Sunday, December 8, 2013

Barcelona (Part 2) and its Muse: Antoni Gaudi

Like so many others before us, we had fallen in love with Barcelona.  Here is a lovely video by singer/songwriter Matt Stone of Sweet Barcelona:

After two days in Barcelona, Ron and I were ready to see some of the city's iconic sites in more detail. Think Barcelona, think Gaudi.  He was one of many influential artists and architects at the beginning of the 20th century that changed forever the look and reputation of Barcelona.  Antoni Gaudi, however, stands out because of the existence of many of his buildings that are iconic of Modernisme - the avant garde movement in Catalunya affecting architecture and art.  Indeed, Gaudi is still building one masterpiece 131 years later - La Sagrada Familia - even though he died in a tragic accident in 1926.

This is the side of the church built after Gaudi died

This is the side of the church completed before Gaudi died
He began building his masterpiece church in 1882 and it is still being built according to his design and is not scheduled to be completed until 2026.  It was consecrated by Pope Benedict as a Minor Basilica in 2010 and is known officially as  the Expiatory Church of the Holy Family.  

This is Gaudi's model of the finished church
Ron and I wanted to see the inside of La Sagrada Familia and thought since it was a Monday in November and early in the morning, we could do it without a reservation.  So we got on the Touristic Bus once again on November 4th and took it to the site.  The line went around the block so we changed plans and headed by taxi to Casa Batlló, a house Gaudi built for Josep Batlló and his family in the Eixample neighborhood.  There was a very short line and we entered the beautiful home almost immediately.  Here are pictures of this architectural masterpiece:

Casa Batlló (front)

Staircase from entry

The walls are painted like the skin of a reptile

Interior of central stairwell

Looking up toward skylight above central stairwell




Looking toward backyard patio

Back of the house

In the attic with airways and skylights

An attic room

To the rooftop staircase

Stairway to roof

Rooftop sculptural elements

We left Casa Batlló and walked a couple of blocks along the boulevard admiring many of the artistic elements of buildings and street lights.

We stopped at Tapas 24 for lunch.

It was still a little early when we arrived, so we ordered off the Menu before the Tapas of the Day were ready. 

When we arrived, the staff was busy preparing the Tapas of the Day

After getting the Tapas of the Day ready, the staff eats lunch.

It was good we were early, because lines started forming for seats soon after the Tapas of the Day were posted.

The crowd started coming in after 1PM.

Here is a You Tube video about Tapas 24, showing the ingredients and specialties of the day:

After lunch, we got back on the Touristic Bus and headed for Montjuïc to see some cultural sites.

We visited the Poble Espanyol - Spanish Village, which was built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition as a living museum of the regions of Spain.  This tourist site gets slammed a lot for it being a kind of made-up Spanish Village but both Ron and I found the narration and the buildings to be very informative about the regions, peoples, and culture of Spain that we would not see on our trip to Europe. Indeed it reminded me of Balboa Park in San Diego, California with its Spanish building replicas built during their International Exhibition of 1915.

We were running out of time and so we passed on the nearby Palau Nacional which is now the National Museum of Catalonian Art (MNAC) and took our Touristic Bus back to our hotel.

Palau Nacional, currently an art musem (MNAC)
Ron wanted to go to a really nice restaurant for our last night in Barcelona and you cannot go wrong with the Zagat and Michelin-rated Via Veneto.  Salvador Dali dined here for many years, among many other artists, celebrities and world leaders.
Via Veneto
We made reservations for 8:30PM and found that we were only the second table seated at that early hour.  By 9:30PM, most of the tables had diners.  Very gracious personal service is provided by owners, Josep and Pere Monge,  and their staff at Via Veneto.  Here is their current menu.

The next morning, we were picked up by our taxi driver by a prearrangement and were at the Barcelona Airport (BCN) within 15 minutes.  We flew to JFK in New York City, then to Salt Lake City, and finally arrived at the Albuquerque Sunport (ABQ) by 10:30PM (about 23 hours of flying time including layovers).

This was really a "trip of a lifetime" and I am so happy Ron and I could share such a wonderful experience.

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