighborhood. There's open spaces for kids to play soccer, benches to look out to the sea, areas to sit for picnics (which, of course, is what we did), paths for walking. The scrubby-yet-green hills mixed with the sunshine reminded me of California - and made me think that maybe my brother wasn't so crazy to move there, after all...

It is a beautiful day today - bright sun, no clouds or fog, pleasantly brisk. It feels like spring, which, I'm told, actually does begin in March here. The thing is, I've forgotten exactly what to do with this good weather. Should I go outside? And do what? There's a line in a Bonnie Prince Billy song that goes, "When you live like a hermit, you forget what you know." That's really the only way to explain it, I suppose...

I guess I'll start by going to the market.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

done got knit

On my vacation, I met two girls that Sylvia knew from college, who were studying in Barcelona for two months. One of them, a really dynamic storyteller, told us about how she had lived in the South and heard the phrase, "Get 'er done" used as a sign of approval. Anybody else who is from the South or has lived there: can I get an confirmation on this? I'm not sure where she stayed, so I know that's a big difference... but...

I finished up that sweater before the trip. The last buttonholes were sewn and the ends were woven in on the train up to Montbeliard. When I got there, I realized that I had forgotten the buttons, so I couldn't wear it on the trip.

Well, it's all fixed up now. I'm pretty happy with the final product.

There's pros and cons, of course. On the good side, the whole thing was inexpensive to make, quick and fun to knit, the fabric has a nice drape and a soft sheen, I got to use turtle buttons, the colors are great, and it really turned out how I had planned. I think the fit's pretty good -- it's not unflattering, anyway.
Cons: I wish I had made the raglan seam a bit longer (it's not tight under the arm, but it would have been better with another half inch), one of the sleeves is smaller with a crappy-looking band, the button part gaps a bit. I'm not sure if I just have to grin and bear that, or if moving the buttons in a bit will help.

For all of it's imperfections, it turned out well, consider I didn't work with any pattern. Of course, I never work with a pattern, so this is all part of the learning curve. The finishing work (sewing together and whatnot) on this is perhaps the best I've done. I think I'll probably wear this a fair amount, especially when I'm working in a more formal setting again, as it's a more "officey" sweater.

Recently, I promised myself that I would only knit for myself this year. I am a fool for even thinking that. Right now, I'm working on a couple pair of socks, an afghan, and (anticipating) a lace wrap -- all for other people. For myself, I had an idea of a really simple sweater embellished with a flower, like I saw in the January issue of the french Vogue, then I'd like to make myself a little top for Karlin and Well's wedding. I've got seven whole months, too! Get 'er done!

THIS WASN'T INTERESTING FOR ANYBODY, WAS IT? Well, I had to get it out of my system anyway. Now we can both go on with our lives.

Barcelona, part 2

In my dorm, the network connection has the tendency to be rather spotty. I suspect that it's mostly due to a bunch of 18 year-old boys downloading Slipknot off of Limewire, which tends to gobble the available bandwidth. Most of the people go home on the weekends (except my upstairs neighbors who apparently get their kicks by dropping marbles all day. hi guys!) the internet connection is faster.
Why I am telling you this? Well, since I could quickly and sucessfully load photos into blogger, I took the opportunity to put all of my pictures into draft entries. I had to divide it up into seven different pages -- the same amount of time I was actually in Barcelona. It's like a little vacation for you, too!

It's very strange outside today. The fog came in overnight, but only settled on the cliffs next to town. Everything seems clear and unusually bright in town, with a solid white space in the distance, as if someone simply erased everything around us. The church bells are ringing right now. In addition to chiming the time, the bells ring for a whole minute at 10 o'clock and noon on sunday mornings. It's the most beautiful sound.

Back to Barcelona, these photos are from the fancy city park. As we were leaving, a French family stopped us as asked us, in French, where the zoo was. We had just passed the entrance, so I could give her directions..... in French! I don't know why I'm still so excited about this!

Orange trees!

Signs were posted everywhere for people to not play soccer. Nine times out of ten, they were completely ignored. Next to this lawn, we watched some boys play soccer with an orange that fell from the tree.

The arc de triomf:

For lunch, Catherine and I climbed up this funny hill on the west side of town. It's rather big, with an entirely leveled-off top. We were told it was tricky to find one's way up to the top, and it sure was. There was no marked footpath or signs or anything. We just had to pick a road and see where it took us. Afterward, we realized that there were a bunch of old Olympic stadia up there, a museum, and the Miro foundation -- none of which we saw.

Like any of that mattered, though, because we found this swing which we used for about half an hour.

Just like that, over and over.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Spanish boots of Spanish leather

It's hard to form a cohesive narrative of this trip. We didn't plan out days beforehand, so every morning, we would pick a place to see or something to do. There was a lot of time spent having picnics, sitting on the beach, having coffees in cafes, walking around the city. In fact, I only went to one museum and inside no other 'local attraction' buildings, but I almost feel like I got to know Barcelona better than most other towns I've visited for a week.
Like I said, I completely fell into googly-eyed love for Barcelona. It's a magical, colorful, sunny little world. I can only imagine what it must be like in the summer... probably choked with tourists, the beaches packed... but probably even more lively and beautiful.

These photos were taken on the first and second day of the trip:

Waiting at the airport...

Our first evening in the city...
This is the big gothic cathedral. The picture shows the only part of it that wasn't covered in scaffolding.

Catherine, the constant traveling companion.

And, introducing my two new friends, Nicole and Sylvia. They're also English Assistants in Montbeliard. They both speak french really well and live in an adorable house in their town. Despite all of this, I still loved spending the week with them. Oh, and Sylvia is from Hyde Park.

A Picasso mural in the public square in front of the cathedral:

The next morning, Catherine and I walked down to the beach and around Barceloneta, the small neighborhood next to the water.

My new prawn friend. (Avert your eyes, Jim!)

At the port, then the beach.

Barceloneta, like a lot of the city, is mostly tiny streets, with balconies covered in drying laundry overhead.

Friday, February 24, 2006

hola, barcelona

I'm back! Last week was one of the most amazing trips I've ever taken.
Here's my recommendation: forget whatever trip you're planning to take, and go to Barcelona instead.

I've got 200 pictures to sift through, so I'll start putting photos online tomorrow.

Monday, February 13, 2006


A pretty day, a little snow. I went up to the Croix du Dan, to try out using my SLR camera with real film! While I understand, in theory, how to correctly work my camera, I always feel like I'm blindly spinning the dials for each picture. Not surprisingly, a good number are dim or incorrectly exposed. Until I get better, I'm also bringing along my digital camera.

The first sign says that this is a tourist site, and that nomads are prohibited. I can only assume that the nomads are gypsies, who really do stay around here. There's a gypsy camp just a kilometer outside of town -- it's just a small trailer park. Some gypsy groups are nomadic, travelling around France as seasonal workers. The one next to Poligny has been there the whole time I have. They even have one shared mailbox. I was told to "be careful when you walk by....They wouldn't do anything to you, of course. But you should be careful. Oh, not that they're dangerous!" That's some good, solid, French advice if I've ever heard it. Every time I do walk by, which is relatively regularly, it seems like a really normal little trailer park. There's kids outside playing, someone working on a car, people yelling at each other inside the homes.
The first time I walked by, I saw the cutest little dog. He ran out to me on the street, barking, "Arf! Arf! Arf!," like he was reading it off a page. A car came around the corner, and it seemed for a second that it was going to hit the tiny (entirely unafraid) dog in the middle of the street. I waved my arms and yelled at the dog to go home. The car stopped. It was safe. Then some girl ran out of the trailer, scooped up the puppy as it ran towards her, and yelled, "Shut up!" to me. Some stereotypes are universal, it seems.

Other things:
1. A new girl just moved in tonight. I haven't spoken to her much yet. My immediate reaction is grumpiness towards this development, because I like to be alone! Get off my porch, you kids!
She seems really nice, though, and has all sorts of crunchy, healthy food in the fridge. Yes, this does make me more apt to like her. I hope she'll be nice and help me practice my french. Maybe she'll even be a friend! I hope so, as this means I can no longer have breakfast and coffee while wearing a towel, fresh out of the shower. That's quite a sacrifice.
(added: she also apparently bought new antidisinfectant spray and has sprayed everything down. Apparently my shower isn't clean enough for her. Bitch.)

2. This morning, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. When I listened to the message, the only thing I could understand was "flowers." Flowers! Whatever the message is, it's got to be good if the person keeps talking about flowers.

Except, maybe if the message was like this: "Hi, I was just calling to find out what sort of flowers you want on your grave. Because I'm coming over to kill out, but I thought you might like to choose your flowers before you go."

So, I guess this makes today EVEN BETTER, since that wasn't the message that I recieved. It was, in fact, the shop in town telling me that I had flowers waiting for me. I did! It was true! Jim sent them to me! Aren't they pretty?

3. I'm going to Spain! On Wednesday! We're on a two week holiday right now, so Catherine and I are going to spend a week in Barcelona. I don't think I mentioned that before, so... surprise!
Catherine found a cheap round-trip flight and I found an inexpensive hostel. The temperature today was in the 60's, so I've got my fingers and toes crossed that the weather stays nice.

Um, that means I've got to go. I actually spent most of today watching the Olymic snowboarding and finishing my green sweater....almost finishing. I'm working on the neckband right now.
Anyway, this means I've got to pack and put together all of my tourist details. Like, now.

So have a good week! Hopefully blogger will allow me to load pictures when I get back...