Spain 2012-5 Barcelona

View of Barcelona (from Sagrada Familia’s tower to Mediterranean Sea on the south)

Arriving at Barcelona airport from Majorca, it took a couple of buses to transport us passengers from the airplane to the terminal. Once inside the terminal, I noticed this little bloom on my son’s face. Hmm, sleek building and trendy shops, I believed I read his sentiment. Indeed, as we went through the day, it became more and more evident; yes, Barcelona is decidedly metropolitan. Relatively cooler climate in Barcelona was also a welcome relief to us all.

Our first destination in Barcelona was Casa Mila, an apartment building designed by Gaudi. Casa Mila stands out so conspicuously, it is hard to miss it, let alone the long line of people waiting to enter. Wandering around Gaudi’s unusual statues on the building’s roof top, with Barcelona’s skyline of modern skyscrapers in sight not far to the south, you can’t help but wonder what makes Gaudi saw things the way he did and how you yourself might see things in a different light?

It is probably appropriate that Casa Mila is located on trendy Exiample district’s Passeig de Gracia, a broad boulevard flanked by buildings that house open cafes and fashionable shops, including many international fashion name brands.

Gaudi’s other iconic design is La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s famous landmark. While its layout is faithfully that of a traditional cathedral, its façade, spires and other elements of its interiors are decidedly untraditional. Its magnificent interior wowed us all, but with different take. To my son, “it is colorful, interesting, unlike a cathedral.” My husband observed the way its giant columns branch out on the top, creating the forestry effect. I marveled at the amount of sun shining through and rendering it the most brilliantly lit cathedral, and by natural light to boot.

The talent of Picasso, Spain’s other prodigious son, is however beyond our unimaginative comprehension; that is in reference to his later works. Museum of Picasso in Barcelona provides the most representative exhibit of Picasso’s work, including samples from all periods of his life time. As evidences from the museum seemed to point to, Picasso’s work started to gradually change direction after he recovered from a Scarlet fever and eventually developed into his twisted and inimitable style.

A few blocks northwest of Picasso museum, is Barri Gothic, Barcelona’s well preserved Gothic Quarter. The highlight of the neighborhood are its cathedral from 12th century, Cathedral de Barcelona, and Placa del Rei, or Plaza del Rei, where you’ll find some old buildings of interesting history as the former residence of noblemen, kings and queens. The day we were there, a Wednesday, an antique market was in session where an interesting array of knick knack items were available.  Further to the south, Royal Plaza is a square of handsome buildings and palm trees where you’ll find many cafes and shops. You’ll discover more as your stroll through cobble stoned streets, remains of old city wall, an oversized, exquisitely carved wooden door, a little bridge box overhead, food and souvenirs. Picking up some sweets at one shop, I was lucky to be helped by a young woman who spoke English and was willing to exchange a few words with me. She confirmed that she had spoken to the other two older women at the shop not in Spanish but in Catalan. As a matter of fact, Catalan is the general spoken and official language in Catalonia and children are taught at schools in Catalan, not Spanish.

Being a coastal city on the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona has beautiful shoreline and its harbor and beaches the playground of locals and visitors alike.

The most vibrant of Barcelona is probably the area centered around Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a boulevard spanning between Plaza Catalunya, a large, handsome square on its north, and Mirador de Colon, a magnificent bronze statue of Columbus placed by the harbor on its south. Besides the two broad side walks, laid in the middle of the street is another broad walkway for pedestrians. Stores, shops, restaurants and cafes filled the buildings around the squares and streets and lively crowds were everywhere. It was a convivial, bustling scene of people meeting, dining and shopping that lasted into late night. Quite a memory to leave Barcelona with.

El Fin.

Casa Mila

Statues on Casa Mila’s roof top

Casa Mila’s Lobby

La Sagrada Familia (from Carrer de la Marina)

La Sagrada Familia (from Placa de la Sagrada Familia)

Sagrada Familia’s cavernous interior

Cathedral de Barcelona

A bridge box in Gothic Quarter

Plaza del Rei

Barcelona Beach

Columbus monument

 

 

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