Arrival in Barcelona! Gaudí Cathedral and Park Güell

After we left Besalú on December 3, we made our way towards Girona.

The first thing we did was stop at a Spanish supermarket (my first one!).

After I had my fun we got back on the road and stopped to look behind a few supermarkets. In Banyoles we had luck. We found some fruits and vegetables and a loaf of grainy bread.

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But then, right as we were about to leave, we saw a butcher come out and put a big bag of stuff into the bin. We took a look, thinking maybe there would be some inedible bits for the dog, but when we opened the bag, there were all kinds of sausages, kebabs, croquettes, and marinated chicken breast.

To revisit the eating-the-meat-from-the-garbage rules:

  1. Meat must still be cold
  2. Meat must be found and consumed on or before the expiration date
  3. Meat must be packed

The meat was super cold, and I decided to break rule #3 just this once, since this was from a butcher who just had a cold case, and didn’t sell anything pre-packaged. Also, something about seeing the guy come out and knowing for SURE that this was super fresh and hadn’t been sitting there for any amount of time made me feel better. I don’t think I would have done it if that weren’t the case.

It was immediately clear to us that we were going to have to light the grill, and we were pretty hungry. Only trouble was that we were in the middle of a city, and you can’t quite just start building fires and cooking outside shopping malls, so it took a bit of searching to find a spot. We found a dirt path that led to a weird little abandoned dirt lot next to what looked like an emergency exit coming from the nearby traffic tunnel. Not exactly a romantic dinner spot, but whatever.

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Philipp broke out his flamethrower and blasted the coals until they were hot enough, and then we had a feast.

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The sausages were great. There were chorizos and other pork ones with blue cheese inside. We ate all this that is in the picture, plus like five giant marinated breasts of chicken that I can’t believe I forgot to take a photo of. Talk about stuffed.

We rolled back into the car and kept heading towards Girona, We finally arrived there just as it was getting dark. I really, really, really wanted to get all the way to Mataró today because there is a McFit there and I’m dying to shower, and for that reason we wanted to take only a quick look in Girona and then be on our way.

Girona
Girona

Philipp parked the car and took a quick walk around the old city, and then I did the same. We always go exploring separately when we’re in big cities so the bus with all of our stuff in it isn’t left alone. We were robbed once in Milan, and once in Bologna, and we learned our lesson.

The old center is particularly labyrinthine here, with lots of mega narrow paths connected with stairways and twisty alleyways. Very cool. The cathedral was tremendous and BEAUTIFUL, especially all lit up in the dark. Unfortunately none of my pictures really came out, because all apple products suck at taking photos at night. Boo.

Girona

Girona
Girona

We moved on and arrived in Mataró after 7pm. We sat in McDonald’s to use the wifi and then decided we were too exhausted to work out today, so we just went to bed and put it off for tomorrow.

When we woke up the next morning, December 4, we made good on our promises to ourselves the night before, and went to the gym first thing. It felt great to work out and even better to be CLLLLLLEEEEEEAAAAN. Thank you, McFit.

Next stop, Barcelona!

When I think of Barcelona, I think of two things. The famous architect Antoni Gaudí, and the giant insane wonderful market called La Boqueria. I have been in Barcelona once before, only for a day, and I was especially looking forward to gettingthe chance to explore this place better.

The very first thing we did when we arrived was drive straight to the Gaudi cathedral, or as it’s officially called, the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.

Antoni Gaudí,1852-1926, was a practitioner of Catalan Modernism, or Modernisme. Not to be confused with Modernism, Catalan Modernism was part of a larger movement that swept over Europe around the turn of the 20th century, which rejected bourgeois values as the opposite of art, but took on a unique character in Catalonia, where a growing nationalism was taking hold of the hearts of many. Centered in Barcelona, Catalan Modernists wanted Catalonian culture to be recognized as equal in richness to other European cultures. Gaudí is regarded as the best-known practitioner of this movement, despite the fact that his work transcends Modernisme and is very much defined by his personal fascination with nature and religion.

Originally, Josep Maria Bocabella, a bookseller inspired by a trip to the Vatican, hired Francisco de Paula del Villar to build the Basilica, and construction began in 1882. But by 1883, Villar had resigned and Gaudí took over and completely redesigned everything. When Gaudí died in 1926, work was 15-25 percent completed. The projected completion date is 2026.  When it is finished, it will be the tallest basilica in the world, according to BBC.

This is an aerial shot of the Basilica as it is now that I found on the internet:

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And this is what it will supposedly look like when it’s finished, in ten years:

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That’s lovely and all, but lots of people are pissed that the architects who were in charge following Gaudi’s death didn’t still to his original plan. This is Gaudi’s model, from Wikipedia, of what the finished Basilica should look like:

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No matter what your opinion is though, this thing is still fucking insanely beautiful and amazing to look at. These are some of the photos that I took:

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Still stunned, we got back in the bus and drove further into the city. We looked at the map. We knew we needed to find a parking space for the night somewhere within walking distance of the city center so that we could take a look around tomorrow. But we also wanted to visit the Park Güell, also designed by Gaudí and built between 1900 and 1914.The park is a bit further north of the city center, so decided to do that first, before finding our sleeping place. Philipp parked and went for a walk first, and then it was my turn.

Prepare yourselves:

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What an awesome fucking place. It’s impossible not to instantly fall in love with this guy’s work. It’s so whimsical and magical; you really feel like you’ve just stepped into fairy-tale land. Only the world’s most dull, jaded, dead, soul-less creature could remain unmoved in a place like this.

Still trying to digest the coolness of this place.

Park Güell seen, we drove down into the perilous small, packed roads of the inner city to find a place to park our giant bus. We got mega lucky and found a place very close to la Rambla, the main road, and to the harbour where all the ships are. When Philipp was in the German navy, his ship docked here, so he was excited to see the same spot now, from a different life. We walked around for a little, separately as usual, and then went to bed. What a cool day.

ParkingSpot

 

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