Notyalcsdrawkcab’s Weblog

February 25, 2009

barcelona ramblings

Filed under: Life in Japan — notyalcsdrawkcab @ 3:27 am

back in chrissy, i took my first trip to euroland.  to barcelona … why barcelona?  i was dazzled by that barca side that won the cup, back when ronaldhino was the best player on the planet.  i saw some pretty pictures on flickr, and had heard that public art and architecture were important there.  i had read orwell`s homage to barcelona(? or was it catalonia?) about the amazing happenings of the spanish civil war.  one of my favourite restaurants in brissy is called spanish tapas bar.  and i figured the weather would be mild at christmas.

as the name of the blog attests.  i like to obsess.  before the trip, i bought and read 4 guide books (of varying sizes), a learning spanish book (that i never got into), and 2 novels set in barcelona, and a set of short stories by an author from barcelona …

and last but not least, an irishman`s set of essays on barcelona – what it was and what it is, through his eyes.

the essays didn`t come till last month.  part of me wishes they had come before the trip, another part of me is just glad they came at all, and that now some things that didn`t really make sense now do.

eg.  the ridiculously long time the sagrada familia is taking to build.  its on purpose – it is an expiatory church; i don`t quite get it, but it is something like the building of the church is an atonement for the sins of barcelona – and each day of building is another day of atonement.  they aren`t really slowing it down on purpose, but there is a reason for not rushing it either.  why one facade on the sagrada familia is so ugly.  hint, it is the facade that gaudi didn`t work on.

and the list goes on.  an interesting corner building i saw where you could see down into the basement area through huge glass windows and see very old looking walls and ruins.  i couldn`t find the entrance and just figured it was odd.  its a display of old roman walls.  and there is no entrance.

and more.

but one thing of interest for me is catalonian nationalism.  once upon a time catalonia was a separate kingdom from spain (the dominant region in spain, castille, was another kingdom).  and especially through the franco years, catalan language, culture and politics were repressed, people were killed, all very nasty.  but, go back through catalonia`s history, and in its dominant era in the middle ages, they also “governed” (repressed?) huge swathes of europe.  many in catalonia thought of cuba as “theirs”.  and in the mandatory use of catalan in schools and government offices, the many migrants to barcelona from other parts of spain are unable to use their preferred language of choice and have to learn catalan.  if the migrants from other parts eventually outnumber catalans and make spanish the language of government and schooling, will it lead to a loss of catalan culture?  would that loss be worth worrying about?  it is the migrant`s city too, so much of barcelona from the 1800s on was built by poor migrants from other parts.

is the difference between repressed and oppressor merely one of who had the biggest gun?


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