Originally published 3 January, 2018
Hanging out in Park Guell, overlooking Barcelona
We’ve grown accustomed to Barcelona. It is an easy city to get around in and an easy place to enjoy. Today, we did another one of Laurie’s architectural field trips to a park. When we travel, I do point to point. Transportation, lodging selection, all the little nuts and bolts things that get you to a place. With the exception of certain things I personally want to see (like Monaco), she does the research for the destinations.
Laurie has a big interest in the arts so a lot of the things are art related. If it’s not something I’m interested in, I’ll wander the neighborhood, leaving her to enjoy something that is important to her at her own pace. I don’t want her to feel rushed or guilty because I’m bored with something. If it’s not my thing, I’m happy to wander about.
The past few days we’ve been seeing artistic stuff, but it’s architectural. I’ve built buildings my entire life. So there is some interest on my part in things that are built. After all…..It’s my business. Today’s trip took us to Park Guell, on a mountain overlooking Barcelona.
We started out by rising late (for us at least) and doing some online stuff in our hotel room. We researched our route, and then bought tickets online for Park Guell (7 euros and they scan the code on your phone. Just like yesterday). After these minor chores, we got dressed and headed across the street to our diner. We had our normal breakfast of fresh squeezed orange juice, toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, and coffee. Then we headed out.
Playing boules in a Barcelona park
We took the subway to the stop we judged as nearest to the park. We knew that we would have to walk unless we took a bus, and we haven’t used the bus system here so we stick with what we know. We walked around 15 minutes to get to the park, which was all uphill!
Along the way, we stopped to watch a group of elderly men play “boules”. The translation is “balls”, and is a catch all name for games involving metal balls about the size of a soft ball. It is played in most of the countries here and it’s name (and probably the rules) vary from country to country. From watching the game, I have decided it is the Europe version of the American game of “horseshoes”.
The game starts with one person throwing a small wooden ball on a gravel court. Everyone throws their balls to get as close as possible to the small wood ball or to knock other player’s balls away. The big difference from horseshoes is that they don’t use a stake, but the small wooden ball. It’s sort of like horseshoes with a stake that moves each time. Scoring is apparently the same or very similar to horseshoes.
After watching the ball game, we continue our walk. I rely on Laurie for a lot of the stories behind the art stuff. She tells me that Park Guell was supposed to be sort of a subdivision, with something like 60 houses built in what is now the park. I don’t know what happened with the development thing, but there’s only one house there and it belonged to the Guell guy the park is named after. The park was designed by Antoni Gaudi, the same guy as yesterday and apparently he lived for a while in Guell’s house.
Like the Sagrada Familia yesterday, his design had resemblances. No flat walls, everything was curved. Lots of arches. According to Laurie he took a lot of his pointers from nature, and nature hates a straight line. He was also a contemporary with Salvador Dali. You know him, the melty clock guy. Neither of these guys could (or would) draw a straight line.
We arrive at the park and have our tickets scanned at the proper time window. People are admitted 400 at a time, every half hour. Our window was from 1 pm to 1:30. We entered and walked into the middle of the fancy part of the park. The park is open free of charge, but to go into the sculpture areas with all the incorporated art work was a pay area. Tickets were 7 euros.
It seems that on this project, he had a thing for tile mosaics. I cannot fathom how many MILLIONS of pieces of mosaic were used to build this place. Everything was covered in these wild mosaics. Tile is flat, and with his no straight lines rule, flat tile didn’t work well. So to get these fancy mosaics, they would smash flat tiles and lay the tiny pieces on the curves. The amount of work to do this, not to mention the patience, is staggering.
I mentioned the Willy Wonka vibe......
The place has sort of a Willy Wonka vibe to it, with all the rounded edges, arches, and such. The lizard that Laurie is beside has become one of the symbols of Barcelona. You see it on pins, shirts, and keychains. Like the Sagrada Familia, we take hundreds of photos, of which we only put a few on the blog. If architecture is your thing, there’s so much to see here.
After our visit to the “monument” or pay area, we walk the rest of the park. We stop to listen to a guitarist Laurie likes. The guy has real chops and can really play. We talk with him a while and Laurie actually buys his CD for ten euros.
He was from Argentina and asked where we were from. We told him where and that we were near Nashville, which impressed him due to the huge amount of music in Tennessee. I commented that he was quite the player and his style of play was somewhat similar to Bluegrass. He said that he liked Bluegrass, but could not keep up with the speed of the bluegrass pickers. A nice guy and we enjoyed meeting him.
After the park we decided to venture into the world of buses in Barcelona. The bus stop was right outside of the park entrance and our subway tickets also worked on the bus. While not as fast as the subway, it took us across Barcelona and down to the sea. We got to see a bit more of the city than we would on an underground train.
The beach area was quite nice. We walked along the boardwalk and stopped at a restaurant on the beach for tapas and a drink. The food was quite good but the service was a bit spotty. We leisurely enjoyed our tapas and drinks before moving on down the beach. Tapas at sundown in a beach front restaurant in Spain….we’ll let the so so service slide.
We walk a bit and cut up into the old part of town. We spend several hours wandering the “streets” of this area, looking in windows and watching the people. We looked for a leather shop that we saw new years day but was closed.
Laurie's "laundry of the world" photos
I am interested in a nice leather case for my Surface Pro. While this store had fantastic leather goods at very reasonable prices, they did not have what I wanted or needed. It was either too big or too small. We continued to walk and found a store with leather cases like I wanted, and they were the right size.
The sad part was that the buckles on the case were cheap, made of stamped tin. I thought it criminal to take a gorgeous handmade leather case and put crappy cheap buckles on it. I would have paid more for the case if it had decent quality buckles on it. We’ll look more tomorrow. Maybe we’ll get lucky.
We stop for dinner at a sidewalk café in the old town. We’re sitting at the table, playing with our phones and talking. I wanted to take a pic of Laurie as I liked the backdrop. She asked what it was as it looked quite old. I told her I would look it up and it turns out it is a genuine Roman castle from the middle ages! Like a lot of Europe….stuff is old here.
We had a nice dinner, eating a bit lighter tonight. After that we find the subway and head back to our hotel. We have one more day in Barcelona before we fly to England for our last day in Europe. More adventures tomorrow.
Barcelona slide show day four