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Published: March 20th 2016
A Gaudi creation...for another visit, maybe!
Signs of spring are emerging around Copenhagen! Perhaps most important among them, the sun! The days have grown longer, making waking up for work seem very manageable. So far, only the snowdrops and crocus have been brave enough to bloom, but tulips and daffodils are considering it.
During the dark days of February, I decided to take a jaunt down to Barcelona in the hopes of some vitamin D, but even more appealing, to experience the works of Gaudi firsthand. My AirBnB’s only virtue was its location by Plaza Catalnya, so I spent little time there, but instead spent my time exploring.
My first night, I quickly settled in, hung up my wool coat to give it some rest, and then set off for some tapas and a wander through the Gothic Quarter. The narrow streets were mazelike, and every now and then I would emerge from what felt like passageways more than streets into an unexpected plaza with some impressive building or another. Even though it was near to nine, I felt very safe as I walked around, since the stores were still open and people buzzed all around.
the Sagrada Familia was my top priority, I booked a tour for my first day. I arrived a bit before my tour, and wandered around taking the details of the exterior and then gawking up at the interior, lost in my own amazement. The tour provided context and facts that only added to the splendor of the building. Gaudi’s relationship with nature placed this church in another category. I’m not sure how many hours slipped by as I took in as much as I could of the church, its sculptures, its color of the light pouring in through the windows, and the museum. The hope is that the church will be completed in 10 years, making it a 100 year long undertaking!
From there I spent the day walking through different neighborhoods, sipping espresso, and admiring men and women’s shoes. Then came more tapas, red wine, and reflection about the sights and sounds of the day.
Since Gaudi was my motivation for the visit, I decided to continue exploring his buildings. After an extraordinary almond croissant in the sun, I visited Casa Mila, an apartment building he designed. Here I followed an audio tour
as I walked along the roof taking in the view, marveled at his design process in their museum, and then enjoyed a look into one of the apartments, decorated to look as it might have at the time of its opening. Again, the natural themes were impressive, and though I have no real sense for architecture, I found the building and its design impressive and thoughtful. His design for door handles and chairs showed his understanding of and connection to the human body and function, not just form.
I took a long lovely walk from there down to the sea to enjoy the beach and some fresh seafood for a late lunch, before meeting my friend Sarah. Sarah is a teacher friend from Sweden who had the following week of from work, so we managed to have a few days in Barcelona in common! After her late arrival, we indulged in a long delicious meal. We both savored the change in spice set and the warmth of the weather and the people on the streets.
Keeping my Gaudi theme going, we set off in the sun to visit Park Guell. We were less impressed
by our tour there, but still, I was glad to have the information, since neither of us had researched or brought a book with us. The park was once public, but tourists were taking tiles from the mosaics and such, so, motivated by the desire to protect Gaudi’s work, and to earn some income, it is no longer a free space. But, the impressive sweeping view of the city and the beautifully planned spaces are worth the fee.
For the evening, we set off toward Monjuic were we had reserved a table for tapas and flamenco Tablao del Carmen. Before we made it there, we enjoyed the fountain and music display, which was surprisingly artful and entertaining. But, that was soon pushed from my mind as we were in awe of the passion and fun of the flamenco performance. The singers, guitarist, and dancers engaged with each other and the audience with an interesting combination of intensity and play. The hours passed quickly!
Barcelona exceeded my expectations. The art, food, music, architecture, beach, and so on were wonderful. Perhaps I’ll be fortunate enough to return!
Tosca Tapas y Vino (across from the impressive Palau de la Musica)
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