Saturday, May 15, 2010
Untitled, Barcelona, April 2010.
If you break away from the tourist trail that surrounds La Sagrada Familia, Antoní Gaudi's unfinished cathedral in Barcelona, you will find a little park where locals come to play. As modest as the cathedral is grand, I found the park remarkable for one thing: the virtual absence of women. Here elderly men gather under the shade to play chess or on plots of sand to watch or compete in lawn games -- with nary a female in sight.
This set of pictures shows a tournament in progress, complete with gold cups for prizes. I don't know the name of this lawn game. It seems like a variation of boule or bocce, but the players use discs instead of balls. Any ideas?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Mercat de San Josep de la Boqueria, Barcelona, April 2010.
Jamones y Chorizos, Barcelona, April 2010.
Señorita de las Frutas, Barcelona, April 2010.
Fish Stand, Montparnasse, Paris, April 2010.
Artisanal Marzipan, Florence, April 2010.
Seagull and Oysters, Paris, April 2010.
Farmer's Market, Montparnasse, Paris, April 2010.
Marisc, Barcelona, April 2010.
Turrónes, Barcelona, April 2010.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Mimes, Ramblas, Barcelona, April 2010.
Las Ramblas is a tree-lined promenade that is the beating heart of Barcelona. Stretching 1.2 kilometers long across several districts of the city, Las Ramblas at any given time is an ocean of people, both tourists and locals, that amble merrily in a space that is part market, part sidewalk cafe, and part carnival.
The carnival spirit of the Ramblas comes courtesy of its street mimes, human statues of fantasy and whimsy that transform the promenade into a demented person's idea of a sculpture garden. The mimes hold their stillness with unblinking precision but come to life at the drop of a coin in carefully choreographed routines. A pair of demons that could have ascended from the world of H.R. Giger unfold their metallic wings and snarl at the crowd. A golden Chinese emperor coils a snake around his glittering torso. An angel hands out heavenly favors. San Francisco has its share of street mimes in its tourist hubs, but few are as witty or as elaborately garbed as these Barcelona mimes. My favorite is the bronze cowboy, whose charisma and camera-ready poses would have easily made him a star in a John Ford movie.
At Park Güell, a mime dressed as one of Gaudi's mosaic tile dragons echoes the serpent that guards Gaudi's playful water fountain at the entrance to the park. Inside the park's sandy square, an invisible man charms the crowd with the antics of a decapitated Chaplin while a two-headed man in a white burka double-duties as a ventriloquist.
The southermost end of Las Ramblas will lead you to the monument of Christopher Columbus at Placa de la Porta de Pau. Atop the 197 foot monument, Columbus stands frozen with one arm outstretched pointing to the sea. After spending an afternoon with the street mimes of Barcelona, one is tempted to drop a coin at the foot of the monument, and wait for Columbus to do The Hustle.