Barcelona--Beginnings in a new country
Well, it's almost the view from our window. We are right across the street from the east side of The Sagrada Familia. We have a view of the 34,000+ tourist who visit this unfinished marvel every DAY! And, on clear days, we can see a castle on a hill. Spain, the vagabonds have arrived!
The first time I visited Barcelona in 1995, Chelsea and Katrina were 9 and 5. I remember those two days so well. Their dad was under the weather, so the girls and I zoomed around in taxis seeing everything from the Gaudi buildings to the albino gorilla Snowflake at the Barcelona Zoo. I was hoping that the tenderness I felt for the city would be here again--and it is!
The weather was uncharacteristically wet for our first few days in Barca (pronounced Barsa). We still managed to flit here and there, all post- nap after disembarking the cruise. We needed a vacation from our vacation!
So following our nap, we set out to see one of Antonio Gaudi's designs, the Casa Batllo. Gaudi is to Barcelona as Diego Rivera is to Mexico City. And we are having three weeks of Gaudi. He received a commission to renovate this modernist (art nouveau) home. The space appealed to all of my senses. It had not been opened as a museum in 1995, so I had only seen the facade, which is beautiful. Thematically, water is a constant in the design of the house. Not only was it innovative architecturally, but Gaudi was obsessed with functionalism and the house has beautiful banisters that fit the hand, tiles that transport heat and light through the building, and other features invented by Gaudi. Check out the little tiled room with the fireplace.
The next day, we proceeded to the Gothic quarter, one of the oldest parts of the city. We did a self-guided walking tour which included the cathedral, the plaza of Saint James, and our own adventures. The quarter is full of narrow streets that date from medieval times and is still guarded in part by the Roman wall. It's amazing to be in a city founded by the Romans, such a contrast to the USA. We explored the Cathedral including taking the elevator to the top. We stopped for tapas and then wandered around until we went off to an ill-fated meeting with friends.
So, we headed to the Plaza Catalonia (Praca Cataluyna in Catalan) where we failed to encounter our friends. After checking out the plaza, we headed back toward our apartment, taking in all of sights. The next couple of days were very rainy and we took it easy and caught up on some business.
One of the things we like to do when we first get to a city is to take the open air tourist bus in order to get our bearings. The day we took the bus, there was a huge, peaceful independence protest by the Catalan people in favor of independence from Spain. Catalonia is a special provine of Spain, having their own language, their own food, customs, etc. You probably heard about the vote for independence, and the ultimate arrest of the party leader. The impact on the city is that Catalan flags and banners fly from apartment terraces, their yellow ribbon sign is everywhere and occasionally someone will shout "Viva Catalan!" and cheering and clapping will follow. We sat in a traffic jam for quite awhile on the bus that day as our route was restricted. However, when things opened up, Paul and I rode to the end, with one hop off to get some lunch at the harbor. Here are a few of the sights from that 5 hour bus ride! Check out the view through a bubble! Everywhere, bubble makers entertain children for tips. I caught a picture through a big bubble.
Next up, more fun with friends in the old town and a couple of trips out of the city. Hasta luego.