Waiting for train to Barcelona I had a conversation with a poor German musician dragging her harp all the way around and who liked to practice her Dutch. Ok, I postponed any attempts to try out my spanish, or what was left of it.
I arrived early in the morning, dropped my backpack in a hotel which appeared to have embraced the ultimate form of outsourcing: breakfast was in the bar in front of the hotel.
Armed with a map and tourist guide I walked (in shorts and t-shirt!) to Casa Battlo. All those organic shapes can be found in most of the works form Gaudí, and are probably going to bore you if you don't like it, but when you see it IRL, it is really impressive. Supposedly the house represents the patron of Cataluña, Saint Jorge and the Dragon. Yes, whatever. The roof has some characteristics of the dragon and the thingies in front of the windows represent bones...
Like I said, you really are going to need your fantasy skills.
Next goal was the Sagrada Familia, which reduces Casa Battlo to a small appetizer. There is a lot of blah-di-blah about the building, but it comes down to architectural drawings from Gaudi which were that complicated that the church still isn't finished, even though all of it started in 1882. This also means that different styles are used and the front (or is it the back of the church?) is way more streamlined than the other side. The major part of its interior looks rather fancy as well; the explanation that what I saw were actualy stylished "trees" was quite helpful. The intention was to put "natural elements and shapes" into the design The thumbnail shows the roof of the main area. Gaudí himself got a bit freaky about the whole project, if he wasn't already, and lived for several years until his death in 1926 in a part of the church-to-be.
Struggeling through my spanish pocket guide, it appears that what I called the front of the church, it really is: el Portal Principal de la Resurrectión. I like the other entrances more anyway, not because they represent religion, hope an love and look like too much stalactites alltogether, but there are also sculptures of the killing of the innocents, angels, musici, the fleeing from Egypt, and much more representations of those horror stories from the bible. There are also smaller towers with "grapes" at the top. They are actually halves of spheres with mosaics in all th colours of the rainbow.
I don't think the building will finish ever, but it impressive as it is already. It makes the Eiffel tower a rather dull creation.
My legs were absolutely finished, so I only passed Casa Milà (La Perdrera) rather quickly. Do a google search and you'll see what I've missed.
Barcelona - Sevilla - Granada - Madrid
Ugh! Muscle aches the next morning. Ignoring that I took the metro to Vallcarca to go to Parc Güell, which is designed by, indeed, Gaudí. Vallcarca station, because there are escalstors to the top of the hill... Great weather again, hence good views over the city, and walking downhill is quite pleasant. Besides a large variety of vegetation (shame, shame, that I degrade them all by calling them just "plants" and "trees"), there are constructions popping up here and there and everywhere which assimilate in a natural way into the park. Or they don't.
Some things are a bit in contradiction with the surroundings, like the mosaic place (see thumbnails). Below that, there is a space called the Salo de les Cent Columnes, the salon of the hundred columns; but there are only 86 columns. The colums themselves are a bit boring, but that is compensated by the ceiling, yet another mosaic, with squids in different sizes. Ok, I won't bore you with more mosaic pictures.
There's a museum with all sorts of things from the works of Gaudí, sketches and fröbel stuff. At the official entrance of the park there are two fairy-tale houses with little towers. No matter from which angle you look at the little towers, they definitly wouldn't have been appreciated in the puritanical era.
Back in the city centre I went to the Barri Gòtic quarter; a lot of small streets with little shops where it's easy to spend a lot of money. The Museo de la Ciutat whith some roman remains of the old city was not too bad.
Barcelona - Sevilla - Granada - Madrid
Breakfast with fresh orange juice, a croissant and cafe sol (Machiel, that's really your type of strong coffee). Next thing to go to was Monasterio de Montserrat, which is a monastry and church relativly close to Barcelona and in the mountains. Sounds boring, but in the times that it was established there was a lot of controversy about the schulpture of Maria with Jesus they have overthere: they are black. Realistically that makes sense, but not every christian liked (and unfortunately "likes" as well) to adore black people.
Anyway, the queue for touching La Moreneta, the black Madonna, was over a 100m so I only saw the sculpture from a distance. Meanwhile, more and more people entered the huge church, like totally full and lining up at the sides and in the back. Obviously something was about to happen. So there was: the angelic voices of the spanish version of the Wiener Saenger Knaben singing the national hymne of Cataluña. Why are there so many people wanting to support that nationalism? Ok, she's the patron of the Catalan people, but all those tourists? Were they tricked into it like me, thinking it was worthwile spending 3/4 of a day because they "heard" that is was supposed to be a must to visit? Or is it because the monks have a distillery overthere to produce liquor?
Besides this, Montserrat was afwully tourist-oriented, but I have to admit that the calamares with a glass of Sangre de Toro tasted very good and the art museum on the same hill was worthwile a visit. Energetic people can take a walk on the hill sides for better panoramic views, but with fog it's not of much use.
With what remained of the day I went back to Barcelona with the train, seen Plaza España and a huge ceramic shop as well. Advantage of delaying the rest of the day a few hours is that you can enjoy La Rambla, the main street, by night on a terras having your food and drinks chatting with other tourists, and also to laugh a lot because of the performers and other artists walking/jumping/playing there.
The 1st of November is a bank holiday, so the only thing I did was reading the newspapers, visited the cathedral in Barri Gòtic, watched the dancing on the church place and was very temped to do some consumerism in one of the art galleries. Last, I packed my stuff to prepare for the trip to Sevilla the next morning....