Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Giving Barcelona a Second Chance

This Semana Santa, or Holy Week (spring break) I decided I wanted to try Barcelona again. I've been before, two years ago, but it was a whirlwind fast trip as we passed through on our way to Italy. This time we had plans to stay for five days and I wanted to see EVERYTHING!!

We took the train, which is a decent price and only takes four hours. I was really looking forward to taking the trip- for some reason when we take a train it makes everything more exciting! We arrived around lunch time and went straight to the hotel to drop off our things. Our hotel was in the Plaza Reial, right off of Las Ramblas! It was a perfect location, smack in the middle of things.

We wasted no time, and headed straight out to see things. Our first visit was Castle Montjuïc and we took a gondola up to the top! It offered some beautiful views. We did pay to go into the castle, but if I went back I definitely don't think it was worth it. There were cool views, but nothing that different from what you could see from the surrounding areas.
 The views from the gondola on the way up, and the entrance to the castle. 

Me in front of the city, and a small sampling of the port. 

I love when people see us trying to take selfies with my big old DSLR and offer to take a picture of us. Hehe

Then from the castle, we walked down the hill to the Olympic Park, which was constructed for the 1992 summer Olympics. But the buildings were boring so I didn't take any pictures of them. Then we went down to the magical fountain and waited for an hour and a half for the show! Which we never ended up seeing because our butts got numb and we didn't want to wait anymore...

Left: A giant communications tower built for the olympics. Right: Behind the white columns is the not-so-magical  fountain.

From the magical fountain, we went to see the old bull ring turned ginormous mall! Bull fighting has been prohibited in the province of Catalunya so they decided to make a mall out of their old bull ring. They have five floors, and the top floor is full of restaurants and a walk around terrace to get  a nice view of Barcelona, including this view of the Plaza de España and art museum: 

Then that night we wandered around the Gothic neighborhood:

The next morning we got up bright and early to go visit Parc Güell, and continue straight from there to visit the Sagrada Familia. It was our unofficial "Gaudí Day." It was a good idea to go to the park early in the morning; there were a lot less people than later in the day. 

We managed to get a legendary picture of us taken with NO ONE on the stairs! Lucky us :) 

We got lost trying to find the hill with the cross on it looking over the park but eventually we found it! Then on to the Sagrada Familia, which I have seen only from the outside before. The inside is incredible. Gaudï designed it so you feel like you're walking through a forest, and it really does. It's completely different than any cathedral I have ever seen before-and it's amazing!!

These are two models of the cathedral. On the left is what the finished work is going to look like, and the model on the right shows what has been built already (in brown) and what still has to be built (in white). As you can see, quite a bit is left.  

Next on our Gaudí hit list was Casa Batlló:

 From left to right: A mushroom fireplace with space for three people- a couple and their chaperone, the window in the living room that looks out on Passeig de Grácia, and the decorations in the back terrace.

Left: a door to one of the apartments with Gaudí's specially designed letters. Right: the archways in the attic.                            

The rooftop terrace. Can you see the dragon's back??

Then we took a break from Gaudi for a morning and visited the Santa María del Mar or the cathedral from the book La catedral del mar by Ildefonso Falcones.. 

Parc de la Ciutadella

Of course we had to go see the last building designed by Gaudí, La Pedrera. Unfortunately it was under restoration so we couldn't see any of the architecture on the outside.


There was one apartment in La Pedrera that was set up to look like what it would have looked like originally, but we didn't see a lot of it because I wasn't feeling well and we left early.

After visiting La Pedrera I got really sick and we stayed in the hotel room for the rest of that day and the next. But the last day we were there I managed to gather enough energy to go visit the most famous market, La Boqueria:

Where you can buy anything you could ever want, including chocolate, mushrooms, popsicles, fruit, olives, spices, cheese, meat, or even a cup of coffee! 

And right before we caught the train, we stopped by El bosc de les fades, or the Fairy's Forest to have a drink!

I'm still undecided whether I like Barcelona, since we don't seem to get along very well. I do like the atmosphere though, and maybe I'll have better luck next time! If you want to read about my previous visit Barcelona, click here