This is a repeat of the shot from the top of Parc Guell. It seems the 2020 date for completion is pretty optimistic since…
’08 Apr: Barcelona, Spain
Or should I say ‘BarTHElona’?
Here we are on one of the legs of our all day journey. It went like this:
10 minutes to walk to the tram from the King’s apartment; 15 minutes to ride to the main train station; plenty of time to shuffle around and to wait; one and a half hours to ride to the outlying airport with the cheap flights; 15 minutes to a shuttle from the train stop to the airport…and then wait for the plane; then ride the plane for two and a half hours; and then in Barcelona – a bus to the subway; a couple of subway rides involving looong walks; and then a short walk to our destination – Mom, Dad, a 6 year old, a 3 1/2 year old, all their miscellanea for one week, and me.
It went off without a hitch and the children actually, and this is true, never lost their cool once – nor did the adults for that matter. How cool is that!?
Upon arrival in the Barcelona airport.
You know I’m thinking about Rome too. I’m lucky Anya is here to occasionally stand in for Rome as in ‘ooow – look at that! would you go stand over there?!’ and ‘owww – there’s a great shot! would you go stand over there?!’.
Anya too likes to look at the results of her efforts!
We were in dire need of a good city map. The Lonely Planet guide has them all, everything is there, but sooo smaaall I Can’t Read It. So while the kids spent the day at the Science Museum for children, I went wandering in search of a map.
Yikes, this is some building but the sign for the program was most unnerving.
Most of us in LA know at least a little Spanish and can recognize the sounds and simple expressions anyway. Here in Barcelona you don’t know if you don’t understand because they are speaking that BarTHElona accent or because you don’t know the vocabulary or you don’t understand because they are not speaking Spanish!
Catalan is the first language in Barcelona. It was one of those Quebec-style revolts that has ended in favor of the non-national language.
This is a good example of the differences, the first sentences being in Catalan and the second in Spanish.
All the grand boulevards in this part of town are shaped like this one – with the corners cut off creating a giant octagon (hey Rome! It’s an Octagon!)…
I should mention that all these corners are controlled by signals. Pedestrians pay attention to the signals to the extent that ‘green’ means that your side has the right-of-way and ‘red’ means the other side does. So if it’s red to you and no car is coming, you can go.
People aren’t dodging in and out of traffic like NYNY though. Nor are they waiting-waiting watching grass grow like in Germany.
…many having some lovely decoration in the center.
This is Our neighborhood, called L’Eixample (The Extension, not The Example), was designed in the 1860s as a suburb to the city, built on a nice modern grid and became the home of the middle class. It’s a great scenic central place to stay assming you are friends with the subway.
It is also home to the most renouned Modernista buildings including Gaudi’s masterpieces, more to follow.
I’ve combined pictures from two days:
And here we are at La Sagrada Familia (Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia) and wow it is. Since the sun was just behind the spires I’m not getting much detail in the facade so I pulled out a little example. These carvings cover the building.
Antoni Gaudi spent the last part of his life devoted to this construction and, in the grand tradition of the grand cathedrals of Europe upon which it was modeled, construction has continued for 100 years.
‘They’ are hoping to be done in 2020.
More, looking down another lovely avenue.
Speaking of lovely, let’s talk about trash. It seemed on every residential street there were at least 4 trash containers the size of a small storage building to collect separately 1) paper products 2) plastic and metal 3) glass 4) garbage.
Everone was doing it and so did we! We had four separate bags in our little kitchen. L&B are well used to it because in Germany they even separate the glass by color and in Germany if you make a mistake and your neighbors see you, you Will be corrected.
After acquiring maps and a dictionary I headed into the subway to emerge here, at the Parc Joan Miro. This sculpture is called Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird). You may draw your own conclusions.
In the distance you can see what was once the bullring of Barcelona (Placa de Braus Les Arenes), built in 1900 and now being restored as (I’ll bet you can guess) a Shopping Center! It is really quite beautiful on the outside, with handsome arches made of brick and elegant colorful designs around the top.
I’m out for another walking day while the kids go to the aquarium. From tomorrow we have many activities we plan to do together!
I’m not sure about this church. One time I asked the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum to identify a building I wasn’t sure of and the answer came back in a flat second. I’ll do that again when I get back.
Got from my friends at Thorntree: it’s Sant Fransesc de Sales on Paseig Sant Joan.
I’m still in the L’Eixample (The Expansion) district this time walking in another direction.
Here is Gaudi’s second most recognizable building – the Casa Batllo.
LP says the roof represents Sant Jordi (Saint George) and The Dragon. They also say Gaudi was the most well know Modernista, a proponent of the Modernisme movement of 1880-1920 which itself was an offshoot of the Art Nouveau style. I couldn’t name an Art Nouveau building, but there you go.
Here’s what you want to see. It is Very rare and when you see it you want to go in there and give them money. It is an oasis, a refuge, a retreat from the cloud of smoke that hangs over the city since every person virtually everywhere, except in these restaurants and maybe at the bank, is smoking.
Yesterday I had a tapas snack at a ‘prohibit fumar’ which was lovely. The experience of today’s meal was a total joy.
The food was delicious and didn’t break the bank being a fixed menu 4 course meal for 7 euro of A) toast with tomato and olives 1) green salad 2) seafood paellea 3) broiled fish and potato (especially delicious) 4) fruit compote. Wow.
Isn’t it nice inside? That’s me and the waiter who was charming and at my first ‘buenos dias’ answered me in English. And I thought I really did say a great ‘buenos dias’…
Anya dressed up in some Princess gear she got as a treat from the Bazaar Chino next door to our apartment.
I went out in the evening to pick up a little snack and brought back from the pub at the corner, this fabulous potato salad that I hope to make. It’s basic potato salad with Greek olives, capers, small par-boiled carrots, maybe a very little celery and/or onion, and then some strongly flavored oily canned tuna stired in. YUM!
We’re at the subway stop waiting for Lucas to run back to the flat for a missing item. Time for Photos!
Anya is being a butterfly. She was sometimes Tinkerbell and sometimes a Princess. Butterfly-Tinkerbell-Princess is her basic repertoire.
Xander is being a monster. Also he is being a zombie. Zombie Xander. Sometimes he is a tyrannosaurus rex with laser xray vision. Sometimes he is a kodiak bear with knives for teeth and swords for claws. Sometimes he is a kitted out military policeman with Arnie-worthy weapons and weapon paraphernalia. He has a Vast vocabulary for weapons!
…you can go inside.
I was here in 1991-1992 for work and made a quick walkwalkwalk no time to stop buzz-through of La Sagrada Familia and what I remember is soo different.
I saw some pictures from the status of construction in the 1940s and that looked more familiar than this because what I remember is that most of the walls were not filled in – it was an almost open air erector-set vision of strange and psychedelic arches and carvings.
There are paragraphs and paragraphs in the guide books describing the construction, materials, symbolism, Gaudi’s original ideas, history, future plans etc etc. It’s a big deal.
This is a view from ‘the other side’ where the carvings were created by Josep Subirachs (I guess Gaudi didn’t leave designs for these details?). LP says it is incredibly controversial…
Views to the sea. I don’t know the year the castle was built to guard this port but LP says that for most of its history it has been used as a ‘political prison and killing ground’. The city of Barcelona is trying to get the governing authority to give it to them so they can make a peace memorial out of it.
And on that note, we’re off for dinner and an early sleep.
We all headed out to see the Barri Gotic, the Gothic Quarter, site of the original Barcelona, but first a visit to one of the innumerable pastry shops. This is the high end of the genre with savories on one side and sweets on the other, going all the way down to a simple bread stand, all very lovely and delicious.
Today is our last full day in Barcelona. Tomorrow we go our separate ways, the Kings back to Dusseldorf for 2 weeks and then they’re Coming Home while I go on to Southern Spain, Morocco, and Portugal.
Today is our last full day in Barcelona and we did pretty much of a lot of nothing. It was cold and windy and all the Kings just stayed in, preparing the packing, watching videos, goofing around.
I took one quick outing. Here is a view of La Sagrada Familia from the pedestrian walkway Ave. de Gaudi (and more killer lamp posts!), leading to…
…Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau. It was another one of those modernista masterpieces, a whole complex that makes your eyes bug and you inhale little inadvertant gasps. There was so much to look at my eyes glazed over and started to buzz and it was cold and windy and I just didn’t have the energy to take on another Major Edificio. I’ve left something for another trip!
So I went back for nice food and conversation and stories with the kids. It was our adios night!