Thursday, June 20, 2019

May 23 Barcelona Spain

May 2019 - Barcelona Spain

You may have seen and heard some of this post from our weekly recap. I have repeated it here to have the full day in context.

We go out for breakfast and then decide to pack up and move to the Ayre Caspe hotel, where we were originally supposed to be for four days.

John's tortilla and tomato bread. It is served with everything!

It was only 10:30 so the plan was to drop our luggage and head out. Imagine our surprise when we are welcomed with open arms, asked how our stay was at the Gran Hotel Havana (fabulous) and then told we had been upgraded to a superior room and it was ready!!!

This was a lot of walking! And the map can't count the distance spent in and around each stop!
STEPS 24,422 18.5 km

This new landmark on the Barcelona skyline was added in 2003: an enormous bullet-shaped cylinder emerging from the ground and pointing skywards, with a glass surface in which the colours of the Mediterranean are reflected. The Glòries Tower is one of the symbols of contemporary Barcelona.

Like a geyser bubbling up from the depths of the earth, the Glòries Tower, which is the former headquarters of the water company Grup Agbar, has an eye-catching outline. It stands 144 metres tall and provides an imposing observation deck over the new Barcelona. 


The French architect Jean Nouvel took into account the building's location when he designed it, and this is why its shape is reminiscent of the mountain of Montserrat or the Gaudiesque forms of the Sagrada Família. He also harnessed solar power and groundwater to reduce energy consumption.

Zoomed from the tower towards Sagrada Familia.

This next stop is a "I wonder what that building is?"

"Oh, it's a bullfighting museum, let's go in!". This is how we roll...

The Plaza de Toros Monumental was built in 1914 and is the world’s only Art-Nouveau bullring. It was the last active bullring in Catalonia and finally closed in 2011 when bullfighting was banned by the Parliament of Catalonia. The building now houses a small bullfighting museum.

You can walk out into the arena, climb to the top of the stands, visit the stables and see the stalls where the bulls spent their last hours.

It feels like it is ready for its next bullfight!

Click here for my inSPIREd Sunday Sagrada Familia November visit.

Construction of Barcelona's iconic (but controversial) church is expected to be completed in 2026—a century after the death of its architect.

When the foundation stone of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família was laid in 1882, it’s unlikely that anyone involved anticipated that the construction of this church would take well over a century to complete. But when Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, now famous for his unique take on the Modernista movement, took charge of the project a year later, he scrapped the original neo-Gothic design plans and exchanged them for a grander vision, unlike any the world had ever seen.

Gaudí worked steadily on his masterpiece until his death in 1926, at which point an estimated 15 to 25 percent of the total design, including the crypt, the apse walls, a portal, and a tower, was complete. Since then a series of architects have attempted to continue his legacy. Not surprisingly, progress on Sagrada Família’s construction has faced a few setbacks over the past 130+ years. Vandalism in 1936 following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War resulted in the destruction of many of Gaudí’s models. The sacristy was destroyed in a fire in 2011.

Souvenirs and restaurants clutter the street beside the cathedral.

Hungry?? No problem, on the one block across the street you could find, Burger King, McDonald's, Five Guys, Costa Coffee, Papa John's, Crazy Wings, KFC, and Taco Bell! Unbelievable.

Inside Five Guys.

We didn't fare much better at Tapas and Beer, uninspired name and uninspired food. But good gluten free beer.

Down to Las Ramblas and over to El Raval.

Rather nice apartment building.

The Old Hospital de la Santa Creu is a 15th-to-18th-century building complex in Barcelona, which formerly served as a hospital and hospice and currently is the home of the National Library of Catalonia, the Institute for Catalan Studies, the former College of Surgeons, and an art school.


And a gorgeous cafe/bar.

The area abounds with murals. Some murals from our November visit.

It is simply called El gato del Raval, The Raval cat. At one end of Rambla del Raval it stands to attention.
Quizzical. Maybe just a little pissed off especially with everyone wanting a selfie with him.

This is the work of sculptor Fernando Botero. A Columbian painter and sculptor famed for is voluptuous figurative style.

 As usual, you have to wait for the selfie takers to move out of the way.

Sant Agusti church used to be attached to an Augustinian monastery that no longer exists. It was built by Pere Bertrán along the lines of a basic basilica with three longitudinal naves and a dome crowning the crossing. The baroque facade is one of the few that remain in Barcelona.
Click here for a detailed post of the church.

They had just celebrated the feast of St. Rita.

Saint Rita is the patron of itinerant flower sellers, and also of impossible things. With this in mind, many believers use the occasion to offer a blessed rose to the saint and ask something of her.



And we find ourselves in a "new to us" square.



 I spied another Gaudi house I had read about. There wasn't any line up so we coughed up our euros and went in.

The Palau Güell is a mansion designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell and built between 1886 and 1888.

Click here for more information and photos. There are also many historical photos of Barcelona.

There are two large wrought iron doors, window grilles, and the shield of Catalonia crowned by a phoenix. 
The doorman and coachman services were carried out from the ground floor. Specifically, on this floor were: the coach house where the carriages were kept; a storage area for farming products; the doorman's quarters (linked directly to the stable by a spiral staircase); a booth from which the doorman could watch the street, and a servants' staircase that led from the ground floor to the Palau's other floors.

Guell Palace functioned as the residence of Eusebi Güell and his wife Isabel and their 10 children.

They would later move permanently to the greener pastures of the legendary Park Güell, but let’s say a few words of this influential landlord and his relationship with Gaudí. Tomorrow we will visit Park Guell.

Eusebi Guell was an entrepreneur, politician, ambassador of Catalan culture, and a great friend of Gaudi who allowed him to develop his talent. Between the two there was not only a client/architect relationship but a bond nourished by mutual admiration.

Main staircase to the family's living quarters.


The nearby waiting room (where guests waited patiently before entering the salon) has a beautiful wooden ceiling with iron ornaments and gold leaves. It’s clear that neither Gaudí nor Guell spared no expense in decorating the Guell Palace!

The central hall, crowned by a dome, was the venue for musical auditions, literary and poetry readings, and receptions for illustrious guests. Guests arrived in the hall via a series of luxuriously decorated rooms, which were a display of the family's wealth and social standing. However, on this floor there are also more private rooms, such as the family dining room, the snooker room and the hall of intimates room.

The roof terrace is an example of the unique language that Gaudí used at the Güell Palace. Its 481 sq.m. are distributed on four levels: the largest one is over the central body of the building and contains fourteen chimneys, four dormers in the shape of shells or parabolic arches, skylights and the lantern of the central dome. A few stairs up one comes to the second level, over the annexed body of the building, with another six chimneys built of facing brick. The third level is where the service stairway hut is located, while the fourth level is the site of the conical spire.

Here, for the first time, Gaudí transformed the cowls of conventional chimneys into sculptural elements clad with trencadís mosaic. In the middle there is a spire which is covered with sandstone from the walls of lime kilns and topped with a lightning rod bearing a wind rose, a bat and a Greek cross. Although the materials used throughout the building are quite traditional (stone, wood, ceramics, etc.), Gaudí’s revolutionary use of them provides spectacular results.

Some of today's sights from this roof.

We decided on Taller's for dinner, we had eaten here in November. Two women sitting beside us asked if we were Canadian..Yes, she said she recognized our accents. They were from Brantford and Scarborough and going on a Mediterranean cruise.

Chips and eggs and chorizo and ham for me.

We had an interesting experience as we left. John was cool so wanted to put on his jacket, as he put down his backpack to get it, a man (small, bearded) started circling us and asking "where from". John kept pushing him away. With that he tried to grab John's watch and yelled and pulled his wrist back. A man with a cane was watching and he's a thief and watch out. We chalked it up and as we walked a few steps the man with the cane had approached two motorcycle cops and told them what happened and pointed to us. Two very handsome cops took the details and one whipped away on his bike to see if he could find him. He soon sent photos to the cop that was with us, but they weren't him. The cop was interested in Canada and asking questions. He mentioned what a problem they have with these itinerants or gypsies.
No worries, we said and thanked them for their efforts. Nothing was taken so just chalk it up.

Links to previous posts about this trip:


  1. Gaudi's style certainly was strange.

  2. My goodness what a post. Barcelona seems to a city of extravagant architecture and art and great places to eat and drink. And the encounter with the gypsies.

    I loved reading this.

    1. Thanks, Yogi. It was quite a day filled with all kinds of wonders. Barcelona is a wonderful city.


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