Hola Gaudi

Barcelona July 14-16, 2013
Walking down La Rambla at 4 am in the morning looking for our hotel is not how I imagined introducing Hammer to the beauty of this magical city. Our flight from Lyon was cancelled  so we we had a choice of a 6-7hr “shuttle bus” or an extra night at Lyon and maybe a chance to get on a flight the next day at 11am. We chose the bus as we were keen to get to Barcelona on time as we were meeting up with family the next day.

We left Lyon at 7pm and as  the night approached we got to see distant fire works for Bastille day celebration in Montpellier. We were dropped off at Catalunya Plaza at 4am and eventually found the hotel and crashed only to be woken by an alarm after what seemed like a minute of sleep.  We met Matt and Jo in the lobby and soon we were off on scheduled visits to Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo, some of Gaudis most outstanding works in Barcelona.  Gaudis work may not be to everyone’s taste, but without a doubt he was a visionary and must have been a person of some influence in  order to convince wealthy and powerful benefactors to bring his dreamy creations to reality.

 Gaudis work has been largely influenced by the natural world and it was interesting to see how he incorporated these references in  his designs.  Practical and at times whimsical, but always beautiful to the smallest detail, Gaudi did not leave much to chance. He seemed to design everything in his buildings down to the finest detail. We visited Parc Guell and the beautiful Palau Guell. A visit to Gaudis house, within Parc Guell grounds was interesting in that while he designed buildings with astonishing amount of intricate detail,  his personal spaces were quite monastic and austere. I wonder if  he needed the clarity in his surroundings in order to spark his creativity.  For a change from Gaudi we visited the Museau Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, a majestic building on Montjuic. It was so hot while walking up towards the museum, we though we may wilt. The fountains provided some visual relief from the big open sun drenched spaces.

By nightfall, the temperatures start to cool down a bit and  La Rambla and the narrow passageways near the Cathedral seem to draw thousands outdoor to promenade. The sky at night is a magical blue colour, the air is warm and the buzz of people enjoying being outdoors is in such stark contrast to our own quite suburban life.

We stumbled upon a most outstanding restaurant in the Old town called Allium, a member of the Slow Food movement. We had smoked sardines with strawberries, a local seafood paella type dish made with noodles instead of rice and lightly seared tuna served with ratatouille.  Such complex flavours, simply delicious. Our pick for best food we have had in along time.

The locals are very proud of their city, even late night revellers called out to us at 4am “Welcome to Barcelona”. School kids practising there English with “I love Barcelona. Do you love Barcelona?. What is there not to love about this beautiful city.

There is an old Yiddish saying “It is good to leave a little bit of sugar on the table” and so it is for us in Barcelona. So much more to see, explore and discover – Miro, Picasso and Dali. – we ran out of time. There is plenty to bring us back.