Saturday, March 26, 2011


The Goat has been instructed by his M.I.L. that another blog post is required. The teeth need to be pushed down the page in order that visitors to this little corner of the blogosphere aren’t greeted by a hideous grinning rictus.

So, instead of further complaints about the state of medical care, motoring, the Crumbling Villa, officialdom or customer service in the Lands of the Sand, the Goat shall reminisce about a delightful recent week in Spain.

M and J got married in Barcelona in February, and the Goat and Beloved Wife were among those invited. Thus any plans for heading east and going diving were put on hold. Tickets to Barcelona were obtained: Austrian Airlines, via Vienna. Beloved Wife wanted to go and do a pastry cooking course in Vienna, but a week in France became a better option. Travelling through Vienna nevertheless remained a fixed feast.

M greeted us at Barcelona airport, and we taxied to the hotel; the same hotel as most of the other wedding guests and about five minutes’ walk from M and J’s apartment where everyone met for pre-wedding drinks the night before. On the Big Day, we all piled into the underground train and headed into town to the registry office.

Although first in line, all the happy couples were kept waiting. The authorities wanted to ensure that everyone was ready so they could be processed very quickly by the judge. At one point in the ceremony, M was nudged by her Spanish-speaking friend. “This is the bit where you say, ‘Si.’”

Champagne Celebration

And then we were all outside for photos before heading off for a slap-up meal of predominantly steak followed by a little sightseeing.

Breakfast: A silly name for a lobster

More sightseeing followed over the next couple of days. Gaudi is Mr Barcelona, and a visit to the world’s most expensive building site had to be on the itinerary. Sagrada Familia was astonishing. It’s not going to be finished until 2040, but the interior was almost clear of construction paraphernalia. Once finished, the clear glass will be replaced with stained glass. There’s a lift to near the top of one of the spires, which will eventually be dwarfed by the final spire. The whole construction works are apparently funded by admission fees.

Sagrada Familia. From Wikipedia, with the cranes digitally removed

The nave of Sagrada Familia

Looking up at the roof

Organ pipes

This stone turtle supports one of the columns

Art Deco knight

We rambled down La Rambla, and explored the Gothic Quarter and Gaudi’s Park Güell. Always mindful of the allegedly ubiquitous pickpockets, both of us were very careful of miscellaneous buskers, living statues and pairs of young gentlemen one of whom would typically ask the time whilst the other one would help himself to the content of the target’s pockets. We were left alone, possibly because the Goat does appear to be a big hard bastard. I was, at one level, spoiling for an attempt so that I had the excuse for pugilism. Presumably, because the local Plod seems disinclined to do anything about low-level criminality, a similar attitude would be taken with someone who broke the nose of a deserving scoundrel.

The splendid warm (for Spain in February) and sunny weather didn’t last. Whilst at Park Güell there were some spots of rain, although not enough to warrant the raincoats that we’d left at the hotel. Gaudi originally conceived the park as a retreat for Barcelona’s upper classes. Nowadays, everyone’s allowed in to see the buildings and vegetation. Gaudi was very much into ceramics, it seems. And his ‘more organic than real life’ style appears to have inspired the set designers for all of the Alien films.

Gaudiesque mosaic roof

Gaudiesque columns

Canine gargoyles

A feral budgie

Getting the hang of a ‘hang’

Levitation on La Rambla

Cowboy on La Rambla

Gothic unicorn gargoyle

In the Gothic Quarter

Our next stop was Madrid to visit Keef and Noëlle. Madrid was much colder than Barcelona. Art and Kulcher were on the menu in Madrid. The Prado art museum was jammed full of splendid paintings and sculptures, including Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and miscellaneous variants of Three Large Pink Women and One Small Piece of Gauze by Peter Paul Reubens. (Thank you, Terry Pratchett - Thief of Time).

Taking photographs was forbidden, although I was allowed to retain my camera. My little tripod was confiscated and held to ransom in Left Luggage for inexplicable reasons.

The following day, we went to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Try as I might, I was unable to appreciate pretty much all of the ‘art’ on display. Even Picasso’s obscenely famous Guernica did very little for me. The photo gallery and preliminary sketches were more interesting than the finished product. Taking pictures of Guernica was supposedly forbidden, but photography was permitted everywhere else in the museum. Like anyone would want to take pictures of spilled acrylics mopped up off the floor with an old piece of tent (and then framed and sold at auction for $100,000,000.) Sorry folks, the Goat is an uncultured savage where a lot of modern art is concerned. Who remembers the little boy in the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes?

I did find a sculpture I liked: Pablo Gargallo’s The Prophet

The weather took a turn for the worse, fortunately after we’d done our outdoor exploring. After trying one of Keef’s English Breakfast pies, which was very yummy actually, we headed off to the airport. Many thanks to Keef and Noëlle for their hospitality.

Why did we fly between Barcelona and Madrid? What was wrong with saving a few polar bears from drowning and taking the train? Well, as flying cost half the price and a fraction of the time, there was very little incentive to do otherwise. How ridiculous!

Perhaps it might have been nice if the Goat’s employers had given him the Sandal Up The Jacksie before the holiday, rather than immediately upon his return. That way, he could have accompanied his Beloved Wife on her exploration of France the following week and possibly helped out a bit with the language.



Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

Excellent post.

Keefieboy said...


halfmanhalfbeer said...

GG great post! Sorry to hear about the sandal being inserted. Hope you are planning to stay around these hallowed shores.


nzm said...

Love it! But it was actually J who was prompted to say "Si"! ;.)

Sarah Walton said...

Super post and nice pics. Like the way you write...

Martín said...

seems your mood is better. Nice to see you enjoyed the calm before the storm.
Great pics, as usual!

Anonymous said...

luverly --- tmil

Anonymous said...

Forgot -- when we went to Barcelona in the early 70s, we stay one block over from la Rambla -- what an experience!!! -tmil

Tumbit said...

Great post !
Not being a 'Big Bastard' myself, I wasn't lucky enough to have my pockets left alone on la Rambla. I caught some Gypsy with his hand in my pocket and gave him a clobber. Guess which one of us ended up being taken away by Sr Policeman.

kennady said...

It's a good information to share about the grumpy goat. The photos of sculptures are very nice. If any people need more information about the wedding, they may use the wedding app and plan the wedding easily.


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