Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Barcelona - May 2013

The last trip we made in 2013 before leaving Paris was to Barcelona with Jacques and Claire. I have been sitting on the photos since then and am now finally putting them into the blog.

Barcelona is a beautiful city on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain and the home of the architect Antoni Gaudi. The main reason for visiting Barcelona was to see some of the famous Gaudi creations.

 We flew out of a tiny airport somewhere near CDG on Ryan Airlines. There was no luggage check-in and we just jammed our way through a doorway to drag our carry-on onto the little plane. It looked a bit shaky but we made it to Barcelona without any problem.

Click on the photo to see the funny cloud funnel. Not sure what caused that but I thought it was worth taking a picture.

We picked up a taxi and Jacques applied his knowledge of the Catalonian language to get us to the hotel. After checking in, we walked to the nearest Metro and tried to figure out how to get around. Our hotel was a bit off the beaten path but convenient to the main metro line so it worked out fine. 
Our first stop was the grand Placa de Catalunya to look for a tourist office. What a beautiful and immense square. Loaded with people from all over.

Not sure of the order of our tourist activities from there but usually we would be hungry and looking for something to eat. Of course, when in Spain, do as the Spaniards and eat at a Tapas bar. There were many in the area and we stumbled on one from our tourist info guide. We weren't exactly sure what we were ordering but whatever it was, it was delicious and got us ready for our walk to the famous Gaudi apartment building, La Predrea. Speaking of eating, the Spanish eat very late. We had a tough time finding a restaurant that was open before 9pm for dinner (snack bar type places are open). For lunch one day, we found an interesting looking place and entered about 2:00 for a "late" lunch. We were the only ones in the restaurant and the owner said that the cook wouldn't be in until 3pm but we could order a drink and wait. We decided to leave and bought a sandwich from a street vendor.

La Predrera, also known as Casa Mila, named for the family who commissioned it, is the last public work of Antoni Gaudi. At the time, it was controversial because of its undulating stone facade and twisting balconies. There are no right-angles and no load bearing walls inside. Access to the floors was by elevator, only, which stopped on every second floor which made it necessary for neighbors to come in contact with one another, one of Gaudi's goals. There is a interesting interior courtyard that mimics the exterior and a truly unique rooftop. When visiting, make sure to purchase a ticket in advance as the line to buy a ticket can be very long, even during slow seasons.

Interior Courtyard

Roof Top

More Roof Top
Our Tour guide

Next stop on our tour is the stunning Sagrada Familia. This Catholic Cathedral was started in 1882 and Gaudi took over in 1883, At the time of his death in 1926, it was only 1/4 finished. From the outside you can see the different architectural styles, like some of the chateaux in the Loire that took over 100 years to build. From the inside, you can see his genius or insanity in the construction of the columns that would support the roof. 

Once again, we recommend reserving a guided tour in advance to skip the long lines. 

Newer Style

Older Style
Stained Glass and Balcony
Gaudi wanted high, open ceilings with lots of light from the sky and through the stained glass windows. But, he wanted open space below without massive structures holding up the roof. If the technology was not there to provide him with what he wanted, he would invent it or wait for it to be invented to get what he was looking for. The interior of this Cathedral is incredible. It is still under construction and hopes to be completed by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death. 

The last Gaudi site is the Parc Gruel which is loaded with Gaudi structures including his house.

Finally, we spent some time along Las Ramblas which is a long walkway from the Placa di Catalunya to the edge of the Mediterranean. There is a large statue of Christopher Columbus at the end. Although, maybe this guy in the photo to the right would be just as good.   Las Ramblas was a lot of fun although VERY touristy. We watched a street performer for a while which was quite entertaining. We would copy the attitudes and walking styles of the passersby with mixed results from those being imitated but got a lot of laughs from his audience. 

Nearby is a great indoor market place that is really the most colorful scene you could imagine. All sorts of meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, candy, flowers and anything else you could possible eat. It really was amazing.


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