My European Vacation – Spain!

August 21, 2016 at 5:02 am Leave a comment

004 April 273 BarcelonaAfter a wonderful week in the Algarve in Portugal, Donna and I hopped on a plane and headed to Barcelona, Spain to spend our next week.  What an exciting and busy city!  We stayed in an apartment in the center of the city, just a block away from the Plaza de Catalunya.

The square just outside our apartment

The square just outside our apartment

A short walk around the corner was the cathedral where we watched street performers.

The majestic cathedral and talented street performers

The majestic cathedral and talented street performers

The beautiful Plaza de Catalunya

The beautiful Plaza de Catalunya

The Plaza de Catalunya is a large public square, and the city’s busiest square.  It’s located between the old city and the Eixample district where nine streets meet including the Rambla and Passeig de Gracia.  The beautiful square is surrounded by trees and home to several works of public art and monuments…and pigeons!  It’s an absolutely lovely place to just sit and relax, but is also a main stopping place for public transportation and tour buses.

There were so many things to see in this bustling city, and we saw as much as we could in the time that we had.  Here are some of the highlights of the city.

Tapas bars and bicycles

Tapas bars and bicycles

Amazing architecture! German Pavillon on the bottom

Amazing architecture!

Picasso Museum and motorcycles

Picasso Museum and motorcycles

I was surprised while going through the Picasso museum.  I have always known of Pablo Picasso’s abstract forms of art, but had no idea he had so many other forms.  It was enlightening to see the phases he went through as he struggled with his life and art throughout the years.  The museum has more than 4,300 works of art from Picasso’s early years of apprenticeship and youth to his ceramic works later in his life.  I discovered that we shared the same birthday, October 25th!  And that he died in 1973.  I was 22 years old.  How did I not know that?

Overlooking the city and Poble Espanyol de Barceloa

Donna and I overlooking the city, and Poble Espanyol de Barcelona

Built in 1929 for the Worlds Fair, the Poble Espanyol (meaning Spanish town) is one of the biggest attractions of the city.  The outdoor museum features exhibits on contemporary art, with streets, houses, parks, theater, school, restaurants and artisan workshops.  It was a great way to spend a few hours.

Having lunch at a local bar while listening to some good music!

Having lunch at a local bar while listening to some good music!

La Boqueria

La Boqueria

La Boqueria is an enormous indoor market with a stone floor and metal roof and one of the largest and most famous marketplaces in Europe.  In 2005 it won the prize for the best market in the world.  Many of the stall owners are 3rd and 4th generation traders.  Everything under the sun is sold here.  From bull’s tails and black eels, to hand-made pasta and seafood, to meats and cheeses, and on and on.  At the entrance to the market are Jamon shops where I purchased some of the best Jamon iberico I’ve ever had.  It was at a premium price, but what a treat!

Torre Agbar and the Columbus monument

Torre Agbar and the Columbus monument

The Agbar tower is the headquarters of the Barcelona water company, a building of ever-changing colors that has become the third tallest building in Barcelona and the new symbol of the city.  The Columbus Monument was constructed in 1888 as a tribute to the discovery of the New world (America) and to mark the Universal Exhibition of that year.  Columbus stands on a pillar adorned with images of Africa, Asia, America and Europe.

The Flamenco Cordobes

The Flamenco Cordobes

Of course while in Spain, one MUST go to a Flamenco performance!

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Another must, if you don’t see anything else while in Barcelona, is the absolutely fascinating Sagrada Familia.  In 1882, the foundation stone of the project conceived by Francisco de Paula del Villar, the first architect of the church, was laid.  A year and a half later, Antoni Gaudi took over the works and turned the initial project around to create, all these years later, an outstanding, innovative church, which is still under construction today.

Standing outside of Sagrada Familia

Standing outside of Sagrada Familia

The detailed carvings on the exterior of the church

The detailed carvings on the exterior of the cathedral

At present there are two completed facades adorned with motifs taken from nature and Baroque decoration and 8 completed towers.  After Gaudi’s death in 1926, the building continues following the plans and models he left behind.  The hope is that the construction will be complete in 2026 which marks the centennial of Gaudi’s death.

Interior of Sagrada Familia

Interior of Sagrada Familia

Donna standing inside the Sagrada Familia

Donna standing inside the Sagrada Familia

The interior of Sagrada Familia is as fascinating as the exterior.  Everywhere you look is impressive.  There are pillars that resemble thick trees and the ceiling is a remarkable vaulted structure where the “branches” of the trees meet.  The intimacy combined with the spaciousness is that of the forest.  The light from the ceiling of the central part of the church illuminates the rows of tiles and makes the green and golden triangles shine.  It’s an absolutely beautiful, abstract, unique, fascinating place to visit.

Casa Mila and Arc de Triomf

Casa Mila and Arc de Triomf

Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, is one of the Barcelona buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi  It was built between 1906 and 1912.  All of Gaudis buildings are unique and most unusual!  Arc de Triomf was built for the Universal Exposition in 1888 as was the Expos main access gate.

Casa Amatller and Casa Lleo-Morera

Casa Amatller and Casa Lleo-Morera

Casa Amatller and Casa Lleo-Morera stand together with Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and is called the “Block of Discord” because of its unique architecture.

Casa Ballo

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo was originally built by a middle class family and in 1904 Gaudi was commissioned to refurbish the building.  Casa Batllo reflects Gaudi’s playful side and the strange and fantastic style he is known for.  The exterior, covered with a mosaic of colored glass and ceramic fragments,  was made to curve and bend like a wave.

The roof of Casa Batllo

The roof of Casa Batllo

The top of the building looks like the back of an animal, generally referred to as a dragon.  It appears to have scales and a spine adorned with round pieces of masonry which seem to change color as you look at it from different angles.

Interior of Casa Batllo

A doorway and cozy nook in Casa Batllo

The interior of the house

A window and hallway of the house

The interior of Casa Batllo is just as fascinating as the exterior.  There is a staircase banister which looks like the spine of an animal; a room that is decorated to look like it’s under water; relief glazed tiles; a wooden elevator which still functions; a huge central skylight; stained glass; mosaics and unexpected details in every corner.

Saying "Good-bye" from the top floor balcony of Casa Batllo

Saying “Good-bye” from the top floor balcony of Casa Batllo

And from the tiny balcony high atop Casa Batllo, we will say good-bye!  We are now off to The Netherlands!

 

 

 

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My European Vacation – Portugal! My European Vacation – The Netherlands!

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