My mom likes to go to Spain in February to escape the Norwegian winter. I was lucky to be able to visit her there and time it perfectly to include a Go tournament in Barcelona. Little did I know that this would be my last trip for a while. And while Europe is now far along the road to recovery, the US has grossly mismanaged the epidemic to the point where we’re now (rightly so) banned from entering Europe.
It may seem frivolous to write about travel in these times, and this blog post was sitting half-finished for months. However, I’m confident that we’ll be traveling again someday; for now, please join me from home. I hope you’re safe and healthy wherever you are, and that looking forward to travel may help you get through this.
I’ll start with the Go tournament; stick with me if you’re interested in some of the architecture Spain has to offer.
Barcelona Go Tournament
It was fun to meet tournament organizer Julio Martinez in person after only knowing him as @liopic on Twitter, and I even got paired against him in the first round. I ended up winning three games and losing two, bringing my European rating back up to 1 dan. The game against the eventual winner of the tournament, Rita Pocsai 4 dan, was a foregone conclusion, but every other game could have ended differently.
In the game against Marco Meyenschein 4 dan, I misplayed the top right corner, but at least got some outside influence while giving him 40 solid points. I was close to resigning; if it had not been the last game, I might have done so and saved my energy for the next game. Playing on, I managed to stake out a moyo large enough that he was forced to invade to reduce it:
As he was running away, I built up territory, but not enough. He just had to connect out, but after misreading a connection, his stones got trapped and eventually died.
Not sure what the lesson is: Don’t give up too soon? Beware an opponent who has nothing to lose? Or resign earlier so you don’t have to win this way?
The area around L’Albir is really picturesque, with mountains going all the way down to the sea, and narrow streets in the old town of Altea. And a climate that attracts a lot of Norwegians.
As a fan of Calatrava (see my trip to his train station in Liège-Guillemins), I stopped in his home town of Valencia to see the City of Arts and Sciences. What a sight! Season 3 of Westworld features many scenes at these futuristic-looking buildings. I only had a few hours, and couldn’t explore the insides, but what an experience to just walk around and take it all in.
Barcelona is home to Gaudi, and especially the Sagrada Família. My last trip to Barcelona was in 1992, playing in the Othello World Championship. Since then, the Sagrada Família has made a lot of progress. The outside is still weird:
But the inside is even more magnificent:
Unfortunately, access to the towers is more restricted than it was in 1992, but still well worth it for the spiral stairs, and views into the church from above.
It’s still a construction zone; I’m looking forward to visiting Barcelona again when it’s completed in 2026 (not software, so maybe they’ll even finish on time).
Another Gaudi building with a lot of controversy. While it’s been derisively nicknamed La Pedrera (the stone quarry), the construction as well as the inside is amazing: lots of light thanks to the dual courtyards, the first underground car garage in Barcelona, arched attic (used for laundry), rooftop with chimneys and ventilation as sculptures.
As with the Sagrada Família, Gaudi figured out the load-bearing structure using hanging chain models, resulting in optimal arches when turned upside down.
Memories and pictures of my trip help keep my spirits up as I remain at home. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Spain – it may be a while, but I’ll definitely be back. Meanwhile, please stay safe.