Monday, April 20, 2009

Gaudi' Day

Not the greatest day of the trip but not because of what there was to see and do, I think the stresses of the last few weeks before we left combined with the normal travel stress have started to come out so I was like a bear with a sore paw. I have a headache which just won't go away, I think I've had it for three weeks now; it's not bad but it's there and it's really annoying.

Ok, started the day by going to see Sagrada Familie which was the church which Antoni Gaudi was working on when he died in an accident. It is like no other church which one has ever seen and as impressive as it is from the outside, the 11EUR to go and have a look at it inside is well worth it. They're actually still building it 120 years later and it is being built by public subscription which would be a fairly amazing concept in South Africa. Because of the length of time, one can see the architecture change so I'm not sure how much is or isn't Gaudi's creation but I assume that the overall plan has been kept in line with what he envisioned.

This is the view from the front of the church and Gaudi was obviously fascinated by geometry because just about everything is elipsoid, round, triangular and square and endless variations on these themes. One of his distinguishing features was his love of everything not vertical, not square, round and flat and it gives his creations a beauty that is almost other worldly.

His trademark mosaic's with glazed pottery was, I think, derived from the Moors but the way that he has used really has to be seen in real life. Photographs just don't do it justice; the picture below is taken vertically upwards of the ceiling inside the church and there is mosaic work around the black holes.

The school house which now houses a sort of historical display seems to have been one of Gaudi's early creations and I found it really simple but absolutely fascinating; I don't think that there is a straight horizontal or vertical line in the entire building.

After the Sagrada and paying 6EUR for two hours parking, we went down to Las Ramblas and the Barri Gothic which is the old part of Barcelona.
After a bit of a job trying to find where we actually were, we walked up Las Ramblas which is definitely on the seedier side but fascinating and vibrant. There were lots of mime artists, gymnastic perfomers and musicians performing. the one below was particularly good, I didn't believe that it wasn't a statue at first.

From Las Ramblas we meandered through the Barri Gothic and tried to find some undergound roman ruins but they were closed so I spent some time in a square watching and listening to a musician while Caron went into the 'archives of aragon' which left me cold but Caron seemed to have enjoyed it.

While I was waiting a bicycle tour group descended on the square like a gang so the square must be famous for something, I'm just not sure what.

From there, and another 6EUR for parking, we tried to navigate to Parc Guell which is another Gaudi creation which is on quite a steep hillside overlooking Barcelona's centre and after taking yet another wrong turn we went up a hill so steep that we only just managed it in first gear.

Here's Caron in the covered walkway which made me think of breaking waves and as you can see, vertical columns were not a requirement in Gaudi's world.

The centrepiece of the park is an area supported by 89 fairly substantial columns which has a crennelated edge with a built-in, mosaic covered, seat running right around the edge. A bit difficult to photograph but Caron has done well with the one below.

While we were walking around the edge, the girl below was posing for pictures by her boyfriend so, since she was posing, I thought I would snap some too.

Driving in Barcelona gives a whole new meaning to complexity; just as an example they sometimes have traffic lights per lane so on a four lane road there would be for traffic lights, one per lane. At one stage the four lane highway split into four 'on ramps'; the GPS tells you to bear left but which left is she friggin' talking about and as it happens, it wasn't the one on the far left. The road maintenance and construction didn't help matters at all either. Even with the GPS, I managed to miss turnings fairly regularly which didn't contritbute positively to my already fragile mood.
After doing some shopping at Carrefour which is just like Pick'n Pay just bigger, we headed home quite tired. When we got back I watched a family of four children and their parents play a game of soccer while I drank some wine and calmed down; it reminded me of going camping in New Zealand as a youngster. They even have the same brand of tent that we used in New Zealand which is really a coincidence.
To end the day, I had a cold shower; not on purpose of course so I was very happy to close my eyes and draw the day to a close.

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