La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

English: West side of the Sagrada Familia, Bar...
English: West side of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain Français : Côté ouest de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sagrada Família, Barcelona
Sagrada Família, Barcelona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View of the Passion Façade (Western side) in September 2009

Construction started:1882   Height170 m   OpenedNovember 7, 2010  The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, commonly known as the Sagrada Família, is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. WikipediaAlthough incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict VI.

It certainly has taken a long time to see it finally opened for public viewing & appreciation. We first laid eyes upon this spectacular structure during our Whitsun Holidays in 1960, when we visited France, Spain & Portugal. This was one sight not to be missed in Barcelona that was a MUST-SEE in our itinerary. Of course, we didn’t get to see the inside!

The building is still under construction so be prepared to see a lot of work continuing when you visit. The interior proves to be more interesting than its unusual exterior.The Sagrada Familia it is a truly magnificent building and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona.


Though construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms.

Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War—only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí’s death

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Describing Sagrada Familia, art critic Rainer Zerbst said “it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art” and Paul Goldberger called it ‘the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages’.

The basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona—over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona’s cathedral, over Gaudí’s design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí’s death disregarded his design, and the recent possibility that an underground tunnel of Spain’s high-speed train could disturb its stability.

Antoni Gaudi

Bullfighting in Madrid

By P Chong                                         Wed. 13 Oct. 2010

It was Whitsun holiday in 1960 when a small group of us college students found ourselves touring through France, Spain & Portugal. We were fresh & young & eagerly looking forward to any new thrill & excitement to enrich our youthful experience. When in Madrid, the capital of Spain,we were attracted & drawn to their famous bullfight.

I remember it well & clear. It was a Sunday. Having obtained the tickets for the bullfight through an agent in the hotel, we made our way to the arena by way of jammed packed Metro, with standing room only & literarily squashed to the bones. However, we were willing to bear the discomfort for we really wanted to be part of this quintessential Spanish tradition at least once during our trip. We were told this was a special Sunday fight when the older matadors would be challenging a team of younger ones.

At the Plaza del Toros, the arena looks a lot like the Colosseum in Rome, and we were both struck by the make-up of the crowd jostling to get to the arena – old and young, men and women, rich and poor – the bullfight belongs to all, and is clearly as much a social event as a sporting spectacle.

The Spanish bullfight remains one of the most controversial forms of mass entertainment in the world. It is despised and revered in almost equal measure depending on whose opinion you seek. Yet this quintessential Spanish tradition is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, southern France and several Latin American countries, in which one or more bulls are ritually killed in a bullring as a public spectacle. It is often called a blood sport by its detractors but followers of the spectacle regard it as a fine art and not a sport as there are no elements of competition in the proceedings.

Supporters of bullfighting argue that it is a culturally important tradition and a fully developed art form on par with painting, dancing and music, while animal rights advocates hold that it is a blood sport resulting in the suffering of bulls and horses.

As it is in Spain today, this traditional spectacle is being endangered by the dwindling interest or a recent ban on the sport in Catalonia. ‘Bullfighting belongs to Spain and that will always be the case. The young are more interested in football & tennis.

It was to us an electrifying experience – a riot of colours, especially red and sound that set our senses on edge. Trumpets sounded, blood poured, crowd cheered & jeered . . . every move,. Every turn, every expression of the matador and their compatriots is designed to engaged the crowd. It is a blood sport and in many respects cruel . . . but seriously compelling & thrilling!

But what do you think?


Toppling The Greek Domino Other “PIIGS” To Follow

By P Chong                               3 May 2010

Now that news is all over about Greece toppling as the first of the dominoes,  and the credit downgrading of Spain & Portugal that followed, it appears the rest of the other “PIIGS” nations are just teetering on the fringe. The crucial question is with the political and legal wrangling on what to do with these wayward “PIIGS” nations, will Euro survive?

(“PIIGS” stands for Portugal, Ireland, Italy,Greece & Spain)

Corinth Ancient City Ruins

This Mediterranean Greek nation, the first major sovereign debt domino to topple, is just the Eye of the Sovereign Debt Hurricane. Greece is buried under a massive load of debts and deficits, and the numbers are indeed shocking.

Social unrest & austerity riots, protests, strikes over fiscal cuts

According to the European Union’s (EU) statistics agency which has been combing through Greece’s books, the country’s 2009 deficit tally up to a whopping 13.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) & may even be as high as 14.1 percent.

That’s more than four times the official “limit” for a country in the EU. And the nation’s total debt load is now closing in on $400 billion, or 115 percent of GDP. That’s among the worst ratios on the planet.

Greece is said to be an utterly corrupt nation . . . hence this plight. Towards the end of April 2010, Standard & Poor’s Agency lowered Greek debt to junk causing ripples in the world stock market & shares fell sharply. The other “PIIGS” nations are bound to be contaminated & it would mean just days for Euro to save itself. Already, sooner than expected, Spain & Portugal have also been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s.

Greek interest rates have exploded higher, with yields on 10-year Greek government bonds surging above 10 percent. Meanwhile, two-year note yields soared past 11 percent, more than a sub-prime mortgage borrower pays in the U.S.!

That’s a recipe for disaster for a country that needs to sell $72 billion in debt to cover its deficits just in the coming months.

In a report by Vincent Fernando CFA, from the Business Insider: “ . . . there’s just a broad deterioration in perceived creditworthiness happening right now, but it is particularly severe for the sovereign nation above given that their spreads are hitting record highs.”

Dr Marc Faber, an economic commentator, believed that the “PIIGS” nations will be defaulting & slaughtered. News from BBC carried the same kind of message.

Today’s clever acronym “PIIGS” for these EU nations of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece & Spain is quite apt.

Facing a full-scale meltdown, Greece did the unthinkable recently by asking for a bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The lifeline will take the form of up to $40 billion in three-year loans from the 15 other nations that share the Euro currency. Those loans will carry a below-market rate of just 5 percent. Greece can also get its hands on another $20 billion in low-rate loans from the IMF.

Greece is far from being alone. We’ll take at one other of the “PIIGS” countries, Portugal:

  • GDP shrank 2.7 percent in 2009, the worst recession in more than six decades.
  • The unemployment rate recently hit a 23-year high of 10.1 percent.
  • Budget deficit jumped to 9.3 percent of GDP.
  • Total debt is more than 85 percent of GDP, the worst in 20 years.

What about Ireland?

  • The budget deficit is almost 12 percent of GDP.


  • Its total debt load is on track to hit 117 percent of GDP.

Plus, Spain is battling a budget deficit of 11.4 percent of GDP.

The bottom line is among the “PIIGS” nations, Greece is just the first domino to fall. Many other European countries are next in line. If truth be told, Greece hasn’t done anything different from many other countries including the U.S.

The biggest domino of all will be the U.S.! Budget deficit is soaring . . . debt load is exploding . . . bond yields are starting to rise . . . and their risk premium is beginning to climb.

As evident as it is, it’s been reported what we could expect:

The folks in Washington are sticking their heads in the sand, ignoring the warning signs all around them. They believe the same kind of bond market collapse that just struck Greece can’t happen there. So they’re continuing to bail out banks, brokers, mortgage companies, insurance companies, automakers, unions, homeowners and the unemployed.

But now, with demand for U.S. Treasuries waning — as evidenced by a string of disastrous auctions and continued net selling by China — the only question that remains is, “Who will bail out Washington?”

The simple fact is, no institution or group of institutions on Earth has the resources to save Washington when the bond market finally gives up on their ability to manage their own finances. When that day dawns, the bond market will come apart at the seams. Interest rates will shoot the moon. Their feeble economic recovery could just vanish.”

It’s all very well to go on a spending spree & enjoying lifge as though there’s no tomorrow, but sooner or later, the bills become due which must be paid, and if there’s no cash then what can you expect?

With well over 80% of the American population not trusting Washington with its free spending & free printing of paper money . . . doomsday is predictably not too far off!

In a recent report by Vincent Fernando of the Business Insider, he said that “the U.K. is about to crash along with the sovereign-default “PIIGS”.

Too much freedom in Democracy

Makes control go crazy!

Breaking News Over Aljazeera (Live): “Greekonomics” – Greece been granted a bailout package for 110 Billion Euros for three years from IMF & EU combined.

7 May 2010 Breaking News: Greece is paralyzed … Athens is in flames … rioters are firebombing banks, businesses and government buildings … the euro is plunging … stock markets are reeling …

And now, this great sovereign debt crisis is speeding towards US like a run-away freight train. Other “PIIGS” are cringing – UK included.