Barcelona: Land of Gaudí

We made it to Barcelona, and it’s FREEZING! We were expecting it to be colder, but apparently it’s unusually cold here right now. Europe is going through a cold snap in general, and all the locals here are freaking out because it’s so much colder than usual. Nobody is used to heating their apartments for real winter temperatures so we are making due with space heaters and extra socks. Luckily, our bed is super warm and we have a great mattress so we just watch a lot of movies in bed in the evening. Our apartment doesn’t have internet, but it’s been kind of nice to have some quiet time together without the distractions of being connected. It’s frustrating too, but we’re looking on the bright side.

It was a bit of a rough trip over here because two days before we were supposed to leave, I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible case of the flu. I barely managed to get packed up, and then on the day we left Jared had to carry all our bags downstairs in several trips while I guarded them at the cab stand. Our train ride was 11 hours and I slept for 9 of them! I toughed it out and saw some sights this weekend and am feeling much better today, thankfully. We met up with our friend Jorge on Saturday morning, and the poor dear was also sick! We were quite the pair this weekend. He was such a trooper and showed us around the Barcelonetta neighborhood, all the Gaudí stops, and helped us get oriented to the city.

Jorge was great because he is a designer so he had a ton of knowledge of Gaudí and told us what we had to see and what we could skip. We took a quick stop at Casa Batlló to view the exterior (the interior tour was rated overpriced by Jorge). The design is meant to depict the story of St. George and the Dragon, and sits in a row of other apartment buildings designed by other important modernists of the time. In fact, the building next door was designed by Gaudí’s closest competitor.

scales of the dragon

even the sidewalk tiles were designed by Gaudí

Next we walked up to La Pedrera (Casa Milá). Jorge had seen it a few times and he insisted we had to experience the interior, so he paid for our admission and met us when we were done (so sweet!). It was pretty spectacular, and we learned a lot about Gaudí’s methods and inspiration through the museum in the attic.

Gaudí designed the chimneys and water towers on the rooftop to look like soldiers in the battle between good and evil. Gaudí was fanatically religious, so a lot of his architecture incorporates biblical themes, but he took most of his inspiration from the beauty of nature and incorporated it heavily into his forms. We kept remarking that that he was like John Muir in how he experienced God through the natural world.

Gaudí's signature Trencadís treatment

The attic that houses the Gaudí museum is made up of a network of complicated arches. Even when creating structure, Gaudí believed in incorporating beautiful design.

The museum also showed how he created some of his forms, and showed clear examples of some of the natural elements from which Gaudí drew inspiration.

this network of chain was hung above a mirror...

...to map out the arches for this cathedral

The next part of the tour was a walk through one of the apartments in the building (the Pedrera portion of Casa Milá). It was decorated to show what it would have been like to live there as a bourgeois family in the early 20th century. It was interesting to see how the rooms were divided into asymmetrical flowing units that mirrored the curves of the exterior, and how the furniture was placed to adjust to that design.

a dollhouse taller than me!

children's room

laundry

hallway

view

one of the bathrooms

office

dining room floor

master bedroom

So you can see that Gaudi is everywhere here. Tomorrow I’ll share our visit to Parc Güell. In the meantime, happy Valentine’s Day!

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