Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Gaudi Day - Barcelona, Spain


Destination: Barcelona, Spain

Where we stayed: Crown Princess

Best of: Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece - Inglesa la Sagrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family)!

Worst of: Visiting on a Sunday meant that the market and most of the stores were closed though it also gave us more freedom to move around since there was less traffic.

Barcelona sits on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and exudes ultra modern comfort, efficiency and design. Upon entering the Harbor, you can see the site of the 1992 Olympics on top of Mont Juic which today is a large, open green space in the heart of the city. Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali called Barcelona home and many of their works can be seen here, particularly the Picasso museum. The city's most beloved artist, however, is Antoni Gaudi, the brilliant architect who believed in designs that were natural, no hard edges or anything mechanical. His works are dotted all over the city and we took most of the day seeing his masterpiece - the Sagrada Familia as well as Guell Park, his venture into city planning.

The Sagrada Familia church was began in 1883 and still till this day in not complete. Despite this fact, it is still an impressive structure. With a dozen gothic style spires topped with not so gothic fruits, berries and grapes the church is certainly unique. Columns twist and turn as if they were trees. The walls seemingly flow down to the ground as if it were rivers carrying statues in their path. Even the spiral staircases remind us of a snail shell. All the designs were part of the overall Gaudi style of using nature for inspiration.

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After touring the church, we made our way up the hill and out to Guell Park. Gaudi had a vision of the wealthy and elite of Barcelona snatching up his designed homes surrounded by a park completed with sculptures and mosaics in fanciful gardens. The combination of lack of interest and his sudden death in a tram accident resulted in the project never being completed. Since it was Sunday, family day, the park was packed with locals and tourists alike and it took a little of the peace and quiet Gaudi had envisioned away from the sight.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering though the Gothic Quarter, a old maze of narrow streets filled with shops and cafes. The area makes for a pleasant stroll and one could spend days just wandering up and down the streets people watching and sipping on coffee. We passed the Picasso museum, line to get in stretched down the alley and around the building. We later found out that the museum is free after 4 on much for taking a quick peek!

Back on the ship, we set sail for the nearby port of Marseille, France!

To see more Barcelona photos please click here!

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