AMO/Barcelona Quarterly Trip

AMO/Barcelona Quarterly Trip

Barcelona, Spain – June 15, 2011

Tyler and I made our way to the Atocha Train Station in Madrid.  There, we met my Area Management Officer (AMO) and her husband.  As part of her trip to the Madrid embassy, we needed to visit the consulate in Barcelona, therefore the train trip.

Tyler at the Atocha Train Station in Madrid.
View of the Atocha Train Station from the overlook near security.

The high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona was wonderful as always.  This day the train was non-stop, so we got there in about two and one-half hours.  That sure beats the times I have driven there with my friend Ron.  Those trips are usually six or six and one-half hours one way.

We arrived in Barcelona at about 17:30. At the hotel, Tyler said this is his favorite city, even though we had not yet been there two hours!

Tyler thought the Le Meridien is the best hotel in which he has ever stayed.  He thought it was amazing that there were a television and a telephone in the bathroom!

My AMO, Angela, and her husband enjoying an afternoon coffee.
Chillin’ in the room.

For dinner, the four of us decided to go to a restaurant that overlooks the marina, La Gavina (The Seagull).  Supposedly they are known for their paella.  We shared two different types of paella.  I am not a real fan of paella; however, the paella there was very good.

On our way to and from the restaurant, we walked by the Joan Miro sculpture by the marina.  I think it is a fascinating piece of art.

Joan Miro sculpture near the marina.
An arch near the marina and La Gavina.
Many pedestrians passing between the restaurant and the marina.
The La Gavina Restaurant was very busy.
After a wonderful dinner at La Gavina.
Some of those sitting on the wall are selling the items on the fabric.
A larger boat docked at the marina.
People sitting on the wall by the marina, across from La Gavina.
Detail of the Miro sculpture.
The bicycles seem to go on forever.
A couple walking past rental bicycles. The Miro sculpture is in the background.
Another sculpture near the Miro.
A statue on La Rambla.
Oh, the sights one sees after the sun goes down!
A window display at a store near our hotel.

On the first full day in Barcelona, Angela and I had work to do at the consulate.  While I was on the grounds of the consulate, I could not help but admire the water fountain and some 1920s-era murals.

For lunch, we took out one of the Locally Employed Staff, Josefina.  She suggested Moncho’s on Travessera de Gracia.  The three of us shared three different dishes; croquetas, calamari, and a salad.  It was a delicious meal.

Detail of the water fountain at the U.S. Consulate.
Detail of another mural on the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona.
Detail of a mural on the U. S. Consulate in Barcelona.
The bar at Moncho’s. The jamon serrano seems to go on and on…

When I returned to the hotel late that afternoon, Tyler and I decided to walk around the area near the hotel.

Initially, we walked north on La Rambla to Plaza Catalunya.  It so happened that there were many protesters occupying the plaza.  There were tents, tarps, and ramshackle living areas.  We were both surprised that many of the protesters had staked out camping spots in the trees.  I am not exactly sure what the protests were for, but there did not seem to be anything happening when we walked through the plaza.

The other thing that was odd that afternoon were the pigeons.  There were hundreds of them in the plaza.  Many others had noticed that, so there were a lot of people in the plaza taking photos of the pigeons.

A mirror at the base of a sculpture in our hotel.
Some of the volumes on the shelves.
Inside a music store on La Rambla.
The pigeons seemed to be everywhere in Plaza Catalunya that day. Some of the tents in the background were for the protesters.
A sculpture in the water fountain at Plaza Catalunya.
A small boy running through some of the pigeons.
A multitude of pigeons in Plaza Catalunya.
A woman posing with the pigeons.
The blue tarp is a makeshift sleeping area too. A pigeon flew through the frame just as the shutter opened.
Detail of the treehouse.
A house in the tree for some of the protesters at Plaza Catalunya.
Some people on the benches in and among the signs. The meaning is unclear, but this sign reads something about, “the police don’t let artists work that sand sculptures to thieves.”
One of the protest signs in Plaza Catalunya.
A memorial in Plaza Catalunya.
An El Corte Ingles store across the street from Plaza Catalunya.
The start of La Rambla, looking south from Plaza Catalunya.
Shopping on La Rambla.
A typical pastry store on one of the sidestreets.
More concert posters in the music store. The caption on the television reads, “because you need something to keep it fun.”
A Pink Floyd poster in the music store.
Inside a music store.
The Beatles or KISS??
A bicyclist on a sidestreet.
A small market on one of the sidestreets. Please note a banana costs 1.75€ (US$2.14) and one orange costs 0.75€ (US$0.92)!
A fairytale?
Stockings and leggings for sale.
A musical instrument store.
Sign for a second-hand clothing store.
Stickers on a mirror-finish window on a sidestreet.
A small guitar Tyler bought for his sister.

Tyler returned to the hotel and I continued on to a nearby church, the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.  There were some beautiful sights in the church.

A side aisle in the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.
A statue of Mary and Jesus.
A statue of Jesus.
Detail of the Holy Family on display in the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.
Detail of the ceiling.
Several of the prayer candles.
The tabernacle is below the painting of the last supper. The Latin above reads, “Let us adore forever the most Holy Sacrament.”
A woman contemplating the crucifix.
The front of the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.
Prayer candles below a crucifix. The Latin reads, “For God so loved the world.”

For dinner that night, the four of us went to El Asador de Aranda.  It is in a unique building.  Its architecture sort of has a Moorish influence.  The restaurant specializes in lamb; however, both Tyler and I had steak instead.  It was good.  I would go back.

Lighted globes in the lobby of our hotel.
A home across the street from the restaurant.
A view of the restaurant when we arrived.
View of the restaurant as we departed.
The lamb emblem of the restaurant, Asador de Aranda.
More of the taxi light show.
The view from our taxi from dinner to the hotel.

The following day, Angela and I went with consulate personnel to view a newly leased apartment.  While we were out, I spotted a very ornately decorated but abandoned building, the Rotonda Hotel.  I had to take a few photographs.

The ornate but abandoned Rotonda Hotel.
The ornate dome.
The abandoned Rotonda Hotel.

We had some time to kill after we checked out of the hotel.  We walked a couple of blocks south on La Rambla to get a coffee.  On the way, we saw the St. Joseph Market.  We went through there and looked around a bit too.  After the coffee, it was back to the train station and on to Madrid.

Another fruit and vegetable stand.
A woman making a purchase at a fruit and vegetable stand.
Tyler looking at the fresh fish stand in the market.
Another fishmonger.
One of the fishmongers at the St. Joseph Market.
A seafood-stand in the market.
One of the entrances to St. Joseph Market.
A meat stall at the market. One can see the price of some of the hams is 139€ (US$170).
The beautifully decorated storefront dates from 1820.
An advertisement for ice cream on one of the outdoor tables.
The old pharmacy building is now a sweets shop.
A statue of Mary in an old pharmacy building.

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