Sunday, May 30, 2010

the best seats in barcelona

For most sports fans in Barcelona, seats to "El Clásico", a football match between their home team (FC Barcelona) and its fiercest rival (Real Madrid), are probably the most-prized.

But for an ordinary tourist like me, there is no seat in the city as incomparable as the long, serpent-like bench at Parc Guëll, a garden complex built in the early 1900s (below).

Its winding lines form small enclaves that are quite cozy.

But apart from its very unusual shape, what makes the bench outstanding is its mosaic surface, created from hand-painted tiles of various shapes, colors and textures.

Notice how the tiles are not as randomly arranged as they initially appear to be; there is order in chaos! I want to recreate this look for my bathroom. :-)

The genius behind this strangely beautiful and original park is Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the same creative mind behind Barcelona's most famous tourist spots: Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and Casa Mila.

Below is the view of the park's main entrance as seen from the bench.

Unlike the seats to the much-awaited football game, sitting on the Gaudi-designed bench of Park Guëll (which is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site), will not cost you a cent! Another proof that life's best doesn't always come with a price tag. :-)

(Top Pic) The FCBarcelona Bearbrick was created to promote the Futbol Club Barcelona or Barça, which is considered the second richest football club in the world (€365 million in revenue)! If you bought this bearbrick, you now know where your money went. :-)

Pics by yours truly, Copyright 2010 / Info from Wikipedia

Saturday, May 8, 2010

dazed and confused in seville

Last month, on our way to Barcelona from Madrid, Jun and I decided to make a little side trip to Seville, the fourth largest city in Spain. When we arrived at our hotel, we asked the receptionist which tourist spot we should visit first, and her ready answer was "Plaza de España".

The plaza, a 15-minute walk from our hotel, was as beautiful as we expected it to be. For me, it is one of the best examples of Moorish Revival architecture in Andalusia, one of Spain's autonomous communities.

Built in 1928 for the Spanish-American World Fair, it was designed by Sevillan architect Aníbal González. Today, it houses mostly government offices and the Seville town hall.

Because it was a Sunday, all the offices were closed and the plaza was populated only by tourists like us. And the only thing we could hear was the powerful duet of the couple below.

Along with four other tourists, we stood watching for about 15 minutes before dropping some euros into their guitar case.

After that, I decided to set up my tripod to take some pics while Jun began texting on his mobile phone. So I put down my bag on the floor and placed my jacket on top of it.

While I was focusing my camera, I suddenly heard a rustling sound. I turned around and saw my jacket sliding across the floor, lifted by the wind. So I picked it up and quickly tried to dust off the dirt from it.

I didn't realize until five minutes later, after I've taken some pics, that my bag was missing!

Imagine my panic – my passport, mobile phone, money and credit cards were in there! Fortunately, a security guard arrived, and I tried as hard as I could to tell him what happened. It wasn't easy – I was flustered, hysterical, and desperate, and I had to translate everything to Spanish!!!

But Mr. Security wasn't much help – he only advised me to call a number and make a perfunctory police report. #%*?!

Then suddenly, from nowhere, I heard a loud male voice: "Hola....... un bolso con un PASAPORTE FILIPINO...." (
Hello....a bag with a Filipino passport....)

I turned around and shouted. "That's mine! That's mine!"

The tall Spanish gentleman who found my bag turned from the guard to me and suddenly spoke in English, "We found it at the other end of the building. It was left on the stairs... open... probably by the gypsies who we saw leaving the area..." His companions, a bunch of young Germans, nodded to affirm his story, and asked me to check the contents of my bag.

Everything was intact – passport, credit cards, etc. – except for the cash (200 euro) and my Nokia mobile phone. (It was a good thing I left most of my cash at the hotel!)

I told my heroes, "You guys are from heaven! May I treat you to dinner? I still have my credit card."

The tall Spaniard replied, "Thanks, but you already lost money. Besides, we are on our way back to Madrid straight from here."

So I thanked them profusely, and we all parted ways.

I felt terrible about losing my phone – who wouldn't? Nonetheless, I got my passport and my credit cards back, and that made me happy enough to smile again. Whew!

Before we left the plaza, Jun and I passed by this area (above), so I brought out my camera and took a shot. It was a beautiful scene, but when I look at it now, all I can think is – I want to put that #%?^!? bastard who stole my bag behind bars!!!

(Top pic) The Mañana Banana Bearbrick (white version) by Pamtoy, released in July 2005. This also came in brown and GID (Glow In the Dark).