Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Barcelona

I had seen Antonio Gaudi´s architecture; tasted tapas, paella and churros & chocolate; listened to Xavier Coll´s espanya guitar in Santa Maria de Pi; smelled the fragrance of roses on Sant Jordi day and orange blossoms at Hospital de Sant Pau; touched the freezing cold water in Sitges. With all 5 senses contented, I found myself falling in love with Catalunya so I started listening to Pablo Alborán's CD, following Spain related blogs, trying to replicate the taste of paella..., to slow down the feeling slipping away.

Before the trip, I heard my friends commenting on my trip with a tone of envy and jealousy: you must see Gaudi's architecture! I answered: 'of course, that's the highlight of Barcelona', but the truth was I thought Gaudi was a place or a style of architecture. My first Gaudi experience was Sagrada Familia, the one building that he spent most of his life working on as an architect and is still under construction after his death. "It can't be a basilica!" that was the first impression I had for Sagrada Familia, despite the fact that its exterior looks like one. The doors are not traditional wooden/bronze doors; they are more like doors you would see in some kind of contemporary art museum, emblazoned with 3 D bronze words with a few key words gilded. The interior is as solemn as all cathedrals, however, the bright ambient lighting and avant-garde sculptures distinct Sagrada Familia from other basilicas. Blazing colors cascade on pillars and the floor through stained glass, imagining the pillars as tree trunks branching out and up to the flowers on the ceiling, Gaudi transfigured a building into a forest that changes colors as the sun moves. "The straight line belongs to Man; the curved line belongs to God", given this idea of Gaudi, I wonder why the building dedicated to the Saint family feels less "curvy"  than his other works like Casa Batlló and  Casa Milà (La Pedrera). One thing for sure is that you will never find a basilica like Sagrada Familia anywhere else.


Casa Vicens, Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Calvet, Casa Milà and Casa Batlló are highlights of Gaudi's design in Barcelona. Casa Calvet is now a restaurant and Gaudi's first building, Case Vicens, is closed and entrusted to Altadicion for sale now. Except for Gaudi's architecture, Barcelona has much more to offer. The Palau de la Música Catalana hosts various concerts on a daily basis; Picasso and Milo museums exhibit the most complete collection of the two famous impressionists. The labyrinthine Gothic quarter is a great place to get lost while admiring Moorish architecture and various art performances in the streets. If you are visiting the Gothic quarter in Barcelona on April 23rd, Sant Jordi's day, do not miss Ayuntamiento de Barcelona and Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya located on the opposite side of Placa Sant Jaume that are only open to the public once a year. A visit to Anella Olímpica on Montjuic makes the decision of selecting Montjuic as the venue of 1992 Summer Olympic seem like a perfect choice. Standing in front of the Estadi Olímpic and looking down on the city below, I guess that's the scenario they portrayed about Greek Gods standing on Mount Olympus watching over mortals. There are 4 main beach areas spanning 4.2 km filled with people jogging, cycling, sun bathing, with restaurants and even a casino.

I stumbled across an open air concert held in the plaza next to the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art on Sant Jordi's day. The stage was set and the host walked back and forth communicating with the crowds in the venue. Half hour passed, there was no sign indicating the concert would start any sooner, I asked a guy, Émile, who sat next to me what the event was about and that was my lucky day. Émile not only spoke English fluently but he also spoke Catalan! He kindly explained to me the conflict between Spain and Catalunya and the campaign was to defend Catalan culture. I took the video of balloons arranged in Catalan and released with wishes attached in the air.


Barcelona four days Itinerary
 
Day1
09:00 Sagrada Familia (2-3 hours)
Walk to Hospital de Sant Pau via Avenida Gaudi (10-15 min)

12:00 Hospital de Sant Pau Guided tour (1-2 hours)
Sant Pau-Dos de Maig station take L5 direction Cornella centre get off at Diagonal

14:00 Casa Mila (1-1.5 hour)
Walk down Passeig de Gracia

16:00 Fundació Antoni Tàpies (30 min)

16:30 Casa Batllo (2 hours)
Passeig de Gracia station take L4 direction La Pau, get off at Barceloneta

19:00 Barceloneta beach and Port Vell

Day2
09:00 Placa de Catalunya walk down Portal de l'Angel turn right on Carrer de Santa Anna and visit Esglesia Santa Ana

0930 Gothic Quarter (3-5 hour)
Visit :Arxiu Historic de La Ciutat -> Cathedral of Santa Eulalia -> Museu Frederic Marès -> Palace de Rei -> Palca Sant Jaume -> Ayuntamiento de Barcelona -> Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya -> Carrer del Bisbe -> Lunch at Bilbao Berria (Tapas pay by the sticks ranged from 1-3 EUR; add : 3 Placa Nova Barcelona, tel : 34933170124) -> Placa de Sant Felip Neri -> Placa de Sant Josep Oriol -> Placa Reial

15:30 La Rambla (1-2 hour)

17:00 Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona - CCCB (1 hour)

18:00 MACBA (1 hour)

Day3
09:00 Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (1 hour)
Walk down La Rambla

10:00 Palau Guell (1.5 hour)
Walk to Paral.Lel station take Funicular de Montjuic Direction Parc de Montjuic get off at Parc de Montjui

12:30 Anella Olímpica (1 hour)
 
13:30 Fundation Joan Miro (1.5 hour)

15:00 Botanical Garden of Barcelona (1 hour)

16:00 Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (1.5 hour)

17:30 Poble Espanyol (1.5 hour)

19:00 Mies van der Rohe Pavilion Barcelona

Magic Fountain (Check musical display schedules )

Day4
08:00 Passeig de Gracia take bus No. 24 to Carretera Carmel (Davant Parc Guell) (30 min)

08:30 Park Guell Gaudi + Casa Meseo Gaudi (2.5 hour)
Walk to Lesseps take L3 direction Zona Universitaria get off at Palau Reial walk to Monasterio de Pedralbes

12:00 Monasterio de Pedralbes (1 hour)
 Take bue No. 22 to Placa de Catalunya, walk to Palau de la Música Catalana

14:00 Palau de la Música Catalana (1 hour)

15:30 Museu Picasso (1.5 hour)

17:00 Carre de Montcada -> Santa Maria del Mar -> Born -> Ribera

18:00 Parc de la Ciutadella

19:00 Arco de Triunfo

Useful websites:
Tourist Information:
http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/
The official organization of tourist promotion of Barcelona; portal for purchasing Barcelona card, articket, concert tickets and more with discount prices.
http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/services/barcelona-tourist-office.html
http://www.barcelonayellow.com/

Public Transportation in Barcelona 
http://www.tmb.cat/en/home

3 comments:

Rene Wang said...

Your photos of Barcelona are so vivid as if I'm standing before these exquisite architecture with awe. :)

Hanjié Wu said...

Thank you for your comment, Rene. Have you been to Barcelona?

Traveling Hawk said...

Barcelona is a great city, Hanjie! I spent one week there and still there are many things I have to see there. Very nice photos.