Barcelona part I
Big, Brash, Noisy, Bustling and Stunning! One day is not enough to take in this huge city and we have yet again only just scratched the surface spending the whole day in the old town and it’s area known as Eixample on foot with Molly in tow. Over 7.5 miles later we had walked Las Ramblas, seen two of Gaudi’s best known Art Nouveau buildings plus The Segrada Familia his unfinished masterpiece and finally Walked back down through Parc de la Ciutadalla to Port Vell where we had parked the car. We had still managed to miss the old cathedral and so many other sights in the old town and have yet to experience Barcelona’s other delights of Montjuïc (which was developed for the 1929 international fair and later for the 1992 Olympics) the water front and Park Güell Gaudi’s fanciful take on a garden city amongst so many others.
We decided to pay the toll charge to get to Barcelona as we had experienced the winding twisting slow N31 the other day and it added half an hour, effectively doubling the journey time. So for €7 we drove through the tunnels and bridges that formed 10k of the N32 north of Sitges. Our first introduction to Barcelona driving in from the N32 was docks and huge industrial port on the right and a city of the dead on the left. An enormous mountain was glistening with what looked like small windows and filled up the entire horizon to our left. At first we thought it was a massive holiday or business complex set into the cliffs but as we got nearer we realised that this was Barcelona’s massive Montjuïc cemetery and the windows were in actual fact the small openings in the walls for the urns or coffins. There is actually a tour of it if you were so inclined.
After a few incidents of horn blasting from irate drivers (mostly on their mobiles) who did not wish to allow an English smart car to get into the right lane and a few near misses with kamikaze moped riders who would rather be knocked off than give an inch or wait a moment we finally found a underground car park that later cost €15 to leave (we had been told that car crime was a factor in big cities so better that than a smashed window and stolen sat nav). The marina was full to the brim with million, multi million, billion and multi billion pound yachts. Showing the excesses that the world will allow to happen whilst beggars and homeless lay on the streets. [ I read once that if all the tax due, was paid from all the tax havens and off shore accounts there would be no more world debt or poverty.] Anyway enough of my soap box …. Despite my contempt for the floating monstrosities and all that they represent they were wonderful things to look at as walked to the monument of Christopher Columbus and the start of Las Ramblas.
Half expecting it to be like Valencia (a gorgeous park that joined the coast to the top of the city) we were a little disappointed as it was just a long predestined tree lined promenade – very nice mind with entertainment, stalls and shops but no grass flowers or water features to be seen. The umbrella shop with its dragon was an interesting sight as was Marilyn Munro displaying her underwear under that classic white dress on the first floor of a museum of erotica.
Gaudi’s Casa Batlló with its mask/ skull like balconies and highly decorated walls was lovely yet his most famous apartment block Casa Milà with no straight walls in the building at all left me un inspired. Perhaps I’m not a architectural devotee but it must be a nightmare to place furniture or hang curtains!!!
Next on the agenda SEGRADA FAMÍLIA. Yet unfinished and due to be completed by 2040 it is a magnificent piece of fantasy crammed with symbolism and started in 1882. Each of the 12 bell towers represents an apostle. The largest tower will represent Christ when it is completed. Tickets needed to pre booked with a time slot and as we had Molly we were happy just to gaze in awe from outside. Perhaps in 22 years time we can revisit when it is finally completed.
The walk back to the waterfront was delightful through a large park – Parc de la Ciutadalla where a saxophonist was playing birds were singing and the sun was out. We sat and enjoyed its warmth resting our feet for half an hour before returning to the car.