Last call, Barcelona

Vacation posts are difficult for me to write. How do you narrow it down to a list of five or 10 things to write about? What does the audience want to read about? How do you keep the post short and engaging?

Upon returning to Barcelona from our biking trip, we went to dinner with a couple whom we met on that trip. This is ironic because I did not feel that I connected especially well with anyone in our bike group.

Saturday was our last day in Barcelona before heading back to London. We woke up early and toured Casa Batllo. Casa Batllo was built in 1877 and then later renovated by Antoni Gaudi. The facade is wavy and strange looking. The type of facade that you just can’t stop staring at. It reminded me of houses on the TV show, The Flintstones.

The interior is more of the same – curved walls, circular windows, and rounded doorways. It is slightly dizzying to walk through the property. So much of today’s architecture is built for speed and efficiency – square corners and straight lines – so I can appreciate the time and skill that is required to construct the property but it doesn’t mean I enjoyed the look of it. I’m a clean lines type of person and this house, in my opinion, was gaudy.

After our tour of Casa Batllo, we made the 45-minute trek to Parc Guell. Parc Guell is another Gaudi creation. The park was built between 1900 and 1914 on an unsuccessful housing site, an idea of Count Eusebi Guell, for whom the park was later named after.

Guell’s intent for the housing site was to take advantage of the city views and the fresh air (the site was located far from the smoky factories), however, only two homes were built on the site and neither home was designed by Gaudi.

One of the two homes was built as a “model” home but was listed for sale almost immediately upon completion. In 1906, Gaudi purchased the home and moved into the home with his family. He lived there until 1926 when he died. Two Gaudi-designed buildings flank the entrance to the park and they are just as whimsical as Casa Batllo.

As we walked up the stairs and into the park, we found ourselves standing under a huge structure supported by sloped columns. The ceiling of the structure was covered in tile mosaic art pieces.

After the maze of columns, we walked through a slanted “breezeway” which gave the feeling that you were leaning.

More stairs later, we were on the terrace supported by the slanted columns. The views from the terrace are spectacular and include the Barcelona city center and the Mediterranean sea.

After exploring the park, we took the Metro back to the city center and later that night, went on a tapas tour. The tour was a private tour with just Peter and I and our guide.

On Sunday, our final day in Barcelona, we strolled around the Gothic Quarter. Whilst strolling, we bumped into another couple from our bike tour which was crazy.

The architecture in the Gothic Quarter is very different from the architecture in the rest of the city.

A few steps later, I sat in the iron letter “c” of “Barcino” which is the Roman name for Barcelona. For the record, this was Peter’s idea.

And a few steps later we found a cool store named Vaho. They make bags and handbags out of bicycle inner tubes, advertising banners and fluorescent vests and pants worn by rubbish collectors. men. They call it “trashion” and I think the word perfectly describes the products they sell. We bought two bags from Vaho. Check them out if you are in Barcelona!

My closing thoughts on Barcelona are neutral. We visited during summer siesta so many businesses were closed for the month so I would not suggest visiting in August. I liked Barcelona but struggled with the food as it centers around seafood and fish.

If we were to return to Barcelona, we’d:

  • Re-visit the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia and re-take all of the photos that I lost during the camera-to-laptop transfer.
  • Re-visit Parc Guell but do so early in the morning when there are fewer tourists to clutter photographs.
  • Re-visit Vaho and buy more bags.
  • Visit the beach.
  • Visit the Picasso museum.
  • Shop till I drop (and I’m not a “shopper”).
  • Eat gelato at Gelaaati di Marco daily.
  • Eat jamón ibérico daily.

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