6 November 2010

130 Years in the Making - Barcelona [Day Three]

Whenever people show you photos from Barcelona, the one thing you always see are those crazy buildings. The big wavy one, and the one that looks like it is melting... or something... Today we decided to go and check them out.

The buildings were all designed by a man named Antoni Gaudí, a bit of a crazy guy really. There are several examples of his work all over Barcelona; we were going to see three. First up the Casa Batlló, which was restored by Gaudi in 1906. The front is covered in a mosiac of tiles, and the roof curved like the back of a dragon. It is pretty freakin' cool. Apparently the interior is even more impressive, but with an €18 door charge, only Glenis went it. Just as well really, I don't think I would have appreciated it €18 worth anyway. About a block down the road is the Casa Milà - basically a building on drugs. No straight lines at all. Check em out!

Not too far away is the Sagrada Familia, an absolutely massive cathedral that has been under construction since 1882, and will not be completed for about another 16 years! Gaudi devoted the last 15 years of his life to the project, with an initial completion date of 2020. The sheer size is overwhelming, but the intricacy is something else. The cathedral has three facades - the Nativity, the Glory and the Passion. We first came upon the Passion, which is covered in edges and straight lines. This is designed to resemble a skeleton if it were reduced to bone. The facade depicts the sins of man and is dedicated to the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion. There are four giant towers, each dedicated to an apostle (James, Thomas, Philip and Bartholomew).

The line to get in was huge, but thankfully moved quickly. We opted not to take the elevator to the top, as the queue for it was more than an hour long! The interior was mind blowing. It is simply indescribable. The interior space is huge! With monstrous pillars holding up the amazingly decorated roof. The walls adorned with enormous, beautifully coloured stained glass windows. Everything is designed in a certain way for a specific reason - from the shape of the pilars to the detailing on the walls and roof, even the colour of the stained glass. When I first heard that this building had been under construction for about 130 years, I wondered what they had been doing all this time. Standing in the centre of that cathedral I completely understood. Video here.

We exited the cathedral on the Nativity facade, which is dedicated to the birth of Jesus. This is the side that (to me anyway) looks as though it is melting. On closer inspection it is covered in carvings depicting the life and nature. Every surface is covered, and every single carving has a meaning or symbolises something. You just cannot fathom the amount of time that must have gone into creating something of this scale. The facade is topped off with four huge towers, each dedicated to a Saint (Matthias the Apostle, Saint Barnabas, Jude the Apostle, and Simon the Zealot).

After loosing and re-finding Glenis, we made our way to our next destination for the day - Montjuic Park. The park is huge! And contains the Olympic stadium used for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. But the first thing we noticed was the massive National Palace, which is now home to the National Art Museum of Catalonia. The palace is perched at the top of a hill at the end of a massive boulevard. The walk (hike!) was made considerably easier by the escalators that were installed up most of the hill. 10 points Barcelona! In front of the Palace is the Magic Fountain of Montjuic - apparently breath-taking, but unfortunately switched off today. Click here to see what we missed out on.

The top of the hill provided spectacular views over Barcelona. A perfect time to try out the new camera's panorama feature ;)

Having been on our feet for most of the day, the legs were weary. We decided to walk to the closest Metro. Conveniently, along the way we found the Olympic Stadium which was quite cool. Queue second awesome panorama opportunity... (We also found this big spike... not really sure what that was all about, sorry).

We jumped on the funicular (kinda like a metro but on a slant so it goes up and down hills) (oh, and by the way, not as fun as the name suggests) and made our way back into the city. On the way we had a bit of excitement when some guy tried to pick-pocket Dad. He actually had the wallet before Dad snatched it back. They are pretty smart - there were two of them; one shoved a map in front of Dad's face and started to try and talk to him while the other went for the wallet. Close call...

We called in at the Boqueria Market again on our way back. It way much busier than the day before with most of the stalls open. It really is an awesome market - we bought huge bunches of grapes and other fresh fruit for next to nothing. The fish market was also in full swing which was quite cool to watch.

Wandering back up La Rambla and I finally saw what Barcelona is like on a 'normal' day - tourists and stalls everywhere. People selling everything from souvineers to pets right there on the street! It was a really cool experience and I can completely understand why people fall in love with this city. Look at the cute little bunnies and awesome turtles!! How could you NOT love it?

Later that evening I headed out on a pub crawl organised by the same company that did the walking tour. After hearing so many stories about the Barcelona night life how I had to go out and experience it for myself. I met really cool people from all over the world, got completely lost, drunk flaming shots, cut up the d-floor in some random nightclub, wandered the complete length of the beach, and to top it off was approached by a lovely prostitute that wanted to take all my money. Good times had by all.

Next Post - 'Rugged, Wild and Beautiful'

1 comment:

  1. Turtles and bunnies??? AW... :)

    I've always wanted to go to Spain. I love Spain in pictures. My sister in law spent a semester of college in England but she traveled a lot while there. The most disappointing thing was she said Spain pretty much smells like urine everywhere (tell me that's not true) and the most surprising thing was she said Poland was gorgeous. And the concentration camps are amazing. So I've added Poland to my someday see list. :)


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