Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Guest Blogger: Travels with "Mr. Pops"

The third in a series of installments designed to share Uncle Lynn’s amazing story with all of our Pop’rs Pals. For Chapters 1 and 2, please Click Here and Here.

Well—it's been too long, but here is some more of my story. Probably reverse vanity, where I am thinking no one cares, but Veggie Mom told me to write something, so here it is!

I found myself in Barcelona, Spain, with my hopes and prayers for a positive meeting leading the way. You should know that this was my first trip out of the US, other than small childhood family forays into Canada and barely across the border in Mexico. Barcelona, if you have never been there, is a beautiful and exotic city, especially for someone from little Neenah, Wisconsin.

I arrived on a Saturday night so that I would have Sunday to recover from my travels. Good plan! Since I was anxious about my coming business meetings on Monday, I was hardly able to sleep on Sunday. With a standard tourist map in hand, off I went to see the sites.

Problem here: I am not a history buff, nor am I a seasoned traveler who researches his destination to know all of the good historical or even interesting sites. So, my chances to see cool things are more accidental that planned. Nonetheless, I was able to walk down to the sea on La Rambla.

At the end of La Rambla, a famous Barcelona Boulevard, sits the famous statue of Christopher Columbus pointing the wrong way. The monument is placed at the site where Columbus arrived in 1493 after his discovery of America the year before. In the 19th Century, Columbus was considered a Catalan—some historians still claimed he was born in Catalonia, hence the monument to the famous explorer in Barcelona, home of the Catalans.

Along the way on La Rambla is the Mercat de Sant Josep/La Boqueria. A brief description:
Probably Barcelona’s best-known market, ideally situated just off La Rambla this market is a must whether sourcing ingredients for a fine meal or just wandering through. It´s an assault on the senses, with smells coming from the fish to the fruit. The food sold at the market ranges from ready-made fresh fruit salads for the tired tourist, to literally fresh-out-of-the-sea, still-moving crabs and lobsters (maybe you would also like to look out for the whole sheep´s head!?) Not to mention the bright sweets counters that will act like a magnet for any child (or adult!).
My first time seeing meat displayed everywhere in its original form; the lamb fetuses sent me off to other adventures!

The architecture of Barcelona is otherworldly to a Neenah boy: Antoni Gaudí, the most famous of Barcelona’s architects, worked and influenced work all over this beautiful city. His most famous work is one of the most striking pieces of architecture in the world: the Church of the Sagrada Familia.

The idea of a new church was launched by a devote organization whose goal was to bring an end to the de-Christianization of the Barcelonese, which had started with the industrialization and increasing wealth of the city. A plot of land in the new Eixample district was bought in 1877. The architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar designed a neo-gothic church and lead the construction, which started in 1882.

One year later, the modernist architect Gaudí took over as lead architect at the age of 31. From that moment on, Gaudí devoted most of his life to the construction of the church. Instead of sticking to the original plans, Gaudí changed the design drastically. The ne- gothic style made way for Gaudí's trademark modernist style, which was based on forms found in nature. When he died in 1926, only one facade (the Nativity Facade), one tower, the apse and the crypt were finished. Because Gaudí was constantly improvising and changing the design while construction was going on, he left few designs and models. And most of these were destroyed during the civil war in 1936.

Still, architects now have a clear idea of what Gaudí had in mind. The last version of his design called for a church 95m/312ft long and 60m/197ft wide. The church eventually will be able to accommodate 13,000 people. When finished, the Sagrada Familia will have a total of 18 towers. Four Towers on each of the three facades represent the 12 Apostles. The towers reach a height of 90 to 120m (394 ft). Another four towers represent the 4 evangelists. They will surround the largest, 170m/558ft tall tower, dedicated to Jesus Christ. The last tower, dedicated to Virgin Mary, will be built over the apse.

Even though the Sagrada Familia is far from finished, the remarkable church is well worth a visit. You can visit the crypt were Gaudí is buried. A museum tells the story of this great architect and the history of the church. You can also visit the towers. A lift and a long walk will lead you to the top of a tower from where you have a magnificent view over Barcelona. The climb is not recommended for those with fear of heights or for people with claustrophobia!

I didn’t mean for this chapter to become a travelogue, but let’s just say I had quite a day!

Monday soon rolled around, and with a new day, the meeting that would change my life. I traveled to the plant where Pop Rocks are made. The owners, the Ramons (their first names, really!), greeted me and let me tell them about my idea to make everything pop. Their reaction was bemusement, as they were a candy company, and the idea of using Pop Rocks as an ingredient was new to them. But they thought there was enough of a chance, though, that they decided to let me see what I could do, and made an agreement that was something like a commissioned sales agreement.

I was free to see if I could convince anybody that my idea was a good one. So, off I went back to the US with agreement in hand, ready to conquer the world with an idea no one had ever heard of. Well, my next post, which I promise will come soon, will start us on my big journey—these little popping things have actually landed me in almost 30 countries in all parts of the world. And my travels are also responsible for the birth of Pop'rs! Looking back, I still can hardly believe it. That’s why they call me Mr. Pops!

234 comments:

♥georgie♥ said...

you got to visit the pop rock facility!!! how totally cool...
we are loving the poprs and tees

annie kelleher said...

very interesting!!!! i enjoyed the travelogue!!! thanks for stopping in and leaving all those nice comments while i was suffering serious computer withdrawal!!!

Z's Mom said...

Very cool!!!! I think its great you had to travel so far to get the Pops ingredient....what a way to remember it!

Michelle said...

Oh, how beautiful! I'm so glad that it turned out well for you... and very fun that you've been able to do so much fun traveling for them (hey, if you need someone to step in for some of those travels, I do a pretty good job of sales and marketing!) ;)

Conrad said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

http://fendisite.com

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