Gaudí's Barcelona

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, March 8, 2005

The traffic in Barcelona is mad. When we were in Spain in 1998 I refused to drive. Death wish. No change there then. 2005 and I still didn't feel the need to get behind the wheel. Especially in the brand new hire car with no insurance, the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car and driving on the other side of the road. I had confidence in David and Z.

Took a while to find a parking station and it was going to cost a bit but that's the price you pay for driving a car and wanting to stay in the centre. By the time we found the hotel, visited the tourist office blah blah blah, I was starving, so we walked down through Barri Gotic, which was pretty seedy and a little off putting, and towards Barcelonetta on the water, to find a restaurant. The hotel guy had said the places to eat were better down there. But they were really really expensive - and empty. But we found a place that had people in it and was reasonable.

We were going to visit some of the fabulous works of Gaudí, so in the morning I used the fantastic skills I'd picked up in Spanish lessons (not) and we went to Parc Güell. It's a tube journey and about a 10 min walk. It's a lovely place. You can wander round the gardens for hours. It was going to be an estate for the rich but they ran out of money so the land has been turned into huge gardens. There are a few buildings there too, bridges, tunnels and a double story open plaza with loads of interesting tile work and a fountain with a big tiled lizard. The house Gaudí lived in until his death is there and is now a museum but we've never been in it.

We went to La Sagrada Familia - the cathedral started by Gaudí in 1882 but still not finished. Some say it will never be finished, some say it shouldn't be finished. It's an absolutely amazing construction. There's a book in the museum with lots of comments guessing where Gaudi got the inspiration for his interesting designs. Magic mushies are mentioned alot. It's come quite a way since we were there in 1998 but still no where near complete. We climbed it once again and took loads of photos. Then we went to 'La Pedrera', yet another Gaudí building. The ticket allows you on to the roof which as some interesting architecture and then into a wonderful apartment. It was built sometime in the early 20th century and was commissioned by a rich guy and his wife with the aim of turning it into flats with the main floor as their family home. It's a UNESCO site and is now owned by Caixa Catalunya (a bank). They restored it then turned the apartment into a museum. I wanted to go to the another Gaudí house on the same street, Casa Batilló, but it was about 14€ so we decided not to. It's a lovely place though. The interior is just beautiful. We went there in Feb two years ago but I would have loved to have gone again. We took walk down Las Ramlas too. But it was like the world convention of those busker statue people. It was over run with them. Some were quite funny and innovative and some were just plain shit. We went to the oldest café in Barcelona and made Z try the churros & hot dipping choc. It gets pretty sickly after a couple, but worth a try. We had a wander down the end of Las Ramlas to see Chris (the statue of Columbus that is). Then went to a bar that has lots of old theatre props in it and fake trees and running water. It's pretty kitsch but good for the odd Estrella or two. We had to find some food so we took Z to a tapas place we'd been to and had more tapas and rioja.

Next morning we had some bikinis for breakfast (toasted ham and cheese sandwiches) and drove to what we thought would be a lovely seaside town before having to drop Z off at Girona airport. But on arrival in L'Escala he discovered that his flight was leaving a lot earlier than expected so we raced him to the airport and then drove back up the coast and went to a place near L'Escala called St Martí D'Empúries, where there was a huge site of greek and roman ruins. They were fabulous. There were even town walls and the remnants of a small coliseum. We walked around them for a couple of hours then had to get to the airport ourselves. End of 5 days of glorious sunshine in Spain.

It was great to see you Zonth!!
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