Bar-tha-lona: Gaudi tour

For our last* month in Europe, we decided to move out of our apartment, throw our stuff in storage (thank you Esmee!) and treat ourselves to a little vacation. We entertained the idea of Copenhagen but after a cold, wet summer in Amsterdam we decided to book Barcelona instead. Following our week there, we would make the short flight over to Italy and join our friends Chris & Carolyn in Italy.

I tapped into as many resources for recommendations (designhotels, friends & family, Rick Steeves, etc.) on hotels, transportation, hot spots and of course food. I had read so many horror stories about pick-pockets in Spain so I had a few anxieties about choosing our lodging. We choose a b&b in the quiet L’Eixample area for 3 nights and a lively hip hotel in El Born for our last night. We bought metro tickets but we ended up walking A LOT. It’s always hard to judge distance when working off maps and local recommendations.

We would highly recommend our b&b, run by a very knowledgeable mother-daughter team who own a beautifully restored 19th century apartment.

Our first point of interest was the Sagrada Familia. It is perhaps the most beautiful church I have ever beheld. The magnitude and effect of the light is immense and really hard to capture by photograph. The interior is finally finished but there is still much work to be done.

“Don’t worry, my client isn’t in a hurry”

Of all the churches that we have seen in Europe, this one felt the most like the designer had a deep personal experience of God and a real love of the gospels. Every time the name of Jesus appeared on the structure, a door, a pillar, it was always embossed or gilded or in some way made to stand out. There were many beautiful tiny details like a pillar that had Christ’s genealogy woven into it, with a nativity scene at the top. Or the symbols of the four apostles tucked away in some small sacred corner. You could get lost and spend days there and not come close to seeing all the beautiful and spiritually inspiring things. A place where man’s celebration of God’s creativity is everywhere. Oh, and the roof looks like trees!


We headed to Park Guell in the northern tip of the city, a lifestyle development designed by Guadi with mixed-income housing, a market, green space and places of worship. From many look-out points in the park, one has views of the city and sea (and an anarchist house covered in anarchists graffiti sayings). It was originally designed by Gaudi to be a mini community or gated neighborhood in Barcelona, but people didn’t really move there. But from what we understood, he lived there. So I imagined Gaudi living alone for the rest of his life in this very unique art nouveau neighborhood being grumpy that no one wanted to come live with him in his no-right-angle artistic utopia. Either way, it’s a beautiful park! With lots of puppies.

view from the park

Graeme making a friend

We ended our afternoon with some tapas in Ciutat Vella, Old Town before we walked and shopping our walk back to the guesthouse. We were exhausted but inspired. This is a beautiful and interesting city filled with modern architecture, old-world charm and tons of Dutch people (geez…they really get around!)

Next up: modern design, the waterfront and more food.

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