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My Vacation, Part 1

October 27, 2015

Taking risks

Many days students are put into situations that encourage them to take risks and to stretch. As adults we have fewer chances to do so and, in fact, often the only time is when it is intentional. Some of the meartsed blog readers know that I just returned from a trip where I traveled to Spain and Denmark. I spent a week in Barcelona with recently retired Bangor High School art teacher, Kal Elmore. I arrived a day and a half before Kal and it had been 40 years since I had traveled out of the country by myself. This is where the risk and stretch connections were made for me.

I’m not great with directions or maps (gotten used to my gps) BUT, I quickly got the hang of it. I didn’t have a phone to refer to and wanted to know that I could do it the “old way” without using an electronic device to assist in getting me where I wanted/needed to go. After leaving Barcelona I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit the family I stayed with while there as an exchange student 40 years ago. The exchange program is known as DIS, Danish Institute for Study Abroad. I stopped at the office and visited with several staff members letting them know how much my college experience impacted me.

Getting around Barcelona and in and around Copenhagen on public transportation and by foot were both challenging and rewarding. Letting go of knowing exactly where I was all the time was freeing. I saw and experienced life in both places as soon as I let go of being in control. In my professional life I have to be organized, know where I am going, and learn what the possibilities are. It was enough to have an idea of the general direction for the day and what we’d find when we got to where we were going. Without making this blog post really long I’m including the highlights for those of you who might be interested.

BARCELONA

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Arc de Triomfe

There is no shortage of things to do and see in Barcelona and it has a wonderful mixture of the old and new. Kal found a reasonable “flat” for us to rent through Air BnB that had everything we needed and was in a great location. We could walk or take public transportation to all of the highlights easily. We were located a stones throw from the Arc de Triomfe which was a great landmark if we got lost. It took 15 minutes to walk to the Barceloneta along the water and beach. We saw remnants of the old city where the fisherman lived and the changes when the city prepared for the 1992 Summer Olympics. The city had only one beach previously and several were created. The wide walking way/boardwalk was filled with the locals selling all kinds of items at reasonable prices; scarves, shoes, pocketbooks, t-shirts, jewelry, selfie sticks, and souvenirs. The boats ranged from small personal fishing to sailboats to giant yachts. Beyond that were the trawlers that catch the variety of seafood available in Spain’s many restaurants. And continuing along the water area were container ships filled with cargo.

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Street vendors in the Barceloneta

Southwest, not far from the city center is Montjuic, which provides a view of the enormous harbor and back at the city and the La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Las Ramblas is a walking street with interesting shops and street artists. Part way through Las Ramblas is La Boqueria, a food market with the freshest of items. I love fresh figs and can not find them in the states and the first bite reminded me of my trip to Greece when I ate figs from my cousins tree. We wound our way through the many little streets several times wondering where we were since the maps don’t include every one many seem more like alleys. One of the tiny streets we found the home of the Picasso Museum which housed many of the artists earlier pieces, pretty amazing. On Sunday many Catalans gather at the Cathedral to perform the traditional Sardana dance. Their personal possessions are put in a pile in the center of a closed circle (for safe keeping) and the live music moves the people, young and very old, through the simple steps. Everyone is welcome and I had goose bumps with thoughts of my own Greek family dancing traditions. Of course I joined in! The cathedrals are amazingly beautiful and are located among the neighborhoods and are open all the time with people coming and going lighting candles and saying prayers.

Battlo

Casa Battlo

We spent a day at the amazing Park Guell, my pictures just don’t capture it. The outside is a public park emphasizing natural gardens and architectural elements designed by Antoni Gaudi. Eusebi Guell and he collaborated in creating the homes and gardens in the park. Guell’s farmhouse is now a school that can be seen from above and nearby. I watched a class play a game that was a combination of dancing and movement. The intricate walkways lead visitors around and through with attention to every detail everywhere you look. There were individual and group musicians and dancers that entertained for whatever folks offered. In 1926 the park was officially opened and on the inside is where Gaudi’s work is at the highest level. The forms, patterns and organic shapes are a delight to the eye.

Gaudi designed other structures in Barcelona. We visited Casa Battlo located in the center of the city. We could tour the roof which looks like an animal’s spine. His work was influenced greatly by nature. We could also tour the attic which is made up of 300 brick arches and one of the

Park Guell

Park Guell

apartments which included a historical perspective. Once again the attention to detail is amazing.

The highlight of Gaudi’s work is La Sagrada Familia which is in its last phases of creation and slated to be completed in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. It is 565 feet tall and has amazing architectural details everywhere your eye takes you. Again, I don’t think my pictures quite capture the intensity of the artwork.

And, of course we ate some really delicious foods. The most delicious and interesting was eggplant, sliced really thin, with cheese on top. The breads, pastries, seafood were all yummy! The graffiti is located on the fronts of every building doorway – metal doors cover the businesses while they are closed. Be ready for anything when traveling to Barcelona and be ready to stretch. People were helpful even if they couldn’t speak English. The pace of life is slower and the tourists are plentiful, even in October. Watching the people was a wonderful part of the experience. The interactions between generations told a lot of the story.

La Famila Sagrada

La Familia Sagrada

 

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Street art

 

Street artists

Street artists

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fig

Fig from the La Boqueria market

 

Eggplant from Mundial restaurant

Eggplant from Mundial restaurant

 

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Performers at Park Guell

 

bakery

Bakery, located all over the city

I will write about the Denmark portion of my vacation on the blog tomorrow. Please let me know if you have any questions argy.nestor@maine.gov.

 

 

One comment

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us! I’m so glad you had such a rewarding time. Your images are terrific!



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