Tag: Wind Turbine

Shopping in Barcelona

Shopping in Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain – April 13, 2011

My good friend, Ron, and I drove to Barcelona to do some “shopping” for work.  The required item was only in Barcelona, so we drove there from Madrid.  We arrived late on the 12th, bought the items we needed on the 13th, and returned to Madrid late that same night.  During the drive to Barcelona, one sees dozens and dozens of wind turbines.  My understanding is that Spain has one of the biggest markets in the world for wind turbines.  As one drives by the wind turbines it is amazing to see the size.  Each blade is about the size of a tractor-trailer rig, huge!

Some of the dozens and dozens of wind turbines along the road.
Construction on the road to Barcelona narrowed the highway down to one lane.

The other frequent sight along virtually any Spanish highway is the black bull billboard.  It is the symbol for the Osborne Bodega, a winery.  The bull is omnipresent in all sorts of advertising and tourist gifts throughout Spain.

One of the Osborne Bodega bull billboards.

While we were driving toward Barcelona, we overtook a truck carrying horses for the Spanish National Police Mounted Unit.  A little farther on we passed another police truck.  That was the first time I had seen this.  I have never actually seen a National police officer on a horse.  I am not sure where they were going.

A mounted police transport truck.

As we neared Zaragoza, we decided it was time for lunch.  We stopped at a McDonald’s.  In Spain, McDonald’s is a frequent sight.  However, what is not frequent is to see a drive-through McDonald’s.  Those are very unusual.  After taking a photo of the sign, a security guard stopped to question us about what we were doing.  I found that a little odd, but nothing came of the incident.

A very colorful pedestrian bridge.
The sign for a McDonald’s drive-through.

When we arrived in Barcelona, we checked into our hotel.  After putting our things in our rooms, we went out to explore life on la Rambla, the preeminent tourist street in town.  That street is always full of fascinating things and characters.  We ended the evening with a late Spanish dinner at the Attic restaurant, which happens to be across the street from our hotel.

We made it to Catalunya!
How ’bout them gas prices?! The prices are Euros per liter. For premium, one will spend about US$5.57 per gallon.
More wind turbines on the ridge.
Speed limit 110!! That is about 68 mph.
One of the hallways in the hotel le Méridien.
I sculpture in one of the stairs in the hotel.
Detail of a building across from my hotel room.
The neverending stream of pedestrians on la Rambla.
One of the entrances to the St. Joseph Market.
A fellow photographer passes by our sidewalk café table.
The scene in front of the Liceu Theater.
Our drinks of choice.
Passersby stop in front of a street performer near the Liceu Theater.
Three floors of KFC heaven!
A kiosk on la Rambla with a lot of Barcelona Futbol Club paraphernalia.
The artist area of la Rambla.
A large memorial along la Rambla.
Another portion of the artist area of la Rambla.
An obelisk honoring Christopher Columbus.
The entrance to the wax museum off la Rambla.
An eating utensil mobile over the stairs at the Attic Restaurant.
The Attic Restaurant before prime time.
Looking down onto la Rambla from the terrace of the Attic Restaurant.
A highly decorated blouse in a store display window.
Diners in a dim sum restaurant.
Two worlds.
People walking past some parked motos.

The next day, we had some work to do at the consulate before we went to buy our items.  The work took longer than we anticipated, so we got a late start on our return.

Driving back to Madrid we decided to not use the toll road.  That ended up being an error in judgment.  The non-toll road is a two-lane highway that winds through small villages.  Because of that, one cannot maintain a constant speed.  An additional obstacle was the never-ending trucks on the road.  With only two lanes, it is nearly impossible to pass.  Finally, near Zaragoza, we were able to get back on the freeway and took that all the way back to Madrid.

While riding, I took advantage of the road lights to take photographs.  Some of the night shots I got from the car were fun.  We made it back to Madrid close to 00:30.

Walking past some parked motos.
One of two men looks toward the sculpture near a sidewalk café.
A bit of a traffic jam.
Careful, speed is controlled by radar!
Driving into the sunset.
A truckers’ highway.
Another of the Osborne Bodega bull billboards at sunset.
More truckers on the road.
With any luck, we will be back in Madrid by 00:25!
Painting with light while riding along.
Painting with light while riding along II.
Painting with light while riding along III.
Painting with light while riding along IV.
Painting with light while riding along V.
Painting with light while riding along VI.
Painting with light while riding along VII.
Painting with light while riding along VIII.
Painting with light while riding along IX.
Painting with light while riding along X.
Painting with light while riding along XI.
Painting with light while riding along XII.
Painting with light while riding along XIII.
Painting with light while riding along XIV.
1st DOS Business Trip

1st DOS Business Trip

Barcelona, Spain – September 15, 2009

This was my first business trip as a Department of State employee.  Barcelona is a regional responsibility for me, so I HAVE to go there once every quarter; tough duty!

I left home this morning at about 05:30.  I had a taxi take me to the Atocha train station in downtown Madrid.  I was to go with the facility manager that was working here when I arrived.  We met at the train station at about 06:00 and entered the Preferente lounge.  That is a sort of “frequent flier” lounge.

We boarded the train at about 07:00 for a 07:20 departure.  The car we were in was virtually empty.  I assume the hour was just too early for the average Spaniard.  At 07:20 exactly, the train pulled away from the platform!  In no time at all, we were traveling at 150 km/h.  Ultimately, the train made a top speed of 301 km/h.  That is nearly 200 miles per hour.  I was surprised at how smooth the ride was and the fact that it did not seem we were traveling that fast.

The scenery at nearly 200 mph!
WOW!! 292 km/h = 181 mph!!
Passing the Spanish scenery.
The front/rear of the bullet train.
The view of our AVE train. We were in the second coach, where the attendant is standing.

It only took about two and a half hours to make it to Barcelona.  Once off the train, we took a taxi to our hotel.  After we checked in we took the Metro to the stop nearest the Barcelona Consulate.  It is a beautiful 1920’s house that has been converted to our use as a consulate building.  It sits on an acre or so of land.  The gardens are quite beautiful and well kept.

At the end of the workday, we went back to the hotel and took a nap.  We met up again at about 20:00 to go out for dinner.  We sat down for dinner at 20:30!  That is nearly my bedtime!  Oh well, when in Rome…

I only spent one night in Barcelona.  The rest of the time was jam-packed with work, so the only “sight” I saw on this journey was the apartment building designed and built by the renowned architect, Antoni Gaudí. The apartment building is known as Casa Milà or La Pedrera (The Stone Quarry).  The building dates from around 1910.  Also, if I understand the story correctly, Gaudi died after being struck by a streetcar in Barcelona.  At first, no one knew who he was, so he did not receive very good care.  By the time people realized who he was, it was too late.  He died in 1926.

The apartment building designed by the famous architect Gaudí. It is known as Casa Milà or La Pedrera (The Stone Quarry).