Friday, 31 August 2012

Days 66-72: Barcelona!

Barcelona was amazing. The city was so beautiful, everywhere you looked there was something amazing to see.  The first day we didn’t do much at all as we were feeling so grotty. On the second day we bought tickets on the bus tour around the city.  I’m really glad we did that, it meant we got to see a lot more than we would have otherwise, and we got to learn about the things we saw as well, as they provided an audio guide in English to the things that you could see. From this we got our first sight of La Basilica de la Sagrada Familia.

We had lunch at a place on the water front. We had a Catalan cheese platter served with bread crisps and violet jelly, followed by some sort of beef steak bolognaise thing, which was very nice the meat just fell apart in your mouth.  Of course, being in Spain we had to have some Sangria to wash it down with. Sangria is amazing, this one was particularly so. It had chunks of apples and oranges and was just so delicious. My mouth is watering just remembering it.

After lunch we got back on the tourist bus and went around another route, and learned more than I ever wanted to know about some important stadium that was built in Barcelona, you may be able to tell that I promptly forgot everything I learned. After the tourist bus we decided to go back to the hotel, but decided that we should get some food before going back there as there really wasn’t anywhere around to get food. So we went to a place near the metro stop. We had some more Sangria, some bread with tomatoes and Paella. The Sangria was again very delicious, this time it was also REALLY strong. 

The next day we decided to visit the Park Güell. It took us a long time to get there, partly because we stopped and had lunch, partly because we looked in a lot of the shops along the way, and partly because we stopped at a Gaudi Museum, where we watched a 3D movie about the inspiration for some of his works. It was one of the most bizarre movies I have ever seen, and I've seen some pretty weird movies. For example this movie included a skeletal knight, meant to be Saint George, on horseback fighting a weird Dragon thing. The final thrust of the sword that killed the dragon was through his eye, and left the sword in. The sword then turned into a Chimney thing, and the Dragon into a house, with its rib cage making up the attic and the spine and tail turning into the spiral stair case. More on this later. Despite how weird it sounds, it kinda makes sense when you see the house. Gaudi was one weird Genius.

 Park Güell is one of Antoni Gaudi's projects, it was designed as a new housing development, but was abandoned before its completion due to lack of interest. The lack of interest is incomprehensible now as it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Barcelona, and I for one would gladly live there. It is often described as a Doctor Seuss playground, I can see why, but I'm not sure I agree. 

La Sagrada Familia, which we visited a couple of days later is one of the single most amazing things I have ever seen. It is absolutely indescribable. Guadi designed the Cathedral and started building it in 1882, knowing full well that he would never see it completed, it's not yet finished and is expected to take at least another twenty years. But it was his passion, and his baby, every aspect of it is designed to be beautiful, even the stairwells are designed to look like sea shells when seen looking up at them. It was one of the most light and peaceful churches I've been in. You walk in and feel rested. Gaudi loved light, and designed the church to have an even distribution of light around, he even designed the upper most windows the be made only of light grey, white and clear glass to allow the natural light in, which some how enhances the rest of the stained glass windows. I can't do it justice, it is something that you will have to see for yourself. 

The construction of the church is funded entirely by anonymous donations, and now the entry fees as well. I will definitely be going back to see it when it is completed. If it is this amazing now, with only a few of the towers and windows complete, what will it be like when it is all finished?

The last big thing we did in Barcelona was visit La Casa Batilo, the house based on the Dragon killed by Saint George. I'm guessing you are sensing a bit of a theme to our time in Barcelona, and most of the tourist things we did were to do with Gaudi, that is only because the more of his work we saw the more fascinated by him we became. His work is sensational. In fact at La Casa Batilo they promised us that we could experience Gaudi's work with all five of our senses, they lied and only provided experiences for four, but I improvised for the fifth. 

The Casa Batilo, was the home of the Batilo family, who lived on the first floor with the other floors being let out as individual apartments. Gaudi designed not only the entire house, but most of the furniture, the water tank systems, and also created a new script to label the different apartments in the house. The light well in the middle of the house was decorated with blue tiles that got darker the closer to the top they were so that your mind was tricked into thinking the tiles were the same colour all the way  down. There are very few right angles in the house, because the entire house is inspired by water, and you don't get right angles in water. The glass in the light well is manipulated so that when you look through it it looks like you are looking through water.  

Again indescribable. Have some photos:
The main stairwell. Notice how the wooden bits look like the spine of an animal.

This space was designed for a man, woman and their chaperone to sit in comfort. 

The main reception room. 

The light well through the glass.

The roof, supposedly the white cross is the hilt of the sword and this is the head of the Dragon. 

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