The railway line linking Barcelona to Mataró, 34 miles up the coast, was opened in 1847. The line divorced every town on its route, including Premià de Mar, from the seashore by hugging the coast. Nowadays a busy main road also runs alongside.
But the railway brought advantages too, by bringing raw materials (coal from England for the gasworks!) to agricultural and manufacturing industries, and by taking produce (fruit and vegetables, textiles) to their markets further afield.
Still, those early trains were regarded with deep suspicion, as evil and malevolent. Early travellers took no chances. They would make their wills before embarking on their journey. Market gardeners were convinced the smoke from the engines would harm the crops and they would become bankrupt. And steam engines require axle grease. Where could that fat come from? Weren’t there reports of babies and children going missing in Barcelona? Hmm?
Nowadays, this is the scene from the goods yard, now known as Descarroga beach – ‘decarrogar‘ is ‘to unload‘ in Catalan. The train line still exists, but silent electric rolling stock dependably transports commuters, but no freight, to and from Barcelona.
Local colour. We love it. Washing lines suspended from distressed peeling-paint window frames, or stretched across characterful ancient narrow streets oozing character and Instagram appeal. But life moves on. Families get rehoused into concrete-and-brick tower blocks. But Monday is still washing day. Exchange the battered wooden windows for ones made from metal and pvc, and atmospheric Old Town alleyways for Le Corbusier’s vertical cities – then stick the washing out anyway.
I haven’t joined in the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge in a while: I wouldn’t like to fall out of the habit completely. What to offer? A miscellany? Maybe. Focus on one country – maybe Spain with its wonderful Moorish past? Maybe, but others have already offered wonderful images on this theme. Barcelona then, my daughter’s home? OK, why not? But this time, maybe not its must-see architecture, from Gothic to Gaudí. Let’s just walk the streets, travel the metro, visit maritime Barcelona, and see what we can see.
About three years ago, we were in Sants, Barcelona. The flat where Emily and Miquel then lived was too small to accommodate us for too prolonged a stay, so an apartment in Sants it was – a part of the city we didn’t knw at all, but came to like a lot.
Once a village, by the nineteenth century it was industrialised – the textile industry – and home to Barcelona’s biggest textile factory. Now it’s home to Barcelona’s biggest station and travel interchange.
For us though, it was simply a busy working community, full of independent shops, a market, housing old and new. Let’s go and walk the streets for a while, and admire the often elegant windows. And as the feature photo shows, there’s washing. There’s always washing to hang out.
It’s an assertively independista part of the city: hence the Catalan flags and yellow ribbons. And they don’t welcome the destruction of their community by tourists that come and go. So we did our best to spend in neighbourhood shops bars and restaurants, and also hoped that, since we’re all-but Catalan in-laws now (and now, even Spanish grandparents), we might pass muster.
This time two years ago, we were in Barcelona. One of our ports of call was the first house Antoni Gaudí ever designed, Casa Vicens. Once a spacious site beyond the city limits, it’s now squashed into narrow city streets, some of its garden space sold off. But it’s definitely worth a visit, and you can have a virtual look round here.
What the official site won’t show you is the views from the windows, and one thing I enjoyed, as I always do, was the sight of the Monday washing drying on the balconies of nearby flats.
… work high up on the highest spires of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The squares show one of these craftsmen doing his work, almost at the very top. The featured photo gives some idea of how Gaudí’s as yet unfinished cathedral towers high above the city.
It’s 5th January. Tonight, one of the three kings (Balthazar? Melchior? Caspar? You can choose) will steal into your house and deliver you presents, as once they did to the infant Jesus. That’s if you live in the Spanish speaking world of course. Before that though, they – or their stand-ins – parade through the streets of every city and town they can find. There’s an eruption of lights, gaiety, colour, as the three kings and a cast of musicians, dancers, and hangers on of every kind process slowly through the streets. Joy and delight is uppermost, whether you attend the no-expense spared slickly presented civic offering, as we did in Barcelona in 2018 and 2019, or enjoy a more low-key event put together by your local community as we did in 2020.
These are not the best photos you’ll ever see of the Cavalcadas, But they might give you a small taste of this upbeat, family focused event. Which sadly, this year, will not be taking place. Of course.
This time last year, we were in Barcelona to spend Reyes – the Festival of the Three Kings, and traditionally a bigger deal than Christmas (Presents! From the kings!) – with Emily’s Catalan family. Here we are outside what’s considered the best grocer’s shop in town, all gussied up for festive shopping.
If you think I’ve muddled up my photos: well, the shop window did that, by reflecting the street scene as well as allowing us to see the goods on offer.
I am very late in joining Jude’s Photo Challenge #51, but here I am. She invites us to make a collage of images, some of which have strong geometric shapes, others of which are organic in form. I had fun looking back though my collection. And what I soon realised was how hard it is to determine what makes a good photo when those images are so bound up with the memories they represent. I suppose that’s what makes me a snapshot-ist rather than a photographer.
I also found myself choosing photos which were primarily geometric – of buildings and so on, but which were enlivened in some way by more organic forms. So Jude, I may not have quite stuck to your brief (again!) but you’ve made me think (again!)
The featured photo shows Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire. Nobody could accuse them of being geometric.
I’ve woken up feeling unaccountably gloomy this morning. Is it the fine but insistent rain? Is it the spike in Covid figures that seems to presage what this winter may be like? I don’t know, but Positivity seem to be called for, and a Virtual Day Out in the Sun.
Let’s go to the seafront in Barcelona, and have a look at a very up-beat window with varied viewpoints.