Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, Park Guell. It must be Gaudi day(s)!! We spent two of our days in Barcelona exploring these major Gaudi sites, taking in the oddity and artistry that was made famous by the eccentric moderista artist. Logan is still on the fence about his opinion of Gaudi as an artist, but the more I saw the more I wanted to see. I love how unique and individualistic all his projects were and if I had been in Barcelona alone, I probably would have spent even more time taking in his buildings. Day one was spent visiting the indoor sights (the two casas and Sagrada Familia). TripAdvisor told us to book ahead for all these sites to avoid waiting in lines and we were glad we did, as it got us in and out of each crowded monument without having to wait in the hot Spanish sun. Our first stop was Casa Mila.
We honestly were not that impressed with Casa Mila. The inside part was mostly 1920’s style bedrooms (true to how the family lived after Gaudi designed this house), but did not look very Gaudi-esque, and the outside is under renovation, so we could not see the façade. On top of that, it very expensive (like all the Gaudi sites, which averaged around 20 euro each!) for the amount of Gaudi you actually get to see. The rooftop was the highlight of the visit, with funky sculptures and amazing views of the city, including Sagrada Familia.
Next we took the metro to Sagrada Familia (you can walk, but it was SO hot, so we made use of our 5-day metro passes), where we found a bench overlooking the amazing church to eat a picnic lunch of delicious jamon sandwiches. The outside was beautiful and interesting from every angle, and even though it isn’t finished yet its effect is so dramatic it is both riveting and overwhelming. The inside is finished (as of 2012), and it is just as spectacular as the outside. It is colorful and fun and everything I think of when I think of Gaudi, not to mention he designed the pillars to look like trees, which I love.
Our final stop on Gaudi tour day one was Casa Batllo, which was everything we were expecting in a Gaudi designed house. The outside truly looks like the ocean it was inspired by and it is impossible to capture in a picture how it looks simmering in the sun. The inside was just as spectacular, with strange lines and colored windows that make you feel like you are in an underwater funhouse. There is no furniture left in the house, but pictures give you a feeling of what it might have looked like filled with funky modernista couches and chairs. The audioguide was included at Casa Batllo (it was extra at the other two Gaudi sites), which gave us an opportunity to learn more about Gaudi and modernista art and architecture. We ended the day watching Spain get destroyed by the Netherlands and eating shrimp bought fresh from the local market.
Day two of Gaudi took us to Park Guell, a public park designed by Gaudi as an exclusive neighborhood for his wealthy patrons. You can visit parts of the park for free, but the highlights are all located in the main part, which requires an 8-euro ticket. Although they have timed tickets to keep the crowds smaller, the park was still extremely crowded. However, it is still totally worth it and wandering around makes you feel like you are walking through a Dr. Seuss book.
The day was a scorcher so we decided to head, once again, to the beach to hang out in the cooling water. We walked a little farther down the beach than we had the previous two days, which was a major payoff as the father we walked, the less crowded the beach became. The freezing water felt wonderful and after a few hours getting in and out of the ocean we decided to end our afternoon with seafood paella (which we found cheap, and was really not very good) followed by delicious ice cream (mojito, passion fruit, Catalan cream and raspberry rose). Later that night we went to Plaza España to watch the fountain show that had been recommended by a friend. We were so glad we did! The fountains were amazing and beautiful and were timed to music. We got to sit so close that we felt the spray! It felt so magic to sit in the warmth of the night and get caught up in the music and lights and water.
For our final day in Barcelona we took it very easy. We walked up Montjuic Hill and saw the Olympic stadium, but after getting extremely lost we decided to take the rest of the day to relax in our room, reading, writing and having a down day. We really liked Barcelona. It was touristy and kind of expensive (at least the attractions were), but we loved being able to see Gaudi, eat tapas, and go to the beach all in one day. We spent five days there and I feel like we didn’t even scratch the surface. Barcelona is probably one of my top three favorite cities so far and I hope to return someday to continue exploring, eating and relaxing my way through the city.