The Tale of Two Cities July 20-24, 2008

Katrina and I were most anxious to feel the sun on our face after spending a week in the cool weather of Berlin. Barcelona did not let us down on the weather front. It never went below 28 and it was even warmer when we hit the coast. Once we landed in Barcelona we tried out the transit system, the bus we were on did not seem to have a map nor did the driver call out the stops. This did worry me a bit and gave me a sore neck from constantly turning my head in a full circle (Exorcist) trying to read street signs and hotel names. Fortunately for us our hotel was a stop away from a huge plaza which you could not miss unless you were asleep. From there we had a 2-4 minute walk to our hotel. Steve had been there already for about 3 days for the conference he was attending, but he did manage to welcome us when we arrived at the hotel.

Barcelona was a hard city to enjoy, like Sevilla there we many interesting winding streets to explore.

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However, the city itself was very busy with people rushing , cars racing in circles and old buildings that were being dwarfed by the present architecture which made it feel unwelcoming.

It is not that the people were unfriendly in fact it is a city working hard for the tourist money. There were many waiters jumping out in front of us during our evening search for food, trying to encourage us to eat at their restaurant. We soon found out it did not matter what restaurant you ate at they all served the same thing. Even what they passed off as tapas could not compare to what we found last year in Sevilla. Last year in Sevilla every Tapas Bar we went to was an adventure in food, in Barcelona it was becoming monotonous. Never mind the fact I could not even order a glass of Sangria only on the coast was I able to order a glass, in Sevilla there was Sangria everywhere. Sevilla has historical charm while Barcelona is trying hard to be charming for the tourists. I was not alone in feeling a little let down by Barcelona even first time tourist in Spain Katrina was not totally captivated by Barcelona.

But I would not be fair to Barcelona if I did not mention some of the amazing things we did see. To begin with the Plaza that was not far from our hotel was called Placa Espanya. As you make your towards the Placa Espanya in the distance lies the hill or small mountain named Montjuic.

On top of that hill stands the National Palace which is now home to the National Art Gallery. To reach the palace one has to climb several flights of stairs or if do not want the exercise you can use the escalators. Mind you the exercise is worth once you reach the top the view is stunning.

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In behind the Palace is a lovely park, it is what is below and in center of the Palace that bring the tourists 4 nights a week to Montjuic the Magic Fountain.

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It is a light and water show done to music for about two hours in the evenings, as Spain does have water shortages they have limited the show to the 4 evenings (Thurs. – Sun.). The show is a visual delight and a photographers dream.

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The most amazing day we spent in Barcelona is what I call the Gaudi Day.

We spent the whole day looking at the amazing buildings of this architect who managed to combine geometry, nature and to me fantasy in these buildings.

The first building we came upon La Pedrera (Stone Quarry) as it was considered a bit of joke for it looks. This building was in 1910 ten and some the apartments are still living quarters for those who can afford the rent. One floor is open for public viewing, we decided not to tour the inside of this as there was another building that caught our eye.

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However before touring that building went to see the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi was not the original architect. A year into the construction of the building Gaudi took over as architect in 1883. To say he changed the original design is an under statement, even during construction he was coming up with new ideas. The church is like a visual bible it is no wonder that the church is far from being completed.

Just to give you an idea in Gaudi’s design there are 18 towers presently 8 have been built. It is hoped to have the construction completed by the 2026 the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. The model does not do it justice but it gives an idea what it will look like.

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After spending almost an hour taking in this Neo-Gothic/Modernist church from every angle. we decided on a lunch break.

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We needed some nourishment for the long walk still to come and get some much needed shade, we managed to pick a very hot day to do all this hiking around.

After our break we went to a park designed by Gaudi for Count Guell. The mosaic of tiles, using mother nature as a frame work for his design to ensure it was a place of peace and calm. To the fairy tale like design of the two houses that stand at the entrance of the park. Some say one looks like the house from the story of Hansel and Gretel.

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The Tour we did take Casa Batio a nautical adventure here the seas and oceans became Gaudi’s vision for designing this house.

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The are no straight lines just curves or should I say waves. Enjoy the underwater dream of Gaudi.

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Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 8:21 am  Leave a Comment  

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