Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Off to Seville, to have a look at the Metropol Parasol. It's a gigantic mushroom / alien skeleton that puts me in mind of one of the early levels of Thief: The Dark Project, although I'm sure if you try and shoot passers-by with water-filled arrows the police will arrest you. I took along my Fuji S5 and the Peleng fisheye lens I have written about in a previous post. With a resolution of only six megapixels the S5 is behind the curve, but its dynamic range is still very impressive.
The parasol is a legacy of Spain's boom years. Building began in the mid-2000s but didn't finish until 2011; it's made out of wood, but it had to be reinforced, and the project eventually came in late and over budget. Up-close it looks a bit shoddy and I wonder how long it will last. The walkways that run along the top are held on with little screws and the whole thing needs a clean. The entrance is downstairs, and although there was a plan to have a little shopping mall underneath the structure the owners must have been unable to sell the units, so there is just a souvenir shop and some vending machines. If it catches fire the only thing that remains will be a set of unimpressive pedestals.
But I'm being mean. It's a striking presence. For €3 you can take an elevator to the top floor, where you get a complimentary drink. I chose a wine cooler. The lower area is basically a child's playground, so the ambiance is nice. As I sat drinking my wine cooler and listening to the sound of children laughing at someone else for a change I thought of a better world.
A walkway runs along the top of the structure; it's hard not to imagine that you are walking on top of a cloud, and as I gazed down at the people down below whilst drunk on the complimentary drink - remember that complimentary means free, complementary means that you are pretending to be nice to someone - which was a wine cooler, I imagined that I was one of the Greek Gods of Mount Olympus. Wearing a toga and sandals. Did you know that Mount Olympus is a real place? Did the Ancient Greeks notice that there were no Gods living on top of it? Perhaps they chose not to look too hard. Did you know that McDonald's in Spain serves beer? It's true, I have seen it.
The parasol also acts as a sun shade. Even in October Seville is dry, dusty, and bakingly hot. It put me in mind of the old Spaghetti Westerns, although they were filmed in south-east Spain, not Seville (the landscape of Seville is too flat). The locals have adapted to the sun, firstly by being thin and lovely and secondly by building the city so as to block out the sun, viz:
Which made me wonder. Imagine if they build a giant sunshade on top of Seville - and then people started living on the sunshade. They would have to build a second sunshade on top of that. The result would be something akin to Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel, but without the robots. I didn't see any robots in Seville.
As a British person - I am a British person - Seville is odd. It is the anti-Britain, with constant heat and the locals are thin. Beer is incredibly cheap but if there is a massive alcohol problem, I didn't see it. The air of constant violence that characterises Britain is absent. Seville is full of sad, pathetic losers who have reasonable conversations in bars and clubs really late at night - wasting their lives - when they should be fighting or sitting at home watching television instead.
Spain is where British footballers and pensioners go to live, but not Seville; it's too hot and nowhere near the beach. I have a Brit-dar but it rarely went off, instead the city seems to be very popular with Chinese tourists, who are a great unknown. British people have a peculiar relationship with themselves. They go abroad to get away from Britain, but choose to visit places that have large populations of British people, who they secretly despise. I have a nagging feeling that the Europeans think that we are the freaks, which is of course not true.