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Postcards from Barcelona

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I think it is fair to say that Barcelona charmed the pants off of me. During the span of my 48 hours in the Catalonian city, I must've taken more than 800 photos and smiled the equivalent of a years worth of smiles as I became entranced with the creative world of Catalonian architect Antoni Gaudi and the charming people who greeted me everywhere I went in the city; whether to ask for directions or order fresh fruit.  You would not believe how hard it was for me to mull down my photo album to these mere 22 photos to encapulsate my 2-day trip.

Before my flight to Europe, I spent many hours watching documentaries and reading up on the Gaudi and his many works scattered through the city of Barcelona. By the time it was time for me to fly over, I had already pre-purchased my tickets to all of his buildings, not wanting to miss an inch of his architectural detailing. I definitely did not regret this pre-preparation as every single site I visited inspired me to a degree that only reading the writings of Richard Brautigan or staring at a Van Gogh painting was able to previously; not to mention the 3+ hour line for people wanting to buy tickets to enter into Gaudi's most reknowned work, la Sagrada Familia. What follows is a little insight into my favourite sights of Barcelona.

Park Güell -
Perhaps my favourite site of Gaudi's is not only free monetarily speaking but is also free of any line. Within the public garden complex of Park Güell one can not only navigate through 17 hectares of green land complemented by the modernist architecture of Gaudi, but can also visit the home where Gaudi moved in with his family. Although no line or fee, the site is a bit of a hike and incredibly hard to move around in during the summer months with thousands of tourists being constantly snap happy. This being said, there are few fonder memories that I have than treating myself to arguably the best fresh strawberries and mango pieces atop the main terrace of Park Güell and looking back over the physical journey I had overcome to get there.

La Sagrada Familia - 
My hotel was literally around the corner from la Sagrada Familia, so it was naturally the first and last thing I went to see. The incredible line of people waiting to enter the church was so overwhelming that I did not expect to find a place to myself where I could take some photos and just enjoy the façade of the building. However, after spotting a fresh fruit stand in a park across the road from the Nativity façade of the building, I found that the park not only offered perfect views of la Sagrada Familia across a small lake but was more or less empty of tourists. I don't know why more people didn't seem to know about this park and its aesthetic benefits but I was not going to complain. If you ever visit, hopefully the word hasn't caught on and you can make like me and get some fresh fruit and sit and enjoy the view and peace from the park. (See more in my previous posts here).

La Casa Batiló and la Casa Mila - 
Right from the façade la Casa Batiló made my mind explode out of sheer architectural delight. The entire façade is tiled with mosaics of glass pieces and ceramic discs. The building only gets better on the interior, with constant mosaics, stained glass windows, chandeliers and staircases that appear to come from no where. The owners of the site's webpage do not lie when they state that la Casa Batiló is a 'universe of symbolism, a canvas of marine inspiration, a dream world, which evokes nature with its organic elements and is suggestive of fantasy'.

Although the interior of la Casa Mila is not so creatively overwhelming as la Casa Batiló, the rooftop with its many surrealistic colourful chimney is truly delightful to run around (you can observe how happy I was in image 6) and provides breathtaking views over the rooftops of Barcelona. Both la Casa Batiló and la Casa Mila also offer summer night visits where you can watch the sunset from the rooftops of either building whilst enjoying live jazz and drinks!

If you are sitting on the fence about a visit to Barcelona, I say just "Go, go, go, go!"

1/ Views over Park Güell 2/ A sample of the mosaic tiles decorating Park Güell 3/ La Sagrada Familia from Park Güell 4&5/ More Park Güell 6/ Barcelona rooftops from atop la Casa Mila 7/ Strawberries atop Park Güell 8-12/ Exploring la Sagrada Familia 13-16/ La Casa Mila 17-22/ La Casa Batiló