NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

Trip Log 24.  Day 26. Gaudi Sites: Park Guell, House at Carrer de les Carolines.

Sunday November 7, 2010. Gaudi's Park Guell

Our plan today is to visit Gaudi's Park Guell [misspelled 'Quell' in the original report]. Ramon tells us that this was just a barren hill, and Gaudi designed the park to take advantage of the hill. {All the water had to be piped in and it is amazing to see all the beautiful plants that make it so enjoyable.}

Ramon gets us up there, after several claims that they reversed the flow of traffic in a couple of one-way streets, and he parks at the far end of a bus parking lot. There are lots of cars there too, though, and he learns that parking is free on Sundays. Woohoo.

We walk across the parking lot, past an ice cream stand (chocolate/vanilla twist. Remember that on the way back), and into the park. It's pretty amazing.

As we walk along, in somewhat of a crowd, but not packed by any mean,. I feel someone bumping up against me, but it barely registers. A second or two later, I notice that they're still pressing against me, but they are pressing against my right hip. Well, not my hip, exactly, more like my butt. WAIT A MINUTE!!

I spun around and yelled, "Give me back my wallet. You stole my wallet." I was yelling at two beautiful young women, with hollywood smoky glasses on their heads, and they said, "What? We did not do ANYTHING." Ramon and Sharon (Emma stayed home, is battling a kidney problem - I think a kidney stone) started apologizing after I felt under my jacket and under my vest, determining that the zipper was still closed, my wallet safely inside.

I joined in, "Oh, sorry, I thought you were trying to take my wallet." They were huffy and said that was ridiculous, they were not trying to do any such thing. I said sorry again, and we continued on our way, a little to the right, to go up a trail, and they stopped where they were to watch an amateur act of some kind, to get people to donate money into their hat.

But as I began to relive the incident, I was positive one of them was trying to unzip my pocket. I took a picture of them walking away, and as they stopped to watch, I tried to take another one, but couldn't get lined up right so I didn't. But they saw me aim the camera at them.

We continued on, but they rushed over and grabbed my sleeve, and Sharon's sleeve, and yelled, "Why you take our picture? Why?" I said "I didn't take your picture", as I stuffed the camera into my right hip vest pocket, and zipped it closed, closing and zipping my jacket over it. "Let me see. Show me," they said. "We will call the police." Sharon said, "We want you to. Go ahead, call the police." They said, "We are Spanish. We didn't do anything." Ramon, incensed, said disgustedly, "You are not Spanish. I am Spanish!!"

And at that we turned and walked on, as they also turned away and went the other way. As I thought about it, I decided that they wanted me to attempt to show them that I had not taken a photo. They were not going to wait for that, they were going to grab my camera out of my hand and run off with it. {I thought more that they didn't want any pictures of them that we could possible show to the police and were trying to get Bob to delete any picture he took. Anyway, they were very aggressive and I was SO glad Bob and Ramon were there as I can see how intimidating they can be to a tourist.}

Sharon, Ramon and I talked it over, and Ramon was a hundred percent certain that they were trying to get my wallet. He said, "They were Romanian," which we learned is the equivalent of us saying in the U.S., "They were gypsies."

Now the interesting thing is I'd estimate that 78% of the time, I have that zipper closed, and 20% of the time I don't, with another 2% uncounted yet.

Anyway, if you see either of these girls, see what they have in their pockets.

And then?  On with the day.  I am happy that they tried and failed.  I just can't figure out which one's Master and which one's Grasshopper. Maybe they're both, uh, what's that slang word for female dog? Uh, uh, hmmmm.

We have a nice little bird with a bright line on his crown and it is a Firecrest. This agrees with Stephen, who said that Firecrest is much more common than Goldcrest here. Sharon thinks it's a female, but I'm too tired to look it up. Still not 100%, but gettin' there.

Next thing you know, Sharon spots a Crested Tit. Wonderful little bird, like a Titmouse in the U.S. a little. Then immediately after that a Blue Tit. And a few minutes later a Sardinian Warbler. He's in the shade, so his red eye is not very bright.

I am snapping photos all over the place. I've never seen so many things I want to take pictures of.

We follow a trail down to an intermediate flat area, and I start looking around for a head.

(L) The pied piper of dogville

As we walk up the trails we come across a couple of amateur musicians playing their instruments and singing. We wait long enough to confirm that we like them, then we buy music CDs that they are hawking. {It was wonderful to wander and hear all kinds of music; guitars, singing, hammer dulcimers. It was a great background to the sights.}

As we continue walking along, I sneeze and Ramon says, "Khrushchev!" Which I guess is his Russian for Gesundheit. Sharon, who is on her binoculars says, "Look at those cruise ships out there." And Ramon says, "Nikita Cruise Ship." We do several more variations and additions, but they descend into nonsense. Fun for us.

We have made our way down to the great open area, lined with benches colorfully decorated in mosaic tiles. Sharon has read that Gaudi gathered up old junk tiles from existing projects, so got them for free, then used them here. They claim it was the first use of this type of mosaic instead of precise tiles made expressly for a design.} Excellent. Water runoff goes into channels, under the benches, into channels on the backside of the benches, then through downspouts, which are in fact, animal heads, like dogs. Pretty cool.

(L) You can see the drains, the mosaics, and though it's not clear, the dog spout at lower left. (R) A performer, well, stander.

(L) Gaudi designed the columns to look upside down. Very clever. (R) Sharon is wowed over some musicians.

(L) The ceiling, looking like a floor. (R) Sharon's 'wow' musicians. They do classical music, and somehow it's perfect here.

(L) Lizard man will take a photo with you, putting a helmet on you, for money. Are those girls Romanian? Are they checking out my "wallet?" (R) Wonderfully Gaudi.

(L) I didn't know Sharon could play the pan flute. Sharon: "I never had 20 dollars before." (R) Taking a rest.

At about 2 pm, we decide to get outa Dodge. On the way back home, we pass the Groins and Company Cafe, only when we get past a big tree, we see that it says not Cafe but Cafeteria. Sharon observes that 'eteria' is kind of a common ending. I note that 'Groins' is not your typical name for a cafeteria.

Still later, I see a dome. I say to Ramon," I'm looking at a duomo." How do you say 'duomo' in Spanish. He says, "Cupola. Francis Ford Cupola."

We stop on a street called Carolines, and check out the outside of a Gaudi-designed house. It is not nearly as wild and mind-blowing as other things we've seen, and it doesn't move me. But judge for yourself.

I start talking about getting some vegetables and fruits, and Ramon says, "How about some bananas? We can split it. Of course." Ah that's the beauty of Ramon. I just feel lucky to be around him when he comes up with all this stuff.

Ramon points out a Catalonia flag (yellow and red horizontal stripes), but if there are two triangles (I think) on the flag, it means that that person or family is very STRONGLY in favor of independence for Catalonia.

Anyway, we make it back home, park and go inside. The pope is on the TV. Ramon earlier in the day said to me, "He was in Santiago last night, and flew here tonight." I'm a little confused, "Santiago, Chile?" No, no, he says, Santiago, Spain, on the western side.


Ramon says to Sharon, as we're sitting in the living room, "The pope was in Santiago last night." I watch with delight, as Sharon asks, "Santiago, Chile?" Hee hee.

We watch "Il Papa" on TV for a while, and the basilica is extremely interesting. I think Ramon has a plan for us to go there, if I think I can handle it. It's so fascinating. {Another famous Gaudi building that he began over 100 years ago,}

Then it's on to write some reports, before heading up the stairs. Hey, I feel much stronger. Can't wait for Thanksgiving, so I can give thanks. As Uncle Peter used to say, "OK, go ahead and don't wait."

Wow, only one more full day, then we fly home on Tuesday. "Please, Mister Custer. I don't wanna go." - from a goofy song called "Mr. Custer." And then it continued, "There's a redskin a-waitin' out there, waitin' to take my hair...". This song topped the charts in 1960. And this trip tops the charts of 2010.

Sleep well. Park well, Park Guell.

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