Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Barcelona in Pictures, Part 1

Our flight left JFK around 6pm; we flew all night to Paris. At CDG, in a mostly-empty area near the boarding gate to Barcelona, Mom and I did yoga. I felt silly but it felt wonderful after the cramped 7 hour flight.

During the short flight to Spain, we saw a gorgeous sunrise over a blanket of woolen clouds.

Upon leaving the plane in Barcelona and waiting for baggage, I was disoriented to see palm trees waving outside. It looked like LA. From the cab, I looked around us at the passing scenery, including signs heading to Barcelona, our destination.

Our lodging was a hostel in the Barri Gotic, or the Gothic Quarter. It's the oldest part of the town, from back in the Roman days. The main Barcelona cathedral was a mere block away.

After a three-hour nap to attempt to prevent jet-lag, we headed to the cathedral. It was twilight. Inside, we stayed for Christmas mass. Since Barcelona is the capital of the Catala region, all the signs are in both Catalan and Castilian. Also, the masses alternate between both languages as well. I think we saw the Catalan one.

After the cathedral, Mom directed us to La Rambla, a few alley-streets over. It's this long street with a promenade in the middle, lined with shops and restaurants, and merchants in the daytime. Our Christmas dinner was at Moka Restaurant: french fries for me, and an omelet for Mom, and fresh-squeezed orange juice for both of us. As a special Spanish treat for dessert, we indulged in churros con chocolate. Just what it sounds like: a plate of short, sugared churros along with small cups of thick, creamy chocolate. Mm.

Happy Holidays from El Corte Ingles, the huge department store. Look, the Nativity has palm trees!

For our first full day in Barcelona, we started at the famous Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that's been under construction for over a hundred years. The principal architect was Gaudi, the celebrated Catalan artist/builder. His work is unlike anything I've ever seen. I do know that nature was a huge influence. The columns inside the cathedral are based on tree-trunks, and their spiral construction, rather than straight up and down tradition columns. There are a whole bunch of towers and spires (at least eight now, there will be twelve eventually), decorated with all kinds of unusual shapes and figures. They are topped with what looks like giant bunches of multi-colored grapes.

This tower is really interesting. It's got a grass-like decoration background, and these doves who appear to be in motion. Not exactly your standard cathedral fare, huh?

The circular steps climbing up one of the towers.

From the Sagrada Familia, we had a buffet lunch (perfect for a picky American like me), and

then walked to La Pedrera, a famous apartment building designed also by Gaudi. It was closed (Spain observing Christmas as well as Boxing Day), so we continued on and ran into Casa Batllo (bat-YO), yet another Gaudi building. This one is heavily based on nature, specifically water. Notice that even on the facade, there are no straight lines; that continues all throughout the interior as well.

In the first parlor/salon room, you find the mushroom fireplace. The mushroom wall is actually slanted; there's a bench on the right for two people (a young couple), and a bench on the left for one (the girl's chaperone).

A gorgeous nautilus ceiling in the dining room.

Rear facade: Look at the difference between Gaudi's whimsical, flowy architecture and traditional.

Gaudi created a revolutionary and stunning space for laundry on the top floor. The slats on the right let in light and air, drying the clothes that were washed and hung across the hallway in small rooms with huge sinks. Again you notice the use of curves and unique lines.

On the roof, in the pump room (I think), Gaudi put in this fountain whose bubbling water creates a mesmerizing melody.


ms. frizzle said...

Wow - beautiful.

Tep said...

that's too bad about La Perdrera. I was there this summer, and I really enjoyed that building, and the museum the have inside it. I'm looking forward to reminiscing when you put up more pics!

NYC Educator said...

Not bad for an underpaid teacher from the outer boroughs!

H0kie Erin said...

Thanks for the Barcelona pictures! When we went (senior Spanish club trip) our plane got detoured through Barcelona on the way to Sevilla. I always wanted to see the city, but all I saw was the airport. :)

Maria said...

Barcelona is a really beautiful place and for sure it's worth visiting. It's one of those places you want to move to after visiting.
It's so beautiful, so vibrant, the city that never sleeps and would never bore you. I've been to Barcelona 5 times and I get to know it better and better and like it more and more.
One of the greatest things in Barcelona is its architecture. It's not only Antonio Gaudi who makes it special but every building in Barcelona is different and one is more beautiful then another.

Josh said...

It is difficult to tell about that sensation of a holiday which I have felt, walking on Barri Gotico, Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gracia, admiring a Gothic Cathedral, narrow medieval streets without luxury Barcelona hotels, actors - alive installations, masterpieces of a modernism and Templo de la Sagrada Familia. Having visited many fine cities in old Europe, I can compare Barcelona only with Paris. I tested the same sensations in Paris in 1995. Barcelona is in a region that because of it's location close to the sea has been influence my cultures along the years. Barcelona has witness some of the greatest artist in different fields: Antonio Gaudi, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Bigas Luna, Pedro Almodovar.

rahul said...

Amazing post, really beautiful.

Barcelona apartment

Thanks for sharing your experience.