Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Parade of Humanity and Bicycles!

Zany Street Performers And Barcelona's Palace of Light 

On Friday we decided to take a tour of the Palau de Catalan Music (Palace of Catalan Music). This theater is designed for chorale singers and breaks every imaginable rule of acoustical design and theater planning. Aside form the spectators and their seat cushions, every surface is hard (ceramic tile and ornamental ceramic castings). The hall is almost totally lit by daylighting. Most performances here are actually scheduled during the daytime to experience the magic of performing in a magically lit space. Performers from around the world comment how nice it is to perform in a space filled with light instead of darkness. To achieve the lighting there are frosted and stained glass panels on all the side wall and the ceiling is a reversed dome of elaborately stained glass ceiling of simply incredible proportions. Merely walking into the hall  brought an immediate gasp from me. It was just that beautiful.

The Palau

I just don't know how a spectator could fully concentrate on the music in such a wonderful environment. You will all have to plan you own visits here as we could not take photos on the inside. Next trip we will plan to see a show here.

We then made our pilgrimage to stroll down the Las Ramblas. This is Barcelona's wide, beautiful, tree lined boulevard famous the world over. It is lined with flower and animal stalls (selling birds, tortoises, bunnies, and chickens). There are also human sculptures all up and down the street. Some obviously spend many hours perfecting their costumes.

During summers Las Ramblas is so busy with throngs of tourists and locals that it is frequently hard to walk. This time of year it was nearly perfect. We strolled from almost the very top (Plaza Catalunya) all the way to the Sea. On Las Ramblas you can literally walk for miles and never really notice it. There is just so much to see  every where you look. 

Sadly, the crowds make for easy pickens for pickpockets and thieves. And locals confirmed that night time is no time to be walking Las Ramblas. After being warned about the street crime problem, I did some homework on it. Good thing too, over the course of five days, here we experienced three different incidents where we were being scoped for pickpocketing. I'm preparing a separate posting about that.

KIds Checking Out A Human Sculpture On Las Ramblas

Another thing we loved was the grab-it-and-go bikes all over the city. Basically the system works like zipcar, but with bikes. Once you pay your small monthly subscription you can pull a bike off of any rack and drop it at any secure rack. Between the subway, the on-street trams, the buses, the funicular railways, aerial trams, and the Renfe heavy rail trains Barcelona has arguably the most complete and diverse public transport system anywhere. It was on time and clean. Add the bikes to it and the need for a car is pretty small.

If we had one complaint it was that barrier-free access is limited in the historic areas.   

Racks of Take-It-And-Ride Bikes Are Everywhere

While sunny, it was very cold and very windy, so we decided to bag our last intended Friday night destination; the Magic Fountain near Plaza Espana. Somehow, the thought of freezing our tooshies off while sitting outside watching a big colored water display could not stack up against sipping some really good armangnac in the executive lounge of the Hilton.

Roadboy's Travels ©2010

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