Originally published 2 January 2018
In front of La Sagrada Familia, the most visited place in Barcelona. It hosts millions of visitors in a year.
We rose late, much to Laurie’s complaint. Well……..I rose late. Barcelona is a late evening town. Things are open late at night and a lot doesn’t open until late morning. To say I adapted quickly would be an understatement. They sort of do things at times I can really get behind.
We try to get moving quickly and wind up at our diner across the street and have our standard breakfast (toasted ham and cheese sandwich, orange juice, coffee. 5 euros). It’s easy and quick, and it’s just across the street. After we enjoy our breakfast and REAL coffee, we start out.
There is a park next to our hotel, and also borders the train station. It is called “Industrial Park” as it is built on the site of an industrial mill. There is an artificial lake, towers resembling light houses, and a huge steel dragon that has stairs and a sliding board.
The park is an oasis in the middle of a city, and is about 11 acres. People will be transferring trains and have a layover, and will come outside the station and sit by the lake in the park for a short while. I kinda like how they do things over here. They do a lot of “quality of life” things here that I can really see the positive side of.
The first architect resigned a year in and was replaced with a guy named Antoni Gaudi. There are quite a few building he designed around Barcelona and this was his last. This guy is about as famous as they come in architecture circles, and in Spain he’s like a saint. One thing is for sure….he was no slouch. This building would impress anyone.
Gaudi died in 1926 and at that time the project was only 25 percent complete. He was reportedly a very humble man and dressed in very plain, often tattered clothes. He was hit by a street car and taken to the hospital. Due to his tattered clothes, they thought he was a beggar. It is rumored that he was ignored, and by the time they figured out who we was, he had died. When we were kids, they would tell us to wear clean underwear in case we were in an accident. Apparently, this goes as well for outer wear.
The interior was quite impressive, leaving Laurie in awe of what had been built. I’ve built buildings my entire life and I have to say, I was a bit impressed myself. The church was built of stacked stone, with massive numbers of stained glass windows. There are no flat walls anywhere in the building. Everything is either curved or arched. The attention to detail was simply amazing and the end results were beyond what anyone could have expected.
I’m not one easily impressed by buildings. There have been a few I’ve seen that truly impressed me. One was the San Diego Library. Another was the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. Now there’s this one. Anyone not impressed by this place….well…….I don’t think there’s anyone that hasn’t been impressed by this place.
We move on to our next stop, another Gaudi building called Casa Batllo. We observed this building from the outside. This and our next stop were around 30 euros each to enter. We had seen his masterpiece so we passed on springing for admission. We went to another and took exterior photos of one called Casa Mila. He designed work all over the city.
I have to say, this guy’s mind worked differently than other people. He thought of things that others overlooked and had the vision to realize how something was going to look and interact with the other elements in the building, long before it was constructed. Having worked with designers all my career I’ve always said that architects were more artists and engineers were….well….engineers. On the art end of things, this guy took it to another level.
Laurie has a blister on one of her toes and we’ve tried to mitigate it as best we can. We walk many miles each day and after a while it becomes painful. She wanted to find a sidewalk café, sit down, have a drink and something to eat. We found a nearby place on a side street.
Dinner here is more of an event. People also don’t eat out that often. They sit and linger at the table. After having a few meals like that, I could fall into that habit as well. You have a drink, then appetizers (tapas), then a meal, then coffee and dessert. Then you sit a while and just watch the world go by. It’s quite nice and the habit grows on you.
After our dinner and coffee, we decided on a stroll. We were in the neighborhood so we decided to take the train a few stop and get off at one of the plazas. From there we walked down what is Barcelona’s “tourist” street, La Rambla. It is lined with stores running from small supermarkets and restaurants to Gucci. At 6 p.m. there were thousands of people walking up and down this street.
There are quite a few restaurants, offering low priced tourist specials. Knowing how well they cook here, you couldn’t pay me eat in one of these places. Our meals here have been wonderful and I see no reason to go bargain basement. It’s not that expensive here to start with. Prices are in line with or even less than what we would pay for a comparable dining experience in Cookeville, where we live.
At the end of our trek, we board the subway back to our hotel. We’re so centrally located, right by the train station and right by a metro station. This hotel (Expo Hotel Barcelona) has suited our needs well. It’s late, and I was hungry. I did something I would never do in the states, and ordered room service. The price was reasonable, the food was delivered in 15 minutes, and it was good. I’ve found I like Spain.
Barcelona slide show day three