Ice Cream

They have it all wrong because I think ice cream is the real gateway drug. And besides, it’s highly addictive.

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La Rambla Ice Cream
A woman holds an ice cream cone in Barcelona’s La Rambla at night

I want to be in Barcelona at La Rambla on a warm night having an ice cream cone. I can be clumsy with food, so I got a small cup instead. There’s something about walking around with ice cream; for the time it takes to eat, reality gets suspended, and you have not a care in the world.

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We were walking back to our hotel after spending time in the gothic quarter, and I was randomly snapping photos of people and vendors. For me, this captures some of the magic of that night, and believe me; there is always a bit of magic here. But now looking at it again, I think it might be time for ice cream. Not that I’m addicted or anything like that.

Bo De Gracia

Having only one night, we had to find the best tapas in town. Fortunate for us it was just around the corner. In Barcelona, that’s any corner.

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Bo De Gracia
A view inside on of Barcelona’s best tapas bars

I really don’t think you can go wrong, but Bo De Gracia was especially right if that makes any sense. There were quite a few things we ordered, but I remember sardines and olives the most. My wife doesn’t generally like sardines, but we both had to split the last one. And the fresh green olives have a taste and texture I’ve never experienced in America. It was all washed down with a local Spanish wine that complemented everything perfectly.

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But I’m a photographer, so I had to pick up the camera and take this quick shot from the bar where we sat. The only people here were us and this couple. Probably because it was early in the evening. Around nine or ten is when these places start to fill up. By “these places” I mean the worlds best tapas bars around every corner of Barcelona.

More Rain

You’ll forgive me if I post another photo of the rain. Personally, it’s something I can’t get enough and just think it’s kinda cool.

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A rainy October day in Malaga Spain
A rainy October day in Malaga Spain

Taking photos in the rain is akin to low light photography, the weather has a way of creating a mood. In Europe, it’s enhanced by the architecture of the old streets.

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This was taken on a rainy October day in Malaga when I got soaked to the bone. About a year or two prior I did the same thing in Solerno. Back then I bought an umbrella from a vendor who magically appeared as soon as the rain started. I paid too much for the umbrella and then lost it on a bus. I’ve since given up on umbrellas when taking photos. Besides, it’s not really feasible to hold an umbrella and take a picture, unless you have three arms.

NBA Cafe

It’s odd seeing an American sports bar in Spain. Maybe the NBA is popular here, what do I know? Or perhaps it just caters to American tourists.

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NBA Cafe
An American sports bar overlooking La Rambla in Barcelona

I was in Barcelona for only a day, so I took pictures of everything and anything. These are the windows of the NBA Cafe on La Rambla.

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Anyway, I just thought it was cool how the windows were outlined with neon lights. Like I said, anything and everything.

Plaza de la Merced

It might be an understatement to say it was raining cats and dogs in Malaga. But that’s of little consequence when you traveled over four thousand miles to get here.

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Plaza de la Merced
It was raining cats and dogs in Malaga Spain.

I was determined to go out, come hell or high water. The universe obliged and gave me high water. I wore jeans, a light rain shell and got utterly soaked. The bus pass in my pocket was unreadable and plastered flat against my iPhone. When I showed it to the driver, she seemed more worried about my phone than the pass. Thankfully, iPhones are water resistant these days.

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Speaking of which, I’ve read a lot about how the Sony a7RM3 is “water resistant,” so I decided to put it to the test. Imagine standing under a sprinkler. A little moisture got onto the lens mount, and the camera started giving me error warnings; however the camera and lens continued to operate, and I didn’t lose any shots. The camera got soaking wet. When I got back to the ship, I let it dry for a few hours, and it was perfectly fine. I suspect a tighter lens fit of a pro-grade GM lens would have eliminated that issue, but I was using the consumer grade 85mm f1.8, which I love as a lightweight travel lens.

All in all, I had a blast and, it was a good test of equipment and perhaps, my own craziness.

So Good it’s Scary

Walking towards Plaça de Catalunya, we passed this shop. It seems Halloween is popular in Spain as well, or maybe just in retail. Nevertheless, I was dressed as a tourist.

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So Good it's Scary

This is Barcelona’s shopping district, and there is no shortage of things to see. The Barcelona Apple store is right next door and, man oh man is that a nice store; good thing I didn’t go in. Shopping and I don’t get along well, shopping always wins.

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Speaking of which, we were headed to La Ramblas to get Crystal her Espadrilles. Whenever we return, we go to Toni Pons in the Latin Quarter to get Espadrilles. They are less expensive in Spain and, they are made locally. While she was doing that, I went to take photos. The only problem with that is that I can lose track of time, but somehow I managed to snap out of it and meet her just as she was exiting the store with a big bag of shoes.

Urban Symmetry

This image was taken in central Barcelona from the rooftop of the Grand Central Hotel. At first glance, you’ll notice symmetry in the picture. That’s because I’ve mirrored the image, and then painstakingly altered it so that the equality is incomplete. In effect, I’ve taken something that was perfectly reflected and added randomness.

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Urban Symmetry
This mirrored image creates a sense of confusion on closer inspection

There are plenty of mirrored artifacts, but depending on how you look at it, it might play tricks on you. Our brains quickly suspect its a mirror, and then our eyes begin looking for proof. Depending on where in the image you look, it may not confirm your first impression.

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The photo is an exercise in abstraction and deception. It’s a time-consuming exercise to produce, but it’s fun at the same time. My purpose is to hint at one thing while throwing you off the trail and forcing you to figure it out. I hope you don’t mind a little harmless deception in the name of fun.

Santa Cova de Montserrat

That building on the mountain is a church known as Santa Cova de Montserrat. What’s impressive is that it’s only accessible by trail. Also, it’s very near the Abbey of Montserrat in the Catalonian region of Spain. When I took this photo, I was standing not far from the abbey on an overlook near the top of Montserrat. To get up the mountain, we had to drive a precariously steep and winding road.

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Santa Cova de Montserrat
A church that is only accessible by foot near Barcelona

The landscape here is extreme and, try as I do, still can’t imagine how places such as this get built. The construction must take many generations. Projects like this are not something we are likely to see again.

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The Abbey of Montserrat is just an hour from Barcelona, and you can see the outskirts of the city in the distance. We didn’t plan it right and arrived in the afternoon which meant we only had a couple of hours to explore. But now that we know, next time we’ll spend the day exploring much more of this unbelievable monastery in the mountains.

Carrer del Bisbe

This image was taken in the gothic section of Barcelona on my last night there. I was standing next to the cathedral listening to musicians and taking photos of people walking down Carrer del Bisbe.

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Carrer del Bisbe
Late night along the Carrer del Bisbe in the gothic section of Barcelona

Coming from North America, this is an enchanting place. I can’t describe it in words, I try with pictures, and yet it still falls short. You have to experience it for yourself. I’ll be going back in a couple of months, so I hope to get out in the gothic section again.

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Anyway, this is a street scene, a night scene, and an architecture scene all wrapped into a single image. I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s a lot of fun. For me, the appeal is shooting at night when everything takes on an almost mythical quality. You can imagine the same spot hundreds of years ago and see with your mind’s eye the same scenes, unchanged over the centuries.

Patch of Shade

This was taken on a hot day in Barcelona last summer. I had just arrived from hot Florida and went out walking. It was so hot I had to pause in the shade. As I did, I noticed others doing the same thing.

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Patch of Shade
Man in the shade in Barcelona

In fact, it seemed like everyone was doing the same thing, going from one patch of shade to the next. Maybe I should have just stayed inside with the nice air-conditioning, but that’s what I do at home in Florida. Here I was in photo safari mode and the coast of Spain was my savanna.

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As I took this, I was sitting across from a little restaurant on the pier. I was thinking it seemed odd that the main food on the menu was cheeseburgers and hot dogs; so much for European cuisine. But they had air-conditioning, so I seriously thought about going inside. Then my hunter instincts kicked in again and I moved on.