Barcelona, España

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La Sagrada Familia

I’m in love with Barcelona. This marvelous city was everything I imagined it to be. It’s colorful, artsy, and there was just too much to see in a few days. I really had to prioritize everything I wanted to see and experience.

We arrived in Barcelona early in the morning. Somehow my Spanish (hadn’t used it in a few years), kicked in and we were able to get around the city easily via taxi and the metro. We stayed at the Hilton Barcelona hotel on Avenida Diagonal, a few minutes from the main downtown area of Barcelona. It was alright with us since it was near Park Güell, a few minutes away from La Sagrada Familia and La Boquería.

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Grabbing some gelato at La Boquería.

La Boquería was one of the places I couldn’t get enough of. It’s a hub catered to both locals and tourists seeking fresh groceries, cheap eats, sweets and spices. This is the one place you go to for groceries and a quick bite. I bought some saffron, tried some gelato and salivated over the cute plastic-toy-like sweets. It’s amazing what you can do with sugar!

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Dulces

The second day, we went to La Boquería again and saw the bar that Anthony Bourdain visited during one of his shows. We ventured further into the marketplace and found that it was surrounded by numerous paella shops, seafood vendors and butchers that would sell paper cones full of jamón and cheese!

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The front of La Boquería
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Numerous bars like this line the outside of the marketplace, making it easy to grab a seat, order some tapas or a plate and wine. 

We tried so many different tapas in Barcelona. From toasted bread with tomato to baby squid and razor clams. The food here is very different. It seems fresher, less preservatives, simple and salty from the ocean. The seasonings are so simple: sea salt, saffron, garlic, olive oil, white wine. I have yet to try something I didn’t like.

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Souvenirs from Spain and Italy

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Aloha!

I’m finally back home in Hawaii. I’ve been so busy since I returned. Work and family are keeping me busy so I put off unpacking and downloading photos until now. I’m going to start this series of travel-related posts with some of my favorite (non-food) things I took home from Spain and Italy.

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The first photo is of a shell dish that I picked up at La Boquería in Barcelona. It was cheap and so touristy but I wanted something from the Mediterranean Sea since it was too cold to dip my toes in it when I was there. Inside of the beautiful shell are clay figurines of things you’d find at the market, or mercato, in Napoli. The busy and grimy city of Napoli was exciting, mostly because of the little things we found on the Via dei Tribunali, a popular street with bakeries, eateries, and tiny shops. Along a side street of Tribunali, we stopped at A. Ferrera, a shop owned by clay artist Ferrara Antonietta. The clay figures were adorable and so cheap. I couldn’t resist buying a few.

The second photo is of a book (and a Barcelona metro ticket tucked in the front) that I bought in Palermo. Pan de Limón con Semillas by Barcelona-born writer Cristina Campos. I wanted something local and from a common bookshop/newstand that locals go to regularly, so I chose this literary gem that is based in Mallorca. I’m going to start reading it after this coming week…after all my projects that I must catch up to.

The little tan journal is something very special that I bought in Florence. After we visited the Duomo, we ventured towards the local market, lined with vendors of all sorts. One of the first vendors, unique as hell, was selling customized real leather journals. He stamped my name inside. I was only able to bring a couple of these back since they were going to weigh my luggage down, but I thought it was the perfect thing to bring back to some special people. The journals were not cheap, but they were worth every penny.

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This third photo is just more of the beautiful figurines from Ferrara Antonietta. Artichokes are all over Italy and they’re served fried, baked into pizzas, and steamed. Their artichokes are also different colors, which I thought was beautiful.

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Ah. This last photo is of a few things I picked up in Mallorca. Shopping in Europe isn’t really my thing…just yet. It is quite possible that I haven’t hit the real local shops, but Zara and H&M are huge with the Spanish. Aside from the mauve fringe earrings on the right, everything is from Sfera at El Corte Inglés, which is a huge multi-level department store in various cities. It’s like a Macy’s, that’s the only type of department store I can compare it to.

Stay tuned for the real travel shots…I have so much to share!

Francisca Pageo >>> Murcia, España

I’m pretty stoked about this semester. Classes are going to be interesting, plus it’s the start of art classes at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. I’m taking Side-by-Side: Creative writing and painting because I probably have a cluster-bomb of ideas in my head that needs to be released, even if it’s through multiple mediums. I’ve been designing little projects here and there, but I think it’s time to start writing poetry, painting, drawing, sketching, anything that my uncoordinated, awkward hands can do.

I remember a while back in grad school when Barcelonese muralist Josep Minguell visited our class. He asked me what type of art I did and I proudly said, “graphic design,” which to my surprise, he chuckled and replied in Spanish, “But you don’t use your hands, you don’t feel the art, the earth, the beauty that you’re producing. You only see it through the computer screen.” That’s true. I don’t really touch or feel the art that I create; although it is sometimes drawn from emotion, there is no physical connection. It’s obvious that art evolves as technology provides new mediums of art, society becomes used to seeing photographs and graphic design. 

Well one thing I really like about some designers is that they mix mediums to create multiple dimensions within their work. Take Spanish artist Francisca Pageo, she uses drawn elements, photographs as well as computer produced graphics to create prints that showcase texture as well as depth.

You can see more of Francisca’s work here or visit her blog para sus imagenes de inspiración o interés.

Modik

If I ever have the money to launch my own brand, I would seriously consider Modik, a genius graphic design and creative studio based in Barcelona that specializes in corporate imaging, branding, graphic design, naming and conceptual ideas. I love the simplicity of their work as well as the creative techniques they use to strengthen the marketing of the product. Take Sushi Bar, for example, they created the most simple, cute and eye-catching graphics. Check out those awesome take out boxes! Feel free to take a look at their other projects at Modik.es. [Click on the photo for a full-sized view]

Disonyando >>> Ruben Córdoba Schwaneberg

Me fascina cómo una artista armoniza los dos elementos de fotografía y tipografía para producir dimensiones multiples en su arte. Encontré estas fotos de un artista de Barcelona, Ruben Córdoba Schwaneberg, en Behance. El talentoso diseñador gráfico, de 31 años, es conocido por sus obras y conceptos visuales en anuncios y publicaciones. En su sitio, Disonyando, que está lleno de sus creaciones brillantes, el artista dice, “Disonyando es un estado permanente, incesante, constante y gerundio en el que cerebro, corazón y manos se sincronizan en perfecta armonía.” Sus obras llevan un sentido retro; aunque son como sueños, ya tienen elementos vivos como texturas y personas actuales.

High Sky of Spain by Andrey & Lili

Who doesn’t love a good, sexy fashion editorial? Estas fotos están llenas de fuerza, femineidad y sexo. Fotógrafo Andrey Yakovlev y directora de arte Lili Aleeva las produjeron en el Castillo de Canta Barbara en Alicante, España. Desde la perspectiva de una fotógrafa amateur, utilizaron la luz y la enormidad del castillo para crear imágenes que se enfocan en el modelo y sus rasgos. Se puede encontrar más de esta sesión fotográfica aquí.