My weekend in Barcelona was one of those rare trips where I had next-to-no time for planning. It came about because I was whining to a friend about having no idea of where to go or what to do with the vacation time I had to use or lose, to which she sweetly responded by inviting me to join her in Barcelona. Before I knew what was happening, we were soaking up the Mediterranean sun together.
And so, when my friend suggested we start off the weekend with a self-guided walking tour she’d found in the guide book I’d purchased but not yet cracked open, I was all for it.
The tour was called the Modernisme Circuit and I had absolutely no expectations. Which is probably why I was so taken aback by my first few hours in Barcelona.
See, there was this Catalan architect. Antoni Gaudí was his name and he is at the heart of what makes Barcelona so unique. I had never heard of the guy, but as my friend and I walked from one Gaudí-designed building to the next, our mouths were agape. And I couldn’t stop taking photos, of course.
Gaudí’s designs were deeply influenced by his love of the natural world. There are no straight lines on his buildings. Like this one.
A large family home, Casa Batlló was built in 1877. In 1904, its new owner hired Gaudí to tear it down and build another, but Gaudí said no. He would remodel it instead. This is the result.
Casa Milà was another private commission. It was built between 1905 and 1910.
As I wrote above, Gaudí was deeply influenced by the natural world. Storks (the real ones) on rooftops are a common sight in Spain.
One of Gaudí’s best patrons was a Catalan industrialist named Eusebi Güell. He commissioned several buildings in and around Barcelona, including the elaborate Park Güell, which opened in 1926. My friend and I spent several hours wandering around this spectacular park.
Upon his graduation from architecture school, it has been said that Gaudí was told, “Who knows if we have given a diploma to a nutcase or a genius? Time will tell.”
Genius, I’m thinking.
Well, here we are. Still in the thick of the Long Winter (aka the second wave). Although the early daffodils have started blooming in Vancouver, I’m far more excited about tonight’s forecast calling for snow. Just, you know, to shake things up a bit. (It has been a snowless and very rainy winter for me so far.)
I was thinking that I also need to shake things up a bit on this blog. A travel-related topic to focus on would go a long ways to stop me from writing about the weather (ahem) or this year’s obsession (the pandemic).
And so, to that end, I’m going to concentrate on Spain for the next little while. I’ve always meant to write about this fascinating country, but somehow it kept getting pushed aside due to other, more recent, travel stories. Since none of us are going anywhere at the moment, it’s the perfect opportunity to move it to the top of my list.
My first visit to Spain was a weekend in Barcelona. Even as short as it was, my friend and I managed to fit in a lot. Lots of sightseeing, lots of great food, lots of good wine, and even lots of shopping.
Here is the Plaça Reial (Royal Plaza), just off La Rambla in the heart of Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter).