June 2019 trip back to Barcelona, Spain

A trip back to Barcelona it is different than others. To start with, I use “back to” to express that Barcelona is still my second home. Most people know the city for its warm weather, for the architect Antoni Gaudí, and the many good places to eat. For me, it is my birthplace.

This is an opportunity to see family and friends. But, I will stay just three days and I will not be able to see everybody I would like.

Barcelona is a great city to walk around. And, it is probably the reason why walking is my prefered way of experiencing cities all around the world.

I go to Plaza Urquinaona to have breakfast with a friend. We drink coffee and exchange our stories since the last time we saw each other. That is six months ago. After a long talk, he leaves to work.

I have nothing else planned until lunch. I am on vacations, but not so my friends. So, I visit Gigamesh.

Gigamesh is my favourite science fiction book store in the world. A second close is Forbidden Planet in London. I leave without purchasing anything. But, with a mental wish list. I will come back later for a couple of books.

I continue my visit to the city. As I leave the Basilica de La Sagrada Familia, I find l’Hospital de Sant Pau. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner is not as well known as Gaudí, but many tourists that come to Barcelona will admire his buildings.

I go for lunch with my friends at one of the many franchise restaurants in Heron City. Actually, Heron City does not exist anymore as the owners have sold the shopping centre and now has a new name. There are always changes in such a big city.

It is a long lunch that extends into the evening. We had a lot to catch up.

Next day, I will meet more people. I have a tight schedule.

I eat breakfast at my parents’ apartment and afterwards leave to meet more people.

We have lunch in one of the many restaurants in the city. We stop to eat a refreshing gazpacho and drink sangria. Gazpacho is a dish original from Andaluzia but very popular everywhere else in summer. And it is a warm day.

In the evening, I go to my next meetup. We talk while walking in Montjuïc. It is a welcome change. Most of the talk happens around a table with food; this time I will burn some calories.

We pass by one of the waterfalls that feed the Font del Gat. Montjuïc has many unique places. But this one has its own song.

Baixant de la Font del Gat una noia, una noia,
baixant de la Font del Gat una noia i un soldat.

Pregunteu-li com se diu, Marieta, Marieta,
Pregunteu-li com se diu, Marieta de l’Ull Viu.

The three days pass fast. I have met a lot of people and seen some places in the city. Next time I will make sure to reach more people. It feels terrible to go back home and have missed friends.

Barcelona, you are my happiness.

June 2019 trip to Bucharest, Romania

Two months ago, I visited Bucharest for the first time. Dev<Talks/> Bucharest has invited me as speaker. And, I took the opportunity to visit the city again.

I leave the office early and go walking to București Gara de Nord (Bucharest North railway station) to meet with a colleague.

In my way there, I visit King Mihai I Park. The park is built around Lake Herăstrău, one of the lakes formed by the Colentina River.

One of the most interesting places in the park is the open-air ethnographic Museum Dimitrie Gusti National Village. I walk around the village under a light rain. I do not stay long, as, I am in my way to the rail station.

The North station is full of activity as trains come and go. Romania being a member of the EU means that I get Internet without extra cost with my Swedish internet provider. Real-time communication makes it easier to find my friend in the middle of so many people.

Our first stop is the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum. We are close by, and it is an excellent place to take pictures and learn more about traditional Romanian architecture.

From there, we wander around the city, and, I show my colleague some of the most touristic places in Bucharest. The city has many beautiful buildings, but they are in different states of conservation.

At night, I end up at The Drunken Lords with other DevTalks speakers and colleagues from the Bucharest’s office. This pub is a local favourite situated in a narrow street in the old town.

Next day, I do my talk and stay in our company stand with my colleagues. Its an exhausting day, but, it is worth it. DevTalks is a big conference and many developers attend to get knowledge and inspiration.

My colleague will go back to Stockholm on Saturday early in the morning. So, the last conference day, we leave early to do some city exploration. We take the short M4 line and then change to the M1 to get to the city centre.

From there we visit some of the most touristic places in the city. I repeat many places from my April trip to Bucharest. I enjoy guiding other people in a town that I know.

On Saturday, I have some time during the morning before taking my flight. I wander around the city until I stumble upon the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History. It is a modern take on the traditional Natural History museum set up. The dioramas are beautifully constructed, and there are specimens of all around the world.

I take the flight back to Stockholm with a stop in Warsaw. The plane is late, and I have to run in the Warsaw Chopin Airport to get onto the next flight on time. I made it.

Don’t worry
everything will be fine.

Anonymous

May 2019 trip to the United Kingdom. Summary.

It has been a few years since the last time I visited London. So, it has been a coincidence that I have visited it twice in a month.

My first, short, trip was from the 6th of May to the 8th. I did not extend the trip as I knew that I would be visiting the city soon.

After travelling to Copenhagen and Malmö, I have made a second trip to London from the 21st to the 27th of May. I even stayed for the weekend.

This is the first time that I visit a city other than London in the UK. There is so much to see in London that I have postponed any other British location until this date. I made a short trip to Cambridge. It was the right choice.

I have written three posts about these trips. I have mixed some experiences from one and the other. And, I decided to give The British Museum its own space as it’s my favourite museum in one of my favourite cities.

The British Museum.

Cambridge.

London.

May 2019 trip to the United Kingdom. London.

I wake up early in the morning and take the first train towards the airport. I even have the opportunity to see a maintenance service vehicle in its way home. This morning, I will work from the London office.

Many years ago, London was the first city I visited when I started to travel outside Spain. London is one of my all-time favourite cities maybe because it is a city that always rewards exploration with exciting surprises.

The first three days, I will be working close to Hammersmith. So, I explore this region of the city where I have not been to before. As I cross the Hammersmith bridge, I find the Harrods Furniture Depository. The obvious guess is correct. This building used to be a storage for items that could not be stored at Harrod’s main building. This 1914’s building is listed as buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

Harrods Furniture Depository

Very close to Chiswick Park Station, by walking between two residential buildings at Bollo Lane, I found a hidden treasure. The Gunnersbury Triangle is a small, tiny, nature reserve in the middle of Chiswick. Its existence is possible by the fortuitous circumstance that three railway lines isolated the location. So, the place was never developed.

In the weekend, I re-visit all my favourite places in the city: Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, Greenwich, Portobello Road Market, and much more. I never get tired of walking around London.

The Clock Tower in the Palace of Westminster does not offer its best face. Misfortune is always a risk when travelling. I have found Museums closed, monuments being repaired and even once a storm that made us miss one of our destinations. But, the alternative is to stay at home and not see any of the wonders of the world.

Saturday morning, I go shopping at Portobello Road Market. There is much to see in this London road. Tourists take pictures of the beautiful English houses with colourful rose gardens. There are stands with international and local food, and fresh fruit and raw vegetables.

For me, Portobello Road is the place to find peculiar objects. Some sellers claim that their objects are real antiquities and some things cost as if they were. I do not know what objects sold here are really antique and which are modern copies. But, I always try to get home some beautiful not-so-expensive souvenir.

During the weekend, I have seen and done more than what I can share in a few lines. Some experiences are a revisit of old ones, and some of them are new. Next time I come back to London, I will revisit its streets again.

May 2019 trip to the United Kingdom. Cambridge.

Sunday morning, I take a train to Cambridge from King’s Cross. It’s the first time I visit the university city.

The city centre is noisy with tourists and has a very distinctive architecture with definite Harry Potter’s vibes. It’s easy to see the influences that the Cambridge’s colleges, buildings and students life inspired the books.

My first destination is the Centre for Computing History. The centre is a great place to try hands-on a varied range of old computers. My two favourites are a Silicon Graphics workstation and an Alien Syndrome arcade machine. In 1991 an SGI workstation was a synonym of state-of-the-art computer graphics. To be able to use one is a unique opportunity. For the Alien Syndrome, I saw one while on vacations in the 80s. As a kid, I didn’t have money to play so I had to settle for watching other kids play. After three decades, I have been able – at last – of playing the game by myself.

After playing a little around with the infamous E.T. video game and other computer relics I leave the centre.

The second place I visit is the Fitzwilliam Museum. I am impressed by the variety of objects on display. The museum is not big, but there are all kinds of objects and paintings. One of the paintings surprises me, and it seems a sort of rare animal drawn in an abstract style. Actually, it is a still life painting by Pablo Picasso by the title of Bowl and Apples.

I move from exhibit to exhibit, from the Egyptian collection to Asian art. It takes me around one hour to finish my tour in the museum. It’s a small place but totally worth a visit if you are in Cambridge.

As I pass by in front of a church, a small object gets my attention. It’s a little door with the devil peeking at the door. Later on, I see a guy knelled in the ground taking pictures of something. As I approach, I discover what the objective of his camera is. It is a small, teleport machine. I have some small talk, and I discover that there are other street art installations around the city like these. Once home, a Google search finds that the art group Dinky Doors are behind the stunt. It’s a welcome surprise to find such a thing in a city.

I start to head back to the train station in misty rain. It takes an hour from Cambridge station to King’s Cross or as shown in the screens “London Kings X”.

May 2019 trip to the United Kingdom. The British Museum.

The British Museum deserves its own post. Probably it deserves many posts. If London is one of my all-time favourite cities in the world, the British Museum is my favourite place in London.

Temporary exhibits are a refreshing change for any museum. I visit temporary exhibits often, even more often for museums that I already have visited in the past. But, permanent exhibits are not so permanent. The British Museum collection has over 8 million objects. Just around 80,000 are on public display at any given time.

Some things do not change. I took the first picture in 2014 with an iPad’s camera. The second picture is from 2019 with a Panasonic DMC-G80. But the Gold wreath has not changed.

Others things do change. I remember that in Room 33 (China, South Asia & South East Asia) three ceramic seated figures dominated the view. I was so impressed by this ceramic figures that my eyes looked in their direction as I enter the room. But, they are gone from their original place. Their original place at least for me.

Today, I visit the Manga マンガ temporary exhibit. Afterwards, I will continue with the permanent rooms.

All the big names in manga are represented here: Dragon Ball, Captain Tsubasa, Astro Boy and much more.

In a big screen, there is a short documentary about Comiket. I have attended Comiket 93 and 95 at the Tokyo Big Sight. It’s interesting to see your own history in a museum.

The British Museum is an incredible place. But as such, it is not free of complexities. Hoa Hakananai’a (‘lost or stolen friend’) reflects one of the complex issues with a museum with artworks from around the world.

Easter Island governor begs British Museum to return Moai: ‘You have our soul’

The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. Tue 20 Nov 2018 18.21 GMT

I am sympathetic with the wish of the Easter Island inhabitants. And, as the museum recognises itself the statue is not a gift, but it was obtained in suspicious circumstances. Whatever the final decision, I hope to be able to visit this Easter Island cultural artefact again.

And each visit, I discover something new. Ram in a Thicket is a statue sculpted around 5,000 years ago in Iran. Maybe I have seen it in the past, but I do not remember it. I usually wander the museum without any goal in mind. A more systematic approach will assure that I see every object. But, I prefer to have serendipitous encounters with the artefacts.

When it was discovered, the 16.5-inch figure had been crushed flat by the weight of the soil above it and its inner wooden core had decomposed. This wooden core had been finely cut for the face and legs, but the body had been more roughly modelled. Woolley used wax to keep the pieces together as it was excavated, and the figure was gently pressed back into its original shape. The ram’s head and legs are layered in gold leaf which had been hammered against the wood and stuck to it with a thin wash of bitumen, while its ears are copper which are now green with verdigris. The horns and the fleece on its shoulders are of lapis lazuli, and the body’s fleece is made of shell, attached to a thicker coat of bitumen. The figure’s genitals are gold, while its belly was silver plate, now oxidised beyond restoration. The tree is also covered in gold leaf with gold flowers.

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, December 17). Ram in a Thicket. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:34, June 16, 2019

There is much more to talk about and see at The British Museum. I will come back again for another visit. But like a man cannot step the same river twice, next time it will be different.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Heraclitus