The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Park Güell

(Photograph © Rebecca Alm, distributed via Creative Commons)

Today we made the trek to Park Güell, which was designed by Gaudí and built between the years 1900 to 1914. The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing estate and has since been converted to a municipal garden. It is perched on a hill overlooking the city and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like everything Gaudí, it grows on you until you can’t imagine a world without curved lines, ceramics, and wonderful enclosed spaces of wood, stone, and concrete. Vale la pena.

January 6, 2009   Comments Off on Park Güell

Catalan Culture

There is a warmth in relationships in Catalan culture that goes beyond tolerance and affection to a real caring, or so I imagine. Children are allowed to talk at length on any topic. A pregnant women is celebrated by her friends in a very affectionate manner. Good food is treasured. Time with families is special and to be enjoyed. A café owner is happy because her customers enjoy her wine and tapas. Maybe I’m making this up, but perhaps not. First impressions are often more accurate than we imagine.

January 4, 2009   Comments Off on Catalan Culture


Waterfall at Rupit

Waterfall at Rupit

Yesterday we went to Rupit, a small Catalan village northwest of Barcelona, which came into existence (according to the American expatriot who drove us) when the Franks chased the Moors out of France. Because the village is located in the lower reaches of the Pyrenees and snow had fallen, it was cold and whenever the sun came out, mist rose from the ground and the fog rolled in. The cobbles were wet with water from the melting snow. It soon became evident that several Spanish tourists had made the trip as well. Because the streets were so narrow, an imperious Spanish matron led her cowed husband in their sleek black Audi between the stone buildings, as we studied the stone arches of the entryways that showed the dates of construction, most from the sixteen hundreds. After the usual morning café con leche and a pastry we hiked 3.5 kilometers (the long way around) to the waterfall that poured over the rocks to the valley below. After walking back to the village, we made a meal of the traditional toast (which we rubbed with garlic and tomato, drenched in oil, and spread with an aioli the consistency of mascarpone), beans, sausages, and thick chucks of bacon. The wine came in a glass beaker with a pointed spout for pouring into one’s mouth. Our waiter thought he was an English comedian (bald with glasses falling off his nose) and enjoyed playing pranks of a dubious nature. He helped us practice pronounce the Catalan “y,” which he said was impossible for anyone except real Catalans to produce correctly. He pronounced us fakes, which I didn’t mind in the least.

When we got back to Barcelona, to cap off the day, we went to the Camp Nou to watch Barça. Lionel Messi did not play, which was a great disappointment. In the subway on the way back to our apartment, we chatted amiably with the locals about the match, and discussed how long it took Barça to finally start dominating lowly Majorca. In the excitement of the moment, all differences between nationalities were completely forgotten.

January 4, 2009   1 Comment

In No Way Different

Human voices echoing from Sant Domenic del Call,
In no way different from pigeons cooing
As they duck into shit-covered drain holes
Or gulls crying, or the dull tolling of bells from Santa Llúcia.

(Photograph © Rebecca Alm, distributed via Creative Commons)

January 2, 2009   Comments Off on In No Way Different

Vicky Christina Barcelona

A typical Woody Allen film, where the characters become fragments of director’s alter ego and say the lines as if he were literally speaking through them. Nothing new here. You don’t believe the characters, you know they are made up, and yet you’re still interested in a pedestrian sort of way. Even a ménage à trois and an insanely jealous Spanish wife (played by Penélope Cruz) barely liven the proceedings. In this film Woody looks back on marriage, love, and the sexual escapades of youth, and finds it all rather droll. I would guess that only dyed-in-the-wool Woody Allen fans will love this one. Nice shots of Barcelona (and Oviedo), though.

December 27, 2008   Comments Off on Vicky Christina Barcelona