Travels in Spain before Covid: Barcelona Day 12

November 7th 2020
Published: November 7th 2020
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OCTOBER 31, 2019

I had not been able to get tickets to the Picasso Museum ahead of time because, according to all ticket sellers, they were sold out. Since we lived a few blocks from the museum, I figured if we waited until they opened, we might get lucky, if we didn’t get it, we would have a lovely walk in our neighborhood. We hit the jackpot! Not only could we buy tickets, we could grab some breakfast and then return, and still get in. They promised.

I remembered looking at a menu at a cute little cafe on our way home from dinner the night before and thought we’d give Bubo Bar Tapes a try. It is conveniently near our apartment (what isn’t?) and across from the Church of the Sea. Dave’s eyes lit up when he saw the pastries, and even more so after tasting his pastry and excellent coffee. We lucked out!

The museum was good on its promise, we did get in. The Museu Picasso, a gallery devoted to Picasso's formative years, is packed on two levels with impressive early works by this artist. And as many surprises in these narrow streets, we found that what appears from the outside does not reflect the spaciousness inside. With 4,250 works of art, this museum claims to hold the most comprehensive collection of Picasso’s early years.

As we moved through his artistic development it was interesting to see some of his classical works done in Corunna, Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid. As he moved on to avant-garde trends we could see his influence from the French aesthetics as a development of the artist he was to become. Drawings from his Blue Period, and oil paintings produced in Barcelona in 1917 were among the largest of his works created here. There is a very special collection of 57 works of Picasso’s personal interpretation of Velazquez’s Las Meninas, the only series on display together in one museum. In addition there is a collection of ceramics, etchings, lithographs and linocuts donated by his widow Jacqueline. We stayed for as long as Dave was able before needing an escape and lunch of leftovers from 7 Portes.

I had purchased late afternoon skip the line tickets for Park Guell, (pronounced Park way) located a considerable distance away from our apartment. To taxi or to Metro, that was the question. We decided on taxi, not really cheap, but it gave us a look at the city. Unfortunately our driver didn’t seem to know how to get there so we had an additional adventure along the way. The thing about buying non-refundable Viator tickets ahead is you can’t know what the weather will be. It was cloudy with a few sprinkles and definitely chilly. No, make that cold.
We met our guide at the appointed location, and began our walk to the entrance of Parc Guell.

Eusebi Guell was a wealthy man who intended to create a unique development for elite members of the community. This new thought process in urban planning was to be established in a natural setting with grand views of the now blossoming city of Barcelona and the sea beyond. Guell chose his friend Gaudi to design this estate with a network of paths or 'web of nature' that would connect the large build-able plots spaced far enough apart to maintain the natural integrity of the land. But there were few people who shared this vision of art and nature connected.

To begin the project the Gaudi House was constructed as a model home for this new Park Güell development. The house was not designed by Gaudi but designed by Francesc Berenguer in 1904, a close friend and right-hand man to the architect. The Guell family lived in this house first then sold it to Gaudi who lived in this house from 1906 to 1925. It was in this house, known as Torre Rosa, where Gaudi spent 20 years of his life before moving into the Sagrada Familia. It was in this house that he devoted his time on the work of the building of the Sagrada Familia.

The house is now a museum that shows examples of Gaudi’s private life and personal tastes. The furniture, with its clean lines, reminded me of the functional designs of Frank Lloyd Wright with Gaudi’s own added touch of nature bringing the outdoors in, a man after my own heart. I enjoyed the view from his large window overlooking Barcelona, his connection with the outdoors while working inside. The park opened to the public in 1926 after the completion of only two show houses. In 1984, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site.

When you enter the park from the Porter’s Lodge you can immediately see the integration of nature in form and style. Gaudi admired the structural efficiency in nature “…neither are trees prismatic, nor bones cylindrical, nor leaves triangular.” Gaudi’s artful designs were an invitation to both play with and be connected to all forms of nature.

I was eager to photograph the famous salamander on the grand stairway. The salamander is covered in brightly colored ‘Trencadis’, a mosaic of broken ceramic pieces invented by Gaudi, which became a popular design technique throughout Park Guell as well as his other works. The salamander was encumbered by tourists and the unusual Hypostyle Market above the stairs was covered in scaffolding so poor photo ops for me.

Fortunately as the day wore on the sun came out to take some of the chill out of the air and make the photography less gloomy, but that increased the number of people blocking the best views and photo ops. Encouraged by the warmth of the sun, we wandered through the gardens and wooded paths and climbed until we reached the Nature Plaza built on top of the Hypostyle Market. Dave took a seat on the long undulating stone bench that surrounds the square. This encompassing bench acts like a protective fence to the ground below. I tried to shoulder my way through the 50 or so people to photograph the hazy view of Barcelona, and with a little patience, I got my shots.

With the sun out in full force I began to photograph Gaudi’s spirit in technicolor as it was now, sparkling in the sun, most evident everywhere you looked. Gaudi made nature come to life in his own imagination and let us, as viewers, enter his mind of wondrous imagination. If you go, try to make certain it is sunny because when it’s overcast, the magic disappears.

When I return to Barcelona (and I hope I do) I plan to revisit this park, walking the paths, looking for parrots, eagles and hummingbird hawk moths while spending time absorbing the urban forest in the free zone (most of the park is free of charge, you only have to pay for the main exhibits).

We were tired so we looked for a taxi, which was not easy since there is no central “hub” for taxis, but eventually we found one, climbed in and headed back to Barri Gotic and Sagardi Tapas for dinner. Nothing like good food, friendly people and a good wine to warm you up! After dinner I stopped at Teresa’s, a small organic take out place across the street from our apartment for an organic drink and a delicious chocolate almond vegan dessert to go. Great idea!

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