Thursday, September 18, 2008

Barcelona, Spain

Although Madrid was beautiful, Barcelona was probably my favorite of the two cities we visited. It probably had a little something to do with the Mediterranean Sea (I LOVE the beach!), but I will get to that later!

One interesting thing to note is that there are 2 languages spoken in Barcelona...Catalan and Spanish. I am really not sure of the difference, but it only added to the lack of English and trouble I had while in Spain trying to communicate! Really, out of all the countries and cities I have visited while living in Europe, communicating in Spain was the hardest I have experienced yet!

If you do not know much about Barcelona, I must introduce you to Antoni Gaudi. He is a famous architect whose work can be seen all around Barcelona, especially the Sagrada Família. According to the Internet, Gaudí was an ardent Catholic, to the point that in his later years, he abandoned secular work and devoted his life to Catholicism and his Sagrada Família. He designed it to have 18 towers, 12 for the 12 apostles, 4 for the 4 evangelists, one for Mary and one for Jesus. Soon after, his closest family and friends began to die. His works slowed to a halt, and his attitude changed. One of his closest family members, his niece Rosa Egea, died in 1912, only to be followed by a "faithful collaborator, Francesc Berenguer Mestres" two years later. After these tragedies, Barcelona fell on hard times, economically. The construction of La Sagrada Família slowed. Four years later, Eusebi Güell, his patron, died.

Perhaps it was because of this unfortunate sequence of events that Gaudí changed. He became reluctant to talk with reporters or have his picture taken and solely concentrated on his masterpiece, La Sagrada Família. On June 7, 1926, Gaudí was run over by a tram. Because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare. He was eventually taken to a pauper's hospital in Barcelona. Nobody recognized the injured artist until his friends found him the next day. When they tried to move him into a nicer hospital, Gaudí refused, reportedly saying "I belong here among the poor." He died three days later on June 10, 1926, half of Barcelona mourning his death. He was buried in the midst of La Sagrada Família.

Although Gaudí was constantly changing his mind and recreating his blue prints, the only existing copy of his last recorded blue prints were destroyed by the anarchists in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War. This has made it very difficult for his workers to complete the cathedral in the same fashion as Gaudí most likely would have wished. It is for this that Gaudí is known to many as "God's Architect". La Sagrada Família is now being completed but differences between his work and the new additions can be seen.

Completion of the Sagrada Familía is planned for 2026. However, this may prove wildly optimistic due to come other railways being planned.

My favorite site in Barcelona was the Sagrada Família. Like I mentioned before, construction began in 1882 and continues today. It was amazing to walk around this massive structure and know that it has been under construction for so long.
The Church will have three grand facades: the Nativity facade to the East, the Glory facade to the South (yet to be completed), and the Passion facade to the West. The Nativity facade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and bears the most direct Gaudí influence. The Passion facade is especially striking for its spare, gaunt, tormented characters, including emaciated figures of Christ being flogged and on the crucifix.

This is the Nativity facade! The Passion facade!

Note the ‘magic square’ on the wall. If you can add up the numbers in each line they make 33, which is the age Jesus was when he was crucified.
Gaudi's work can be seen all over Barcelona! He truly had a unique design! This is the Casa Milà.
More interesting designs around town!
This is me on the La Rambla, an iconic and busy street with lots of cafes and shops!
One of the must-haves in Barcelona is churros and chocolate! YUM!!!
Barcelona has grown into a huge port for cruises and Jennie and I had dinner down by one of the ports. It was so nice to sit outside, people watching and enjoying a great meal! This is where we had dinner!
I love the water!
When planning this trip, we wanted to make sure we had a 'beach day'...so on Friday, our last day in Spain, we had just that! We sat our rumps on the beach and it was fantastic!!! I am a beach-person and could stay on the beach forever! (Seriously, I am not kidding!) The beach we went to was perfect! There was a bathroom and outdoor cafe right on the beach, so you had all you needed!

We had to start the day with a little pina colada!
Some beaches in Europe are topless....and this was one of them. I have never been to a topless beach, but let me tell you...the US really does not know what they are missing out on. I noticed that people are so respectful on these topless beaches and did not stare, etc. It was really nice for people to express themselves and not feel self-conscience doing so!
All in all, Spain was a really nice country. It was not my favorite country, by no means, but really nice and enjoyable nonetheless!


4 comments:

  1. RobinRane9:54 PM

    I'm so glad you left me a comment! I've so enjoyed your blog. What an exciting 2 years for you and your pup! I have 3 Malteses. They are the best dogs in the world aren't they? Your little man is adorable. I'm adding you to my blogroll so I can keep up with you. I live outside Atlanta.
    I just started a blog about my pups at:
    http://meandmyshadows.wordpress.com/
    Blessings~ Robin...ps Is Tippa your real name? I love it!!!!

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  2. Robin Rane10:38 PM

    Tippa~ I' so sorry I had it in my head your baby was a boy! Little Maxie is a doll and please tell me all about how she came to you, I'd love to hear her story.
    Have a great evening or night...(what time is it there I wonder:)

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  3. Dude... topless beach? I think I grew up too sheltered for that one! :)

    sara

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  4. LOVE your travels... the pictures just make me happy! :)

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