Barcelona: Gaudí, Gaudí and more Gaudí

Trip Start Feb 06, 2011
Trip End Sep 15, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Friday, August 12, 2011

I had high hopes for Barcelona because everyone I talked to absolutely rave about this Catalan capital.  Great food, great atmosphere, great shopping... what more could you want?  My only worry was that the city is notoriously known as the pickpocket capital of the world.  I was determined to experience this place unscathed!   We kicked things off with a visit to a traditional pintxos bar in the Old Town.  It's a no frills self serve stand up bar which offers various bite-sized tapas served on bread.  Every item comes with an inserted toothpick and at the end of the meal, you pay for the number of toothpicks you've used.  These bars are definitely a great place to stop by if you just want a quick snack!  

Our next stop was the Basilica de la Sagrada Família, the most critically acclaimed work of the architectural genius, Antoni Gaudí.  It was hands down the most incredible and fascinating cathedral I've ever seen in my life.  Everything from the intricate façades to the ethereal beauty of the stained glass windows just blew me away.  I would pay the €13 entrance fee in a heartbeat to see it again.  This predominantly Art Nouveau style cathedral has been under construction for the last 128 years and experts predict that it will take another 16-18 years before it is finally completed.  Once the final stone has been laid, it will officially become the tallest church in the world at 170m.  I was so intrigued with Gaudí's work that I decided to join a free walking tour which offers an indepth look into his most celebrated works and designs.  It was so neat to learn how he was able to create such imaginative yet visually pleasing works of art by combining his architectural expertise with his love for geometric shapes found in nature. 

The girls wanted one last hurrah at the beach before returning to an unseasonably cold summer in Vancouver so we hit up Barceloneta beach.  There were so many people  that I was thoroughly convinced that the entire city took a day off to escape the heat and enjoy the sea breeze .  Our final destination required us to "hike" 150m up to Park Güell, a failed housing development turned garden complex created by none other than Gaudí.  We got our pictures with the infamous mosaic lizard and witnessed a very entertaining police raid of vendors illegally selling souvenirs.  

We had one more day in Barcelona before we would go our separate ways but there was one slight problem...  I had no flight out of Barcelona!  Originally, I had planned to continue exploring Spain and visit the southern cities of Seville and Grenada.  With temperatures consistently above 40 degrees in those areas, there was no way I was going to survive the heat.  When I found out that the locals escape to the north during the summer, it was a clear sign that I needed to steer clear of the region.  I tried looking for cheap flights to anywhere in Europe but i wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to the sun either.  I finally settled on Mallorca, an island off the southeastern coast of Barcelona.  I vowed this would be first and last time I book a flight less than 24 hours before departure!  
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