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Published: June 13th 2017
Geo: 41.3879, 2.16992I love "Gaudi" things!
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Today was all things Gaudi.
Our guide Anna and driver Jordi took us first to Casa Batllo, the Gaudi-designed residence with the wild façade. It is covered with mosaic tiles, and is crowned with a roof that resembles a reptile. In 1904 Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to remodel the building; he gave all rooms ample curves, so that there are no right angles throughout the house. It is fascinating. Anna took time to explain the other homes on that “row” and the fact that the neighborhood was already chichi, overlooking a park, before Gaudi and others were commissioned to do the facelift.
We then moved to Casa Milà (La Pedrera), an apartment building with wave-like walls and huge chimneys. Nowadays it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today was National Spanish Day, so we passed a number of folks dressed in native costume or draped in the national flag. It was fun to capture photos of them. However our driver noted that those marching (perhaps 5000) were loyalists and opposed to Catalonia's efforts to break off from Spain. The parade for those in favor of separation usually attracts at least one million.
Anna then delivered us
to a spot for some perfect long distance photos of La Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's biggest project, 125 years in the making). An already neutral-colored façade is even more neutral on a gray and rainy day.
Finally, we moved to a mansion Gaudi designed for the Güell family. Because the architecture broke with classical design, Park Guell has always been popular with visitors. In 1986 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We took time out to lunch at the Park Café, which was delish, and checked out the gift shop before we headed for the big Kahuna: La Sagrada Familia, perhaps the most famous building in Barcelona. It tells the life of Jesus and the history of faith (hence the name, which translates as 'the Holy Family'😉.
Although construction started in 1882, the church is nowhere near finished; completion date is currently estimated to be 2026 – the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death. The architectural features may be finished by then, but interior decoration will extend far beyond that day. Because of this, some of the oldest parts of the church are already in need of renovation. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was proclaimed a ‘minor basilica'
by Pope Benedict XVI only recently.
When it is finished, it will have 18 bell towers, which symbolize Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the four evangelists and the twelve apostles. It will have 3 facades, which represent the life of Jesus. The Nativity facade (on which Gaudi worked the most) depicts his birth, childhood and young manhood. The Passion facade represents the Passion of Jesus. The Glory facade (which will be the main entrance once finished) represents his death: Death, Final Judgment and Glory.
There has been some ongoing debate about whether or not the Sagrada Familia can still be regarded as “Gaudi's church”. He died in 1926 and has had many successors. There is very little that remains of his original ideas and instructions but it is still a very special landmark not to be missed.
By the time we finished the afternoon tour, and the four-hour tour this morning, we were not at all interested in the trip to the top of one of the towers, with the walk down the spiral staircase. We hit the gift shop and went out to tackle a taxi cab in the pouring rain.
Since the rain never let up, we opted to eat in the hotel
tonight: Hotel Colon Terrazza. The food was sort of unusual, and so was the service. Barcy, Anne and Patrick all ordered sea bass but were delivered scorpion fish. You should have seen the looks on their faces. Dinner could have been even more unusual than Gaudi's art but it was corrected when they found out they had delivered the wrong item to the wrong table.
We had some rough going today with travel arrangements. It turned out to be OK in the end, but not so much in the middle.
First there was a half-hour delay from the tour company in picking us up. We were notified ahead of time but the push-back left us with 15 minutes for lunch between our morning and afternoon tours.
The tour guide, Anna, was quite charming and quite knowledgeable. But she admitted that no one really knew what we wanted to do today. Yolanda had called in to the office yesterday and mentioned we wanted to do all Gaudi, so they scrambled. She took us to Casa Batilo and Casa Mila Pedrera (exterior only) and had tickets for us at 12:30 for Park Guell. In between, she gave us non-Gaudi exterior-only stops to places
like the UNESCO site of St. Paul Hospital. I didn't know what to expect, but there are a number of things Gaudi we didn't take in.
There was much confusion about the Sagrada Familia tour. Patrick presented our voucher and they had no record of our booking. They looked for quite a while ... under all four names and three travel agencies. We had the paper coupon sent to us by our travel agency and I had the email with the confirmation number. They had nothing in their records. Finally, they agreed to add us to the 2 pm tour, which began and ended in the rain.
About the Colon:
-- Good location
-- Pleasant staff
-- Could use a facelift, including the beds
-- Only three electrical outlets, far from sufficient for someone with 7 pieces of electronic equipment. We shuffle iPhones, iPads, PCs, battery chargers, etc. every few hours.
Bottom line: We are all in agreement that we really appreciate Tauck, the caliber of their guides and the handling of logistics. We are all tired of traveling at this point and would like to be home, or at least have things run smoothly. But at the same time, we are enjoying Barcelona. First World problems.
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