Graffiti is an often-overlooked marker of the social climate and public sentiment in urban areas; many prevalent styles of graffiti were developed in the United States, but European cities have concocted unique styles of their own that display the city’s culture and historical influences. Paris and Barcelona both showcase a variety of graffiti, but each city, rightfully, is unique. Graffiti really exploded in Paris from 1984-1990, when the counterculture movement was just beginning; nowadays, Paris is the home of many alternative lifestyles, which is represented in the variety of graffiti on the streets. We saw the work of Space Invader, a prominent European graffiti artist, as well as other tags and stickers that are found internationally. I tried to understand what French tag artists were trying to say with their brief statements of individuality, but couldn’t translate, let alone understand, the graffiti I saw.
In Barcelona, the graffiti movement didn’t take off until about 2002. You will see, however, when walking through the streets of the city, that the citizens wasted no time in covering their city with paint. The graffiti in Barcelona has a political theme that is expressed in a plethora of unique ways; artists do everything from scratching the walls to painting while wearing next to nothing. In Bomb It!, a movie about international graffiti that I am familiar with, a Barcelonan graffiti artist asks “Why do I need to go to a museum to see art?” The streets of Barcelona are full of controversial art. A lot of poor neighborhoods have been decorated with graffiti, to the admiration of some residents and the disdain of others; the opinions surrounding it may be mixed, but graffiti cannot be ignored in Barcelona. Overall, so far we have witnessed what one would expect in two large, European urban areas: a playground for the mixed cultures that make these cities so wonderful.
Space Invader! A rare find.
For those of you who do not know Tracey, she is a practitioner of Chinese medicine, an acupuncturist, and a keen observer of human nature. Thankfully, she is a kind Christian and does not judge all of us that she “observes.” OK, at lunch today (a very expensive lunch that should not have been so expensive….we’re trying to forget about that…) she was explaining why each of us has a strength in a certain element. The five elements are water, wood, fire, earth, metal. Tracey and Skye are primarily earth, I am primarily metal, and we’re trying to figure Caroline out. She could be fire or wood. So Tracey explained that if we could see how each of us dances, then that would tell alot about us… so Skye put on Ludacris and Lil Jon and everyone is dancing around the apartment! The fact that I am sitting down and watching proves that I am metal; Caroline seems to be fire (everything’s up and down); Skye flows all over the room (she’s secondary water) and Tracey’s hips are going! Earth is circular and she looks like she’s had hula lessons! This is hilarious! (no photos allowed.)
I’m running behind, I know. We arrived in Barcelona on Friday evening and quickly found our amazing apartment. It’s like a secret hideaway behind three heavy doors. Here are the doors, in order to unlock…
Door number one
Door number 2
Door number 3
And here’s one photo to give you an idea of the cool, modern look inside. This place is a great find:
This is where the moms are sleeping.
We’re all getting a little tired today, but we continued to walk around to the notable sites: the modernista architecture started by Gaudi in the 19th Century. It’s mid-afternoon and we’re back at the hideaway, doing some laundry, napping, and ultimately packing. (We leave for Seville tomorrow morning at 5 am.) This evening we’ll go out to see Sagrada Famille: Gaudi’s famous church and I’m sure I’ll have more photos for you. Here are my photos from today, starting with Tracey’s modernista hairdo at 9 am this morning:
girls in front of La Predrera
We allowed Caroline and Skye to go out tonight in Barcelona (with a local friend from NCS), so I’m uploading Skye’s latest batch of shots. I believe they’re all from Paris, even though we spent all day today in Barcelona! Most of the day we spent at the beach. Tracey and I hung out at the “Beach Bar” under umbrellas for a couple of hours while the girls sunbathed within sight. In Spain and France, the waiters/waitresses don’t care how long you stay at your table AND they don’t expect tips. Awesome. Unfortunately I didn’t realize I was still getting terribly sunburnt on my face and arms…. It was relaxing.
I think there are some more she wanted me to upload but it will have to wait until they get back.
Tracey here… this has been an amazing trip. I could not be happier with how our planning has turned out. Our neighborhood in Paris (the 7th arrondissement) has been charming with very friendly people. We were right near the golden dome of the Hotel Les Invalides where Napoleon is buried. It housed the wounded soldiers as well as the armory. If you look at the photos you can see it in the background of the photos of Skye and Beth. Amazing!!! It has been a very full trip. As you have heard, we have walked our feet off, but are not complaining. The weather and the sights have been outstanding! Our rooms were a bit tiny at the Hotel Duquesne Eiffel, but the beds were incredible and the bathrooms were splendid. Tonight we are staying at our adorable apartment in Barcelona. It is called The Five Rooms and we are loving having a washer and a small wall kitchen where we will enjoy our coffee, bread with cheese or jam and some eggs tomorrow morning. Then we plan to head out to see some Gaudi at the cathedral and some neighborhood architecture before heading to the beach after lunch. Caroline has a National Cathedral School classmate who lives here so the girls will meet up with her for the evening. Love and miss you all. Hugs, Tracey
hello all. I hope you are enjoying the photos. I am a little bit behind on my postings of each day. Most of these are of us, but if you check out my facebook I have architecture and culture photos. This is the most epic trip ever. Lots of stories! Miss you all
The Quote of the Day today is a section from one of Pablo Neruda’s poems. The poem was found in a book that my Spanish teachers gave to me, and seems appropriate given that we are now traveling on the coast of Spain.