Viva Barcelona!

Sheila Newton By Sheila Newton, 30th Jul 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1hocwet0/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>Spain>Barcelona & Around

A whirlwind week-end in Barcelona, following the Gaudi Trail

Day One - Gaudi's Architecture on the Passieg de Gracia

What an amazing way to spend a long weekend!
This was my birthday treat - 3 nights, 4 days in beautiful Barcelona.

We stayed in the Eixample area of Barcelona. No coincidence, because our quest was to trek the Gaudi trail and such a lot of his architecture was right in this very area: Casa Mila, Casa Batllo and the world-famous Sagrada Familia.

We arrived in Barcelona in mid-afternoon and after throwing our bags onto the bed of our cute little room in the Hostel Agua Alegre, we set off for the Passieg de Gracia. Both the Casa Mila and the Casa Batllo are on this amazing long, avenued street. They both stand out with pride - even though many other buildings have taken on the 'look' of Gaudi's architecture, including the ornate lamp-posts. I loved the lamp-posts all over the streets of Barcelona.
There are some of Gaudi's original lamp-post designs just off the market street of Las Ramblas.
Casa Batllo, wonderfully art-nouveau, has a wavy-lined roof depicting a dragon, and a sculpture of St George's lance spears its way into the dragon's belly.
The facade is made of red and orange broken shiny tiles (trencadis) on the left side, that graduate into blues and greens - a stunning vision. The windows on the ground floor are shaped in ovals and circles, offsetting the square windows above. Seeing it in the late afternoon, with a backdrop of billowing white clouds, it really was a sight for sore eyes!

We strolled down the busy Passieg de Gracia, taking in the hustle bustle of the busy Barcelona street, toward Casa Mila. We sat outside a tapas bar, blue flames flickering from the long cylindrical gas lamp, looking straight at Casa Mila on the pavement opposite. Apart from the wavy-lined structure of the building, it's entirely different in appearance from Casa Batllo.
Designed from the ground up (hence its nickname 'the quarry'), the wavy lines of this building portray a caved sea-cliff. The beautifully forged iron balconies are ornate sculptured kelp and coral. I was awe-struck - and soundless (a most unusual state for me!)
Full of tapas and talk (after my awe-struck moments!), we wended our way 'home' to our cosy hostal. I really must commend the staff of the Hostal Agua Alegre. On our arrival, after we asked for a few directions, the guys at reception gave us a complimentary large map of the area and circled all of the sights (and sites) we wanted to visit over the weekend. We'd planned to buy guide books and 'Metro Walks' guides that would have cost us a pretty penny (or Euro, as the case may be) and we got all of our information free of charge - with a smile. A great place to stay for anyone visiting Barcelona who want homely, helpful and cheerful.

Day Two - La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell and Parc de la Ciutadella

After a leisurely breakfast of croissants and coffee, we set off, on the parallel road to Passieg de Gracia, the 'Diagonal' until we saw the glittering sight of the Sagrada Familia, hitting us in the eye like a bullet. La Sagrada Familia is so huge and so dazzling - and so very tall, that its enormity makes everything look tiny in comparision. They say this is a 'must-see' when in Barcelona and that's certainly an understatement.
We walked around to the entrance, which is so different from the exit side. The entrance, overlooking a beautiful city garden with a small lake and trees, is Gaudi's original work, in Gothic style. The carvings on the facade are ornately splendid and, in my opinion, so much more stunning than the later work that continued after Gaudi's death - and still continues to this day. Gaudi's design was in the ilk of a tree, with branches and twigs reaching up to the heavens - the heavens in this case being the bell towers. There will be twelve of them on completion.
I don't know how we managed to strike it so lucky - but it cost us no entrance fee. All we had to do was join a fast-moving queue and we were in there in no more than five minutes. We were't able to go into the museum, sadly. (it turned out that was the reason for our free entry) because sculptors are there at work. That would have been an great experience. But there's always next time!
On the brown-marbled floor of the exit there are beautiful, etched carvings of nativity scenes that we were almost on top of, when we noticed their presence

We continued our trek of Gaudi's trail up a steep slope toward Parc Guell, where Gaudi lived for many years after being commissioned to design the Parc. That house is now a museum in which there are fine examples of Gaudi's wonderfully-crafted furniture.
On either side of the entrance to the park, stand two gatehouses, designed by Gaudi to represent mushrooms (although they look more like cakes with sugared-white icing tops!)
At the top of a marble and trencadis (broken-tiled mosaic) staircase, there sits a Gaudi-designed dragon in the trencadis style, in blues, yellows and whites: something in the child-like design made me think of comic books.
A colonnade hall with eighty-six columns supports a huge square or meeting place. Walking up the divided staircase toward the square, The wavy-lined surround of seating was a dizzying sight - and quite magical.
The sound of birdsong attracted us up yet another mosaic staircase to Gaudi's arched walkways, sculptured in rock, but looking for all the world like huge tree trunks, their forms so natural that you felt as though you were walking through an avenue of trees in random shapes and at random angles.
Narrow winding pathways with tree-like rock sculptures holding plants and shrubs were exquisite. Along the way to the exit, trees and shrubs live alongside meadow flowers in beautiful woodland.
The views of the city from up here on top of the steep incline are fantastic. La Sagrada Familia stands tall and proud in the centre of the sprawling city, its bell towers almost touching the sky.

In a hurry to catch the Parc de la Ciutadella before dusk, we headed toward La Place de Catalunya on the metro (keeping our tickets for souvenirs, of course!). Making our way downward toward the harbour and taking a right past the dimly-lit cathedral, we headed for the park. It was a great time to visit the park. Birdsong greeted us in droves as a hundred species settled in the trees at dusk. We amused ourselves with the vocal - and very cheeky - green parrots collecting twigs for their nest in a pineapple palm.

The Parc de la Ciutadella is home to 'La Cascada', a fountain loosely based on the Trevi fountain in Rome, a fountain surrounded by sweeping foliage that was assisted in its architecture by no other than Anton Gaudi in his student days in Barcelona.
The park is also home to the Arc de Triomphe, a red brick monstrosity that arches over the main entrance. It was always - and still is - a popular meeting place, housing striking statues, trees, shrubs and flowers planted out from the famous botanical gardens here.
Skateboarders and roller-bladers vied for space on the long avenue at the end of which sits the Arc de Triomphe.
We strolled up Las Ramblas, taking a detour to the right to see Gaudi's original street lamps topped by angel wings. Back on the Passieg de Gracia, we ate and drank and discussed the day's adventure in wonderful 'Gaudi-Town'.

Day Three - Place de Catalunya, The Harbour and the Cathedral

Up early enough to catch breakfast on the tables and chairs set outside a little backstreet cafe in Eixample, we had croissants and coffee - so very European!
Today was the day we'd sight-see without a shred of Gaudi influence.

We set off on a cool, bright morning to La Place de Catalunya, the main square in the centre of Barcelona. Set out in a huge circle, fountains cascade, sending up mulit-coloured droplets of sharp, cold water onto the paving; palms and statues look down upon a throng of people buying seed to feed the pigeons, window-shop in the designer stores or head toward Las Ramblas.
Walking around circular Place de Catalunya, we found ourselves at the top of Las Ramblas, a well-landscaped avenue, hosting a vibrant and noisy market of outdoor cafes and tourist tat stalls. Tucking in to a paella lunch, it was a perfect opportunity to watch the mime artists in various costumes and poses. How they stay so still is anyones' guess!
*
Walking down toward the harbour, we came across the magnificent monument of Christopher Columbus - looking out seaward and pointing, winged gryphons on either side of him. We strolled along the marina, gazing at the very posh - and not so posh - yachts and fishing boats. There were harbour tours on tourist boats up for grabs, but we were happy to watch the cormorants fishing, flapping their wings, ducking and diving, popping their heads up to the surface with beaks full of fishy goodies. We must have sat there for an hour at least, under a warm sun and a bright blue sky.

We stopped for a drink at a busy cafe and watched the world go by in the harbour park, silver statues glinting in the sunlight - in the shapes of sails and anchors and all manner of sea-faring emblems.

Up through myriad back streets and tiny lanes, we eventually found ourselves at the cathedral early in the early evening.
The church was a hive of acivity, with tourists and church-goers alike, some taking snaps of the heavily-decorated stained-glass windows or statues of Jesus on the cross, some kneeling and praying in the main body of the cathedral, some sitting in rows of chairs in front of television screens set up for the religious who couldn't find space in the main area where the bishop stood aloft the pulpit. I found it all a bit bizarre.
*
After a bite to eat outside our favourite cafe on the Passiege de Gracia, overlooking the amazing Casa Mila (our starting point on day one), we headed back to the Agua Alegre, took a welcome shower and settled into bed with a glass of wine and a favourite book - a novel called 'Shadow of the Wind' set in - where else? - Barcelona!

Tags

Barcelona, Gaudi, Guell Park, Parc De La Ciutadella, Sagrada Familia, Spain Travel, Spain Trip, Weekend Break, Weekend Getaways

Meet the author

author avatar Sheila Newton
A retired nurse and teacher, with two cats, a husband and a grown up son, I write short stories, articles - and I'm an ardent blogger. Catch up with me on my blog at: http://sheilanewton.blogspot.com

Share this page

moderator Mark Gordon Brown moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know

Comments

author avatar Hueeire
1st Aug 2011 (#)

★good★I love this site, I often comment to this site. I usually like to shop online, I would like to share with you a website ==look love—---[ w w w - (upsfashion )- c o m ]---Are selling clothes and shoes, and glasses and so on. Reasonable price, something stylish, good service. . .

Reply to this comment

author avatar Hueeire
1st Aug 2011 (#)

★good★I love this site, I often comment to this site. I usually like to shop online, I would like to share with you a website ==look love—---[ w w w - (upsfashion )- c o m ]---Are selling clothes and shoes, and glasses and so on. Reasonable price, something stylish, good service. . .

Reply to this comment

author avatar Hueeire
1st Aug 2011 (#)

★good★I love this site, I often comment to this site. I usually like to shop online, I would like to share with you a website ==look love—---[ w w w - (upsfashion )- c o m ]---Are selling clothes and shoes, and glasses and so on. Reasonable price, something stylish, good service. . .

Reply to this comment

author avatar Songbird B
1st Aug 2011 (#)

A warm welcome to Wikinut, Sheila, please ignore the spamming above, it is a problem we have on here. So nice to read such a great article on your holiday..Beautifully written and descriptive too..Great work...

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
1st Aug 2011 (#)

Thanks so much, songbird. I need to check out your pieces too. Love your CV. My husband plays a Fender Jazz Bass. Plays the blues in a band. Plays rock in another band. Plays jazz at home! Me, I write!

Reply to this comment

author avatar jayababy
1st Aug 2011 (#)

Welcome to Wikinut, Sheila. Great work on a holiday. Thx for sharing, my friend.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Val Mills
1st Aug 2011 (#)

A warm welcome Sheila and what a wonderful article to start with. You really drew me into it. What a weekend - a belated happy birthday! Love the way you ended the story for us :-)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
1st Aug 2011 (#)

Thanks Val - and thanks for letting me know about this DELICIOUS site!!!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Denise O
1st Aug 2011 (#)

Sheila, welcome to wikinut, I look forward to reading more of your work. What a great birthday present, happy belated birthday. What a very fun ride I had going on your trip. Well written. Thank you for sharing.:)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
2nd Aug 2011 (#)

Thanks everyone, for your kind words of welcome - I love being a Wikinutter already!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Rathnashikamani
4th Aug 2011 (#)

Wow!
Sheila, welcome to Wikinut, a place for wonderful friends.

You've rocked with your whirlwind article on Barcelona!
It's like a real journey while reading!

Reply to this comment

author avatar fleurdefries
8th Aug 2011 (#)

Very nice! Reminds me of when I went to Barcelona inter-railing - think I have to go back and see some of the architecture again!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Hugo La Rosa
12th Aug 2011 (#)

Nice spirited places, full of history. Great writing, Sheila!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Delicia Powers
13th Aug 2011 (#)

Hello Shelia, great article and a dream of mine, what a wonderful
Birthday weekend:0)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Carol Kinsman
13th Aug 2011 (#)

Sounds like a lovely birthday vacation. Thank you for sharing Barcelona with us. :)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Steve Kinsman
13th Aug 2011 (#)

Fascinating article, Sheila. I felt like you took me right there. Thank you for a great share.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Retired
21st Aug 2011 (#)

Wonderful. I went there once, too. A beautiful place. Such architecture--texture!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
21st Aug 2011 (#)

Thanks for all the fabulous comments. You make me proud and you give me heart to keep on writing.
Anybody interested in readin my blog, I'm at:
http://sheilanewton.blogspot.com

Reply to this comment

author avatar Vernazoa
29th Aug 2011 (#)

Great article. I have always longed to be in Barcelona. For some reason, my brother Walter and I thought of Barcelona at the same moment. We had never discussed this before. I love good architecture.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
29th Aug 2011 (#)

Oh, Vernazoa, you need to go there. What a fantastic city - and outskirts - it is. Breathtaking!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Funom Makama
13th Oct 2011 (#)

I now see that the cataluna culture is beyond the people we see on TV.... Nice sculptures and monuments.... I've been to madrid but what I have seen here amazes me, I will have to go back to Spain!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
13th Oct 2011 (#)

Yes, you should Funom. Barcelona is wonderful.

Reply to this comment

author avatar M G Singh
4th Nov 2011 (#)

Thanks for an excellent post Sheila

Reply to this comment

author avatar Bridgitte Williams
8th Nov 2011 (#)

Fabulous! :-)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
8th Nov 2011 (#)

Thanks Madan, thanks Bridgitte for your lovely comments.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
22nd Dec 2011 (#)

I love Barcelona, I love the football team too.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
22nd Dec 2011 (#)

Me too. Barcelona are the team to beat.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Tranquilpen
12th Jan 2012 (#)

Great article, only one thing missing from it all, Freddie Mercury's Song. Barcelona! Thank you for sharing Sheila ;-))

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
12th Jan 2012 (#)

Agreed. Freddie Mercury's song is a real treat. I miss Freddie a lot. RIP.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Vinaya Ghimire
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

This is wonderful travel article. Thanks for digging it.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Retired
4th Feb 2012 (#)

you seem to enjoy travelling sheila. and i must say you do it well. I hope that you travel with someone?

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
4th Feb 2012 (#)

Yes - I nearly always travel with my husband. Sometimes, though, I travel with an old friend. Thanks for commenting, writer.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Username
Can't login?
Password