Tag: Barcelona

Weekend Links

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. ”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

The American political news this week was appalling and, as a citizen abroad, cripplingly humiliating. The history of the American nation is one of a country constantly falling short of its own ideals, and yet striving tirelessly towards them anyway. We’ve backslid, we’ve divided, we’ve pushed for better, we’ve linked arms and moved forward together. I trust that will continue. But the current moment feels really, really dark. There are astonishing moments of light and brightness, yes, but I find myself constantly dismayed at my own naivete in thinking so many of the forces I see ascendant now were–not dead (I’m not that dumb), but were at least on the down and out. I was wrong. I was ignorant. I won’t make the mistake of complacency again.

To put your money where your mouth is in condemning white nationalism (code of white supremacy), BossedUp has put together an excellent list of causes you can support here. I will be donating, I encourage you to do the same.

The whole Charlottesville story is awful so let me be clear: if you are a purpose who purports to stand against people mobilized by dangerous ideology (political and religious) happening “elsewhere,” I damn sure expect you to oppose it on home turf. At time of adding this story, the photos look inches away from an actual Jim Crow South style lynch mob.

Added over the weekend: it got worse. Rest in power, Heather Heyer.

It got even worse. Seth Meyers, of all people, summed up my feelings on the president’s statements on the matter. Which he then tried to walk back with a scripted statement, which he later overturned again to confirm that his first statements that “both sides” were to blame truly reflected his views. I will concede that both sides threw punches; only one was able to show up armed better than the actual police (thanks to decades of paranoia-rousing and the systematic arming of civilians with military grade weaponry, and entrenched racism–I dare anyone to argue that a para-military group of black men armed to the teeth in an identical way would not have been met with swift and deadly force). Only one side is embracing an ideology that necessitates the subjegation or extermination of millions. There is no moral equivalency, and “both sides” arguments will not hold water here.

Seth Meyers nailed it again. I feel out of ways to say that Mr. Trump is unfit for the office he holds. I am not calling for his impeachment because that is a legal process that must be done in the right way for reasons within the boundaries of law…that or our laws are meaningless. But he is morally, intellectually, temperamentally unfit for the role he has been awarded, and I believe he is causing damage to the office and both the functionality and perception of the American government.

Vice produced a compelling, informative, and frightening mini-documentary almost in real time that should be required viewing in this moment.

This thread about the, let’s be frank, false victimhood of the American white male is required reading.

 

I legitimately had to read this article a couple of times and sit with it, because it’s so self-descriptive. I am horrible at taking holidays, and I am trying to take advantage of them (seeing as how I’m legally entitled to them, and all…) but the guilt I often feel for putting in a time off request is corrosive.

I am not the biggest fan of Taylor Swift, but I read this story of her testimony against a man she accuses of assault with great satisfaction. When questioned how she feels about him losing his job due to the incident, the cool response was: “’I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault, because it isn’t,’ she said. Later, she continued: ‘I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions and not mine.’” Amen and amen.

Sir, could you just not?

Wealth is a strange thing.

Disrupt away, ladies!

Faith in humanity ticking back up.

WAY behind the times but worth celebrating.

Oh man. I’ve given myself permission to buy from this collection when it launches, but now I fear it will take ALL of my money…

I might need to arrange to be on Westminster Bridge next Monday.

Pro tip: be a dick in public, get dragged in public. It’s the brave new media world.

Why white people don’t get to say, “This isn’t us.”

This story could have been handled in a tabloid-y and gross way. In McKay Coppins’ capable hands, it’s done very well.

Another tiny bright spot.

This week in Mormon news, another thing to warm your feeds!

What the **** is wrong with people?! (trigger warning on this one, but a number of -isms are on display here and need to be confronted)

And then, on Thursday, there was another terrorist car attack, this time in Barcelona. Waking up this morning, there was more bad news in Spain. My heart hurts.

Album of the week: Silk and Soul, by Nina Simone

Barcelona: The Details

“Cubism is a part of the daily life in Spain, it is in Spanish architecture. The architecture of other countries always follows the line of the landscape . . . but Spanish architecture always cuts the lines of the landscape.”
― Gertrude Stein, Picasso

A few final photo dumps from our trip to Barcelona because there were too many shots that didn’t fit nicely into a their own post or story, but were too beautiful not to share.

Barcelona is a city of details and there were small touches of decoration everywhere we looked–all of it personalized and unique, and very gorgeous. From carved faces poking out beneath window frames to highly patterned walls to decorative metalwork, this is a city that loves design, and it shows!

The architecture.

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The street art.

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Tiny touches of metal work.

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A random bit of grating.

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The walls.

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The windows.

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The first plumbing and running water in the city.n

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The colors.

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And the gargoyles!

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Barcelona: The History

“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”
― Napoléon Bonaparte

If you like places that wear its history on its sleeve, you’ll adore Barcelona. It’s a perfect mix of Roman, medieval, and modern and you can find traces of era all over the city.

For example, in the main square, we stumbled upon some traditional fall festivals that included large “giant” figurines that are paraded in the streets on holy and fest days (and seem to have some Celtic or pagan origins, at least according to some historians) and acrobats which seem to a Catalan tradition.

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For those into conquest, trade, and epidemiology, the court where Isabella of Spain supposedly received Columbus in audience before his voyage is a nice check in.

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And the architecture everywhere is fantastical…until you start to learn how much of it is a lie!

What I loved best about visiting Barcelona and hearing about its history is that the people of this city seem to have been amazingly inventive and innovative with their town. No precious nonsense about accuracy here, what they want is good show. So for instance, when there was a grand exhibition being held in Spain, they thought their cathedral was a bit drab. Romanesque architecture is by definition bulky, angular, and squat. This simply would not do. The enterprising populace decided to commission a faux gothic facade to the entrance in stead. It looks like it’s from the late medieval period, but in fact dates from the 19th century.

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Glance down the side streets and you can see the original, rather less impressive and unadorned walls.

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This triumphal arch is a great might-have-been because it was the original site for an edifice deemed so ugly that the people refused to allow it to be built. And so the Eiffel Tower was erected in Paris instead. Oops.

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The sand was perhaps my favorite story. The Spanish coast on the Mediterranean is rocky and not particularly good for holiday postcards and so when the Olympics were held here and a great influx of tourists expected, our proactive natives again rose to the challenge. Tons of sand was imported from the Middle East and palm trees from Hawaii–none of the tropical foliage you see in the city is native to the area, according to our guides. Marine sand is also different from desert sand, with a different texture and feel due to the polishing of waves rather than wind–meaning the beaches are rather rough to walk on. Doesn’t deter people, though.

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And finally, the iconic Sagrada Familia is an absolute hodge podge because the original plans by Gaudi were lost in a fire. Rather than give up, dozens of architects and artists have been involved with the project and instead of trying to replicate the style of the master, they each have left a different and unique stamp on the area of the basilica they were assigned to. Far from Gaudi’s entrance opposite to this which commemorates the birth of Christ, this doorway memorializes his death in a darkly modernist style. My impious observation was that the statues of Roman guards looked like Cylons from Battlestar Gallatica…but I stand by this observation.

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A completely mad and constantly evolving city!

Required Eating: Cal Ticus, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia

“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird

If you’re feeling peckish but tired of the main city of Barcelona, how about–and I seldom suggest this–heading for the suburbs? Hop on a train and ride it to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia–the heart of cava country–and take the short walk into town. It’s not a large village and there are signs everywhere leading you to the most prominent sites. The fact that this restaurant is included among those sites is not an accident.

The lunch we had at Cal Ticus was easily one of the best of my life and at about 15 euro a person, a steal bordering on criminal. Don’t let the simple facade fool you.

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There was a semi-set menu but we could choose between course options and there was not a single bad choice to be had. The ingredients were seasonal Catalan selections and the emphasis on cooking technique. It sounds basic but was in fact pretty mind blowing.

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Mushroom soup with a slice of gooey cheese and Spanish olive oil.

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Handmade pasta. Technically Jeff’s but I ate a decent bit of it…while we’re being honest.

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A gorgeous slice of beef and perfectly roasted potatoes. Again, sounds basic. Again, could not further from the truth.

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And finally, a traditional Catalan desert of a type of cheese covered in local honey. Its taste and texture was was similar to a less sweet and more crumbly cheesecake and it was both dense and refreshing at the same time. Paradoxical, yes, but true.

Do yourself a favor on your visit to Barcelona and swallow the train fare for the ride out, or make a day of it away from the city and take in the vineyards and olive groves. But seriously. Eat here. I mean it.

Crum, Barcelona

“What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”
― A.A. Milne

On the Carrer de Parlament is a delightfully hipster sort of joint that is worth checking out. Let me introduce Crum.

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The menu is in Catalan, but they do have English versions for those of us whose European languages veer a bit more northern. True, embarrassing story about how French functions as my default language pretty much all of the time and I had to bite my tongue all week to avoid saying “bonjour” when I meant “buenos dias,” and uttered “trois” instead of “tres” to a bemused waitress at one point before finally deciding to keep my mouth shut and let my more Spanish competent compatriots do the majority of the ordering. Setting self-consciousness aside, this place does one thing and one thing only: potatoes.

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Whoops, I lie. It does potatoes and sauces; you essentially order the type of spud preparation that tickles your fancy and the sauce that you want to accompany it. There are handy suggestions but you are mostly given free reign–though the staff will voice their alternative opinions if you ask for feedback.

We pushed the boat right out and ordered one of nearly everything. Patatas bravas is a local dish of thickly chopped potatoes, roasted, and served with a spicy sauce that any tapas bar in the city worth its salt will offer…but this was an exemplary specimen. And it’s a good thing we got a bunch of things as it turned out we were more than a little hungry.

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Pardon the dreadful photo quality but I had to move fast you see, because…

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…approximately seven seconds later.

Barcelona: The Food

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

When discussing what we wanted to do on our holiday with friends in Barcelona, we narrowed it down to three major priorities: 1) eat, 2) hang out with them, and 3) precious little else. Tapas, traditional Spanish and Catalan food, seafood, random weirdness–we wanted to try as much as we possibly could.

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We were beautifully situated for local dining as we were in a residential neighborhood that had about a million bakeries and coffee shops, gastro pubs and tapas joints, and even a massive produce and meat market about two minutes away from the flat. We were spoiled, no question about it. But again, thanks to Kelsey’s boss travel prep skills, she had already mapped the gastronomic system of the city and we knew we had some spots that simply had to be hit, but we also knew where playing it by ear would most likely pay off in a fantastically good meal.

Welcome to Barcelona Food Week on SDS!

Carrer de Blai

This is a street full of almost exclusively tapas restaurants where a mini food culture or trend seems to have originated. All the food is bite sized and served on slices of bread, held together with a skewer. You can eat as much or as little as you want as you pay based on unit and your skewers are tallied at the end of your meal–prices can be indicated by different colored sticks–and you can either call it a night…or head to the next joint to see what they have on offer. Guess which choice we made?

It turned out to be prescient as we also discovered a bodega specializing in empanadas and indulged in those as well.

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Barraca on the beach

We wanted paella and we wanted it in the most appropriate setting: seaside. My photo quality may be lacking, but the food was not! Traditional dishes like gazpacho and seafood, expertly done.

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Pasapalo

I wasn’t blown away by this place, in spite of a plethora of good reviews, but I was also the lone group member to not have a burger and so my review may be suspect. The ambiance and style, however, were great!

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Street food

There is so much good and cheap food in this city that it’s almost unbelievable. On every street corner we saw sellers roasting sweet potatoes and chestnuts, to be wrapped in newspaper and taken to eat on the go. And on every street there seems to be a place where you can get an excellent cut of meat grilled or roasted up for your pleasure. Meanwhile there is no end to the tapas options, and you can wander into the vast markets and come away with cones of traditional cured Spanish meats and cheeses. I repeat, handfuls of meat and cheese. Nirvana exists, kids.

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Desserts

And finally: pudding! I shan’t overdo this one expect to say that there is a traditional dessert somewhat similar to creme brulee called crema catalana, and that your life is incomplete if you have not yet partaken of it.

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