Monday, July 04, 2005

Perpignan to Barcelona

We are in Barcelona now. Our last day in Perpignan we visited the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, which was a set of Kings I had never heard of. There was a lot of information about James the Conqueror, King of Aragon, and his younger son James, who became the first King of Majorca when his father split his possessions between his sons. I found it interesting because it goes to the history of the border between Spain and France. It seemed logical to me that the Pyrenees would mark the border, and apparently it seemed logical to James as well.

We also visited a (the?) Cathedral before rushing back to the Hotel to get our bags and get to the Train Station. We had a short ride to Port Bou, which is in Spain. It disconcerted me to have to speak Spanish. While I am not that great with French, I can at least order food, ask for a room with two beds, and so on. In Spanish I can ask for green chile on an enchilada, but not much else. Fortunately a lot of people here do in fact speak English.

Last night we went out for Paella rather late. I ordered the Paella Verdura, thinking it would be a vegetarian dish. It mostly was, but about halfway through I noticed some little shrimp in it. I tried to excuse them as "accidental" contamination, but there were too many for it to have been an accident. Just picked them out and went on. The paella was delicious, especially the slightly burned bit at the bottom of the pan. There was oil and vinegar and salt and pepper on the table, they seemed to make it even better.

Today we were up rather late, and broke our fast with bread and cheese and olives and bananas and a couple of Chocolate Croissants. We picked it up at a "Condis" supermercata, but I don't think it has anything to do with Secretary Rice. The prices for food and hotel rooms are more reasonable in this country than in France.

We visited La Pedrera, a Gaudi Apartment house that is now a museum. It has some very interesting displays on his methods. I enjoyed seeing the use of string and weights to make catenary curves, that when viewed in a mirror become the structure of a building. Sort of an analog computer. The building itself is very beautiful, and it was a lot of fun to roam around the roof, looking at the wacky things Gaudi had done with the usually pedestrian assortment of pipes that project from a roof.

Later we were wandering about trying to find our way back to the Ramblas, when we noticed a very unusual building. There were a large number of people filing in, so we checked it out. It was a concert hall, and there was a concert at 21h00. Since that was about ten minutes away, we bought tickets and went in. It was a very good concert. I was not so pleased about the Schumann on the program, I usually find him rather "fussy", but one of the pieces was not bad. They also played Mozart, Falla, Liszt and Franck. I think the Liszt may have been the best. All were chamber pieces, which the hall was really too big for, but the sound was good, especially after the intermission, when we grabbed better seats.

The hall itself was amazing, the interior has huge plaster sculptures including winged horses, an assortment of stained glass, including a sort of droplet about to break from the ceiling, and other bits and pieces of rococco or Art Deco, or whatever it is.

After three hours in the concert hall, we were definitely ready for dinner, and so when we saw a Maoz vegetarian Felafel stand we went straight for it. Delicious.


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