Thursday, August 14, 2014

Europe 2014: Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is beautiful. With it's whole city being Gaudi's work, it is an artistic city.

We stayed in David's apartment we booked via Airbnb, and I must say it was quite good.
3 bedrooms which was more than enough for the 3 of us. In fact, one bedroom was only used to open our luggages. Spacious indeed the whole apartment.

The living room, the smallish kitchen in the hallway and the bathroom/toilet.

And there were the 3 rooms - more than enough for the 3 of us.
Bedroom 1 which had 2 single beds, bedroom 2 with a twin bed, and bedroom 3 with a single bed.

Location wise was good as it was in the middle of most of the touristy places. Park Guell, which was the nearest, was just about 10 minutes walk away.
And there were 2 metro stations very near the apartment, Alfonso X and Joaquinn  if I remembered correctly, so it was pretty easy to get around.

Anyway, just some photos of beautiful Barcelona.

Park Guell is a Unesco World Heritage site and is a garden complex with architectural elements, and was designed by Antoni Gaudi and it was the first of his works we saw.
As it was situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, so be prepared to huff and puff a little.

This was the park entrance and we got ourselves tickets. It was €8 but you could get it a dollar cheaper if you buy the tickets online. We didn't because we needed to specify the time of visit and we wanted a little flexibility for this. Anyway, the queue wasn't long anyway. 

The park has some amazing tile mosaics. These were the walls flanking the entry staircase.

Not sure if you can see clearly from the pics below, but these tiles were like broken into a thousand pieces, and then re-glued back into their original designs, which I think was such painstaking work!!!!
And they were like 3D, which means they were not flat, but u could see some depth in these tiles. Amazing indeed!

Gaudi's multicoloured mosaic salamander, popularly known as "el drac" (the dragon), at the main entrance. 

And as we entered the main terrace of the park, this was the view that greeted us. Breathtaking view!

The unique shape of the serpentine bench. The bench was tiled and in order to dry up quickly after it rains, and to stop people from sitting in the wet part of the bench, small bumps were installed by Gaudi.
I tell you this man was brilliant!

The colonnaded footway and pathway where the road projects out from the hillside, with the vaulting forming aretaining wall which curves over to support the road, and transmit the load onto slopping columns. .

More of the park. 

A beautiful view overlooking the Barcelona city. 

There were many illegal people selling all kinds of things and trinkets, ranging from bracelets, to scarves to earrings and hats and all other kinds of souvenirs. 

I was amazed by their creativity. Most of the sellers displayed their products on a large piece of cloth. And can you see that there is a string at 4 corners of the cloth that meets in the middle, creating an X? Well, from what I saw, as long as these sellers heard news that the officers were coming for a raid or something, they would just pinch the string in the middle and the whole cloth wrapped up as a sack and off they ran! 
As for the earring guy, he displayed all the earrings hooked on an umbrella standing on a tripod. It could even turn for viewing pleasure. And all he needed to do was to close the umbrella and off he ran as long as he hears news of the raid.
Very creative huh?

The park was rather too large for us to explore thoroughly to be honest. We got tired after like almost 2 hours there and we still didn't cover the whole park. And thanks to the scorching sun, we were tired and decided that was all. 
So if you are going to the park, please be prepared to wear good walking shoes. Lotsa walking needed. LOTS! 

More of Barcelona. Mostly, if not all, are Gaudi's work.

We walked through the district shopping area, which was very interesting as both sides of the roads were lined with shops and thus we were distracted quite a lot as we went inside Zara, Esprit, and other shops. lol.

This is Casa Milà, another one of Gaudi's work. 

This Palau de la Música Catalana is a concert hall in Barcelona. Ok, this one's not from Gaudi, but from some architect called architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
This building was rather hidden in some cramped street, and if without the help of this awesome CityMapsToGo app which I mentioned here, we wouldn't have found it. 

And then we went to Barcelona Cathedral, another one of Gaudi's work.
It was nice on the exterior, or interior.
To enter this cathedral for free, no bare shoulders or shorts above your knee.
So as I was wearing my shorts jumpsuit, I used my scarf to wrap around my bare legs and they let me in. So always bring a scarf if you plan to enter any religious places.

Interior was amazingly beautiful, Gothic style.

And these were the food we ate while in Barcelona. Some of their famous paellas of course, and tapas, and also churros, and many others. 

Another awesome place we visitied was the The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, which is a fountain located at the head of Avenida Maria Cristina in the Montjuïc neighborhood of Barcelona.
It was quite far from where we were staying so we took metro there. 

Standing in front of the big fountain before they turned the fountain on.
The light and music performances from May to September take place every Thursday through Sunday every half-hour between 9:00 and 11:00pm.
Entrance is free. 

And behind are more mini fountain behind it.

The view of it from atop the hill. The big fountain is behind the four vertical columns. 

And as the time drew nearer to 9pm, crowds started gathering and finding strategic places to sit.
There were some street performers there entertaining the crowd before the show started.

The first show at 9pm was not so spectacular as the day was still bright.
Yes, it was still so bright at 9pm during summer time. Day is very long during summer!

So we decided to stay on and wait for the next few shows when the sun set and the night got darker.
And that how the fountain show looks like as it got darker and darker - more and more impressive. 
Best fountain show ever as the water shot up VERY high!

A romantic photo of the 2 of us, but actually we got quite wet from the splash! lol.

The mini fountain behind was quite nice too with the lights and fountain.

Look at the crowd and people as we started to leave the place an hour or two later. 

And finally, this was the main reason my sister got us to flew all the way from London down to Barcelona, and then fly up again to Paris - La Sagrada Familia.
Well, I was glad she made us visit Barcelona, and to visit this extraordinary church.

I would say that if you only have time for one sightseeing outing, this should be the one.
La Sagrada Familia inspires awe in its sheer verticality, and also the intricate design as a whole, be it external or internally. As most of the buildings in Barcelona, this one is also Gaudi's design. In fact it was said that it was Antoni Gaudi's all-consuming obsession.
In fact, it is still under construction as of now after more than a 100 years.

The queue to purchase the tickets was ridiculously long. Luckily we bought the tickets online beforehand, because seriously if we didn't, I don't think I would stand in the queue in the scorching sun!
So guys, please purchase tickets online before hand. For this, you need to specify the time of entry (there is a 1/2 hr time pocket for entry) so don't be late as late comers may be denied entry.

Some photos of us while waiting for our time slot. 
And I like this selfie in a selfie photo of me!!! ;)  

Just the exterior building of it was soooo impressive. The delicate carvings and the details. 

The interior.

I love the stained glasses.

The ceiling of the main hall. Such intricate designs even when looking up.


We also bought the Entry to Tower of Nativity Façade.
All backpacks must be kept in lockers provided. 
We took the lift up, and were told to walk down the stairs.  As we walked down, we saw these views. 

Very very beautiful views of Barcelona.
As Sagrada Familia is right in the heart of the city, we could see the blocks and blocks of building of Barcelona city. Amazing.

This was the narrow stairs we took as we walked down. Not for the faint heared. 

Some interesting concept and architectural genius design we saw in the museum area. 

On the other side of the building.

View from the exterior at another side.

As we left the place, we walked across the park and we saw this beautiful view of the building across a small green lake.


And this summed up our visit to Barcelona.

p/s - Read more on my Europe trip here

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