Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Last full day in Barcelona

After we saw the Gaudi farce, we wandered in the general direction of our hotel, though we were pretty far from it. We just wanted to see the city, as we would be leaving the next day for Granada. We stopped for a beer and tapas at a place near the church and, having walked so much in the previous days, sat for a bit longer than we would have otherwise. We were in a more residential part of town and we watched the people of Barcelona getting off work.

Let me tell you something about Barcelona. The buildings. I mean, that's generally the case in Europe, but every corner you turn in Barcelona has something surprising. Like this:

There are flags, and then there are full balcony banners...

We came across this church that has managed to survive despite the surrounding buildings trying to squeeze it out.
Buildings like this give soul to the city, soul that is sorely lacking in our days of concrete and glass. We don't build like this anymore. Architect is a job, not an art. I think this contributes to the prevalence of mental illness in the United States, the depression, anxiety, sociopathic behavior, lack of empathy. No soul. No identity. A Starbucks on every corner. Life is hard enough when you're trying to find your place in the world; when everything looks the same, when everything looks like it's been manufactured in and shipped from a Chinese factory, it can be a struggle to find your identity.

America's older cities have some of these buildings, relics from times when we cared about beautiful things. We used to have more but we tore them down and replaced them with ugly.

One of the many things I love about travel is the different plants that you can encounter. Aloe is something exotic in my part of the world - it was everywhere in Spain.

In Spain, churches abound, although attendance has dwindled. It's the same across Europe, and churches are being turned into all sorts of things. I read about one in Germany that was turned into an indoor skate park. Another reason I love Europe - they value reason over religious superstitions. It only took 2000 years. But wow, are these churches beautiful.

Some of the sites from our walk. The things you see when you open your eyes to the world...

Scooters were everywhere. Chris went in to see how much they cost.

A normal intersection

Random juggler walking down the street

Dogs...or sheep?
We came across this submarine sculpture. Despite Spain's strong naval history (Spanish Armada?), I'm not sure they have too many submarines. After further investigation, we discovered it was created by none other than Josep Subarichs, the architect responsible for the most hideous parts of Sagrada Familia. This sculpture was interesting.The submarine is going through the hull of an old ship. Modernity destroying the old ways? That's what the Barcelona Modernista movement - of which Gaudi was a part - sought to do.

We came across Casa de les Punxes designed by another Modernista architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch. It looked somewhat like a church. Or a castle.

Then we came upon this church, Santuari de la Mare de Deu del Carme. The dome was interesting, so we went inside. The organist was practicing so it added to the ambiance.

We continued. These folks reaaaally want independence.

Then we came across another Modernista work, Casa Comalat by Salvador Valeri. You can see the Gaudi influence.

This was next door

We found our way to the Eixample neighborhood. Eixample (pronounced aye-sample and Catalan for "extension" because it was an extension of the old city), is known for its Modernista architecture. I knew Gaudi's Casa Mila was around here somewhere, but to be honest, I wasn't going to go out of the way to try to find it. We'd been walking for quite awhile, so it was time to stop for a beer, and more importantly at that moment, a toilet. We went into the first place we saw.

Interesting building in Eixample
View from the bar we stopped in.
The bar was a bit swankier than those we typically visit, but when nature calls...The bartender was great. He's the one who told us how to pronounce Eixample. I've said it many times before, but the Barcelona people were wonderful.

We had two beers there and then set off. When we came out of the bar and crossed the street, I turned around and couldn't believe my eyes. The whole time we had been sitting INSIDE Casa Mila. It was pretty funny.

Gaudi's Casa Mila

Everything started looking Gaudi to me.

Well, not this. But I did like the way it looked in the dusk lighting.

We made our way down the street towards Placa de Catalunya and came across this funny window display. We went inside and were surprised to discover how beautiful the inside of the building was.

Funny window display

We soon reached Gaudi's Casa Batlló on the Block of Discord, as it's called. If Hobbits were giants, they'd live here.

As I said before, the English word "gaudy" comes from Gaudi.

It looks alive...

Next to Casa Batlló is Casa Amatller, another work of Josep Puig i Cadafalch, again with the church-like theme


John Ashcroft would be appalled.


Doesn't look too comfy

This is blurry, I know, but I wanted to post it to show where Gaudi got his ideas for some of those Sagrada Familia tops that look like berries or piles of fruit.

Necropolis. Would have liked to go inside but we didn't have time for everything!

Picasso at night

Barcelona cathedral at night


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