City of Gaudi


After leaving Marbella, we headed straight for Barcelona. We spent three nights there, and right away we knew that it wasn’t enough. As Meg touched on in her last post, we’ve booked a major journey from Athens to Signapore which leaves at the end of November. As a result, we are limited in how much time we spend in each place we visit, so Barcelona got three days. We tried to make the most of them.

Priority number one for anyone visiting Barcelona, especially with a background in architecture, has to be Gaudi. Not that this is hard — in fact, it’s nearly impossible to turn your head and not see Gaudi’s influence or name in the city. I’ve never seen a city that has so completely adopted an architect as their pride and joy. Our hostel was just down the street from Casa Batll√≥, and a few blocks away from Casa Mila. Unfortunately, the price of entry to each was rather steep, and since we’re on a tight budget, we had to enjoy them from the street. We were saving our euros for entry into the true Gaudi masterpiece…

Sagrada Familia

The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia: it has to be seen to be believed. This cathedral was started in 1882, and is still largely incomplete. Gaudi himself only lived to see a small fragment of it completed in his lifetime. As it is today, two facades are nearing completion, but the tallest towers are nothing but plans and drawings. Even so, the building is absolutely breathtaking, and the scale is humbling. The facades are so ornate that it appears to render the building into a giant work of sculpture. Most impressive is the Naitivity Facade, which was the first to be built and the one largely completed in Gaudi’s lifetime. Every surface is shaped by sculptures of nature: birds, people, animals, plants. It’s intricacy reveals itself only as you get closer to it. But even that isn’t enough to prepare you for the inside.

Stained glass magic

The inside was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The spaces were soaring, and it didn’t take long for my neck to be sore from craning upwards. The columns slanted and tapered to form an elegant canopy of structure, and the spaces between them let a magical light pierce through. Unlike so many of the gothic cathedrals that we’ve seen so far, this one was full of light. But more than that: it was full of just enough light, of just the right light. Only a small percentage of the windows are stained glass, and the remainder are clear or frosted, letting white light through to illuminate the highest reaches of the main spaces. It’s a wonderful combination — the white light brightens the cathedral’s surfaces, turning them into even better canvases for the coloured light of the stained glass. It was very inspiring. We spent nearly a whole afternoon at the Sagrada Familia cathedral, and after a delicious tapas dinner and a walk along La Rambla and the waterfront, we turned in for the night.

The next day we headed for Parc G√ºell, another of Gaudi’s renowned works. Armed with bread, cheese, red peppers and beer, we headed up the hill and settled in for a picnic in the sun. After sitting back and taking in the scenery (and the throngs of tourists too — who said high season was over?) we wandered through the rest of the park. The columns supporting the various raised elements of the park’s landscape were our favourites. They were often spiraled, slanted, or tapered, but perhaps the coolest thing was that they often looked carved right out of the hillside rather than built up to it. Walking through this surreal landscape with the sun on our faces made us both very happy.

Parc Güell

We were so happy, in fact, that we decided we were up for a big night out on the town in Barcelona. On the way home we grabbed a bottle of wine, and finished it off after dinner at the hostel. We prettied ourselves up a bit (this involved showers, mostly) and headed out for the legendary Razmatazz nightclub. We arrived at about 11:30 pm, which we foolishly thought was an appropriate time to arrive. Wrong. We stepped up to the front door and were told tickets went on sale at 1:30 am. We looked at each other, and in a moment that made us very aware that we weren’t 19 years old anymore, agreed that we would rather head back to the hostel and read a good book than wait until 1:30 am to get into the club. So that’s what we did. How cool are we?

Our train left Barcelona on the third day. We had just enough time to visit Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion and walk through some of the surrounding area before we had to head out. It was a whirlwind visit, and I know we didn’t give the city the time it deserved, so perhaps we’ll visit again one day. Maybe we’ll make it out to the clubs next time.


    Sounds like you made the best of what short time you had there. I never ventured inside the Sagrada sadly, and your descriptions make me feel even more sad that I didn’t. Thanks!

    Say, if you guys are looking for jobs, perhaps you should consider Brit and Jermaine routines on the La rambla strip. Just a thought…



    I’m so glad you got to spend even 3 days in that wonderful city —and you’ll make it next time to Razzmatazz! Good on you for trying! At least you closed it all with a Mies…never a bad thing.


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