Sunday, June 21, 2015

Madrid to Barcelona

Madrid train station
Took the high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona yesterday. It topped out at 185 mph or, as this is Europe, 298 km an hour. Counting two stops, the trip took three hours. We're here for a month, staying in a professor's airbnb apartment in the El Raval neighborhood. Wikipedia tells me El Raval is also known as Chinatown and is "historically infamous for its nightlife and cabarets, as well as prostitution and crime". The entry also mentions some notable past residents of El Raval, which includes three writers and a serial killer known as "the vampyre of Barcelona".

View from the patio
While we love local color, it further notes that,  "El Raval has changed significantly in recent years and due to its central location has become a minor attraction of Barcelona"  and I'm okay with that. Even if the neighborhood has lost a bit of its edge, it's still interesting. Last evening the fellow next door was practicing an opera solo and someone else played a lovely cello over the courtyard for about a half an hour. And, en route to the grocery store yesterday, we walked through a swarm of  20 to 40 something hipsters  in various degrees of outrageousness. Of course, for all it's liveliness, El Raval in no way compares to the outdoor cafe party scene of the neighborhood where we stayed in Madrid. There even the children played in the nearby park till midnight, as evidenced by their screams of excitement and delight, and the street parties went until 3, that's AM. But I can live with that. As usual, google images has plenty of photos of El Raval if you want an overview.
The neighbor birds

Our apartment, though most likely a million dollar place, is basically a long narrow hall partitioned into rooms with no windows in the middle and doors on both ends, giving it the feel of an open ended cave. Well, there is a window in the middle that opens onto an air shaft in the middle of the building but that's it. I'm not complaining. I just report. But, as I am always the one who flings open windows for more light and fresh air, it is a bit of an adjustment. M. Lee assures me that, after we see a few of Gaudi's famous Barcelona structures, this place will make more sense. I'm sure he's right. Anyway, I love walking narrow, winding medieval streets so what's not to love about this lovely place?

I'm writing this from the patio, a godsend located outside the kitchen at the back of the apartment. We are, as they say say in this part of the world, on the first floor. In the US it would be called the second floor. Anyway, someone, we are guess the professor, added the kitchen and patio. Metaphorically, you could say I am sitting in the canyon outside the backdoor of our cave. To my everlasting gratitude, there is blue sky above and many swallows nesting in the holes of the canyon walls, so I have the company of wildlife. An essential for my occasionally somewhat fragile state of mind.

4 comments:

Roy said...

First of all, OMG bullet trains are so cool. How come we don't have any bullet trains? Kansas was made for bullet trains, and desperately cries out for one. We could call it The Great Plains Eradicator, or Suck it I-70.

asha said...

We're way behind but Elon Musk wants to build a hyperloop between LA and SF. I hope he does. It's a start anyway.

Roy said...

Well, that makes sense. So would a line between St. Louis and Chicago. I want to say Kansas City, but to be honest, probably not.

asha said...

They should be running all over the country. Our current transportation matrix is obsolete.