Saturday, September 12, 2009

TPC, Day 2: from Industrial Park to Park Guell

After losing my blogging virginity yesterday, I didn't know how to think about myself today or what to expect from you, my invited guests. The flood of supportive comments helped a lot, but created a new dilemma: I now have fans! Whom I feel responsible to. Should I have added a High School Playbill type blurb to my post, like:

'Phil is thrilled to be making his debut on Blogger. Thanks to Mom and Dad, Nancy, Carolyn, Clare, Wendy and Luna for their undying support and love. Break a leg!'

No. given Paul T's recent disaster, this would have been tasteless. But I must and will post often and hopefully there will be something for everyone.

Is this how celebrities feel? What a burden. Knowing that everyone is out there watching and commenting, judging, expecting more, more, new, new. And what about those who chose not to comment, what were they thinking? Were they snickering silently? I can't lose myself in this. Time to move on, but not to the main event, the TPC, not yet. Those of you just looking for geartalk will have to wait one more day, while I describe what else happened today. This is new for my blog because as you may have noticed, despite the fact that I droned overlong in yesterday's post, nothing really actually happened. It was all about the blog, and the fog of jetlag, and me trying to think of something to say. Today was different, full of drama and insight, so hold on.

I awoke to a massive breakfast which I think set a new Best Western record. Carbo-loading had officially begun, but the other diners didn't linger long enough to notice. I even snuck some food out in a doggy bag, which if practiced widely would make an all-you-can-eat buffet a losing business. Speaking of business, did you all get that email from the exec from Twitter announcing their new rules? Did you see her name? Biz Stone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Short for Businesswoman Stone?

Next, I discovered the hotel was actually located in an industrial park. Thanks to Paul, who made the reservation and then abandoned. Really. I may have set the new record for a stay at this place: 2 days. Although as I said yesterday, it's well-appointed and the food is good. I walked a mile and a half to and from the Metro and saw no one. Just semis with windows up and eyes down. I crossed train tracks, passed through industrial garbage dumps, inhaled really bad air that was still, acrid and fetid with industrial glop, got barked at by a pack of perros peligrosos industriosos (dangerous industrial dogs), edged my way through an unlit tunnel against traffic flying by at 60+ mph (remember Rio anyone?) and finally exited the park appropriately enough at a massive hospital complex where I found the Metro stop that would take me away to....anywhere else! Not sure what my hotel is doing in these parts. It's not close to the airport, or the city, or anything but the industrial park, an oasis of sorts. In case you're really following this and wondering what could be so bad, I took a picture of the entrance to the park to show you I'm not exaggerating. Does the Purgatorio come to mind?

Hopped on the Metro into Barcelona. Not much to report here, except I noticed the fine for smoking on the Metro is 30.05 Euros. .05. Some study probably showed that 30.00 just wasn't stiff enough.
Then I fell in love again. No worry here Nancy, it's with Barcelona! It felt like New York, only where the Spanish-speaking citizens actually completely take over the city. This is only half true, since Barcelona is in a Catlonia, an autonomous region of Spain and Catalan, not Spanish is the official language. I was bummed since I was all set to try my high school Spanish. Couldn't read or understand much.

Very lively and young place, and full of fabulous art. Antoni Gaudi, the local star (an anagram of 'arts' I just noticed), is genius. I couldn't stop taking pictures even though I knew it would hurt my TPC documentary, since I forgot my camera's power cord, because I had to show you some of his stuff. Here's a sampling:

The Sagrada Familia cathedral. Kids try to make sand look like castles, Gaudi made this cathedral look like a sand castle. The photo is not out of focus. The stone and masonry drips towards the ground. Amazing effect.

Next was Park Guell, a turn of the 20th century space designed by Gaudi for a wealthy client but turned into a public park. Here Gaudi took 20 hectares (trust me: a lot of space) high on a mountain overlooking the city of Barcelona and the Mediterranean and sculpted the park from rocks he excavated there. Then added his broken tiling effects on large areas of it, including monumental buildings and a residence, which is now all in the public domain. The effect is that of a park as a complete integrated work of art, not just a recreational area. Everyone should stop what they are doing, buy two tickets to Barcelona and head straight to Park Guell. It trumps everything else you've ever seen. Gaudi had a completely novel and idiosyncratic vision involving anti-gravity effects and multi-colored tiling. You can feel his energy everywhere in Barcelona. The pictures I took really don't do justice to the feel of the park, but here you go:

Notice how the rocks are rough-hewn and look uncemented. Here's a better example:

Then there are the broken tile mosaics, everywhere:

The photo above is of a small section of a park bench that surrounds a huge open space, so use your imagination to extend it a few hundred yards and you'll get the real picture. Different colors and patterns as you progress from one end to the other. Spectacular! I got to sit on this fabulous work of art! No docents or guards. No humidity and temperature probes. Just functional art. Ryan, you would LOVE this! And Carolyn, check out the multicolored tiling. You're favorite style. You were born a Gaudian (a Gordian not). I have to find out the derivation of the word gaudy, because Gaudi is not gaudy.

OK, that's it for today. In summary, I love Barcelona (and Nancy, Carolyn and Clare), and am fundamentally changed thanks to Gaudi. It's late, I have some writing to do (working on a paper here), and an early bus tomorrow, to the airport where I join up with the other TPC team members. I'm sure you're eager to meet them too. Legs feeling good. Let the climbing begin!

1 comment:

Lance said...

OMG, Are you sure this is the right hotel? I was assured it was actually near the airport....sigh.....sounds like a great day, if a bit on the gaudy side...and here's hoping that liver glycogen levels are nearing maximum! Can't wait to meet the band...