Sunday, November 20, 2011

Intermission, Entry 31

Intermission Entry 31, November 20th, 2011, 8:20pm (GMT +0)

It was a beautiful day in Barcelona today. I finally got around to trying one of Spain's traditional breakfast foods, churros and chocolate. Churros are long, narrow bits of sugary fried dough usually wound into twisted circles, while the chocolate is a thick, bitter, creamy liquid that comes in a wide coffee cup. As soon as the churros are cool enough to eat, you dip them in the chocolate and chow down. It's great hangover food . . . not that I ever drink to excess or anything.

There was an orchestra playing traditional Catalan music outside the cathedral today. It was an interesting instrumentation: two trumpets, trombone, two baritone horns, and an upright bass filled out the instrumentation that I was familiar with. There were also two pairs of straight double reed horns, sort of like saxophones (from a hundred yards away, they sounded just like strings). The bandleader was playing a small, one handed flute in the piccolo range while playing a small drum in the other hand used for count offs.

I was so focused on the orchestra that I didn't notice people dancing in the square until I almost ran into them. People were dancing a traditional Catalan dance, which involved standing in a big circle, palms raised up to the sides and touching. It was interesting.

I also made it Tibidao today without meaning to. Tibidabo is one of the tallest mountains overlooking Barcelona, and is traditionally known as the place where Satan showed Jesus the world during his temptations. That's actually where the name comes from: tibi dabo, I will give to you (in latin).

Now, though, the mountain has an odd combination of structures on it. First (and most obviously visible from the city below) is the basilica. It is fairly new as far as basilicas go, and is topped with an image of Christ with his arms outstretched that seems suspiciously similar to the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. The basilica is surrounded with an amusement park (seriously), mostly dating from the turn of the century. The third structure is an ultra-modern radio tower/ conference center/ restaurant/ observation tower that was built for the 1992 olympics. It sits on a slender pylon of concrete and is help up with steel cables. All in all, a really weird combination of buildings.

Preparations for the camino continue, although I've got a bit of a cold.

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