Monday, August 30, 2010

Barcelona- Walking Around The City

For a couple days in Barcelona, I was in search of the Catalan Music Hall when I was walking around during the day, because I heard it had amazing architecture. I kept looking at my map (and usually I'm good with maps and directions!) and following the roads I thought would take me to it. And I couldn't find it! On my last day, I looked at my map, located my hotel, and realized if I went in a direction I didn't normally go, the Music Hall would be a 5 minute walk away! And I found it right away. It was beautiful. I wished I'd had time to see a concert or show there. Maybe another time!

One day, I saw several of the Gaudi architectural sites, including the Casa Mila and Casa Bastllo, the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. Really interesting architecture, and each building is completely unique. The Sagrada Familia really impressed me. Gaudi worked on designing and building this church for 40 years, devoting his life and his time to it. He knew he wouldn't live to see it completed, but he left drafts, illustrations and 3D models. Ever since he died, in the late 1930s, local craftsmen and construction workers have continued to work on building the church. They have built on Gaudi's ideas as inspiration, while incorporating their own creative ideas, to design and construct this masterpiece, this church. It's still under construction today, and they hope to have it finished in the next 2 decades. I found it really inspiring how dedicated and passionate Gaudi was to his vision of building this church, and also amazing how the community has continued to support his vision. The church has amazing architecture, and it's very interesting and unique. I wish Gaudi, who was inspired to build it, could see it now, still a work in progress but almost complete.

After my visit to the church, I visited Parc Guell, a large city park with Gaudi architecture in several houses and buildings. It has a great view of Barcelona, and the buildings are bright, colorful and fun. Many people were there hanging out, enjoying the warm summer day.

Another day, I took a half-day train trip to Montserrat, a beautiful monastery high up in the mountains about an hour outside Barcelona. I met a nice Spanish couple on the way, and we tried to have a Spanish/English conversation, which kind of worked. Then we arrived at the Montserrat stop. From the base of the mountain, you can barely see the buildings. Then I took another train up the mountain to the monastery. The monastery had beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, hiking trails, and lots of trees. There's several buildings, a shop, cafe, a church and other buildings. It was a nice natural setting to be in, up in the mountains with a beautiful view, a contrast from the busy city of Barcelona. When I left, I decided to take a cable car back down the mountain to the train station. About 12 of us crammed in and held on to the rails as the cable car/gondola took us down the steep mountain. That was exciting!

I took the train back to Barcelona, looking out the windows and wishing I had more time to take the train through Spain. Later that evening I walked along the harbor, browsed at some street souvenir stands, and ate dinner down by the shore for my last evening in Barcelona.

The next morning I had a cappuccino and chocolate croissant sitting in the Placa de Catalunya, a huge plaza in Barcelona, before I got on the bus to go to the airport, and then I was off to Romania. Barcelona is such an interesting, diverse city. I really enjoyed just walking around and seeing the architecture and people-watching.

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