Posts Tagged architecture

American Expectations, Argentinian Delivery

hammock on horse ranch

Mr. HalfFull relaxing in a hammock @ Estancia Los Dos Hermanos.

Part of the fun and adventure of travel is experiencing another culture. It certainly broadens our horizons. But sometimes it makes us appreciate what we take for granted at home.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Flamenco Fires Up Mr. HalfFull

El Poble Espanyol

Just a sample of the beautiful buildings inside El Poble Espanyol

As a former dancer, I thoroughly enjoy dance performances. What better dance to see in Spain than Flamenco?

cat chilling @ El Poble Espanyol

Even the cat finds a peaceful place to nestle. There is no wheeled traffic at El Poble Espanyol, nestled in the natural surroundings of the hill at Montjuïc.

El Poble Espanyol is a fake town that was built in 1929 to showcase various regions of Spain for the Barcelona International Exhibition.  The goal was to create a model Spanish village with the main characteristics of all the towns and villages in the peninsula.  This design included 117 buildings, streets, and squares reproduced to scale.  The facades were only meant to survive the six-month duration of the exhibition, but the area was so successful that it still stands today.

El Poble Espanyol is quite charming with large open squares, small alleys, and quaint storefronts. Some of the stores and studios have resident artisans painting, sculpting, creating stained glass, working with leather, and more.

woman building guitars @ El Poble Espanyol

A woman builds guitars inside one of the shops

leather worker @ Poble Espanyol

Artisan working with leather in another storefront

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

shards of glass around edge of Poble Espanyol

Even the security system (shards of colored glass on top of the exterior wall) is artistic

One of the strangest physical features of El Poble Espanyol was the shards of colored glass on top of the high walls to act as artistic barbed wire. How creative!

The place has enough twists and turns to require a map. We circled through a few times enjoying the architecture before we found the small alley in the Andalusia region with the Flamenco show at El Tablao de Carmen.

tapas at flamenco show

Sangria and tapas of manchego cheese, cured meats, and bread — delicious!

Since we had just eaten a huge lunch, we opted not to do the 3-course meal. Instead, we enjoyed tapas and sangria.

 

female flamenco dancer

The teenage flamenco dancer

male flamenco dancer

Manuel Jimenez “Bartolo” is the artistic director at El Tablao de Carmen and started flamenco at age 8.  Sounds like Mr. HalfFull has some serious catch-up to do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance highlighted the various forms of flamenco — music (guitars and drums), song, and dance.  The dancers performed with such emotion and absolutely commanding claps.

The tabalos have historically served as an artistic school and a springboard to fame for young artists.  So in addition to the more seasoned performers, we also saw a girl who seemed like she was just a teenager, but she too, was an expert performer with seriousness beyond her years.

pretend flamenco dancer

Mr. HalfFull pretends to be a flamenco dancer

We thoroughly enjoyed the performance, so much so that Mr. HalfFull was striking poses in the street on the walk home. His ferocity was compellingly hilarious! He was also inspired to learn to play flamenco guitar. We’ll see when that happens…

  • What types of dance do you enjoy doing and/or watching?
  • When do you think Mr. HalfFull will take up the guitar?
  • Has a performance inspired you to learn a new skill?


sculpture garden @ El Poble Espanyol

I found some dancers in the sculpture garden!  But I think these were perhaps ballet or modern, not flamenco.

hand rail statue in Cervantes Alley @ Poble Espanyol

Even the handrails are topped with sculptures like this one in Cervantes Alley

Poble Espanyol

Gorgeous view up in El Poble Espanyol

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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The Unending Lunch

El Asador de Arnada oven

Mr. HalfFull gets a closer look at the clay oven @ El Asador de Arnada

We’ve been telling you about our 3-course meals in Spain, but this one takes the cake! Mr. HalfFull read about a restaurant called El Asador de Aranda, which brings traditional Castilian gastronomy to several locations throughout Spain. The photos featuring clay ovens and legs of meat on the wall enticed Mr. HalfFull to experience this manly palace of meat for himself.

lamb & pork at El Asador de Arnada

Mr. HalfFull salivates over our lamb and pork lunch entrées

Of course, this restaurant also had a 3-course lunch with wine. Since our language skills are limited, a predefined menu is a deliciously easy way out! This was advertised as a 3-course meal, but 3 courses it was not. The food and alcohol just kept coming and we were continually surprised.

grappa & cookies

The surprise licorice grappa and cookie course

We ordered lamb and pork to split (because we’re cute like that). It was so much food already, but then they brought grappa with cookies. Oh wow, MORE alcohol? Wasn’t a bottle of wine for 2 people at lunch enough? Of course not!

We ended up finishing the whole bottle of licorice grappa. Do you see the size of that bottle?

cava

Ms. HalfEmpty with the glass of cava she declined, but received

Then they offered us cava. I declined and they proceeded to bring us glasses of the bubbly white wine. How could anyone refuse Castilian hospitality? I guess it’s just not possible.

empty grappa bottle

With an inebriated smile, Mr. HalfFull holds up the empty victory bottle!

By the time we left, we were stuffed and drunk. I could barely move and definitely couldn’t walk straight. I think I was rather giggly as well. But Mr. HalfFull had a day of sightseeing planned. So he dragged his wife along the streets of Barcelona.

siesta shades

Ms. HalfEmpty stared longingly at the siesta shades as we departed El Asador de Arnada

I really needed a siesta after that lunch and enviously spied the yellow siesta shades hanging from a nearby building.  But we had a lazy morning and lunch was our first departure from the hotel that day.  So perhaps I hadn’t really earned a siesta.

Due to my inebriation, the rest of the afternoon is a little fuzzy; I was walking around in a haze. I’m sure Mr. HalfFull imparted various cultural and historical facts to me, but I can’t regurgitate any of them. I was just concentrating on standing upright.

Of course, he picked this day to show me Gaudí buildings. Ordinarily, Gaudí buildings look strange and dreamlike with their roots and treelike limbs protruding this way and that. But these buildings seemed to blend quite well with my stupor.

Casa Batlló by Gaudí

Casa Batlló by Gaudí looks like the type of fantastical building you would see in a drunken stupor

pedestrian deaths

In Barcelona, 1 in 3 deaths in traffic accidents are on foot

I was lazily walking along, dragging behind Mr. HalfFull until I read a sign painted on the crosswalk in the street. After staring for several seconds and working through my pretend human Catalan translation engine, I realized it said that 1 in 3 traffic accident deaths in Barcelona are pedestrians. I sobered up quickly.

 

 

  • Do you and your significant other split meals?
  • Would you drink the whole bottle of grappa?
  • Have you been served an unending meal?
  • Would you be able to sight-see after such a lunch?
  • Do you think the sign on the crosswalk causes more pedestrian accidents than it prevents while people stop in the road to read it?
Gaudí building

Gaudí buildings are surreal

tower @ Passeig de Gràcia

beaufitul tower @ Passeig de Gràcia

Gran Via Corts Catalanes

Gorgeous architecture at Gran Via Corts Catalanes

giraffe statue

Just another seductive giraffe statue laying in the street. Perfectly normal.

bull statue @ Gran Via Corts Catalanes

What self-respecting city doesn’t have a statue of an anthropomorphized bull?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Wandering Through Barcelona

You may be wondering if we did more than sleep and attempt to buy train tickets in Barcelona.  Yes, we did!  Eventually, we ventured out of our hotel to see the sights.

Barcelona side street

Many of the homes in Barcelona had shutters or fabric siesta shades to block out the afternoon sun. I love that the culture is so focused on naps!

When we first left our space-like sleep chamber, we ended up on a nearby side street with various fruit shops.  We would stop into one and buy something that looked deliciously ripe.  Then we would go outside to eat it just in time to visit the next shop.  I’m sure the store clerks were annoyed that we were only buying one piece of fruit at a time, but it saved us from carrying anything (and saved the environment from one more bag).

Ham Shop in Barcelona

I’ve never seen so many legs on display!

We did not enter the meat shop on the same street as the fruit stores.  But we did spy through the window.  Leg after leg of meat hanging by the hooves was quite a sight to behold.  Legs of meat aren’t as immediately edible as fruit, so it wasn’t so practical to pick one up on this outing.

Our initial process of sightseeing was basically to wander.  We had a map and general direction in mind, but stopped whenever we saw something of interest.

Perhaps our tanned skin made us look a bit like Spaniards or perhaps we carried ourselves with purpose.  But it was a bit comical when other tourists would ask us for directions as we wandered.  We didn’t even speak Spanish!  (Incidentally, this also happened to me on a trip to Mexico.  Natives would start speaking to me in rapid fire Spanish.)

CaixaForum

A neat line of mopeds and motorcycles in front of CaixaForum, a social and cultural center in Barcelona. Moped drivers were quite the daredevils, darting in and out of urban traffic!

I thoroughly enjoyed our somewhat aimless walk. We saw some beautiful architecture and panoramic views of Barcelona as the sun set.

near Place St. Jordi

Ms. HalfEmpty pauses amidst the beautiful scenery near Place St. Jordi

As we started walking back toward the hotel at 10:30 PM, I felt a rumbling in my tummy. That 1 PM lunch wasn’t going to keep me full forever!

We stopped into a restaurant and asked to be seated outside.  It was such a lovely summer night.  We had just been in winter in the southern hemisphere for much of our summer and then experienced the extreme heat of Dubai, so night in Barcelona was just the right temperature for dining al fresco.

But we were the only people outside and the servers looked at us funny when we asked.  Maybe they were annoyed that were creating more work for them.  Outside is a longer walk with more doors.

Palau Nacional de Montjuïc

Mr. HalfFull and Ms. HalfEmpty below Palau Nacional de Montjuïc. Fortunately, we captured Mr. HalfFull’s good side in this self-portrait! But both of my sides are good, so that’s why I’m centered. =)

After our 3-course lunch, of course we had to have a 3-course dinner.  Again, this one came with wine.  We had recovered enough by this point to partake.  But there was SO. MUCH. FOOD.  Just look at the appetizers they served us!  We still had 2 more courses after that.

appetizers in Barcelona

Ms. HalfEmpty starts another 3-course meal with appetizers. Yes, those are JUST the appetizers for TWO people!

After finishing our meal, we laid down on the sidewalk and rolled back to the hotel.  No wait, that’s just what I wished we had done.  We stumbled home full and happy, ready to sleep in preparation for another day of eating our way through Barcelona.

  • Do you make an effort to buy fresh fruit while traveling?
  • Do you prefer to see meat in small packages or full legs with hooves?  Do the hooves freak you out or is it a good natural reminder of the source?
  • Do you prefer to wander or have a plan while traveling?  What about in life?
  • As a tourist, do you ever get mistaken for a local?
  • Do you seize opportunities to eat outdoors?  Even when everyone else is inside?
Palau Nacional de Montjuïc

Palau Nacional de Montjuïc sits atop a hill with a beautiful view of the city below

view from Palau Nacional de Montjuïc

Panoramic view of Barcelona from Palau Nacional de Montjuïc

view from Palau Nacional de Montjuïc

View of gorgeous towers as seen from Palau Nacional de Montjuïc at sunset

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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