Tuesday, December 29, 2009


after a little over a month on the island, we were off to the continent. managing to catch our plane on the correct day and time, we made our way to girona. the hour and a half bus ride into barcelona could not prepare us for the game of "find that hostel" that awaited us upon arrival at the estacion de autobuses. yes, a hostel. the couchsurfers of barcelona stone-walled us. all thirty+ that i emailed turned us down. we searched the late night, getting later, streets of barcelona for "hostel la rambla" but found there to be many of these hostels about, none of which was the right one. i mumbled broken spanish at many people we encountered on the street (at the behest of the proprietor of the hostel we were searching for. literally: "ask somebody, anybody, they will know what you are talking about") and still, we wandered. it turns out our wanderings werent unfounded, because what we were looking for was not a big sign telling us "hostal la rambla" but a few numbers and letters in point twelve sized font among many others next to an unmarked door. we eventually frustrated our hostel owners enough that they met us at one (not the one we intended to go to) of two of their hostels and checked us in. with la rambla right outside our window, it was difficult to sleep in and so the next day began early. we made a large loop of the city, spending a lot of time atop la pedrera

(little spaces!)

(gaudi love hugs)

(the sand dune-like ceilings of the interior of this gaudi dreamscape)

and generally wandering to see what we could find.
(el ingenio, in the depths of wander-friendly gothic district. amazing store full of big heads, marionettes, pranks, toys, masks, etc. melissa lost it. [can you blame me? this place was amaaaaazing!!!!] we came back the next night with the betleys. heres melissa and i with the man who greets you at the front of the establishment).

(the small door. i banged my head real good on it).



(found pep!)

(and a hair globe)

the next day we met up with jordan and sarah bentley. the bentleys have been a part of my life for some time now and it was incredibly lovely to meet up with them in their newly adopted land, albeit not their home (just yet). our first day with the bentleys began at

and then took on a similar trajectory as the previous day's loop, stopping at

(we had to sneak about to take a look at the inside of this insanely ornate hospital, for they were officially closed to tourism at that moment)
and also to take in the massive last project of Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet, the sagrada familia, that remains under construction, as it has for the last 120 or so year and will continue to be for the next fifteen at least.

(christ enveloping someone in his beams)

(the pillars of the inside are supposed to resemble trees. where the beams branch off is supposed to resemble this part of the tree).

(nice people tag)

(we splurged and went to the top!)

(watchful christ)

(melissa was disgusted (rightfully so) that people have such bad aim. derek would have bee shakey angry and armageddon-worthy angry at this turn of events).

(the windy, no handrail, seemingly endless stairs down)

and ending at the arc de triumf.

the next day we made our way to montjuic, which is a hill directly across the valley of barcelona from parc guell. first, though, we met up with jordan and sarah at a market to grocery shop/sight see. and there were indeed some sights to be seen. various and many severed animals head/body parts were on display among the vibrant colors of fruit and vegetables.
(coffee! near the market)

where we thought the market was going to be housed

was instead moved over here

making the whole experience quite the cramped sensory overload. the old spanish women that amassed there werent afraid to wield their wheely carts to push and prod and control you out of their way unmercifully.
montjuic is absolutely stunning. we took both the funicular from the bowels of the city, to about midway up the mont, and then the cable car the rest of the way up. we walked about the castle that perches at the top of it.
(riding the funicular)

(cable car!)

(castle exterior)

(castle interiors)

and then meanderingly made our way back down

(this whole area, mid montjuic, reminded me of destinos. what was once a daydream in high school became a reality. of sorts).

(these things made music. our exuberance in making that music cause visable distress and anger among the picnicing families who were about)

(zip line!)


stopping at the national palace to take in the views.
(top, looking down)

(bottom, looking up)

having made it to the bottom of the hill, we made our way to the macba to see what seemed too good to be true. huge retrospectives of both ray johnson and john cage! it was all there. first ray johnson.

so incredible to see his stuff in real life. beautiful, funny, thought provoking and ultimately encouraging and extemely inspiring. they had an over-abundant treasure trove of the man's work, i unfortunately got caught snapping photos early.
next, john cage.

(sheet music for the prepared piano)

(jordan enjoying the prepared piano pieces)

the way the museum chose to present his work was brilliant. sheet music, with head phones nearby to hear those sheets played. i loved the section on the prepared piano. it was interesting to note how intensely cage detailed his compositions/notes for the orchestras that performed his pieces. he intensely detailed them, but left room for the individual interpretations of those players reading his notes. cage seemed to us the musical equivalent of sol lewitt. it was beautiful to see an elementary teacher explaining the fine points of cage's 4'33" or people JAMMING to some prepared piano pieces. both exhibitions warranted way more time than we gave them. my heart almost burst from joy (johnson) and thankfulness (to cage), but we had to meet up with jordan and sarah's couchsurfing hosts outside he museum (yes, they managed to break through the stone-wall). we walked about the gothic district (it was a nightly tradition), and made our way to the catedral, where a huge dance was taking place. upon further inspection (and explanation from jordan and sarah's gracious hosts), we found out that this dance (the sardana) is specific to catalonia and celebrates catalan heritage. it was beautiful and quite the capstone to our time in barcelona.

so many little steps...
we left the bentleys with their hosts and made our way back up la rambla to our hostel to catch a little sleep before hopping onto another continent.
(for this post i borrowed a select few pictures from the bentleys blog (as you might be able to tell if you check out the posted link), as well as sequencing. i thank them both profusely for their diligent bloggage. it has helped in remembering this all, about a month later).