gaudi en la casa

Hola, all of you lovely people!  I would like to take a quick moment to announce that this is my 50th blog post!!  Woo hoo!  Who would have thought I would post 50 times while we were here?!?  Here’s hoping that it continues for many more…

 

Today I bring you exciting details of an Easter weekend spent in the fabulous city of Barcelona, Spain.

We departed on Thursday evening from Amsterdam, about an hour and a half behind schedule… (side note – our first and last trip through Vueling Airlines – for a continued rant, just ask me why sometime.)  This meant that once we arrived in Barcelona, took a bus to town, took a metro and walked 10 minutes to our hotel, it was after 11:00 pm.  For those of you familiar with the Spanish culture, you already know that not having any dinner before we got there wasn’t the biggest issue, as they tend to eat really late by our standards.  The man at the front desk directed us to a Spanish restaurant just around the corner that he believed to still be serving at that time.  (Note – the hotel is not in a touristy area of town.)  This proceeded to be one of the most awkward meals that I have been a part of…but it was humorous none the less!  We sat down in the back and stared blankly at the older woman who attempted to explain something to us in Spanish.  Then we stared blankly at the menu in Spanish.  We managed to identify a few known items such as ham and croquettes, so we began to piece together an order.  BC got a little crazy and ordered something of which he could only read the part that said peppers.  This turned out to be stuffed with what we are calling “minced fish”…and it tasted as nasty as that sounds! 🙂  Anyway, we survived and even had a tasty dessert.  Here’s the only photo I took there, but I think it sums it up quite nicely…

Note the lack of people around us - that made it even better.

Note the lack of people around us – that made it even better.

 

The trip was all upward from night #1.  The next morning, we made the 10 minute trek to the metro (uphill, might I add – a workout) and then headed into town.  We wanted to grab a quick breakfast on La Rambla before meeting up with a guide at the Placa Reial for our one planned activity – a 2-hour Gaudi walking tour.  (Runner Bean free walking tours – I would recommend them.)  The Placa Reial was pretty – more tropical looking than I had imagined Barcelona to be…

Lots of palm trees...and sunshine.

Lots of palm trees…and sunshine.

That's our guide, Debbie.

That’s our guide, Debbie.  Also, the light post behind her – designed by Guadi.

 

A little info for you – Antoni Gaudi was one of the most notable architects of the Catalan Modernisme (Art Nouveau) movement.  There you go – now google him for more. 🙂  His works are quite impressive and unlike anything I have seen.  The tour took us first to Palau Guell, a mansion designed by Gaudi for a wealthy man, Eusebi Guell.  It would have been quite the home!  Our guide showed us photos of the inside, and we all agreed that we would be content living in the basement that was designed for house-drawn carriages to be placed during high society parties!

Not a great shot, but a pretty sweet look, right?

Not a great shot, but a pretty sweet look, right?

This was just one of many sculptures on the roof - apparently these function as chimneys!

This was just one of many sculptures on the roof – apparently these function as chimneys!

 

Next up on our walk was a stroll down La Rambla.  This is a pedestrian walkway that has unfortunately become a serious tourist trap.  This would have been a really nice place to have a coffee or glass of wine otherwise…

Too crowded with people and souvenir shops, but the trees are pretty!

Too crowded with people, overpriced food and souvenir shops, but the trees are pretty!

 

Our next stop was the Passeig de Gracia, known as the most expensive street in Barcelona.  The Passeig de Gracia is lined with high end shopping, and also some famous architecture.  We checked out the Casa Lleo Morera, not designed by Guadi.  It is pretty ornate!

The front of the building.

The front of the building.

The top!  I'd hang out up there!

The top! I’d hang out up there!

 

Then down the street, we saw another one of Gaudi’s famous works – the Casa Batllo.  This place is so colorful and creative, it doesn’t seem like it should be real.  I feel like it’s beyond what they could come up with even in the movies…  I really wish we would have had time to go inside this one (which you can pay to do), but you always need a reason to come back, right?

Isn't it amazing?

Isn’t it amazing?  Just a couple people stopped to admire it…

Look at all those colors!

Look at all those colors!

 

This is the poor house next door this is also really cool, but doesn’t get the same attention…

 

Also pretty.

Also pretty.

 

Down the street a ways was the next stop, Casa Mila.  Unfortunately, this one was undergoing some restorations and the entire building was covered with scaffolding…boo!  Here’s all I could capture – some roof sculptures (PS – these are actually stairways.)  I would google Casa Mila to see what it looks like though – it’s also cool.

Best I could do, folks.

Best I could do, folks.

 

Then it was time for the big finale…a metro ride to La Sagrada Familia!  You may have heard of this?  The basilica is AMAZING!  It has been under construction since 1882, and they say it will be completed by 2026 (100 year anniversary of Gaudi’s death).  I have my doubts.  It is pretty stunning though as it currently is…  Our tour guide gave us a lot of information about some of the many small details, and we made a lap around the building to see the Nativity Facade, Passion Facade and the future Glory Facade.  Unfortunately, the line was too long for us to get inside.  We decided to buy tickets online for the following day.  You might imagine, I took a ridiculous amount of photos here, so I will try to narrow it down for you.

This is basically the first view we had out of the metro...it was seriously an 'awe' moment.

This is basically the first view we had out of the metro…it was seriously an ‘awe’ moment.  This is the Nativity facade.

There were a few cranes overhead - I don't know how they do it!

There were a few cranes overhead – I don’t know how they do it!

Just a little detail shot.

Just a little detail shot.

This is kind of on the side, so I'm not sure what it technically falls under, but it is my favorite side!

This is kind of on the side, so I’m not sure what it technically falls under, but it is my favorite side!

The Passion Facade.  It was partially covered for construction, unfortunately, so this is a half-shot.

The Passion Facade.  Not a bad reminder on Good Friday, right?   It was partially covered for construction, unfortunately, so this is a half-shot.

Pretty cool, right?

Pretty cool, right?

The Glory Facade has some work yet to be done, if you can't tell.

The Glory Facade has some work yet to be done, if you can’t tell.  I thought should capture its current state.

He was really dedicated to getting a great shot amidst all the tourists in our way.

He was really dedicated to getting a great shot amidst all the tourists in our way.

And one quick selfie for the road...

And one quick selfie for the road…

 

Our guide gave out a few tips of places to eat in the area, and when she mentioned a good Mexican restaurant, I knew where we were headed.  When you mention good Mexican food to a couple of American expats that haven’t had the good stuff in a while, it’s a sure bet that we’ll take it!  It was seriously delicious…

After lunch we headed out to the Park Guell.  This large park up on a hill overlooking the city of Barcelona is filled with works by Gaudi as well.  It was originally intended to be a housing development, which was unsuccessful, but it makes for a great stroll on a sunny day.  Our guide told us to go one stop further on the metro and start at the top of the hill and work our way down to the Gaudi portion of the park.  We thought that was a good idea (even though the trek upwards was not ideal, there were escalators for some of it, I guess).  When we got to the top, it was worth it!  Check out this view…

Decent, right?

Decent, right?

Looking further to the right.

Looking further to the right…it’s a BIG city!

La Sagrada Familia from above.

La Sagrada Familia from above.

 

We made our way down, crossing some cool bridges and spotting the house that Gaudi actually lived in (now a museum).  Then we came to the portion of the park that is no longer free to visit, which contains most of Gaudi’s works here.  They literally just started charging last fall – darn it!  And unfortunately, there were no time slots still available for Friday, so we had to buy tickets for the next morning and make the upward journey yet again.

It was a really nice place to visit, even for just this free part.

It was a really nice place to visit, even for just this free part.

A cool bridge/walkway, from the bottom.

A cool bridge/walkway, from the bottom.

Where Gaudi lived.

Where Gaudi lived…

 

After a quick freshening up, we headed to the old city for dinner.  We had a recommendation from a friend, but the place was so packed and there were people lined up outside.  Must have been good…it was a little disappointing to miss out.  So we settled in at a nearby restaurant for a few rounds of tapas.  We also tried a Cava Sangria – seemed like an appropriate way to have both while in Spain.  It was pretty tasty.

Our favorite of the evening were the Empanadillas!

Our favorite of the evening were the Empanadillas!

 

Then we decided that we should probably visit Casa Batllo and La Sagrada Familia after dark to see how cool they were lit up.  It was worth the journey, for sure.

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo still has a few visitors.

Not bad with a little reflection, huh?

Not bad with a little reflection, huh?

 

The next morning started bright and early.  The first stop was our 9:00 am time slot at the Park Guell.  We made the hike back to the park and got up close with Gaudi’s long, curvy, mosaic bench.  I was a really big fan of the bench…it was actually really comfortable too!  So many colors/patterns to look at…

A big portion that actually didn't have anyone on it!

A big portion that actually didn’t have anyone on it!

Needed one of us, naturally.

Needed one of us, naturally.

Up close.

Up close.

The bench up top overlooks the rest of the park, including this steeple on one of the houses below.

The bench up top overlooks the rest of the park, including this steeple on one of the houses below.

 

We also walked through a pathway that looks like your are inside a wave (Gaudi was very inspired by nature).

Makes you feel like your leaning a bit...

Makes you feel like leaning a bit to the left…

Really cool pillars.

Really cool pillars.

Apparently he was riding the wave...so clever...

Apparently he was riding the wave…so clever…

 

We also went down below to what was originally suppose to be the market space.  The columns were great, but the ceiling was the best part.  Then we visited the famous salamander “el drac” that BC has a nice little replica of back at home from his previous visit.  This guy was nearly impossible to get a photo of because he was surrounded by people.  I didn’t get the hype…

This is his model pose.

This is his model pose.

Under the columns.  A market here would be wonderful!

Under the columns. A market here would be wonderful!

Some of the mosaic ceiling.

Some of the mosaic ceiling.

El Drac - a rare moment of nobody in my way.

El Drac – a rare moment of nobody in my way.

BC managed a side shot.

BC managed a side shot.

I was really into these mosaics/tiles.

I was really into these mosaics/tiles.

I want this for my gingerbread house next Christmas.

I want this for my gingerbread house next Christmas.

Or someone could make me this one!

Or someone could make me this one!

One last look from the bottom!

One last look from the bottom!

 

From there, we hustled back to the old city to Placa Reial again to meet another guide from Runner Bean to do another free walking tour.  This time, we were touring about the old city center and Gothic Quarter to learn about the history of Barcelona and Catalunya.  It was really interesting to here about Catalan culture, separate from the Spanish.

Always love the narrow Medieval streets.

Always love the narrow Medieval streets.

Another one, a little quieter.

Another one, a little quieter.  Note all the Catalan flags.

Barcelona town hall.

Barcelona town hall.

In the Gothic Quarter, can you tell?

In the Gothic Quarter, can you tell?

This was our quirky guide.

This was our quirky guide. She was great.

The Barcelona Cathedral.  This photo doesn't show just how pretty it really was.

The Barcelona Cathedral. This photo doesn’t show just how pretty it really was.

So much happening on these tiny balconies!

So much happening on these tiny balconies!

 

After walking the park and the tour in an admittedly poor choice of footwear, I wasn’t sure I could go on…but we had another appointment, at La Sagrada Familia.  We grabbed a quick boccadillo (sandwich) and headed that way.  Let me start by just saying that this was the most moving and unbelievably amazing interior that I have ever and probably will ever see!  It was absolutely awesome.  Again, many a  photo were taken…

 

The first view.

The first view.

The pillars are based on Gaudi's inspiration from trees.

The pillars are based on Gaudi’s inspiration from trees.

Stunning, right?

Stunning, right?

The details are just wonderful.

The details are just wonderful.

A nice little window nook.

A nice little window nook.

I loved all of the color.

I loved all of the color.

We sat on the side and took in this view for a while.

We sat on the side and took in this view for a while.

The ceiling - just ridiculous!  You can really see the tree inspiration here.

The ceiling – just ridiculous!

This is just us with a decent backdrop.

This is us with a decent backdrop.

 

Oh man – what a day!  By this point we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel for a brief siesta.  Much needed.  Then, by complete randomness, a friend and former coworker from home happened to post on Facebook that she was in Barcelona at the beginning of a fun European vacation with her boyfriend.  So we met up with Brooke & Tyler at their hotel and headed out for some drinks and tapas.  It was really fun catching up and we always love having someone to socialize with.  This was a nice way to spend our final night out in Barcelona!

 

The next morning, we had just a little time before we had to make our way towards the airport.  So we decided to head to the water and check out the Columbus Monument, which honors Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the New World.  Apparently, Columbus reported to the King & Queen in Barcelona following his journey to the new continent.  Then we took a quick walk along the marina.

There he is up there - pointing out to sea.

There he is up there – pointing out to sea.

Port de Barcelona

Port de Barcelona

Some nice sail boats in the marina.

Some nice sail boats in the marina.

 

As you can probably tell, it wasn’t a beautiful morning.  So we decided to just find a covered space where we could enjoy a nice breakfast.  We found a little place along the Placa Reial (again) and ordered a little coffee.  It was only about 30 minutes later that we were able to flag someone down to order food…some huevos, of course.  During our long attempt to get attention, BC and I took some time to document our frustrations…

The deliciousness once it finally arrived.

The deliciousness once it finally arrived.

 

All in all, wow, what a nice Easter trip!  We spent time taking in some sunshine and great architecture.  Barcelona was such a cool city, even outside the touristy things we’ve shown you here.  I would definitely love to go back to see the Picasso Museum, the beach and just more of the lovely city!

 

I enjoyed seeing lots of family photos and egg hunts on social media last weekend.  I hope everyone had a nice holiday with their loved ones!!

 

In other news, there was recently an interesting turn of events at a soccer game not far from here. Check out the first minute of this video.  (after the first 3 minutes, it’s just a ‘football’ match highlights.)  I think we will refrain from going to any more of these matches…  These peeps are crazy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sESTrAsz93o

 

You may remember the events of last year’s Queen’s Day, if you are an avid reader of the blog.  It was the day we were decked out in Orange and cruising the party canals of Amsterdam.  This year we will be celebrating “King’s Day” this weekend.  No boat this year, but plenty of fun will be had, I’m sure.  Tune in next week for details!!

 

Until next time,
-MK-

 

 

 

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