Saturday, December 31, 2005

Adios a 2005 y Hola a 2006

Barcelona seems like a great place to usher in a new year. The streets are filled with people enjoying themselves. Above is a photo of the Placa de Catalunya -- something of the heart of the city. This photo may make it seem like fewer people are out and about than really are.

One nice benefit of keeping this blog is all of the year's highlights (and some lowlights) are carefully catalogued in the archives and are easily searchable.

December once again brought a record number of visitors to my blog -- more than 650! Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I love looking to see what key words bring people to this blog. Sure are a lot of people interested in Shirley MacLaine. Whatever makes the meter spin is fine by me.

Here's hoping that Mother Nature has a more placid 2006. Happy New Year everyone!
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A statue in the Placa de CatalunyaPosted by Picasa

Like London, Barcelona has a Pickle Building. Posted by Picasa

You can see the spires of the Cathedral de Segrada Familia from the 15th floor of my hotel. Posted by Picasa

Via Iaietana Posted by Picasa

This enormous, three-story Christmas Tree is in the Diagonal Mar Shopping Center across the street from my hotel. Note the nautical-themed ornaments because we're near the ocean. Posted by Picasa

There are two Hilton Hotels in Barcelona. Earlier this week I stayed at the Barcelona Hilton, which is located in the heart of Barcelona's business district.

Now I'm staying at the Hilton Diagonal Mar -- which is in a newer part of town near the ocean, the Convention Center and the Edifici Forum. There's not much to see immediately around this hotel, but there's a Metro stop very nearby so it's easy to go wherever I want.

I love this hotel. Very modern and comfortable. And one of the nicest Executive Lounges I've ever seen. Posted by Picasa

The view of the Mediterranean Ocean from the 15th Floor of the Hilton Diagonal Mar HotelPosted by Picasa

Friday, December 30, 2005

Recharging the Batteries

Had a very vacation-like day today and took it easy. Slept in, went to visit a local museum that it turns out is closed this week, walked along the beach, had lunch, etc.

I even cracked open a book -- something I rarely do.

Please note: I read A LOT. I monitor over 75 blogs -- you can "monitor" my blog by using the Bloglines Button to the left. I read three newspapers daily and over 50 magazines a month. (Is this coming off defensive?) I just don't often make time for books.

But I brought a biography of Truman Capote by Gerald Clarke with me and started reading it today. GeezBob lent me this book so long ago he had to remind me recently that he'd lent it to me when I told him I found it on my shelf after seeing the movie "Capote."

I'm really enjoying it -- only 493 pages to go. (Maybe that's why I don't read books -- what a commitment!)

Tomorrow it's back to Barcelona for the weekend.
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Mid-morning fishermen. (They may have also been early-morning fishermen, but I wouldn't know.) Posted by Picasa

Sitges City Hall Posted by Picasa
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Ran across this outside Automat today and remembered visiting New York City with my Grandparents in 1972. We went to one of the last remaining automats in Manhattan and I thought buying food through a little door was the most modern concept ever! Posted by Picasa

I didn't think I was in Kansas anymore? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sitges -- Si, Si, Si!

Arrived in beautiful Sitges this afternoon after an easy 30-minute train ride from Barcelona.

What a charming little town. It's primarily a summer beach resort, so it's very quiet here right now.

But I'm enjoying the opportunity to explore it away from the maddening crowds.

Thanks to Jackie for suggesting I come here even though it's off-season.
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This is the view of the beach and Mediterranean Sea from my hotel room at the San Sebastian Playa Hotel. The main part of Sitges is just beyond the church (you can see the tower). Posted by Picasa

This is Placa Cap de la Vila -- the center of Sitges' business district. You can tell it's not mobbed like summertime (I understand). Posted by Picasa

I had a wonderful dinner (at 10:30 p.m.!) at Ma Maison Restaurante -- one of the restaurants open in SitgesPosted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Oh My Gaudi!

Spent today on a major walkabout through Central Barcelona. I'm stunned by how beautiful and fascinating Barcelona is. I had to be careful not to walk around with my mouth hanging open.

It was cold today, but with a beautiful blue sky and lots of sunshine.

A lot of the time I was admiring the architecture of famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The photo above is of his Cathedral de Segrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family). It remains under construction even though he left no plans for it's completion when he died.

I got a lot of sleep last night and finally feel like I've turned the corner on my jetlag. Now I just have to get used to Barcelona's hours.

At 1:30 this afternoon a restaurant caught my eye as a potential place for lunch. When I came back at 2:00 there was a line out the door of people waiting for a table. When I left at 3:30 a tiny line was still there.

Tonight at 9:00 p.m. I went for dinner at a restaurant that was about 1/3 full. Over the next hour it filled up and at 10:15 a group of 21 people showed up for dinner just like it was another Wednesday night.

I'd read that Bacelona was a late-to-eat kind of place, but I guess I had to see it for myself to believe it.

Tomorrow I'm off on a 45 minute train ride to the seaside town of Sitges for two nights -- then it's back to Barcelona for New Year's weekend.

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The other side of the Cathedral de Segrada FamiliaPosted by Picasa

Modern sculpture on one side of the Cathedral de Sagrada FamiliaPosted by Picasa

A lizard on the side of the Cathedral de Sagrada FamiliaPosted by Picasa

Gaudi's Casa Mila La PedreraPosted by Picasa

Gaudi's Casa BatiloPosted by Picasa

At least parking should be easier. Posted by Picasa