Saturday, August 24, 2013

jeremy in barcelona!

a view of barcelona from park guell!  architect antoni gaudi's house is visible
on the right side (the castle type building)

¡Hola y saludos de barcelona, espaƱa! hello and greetings from barcelona, spain! this destination was something that just happened to make the cut as i began my slow, sad massacre of cities i knew i wouldnt have time to tour. 

a morning run found me atop of one of bcn's many hills

but like each city on my list, this place called out to me, beckoning my soul and promising was an easy decision, and six hours after landing i suddenly realized that it had been the right decision...but good lord were those first six hours hell!

living in los angeles i have the benefit of being very near to the ocean, something i have never taken for granted. barcelona was my first experience of the mediterranean, and the second i found my host dan, i made a bee line for the sea! the mediterranean holds countless stories of ancient history, so to be swimming in the same water that was used by ancient greeks, the roman was this overwhelming thought that led me to the water. i put my toes in the sea and had a glimpse of those ancient battles and blood soaked shores...
as i looked up from the coast i saw something you only hear by legend...beautiful women, walking, showering, sunbathing, laughing, talking and drinking...naked...with all their perfectly proportioned lady parts on display for the world to see. this is a moment that changed me forever as an american. i saw humans...being. no filters, no body image issues, no nothing, just humans. there is a lesson to be learned here, but it would take up space and time that i simply dont have at the moment. all i can say is, experience the beaches of barcelona, you will leave a changed individual!

the reason the first six hours were such hell (minus the beach) is because after leaving the soft sands and nude women, i spent four hours walking in was hot, i was shunned for not speaking the local language, catalan, and street signs are surprisingly un-helpful when you dont have a map to calibrate yourself! in short, i was lost...

the city center and main avenue in barcelona!  great for people watching!

but my night took a turn for the better as i miraculously ran into a coworker from a show i shoot for back in los angeles, home & family. Will, the technical director had been in barcelona for the past few nights and he was a breath of fresh air in a sea of foreign language. my feet ached, my body was exausted, and i was in desperate need of a friend and a drink...and then, he found me wandering the streets in a back alley (hence the miracle) and called out 'JEREMY!' i turned, shocked, and let out an enormous sigh of relief.

the frustrations of being lost in a foreign city melted away as Will led me back to the bar, rubi bar...i believe my experience here may have saved the entire trip as ten minutes prior to arriving, i was absolutley ready to get on a plane and return home! everyone in the bar was speaking english and we met an amazing, very sweet swedish girl who refused to end the night without dancing. we stayed out until 5am dancing and drinking...and this, i discovered, was to be one of the main themes of my barcelona experience...

the crowded streets of festas de gracia!

each respective block decorates their street by themes,
using only recycled materials.  they plan and prep all year long

barcelona is a wild city, and during my time there i was lucky enough to experience its wildest side during one of its most celebrated festivals, festa de gracias...the neighborhoods of gracia spend all year planning and prepping for this festival. 

 in a block vs. block brawl of the arts, each street works together in competition with their neighbors to decorate their respective street in an agreed upon theme, using only recycled materials. the attention to detail is impressive, but the sight of tens of thousands of people crowded into the beautifully narrow alleyways of this city was even more moving. stages with bands and concerts form the various epicenters of the alleys, looking much like the countless churches, cathedrals and basilicas ive explored the past 3 weeks. where the alter is a band and the seated worshipers below became a relentless sea of beer, sweat, dancing and pure diversity...and i got to experience it all from a locals perspective thanks to an invitation from my host dan to join him and his close friends at the festival! 

my friend and host, dan!  always hospitable, as shown here by his kindness
of buying his guest a brew!

skating the streets of gracia on a friends busted skateboard...i will never
forget the cheers i received from the crowds as i rolled along  :)

the other main theme of my barcelona adventure was antoni gaudi...gaudi, gaudi, gaudi! the man left his mark on the city in the early 1900's and he is practically a celebrated saint in catalunya. a renegade architect, his work is quite possibly some of mans closest attempts at recreating the mathmatical beauty of nature...

above is the most beautiful panoramic view of a city that i've ever's from atop the highest point of park guell

sagrada familia, gaudi's unfinished staple in the city

the name means 'sacred family' and the building is an
architectual masterpiece

the building remains unfinished and the plans
gaudi had for it back in the 1920's were lost due to

this is the opposite side of sagrada familia, a side untouched by
the hands or direct vision of gaudi himself.  it is the attempts of
recent and contemporary architects who have tried to complete
gaudi's original intentions...

a set of staircases in park guell that seemingly melt into the earth...

barcelona, spain is the third stop of my five country tour, and this day, august 19th, marks the halfway point of the adventure. again, even after the mad dashes and countless miles trekked on my trusty pf's, my body and mind surprise me in their constant thirst to next stop is roma, italia and the ancient ruins of the colosseum. ive been told that the sights of the city are walkable, and ive also been warned that the temperatures can reach into the triple digits! wish me luck as i gear up to take on another destination of the grand tour!

and to my incredible hosts dan & steve, whether you realize it or not, meeting you both has made a significant impact on my life. not only did you make my experience of this beautiful spanish city something i can always look back on with a smile but you offered me friendship and sound advice that i needed to hear. ¡gracias!

so until i see you again, hasta luego barcelona, ciao roma!

thanks for reading!

- j

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