Tuesday, March 29, 2011

El Banco - Dia Tres

El Banco - Dia Tres - Barcelona

Sabado febrero 26th

Gaudi's first work for the city
and his last.
This morning we missed breakfast, again, but we grabbed a little something to go because we barely made it in time for the tour pick up at the hostel.

Weather vane on Palau Guell

The tour of the day was the Gaudi Tour. I was really excited for this one. After seeing the Sagrada Familia yesterday, I could not wait to see what else he had in store for us.

Top half of Palau Guell

Half of the bottom half of
Palau Guell

The first stop on our tour was Palau Guell, which we had already unknowingly walked by every time we left the hostel, yes, it is on our street. Eusebi Guell was a dear friend of Antoni Gaudi and over the years had him build many things for him. They both had this idea that this mansion of a home, being all lavish, would attract a richer crowd to live in the neighbourhood. Considering that this is the area where all the ‘naughty going ons’ are now, that did not really happen. And just our luck, the inside was closed for work, so if we wanted to come back and see the inside after the tour, we could not.

not counting the one under construction,
this shoes 3/4 of the pieces of the
Apple of Discord
Final quarter of the Apple:
Casa Batllo

Can you see the sword and the dragon?

if you have a good eye
you can find the nose
On the front, just above the main doors, there is some metal work. It is kind of hard to tell what it is, but once you really look, within the wrought iron there is an “E” and a “G” for Eusebi Guell as well as the Catalan coat of arms. On the flat roof top, there are twenty sculptured chimneys surrounding a skylight. Gaudi is known for his eccentric chimneys as well as how he plays with light.

Storm Troopers?

Casa Mila

The next stop was the very odd block on the Passieg de Gracia. This block is called the Apple of Discord or in Spanish; Manzana de la Discordia. It actually has nothing to do with apples. It just so happens that in Spanish, the word ‘manzana’ means both ‘city block’ as well as ‘apple’. On this block, a discord of architecture occurs due to the presence of the works of four of Barcelona’s most important modernista architects from the early 20th century.

Definitely my favorite photo I took of Casa Mila

So much stone

Gaudi even did some of the iron
work himself

random photo
One of these buildings is the Casa Batllo by none other than Gaudi. Looking at the bottom half of the building it is easy to understand how it got the nickname “House of Bones”. The upper part of the façade seems to represent festivities: the balconies look like Venice masks and the circular ceramic tiles could be confetti. Not to mention the array of color from the broken tiles (that, just like the rest of the house, never seem to make a straight line). The roof tiles resemble scales and from the shape of the roof, it very well could be the back of a dragon. The rounded feature on the left side with a bulbous cross (excellent wording if I do say so myself) is said to possibly represent the sword of Saint George plunging into the back of the dragon. The enlarged stairwell plays the light from the skylight brilliantly as the color of the tiles descends from a dark cobalt to sky blue, pearl grey and finally white. It is possible to go inside the house and tour around, but we were already on a tour and the entrance price is abnormally high, but also goes to the up keep of the house.

Rock collumns in
Park Guell
yah! we're in the park!!

one of the many stone women
After Casa Batllo, and just up the street, was the Casa Mila. I really have no idea how to explain this one so if you don’t understand, just look at the photos. The whole façade, which covers two estates, is made of iron and stone, and is just incredible. I can not think of any one way to describe it. Some how Gaudi made stone look like it was flowing. He was also very innovative when it came to using recycled materials. All of the iron on the façade is recycled. Legend has it, that when George Lucas was seeking inspiration for Star Wars, he was in Barcelona. Is it just me, or do the chimneys look like Storm Troopers?

winding benches, fairy tale buildings, all overlooking barcelona
This is me.

The next and final stop on the tour was the Sagrada Familia, but seeing as we had already been, Sara and I opted out and went straight to Park Guell.

Tourist Trap.
one of the many places you chould
chill if you wanted to

Park Guell was another project for Eusebi Guell that Gaudi worked on. It was originally planned like a British ‘garden city’, and not a park. Over the 15 hectares of rocky sloping terrain, there are gardens, building viaducts, porters’ lodges, closure walls, squares and streets, and a covered market. In all of Gaudi’s work, there is an obvious effort to integrate nature. This is especially present in the park. The buildings in the park have a fairy tale feel to them thanks to their mushroom chimneys, symbolically connecting them to the magical world of gnomes, fairies and druids. All around the main square there is a bench, curving in and out, and fully decorated with mosaics. In this square you can look out over Barcelona.

i liked this spot
Still a happy tourist
still in the park

Here Sara and I took a bit of a breather for lunch and strolled around, taking all of this magnificence in. We had planned on going to the Picasso Museum, but we found out that tomorrow it is going to be free, so hopefully we can fit it in. Plus, neither of us was feeling overly energized and it was nearly raining, definitely spitting on us, so we went back to the hostel for some low key chill time.

back of the benches

Eventually our energy returned, as did our hunger. We took our sweet time trying to decide what to eat. Finally, I went up to the desk and grabbed all the food coupons/flyers I could and we slowly decided what to get. It came down to a pasta place. Odd, I know, but we had had our tapas and paella, and needed something, well, comforting, or as comforting as pasta can be.

I believe this is the Covered Market area
roof of the market

It was a pretty cool place. We did a ‘build your own’ kind of deal they had and each got delicious results. Even if the guy did forget Sara’s broccoli at first, I would still recommend it, if you ever go to Barcelona and are feeling like pasta.

looking out to the entrance of the park from the covered market area
do you get the fairy tale feel from the hansel and gretel houses?

We were eating really slowly and the guy came over to us very concerned that were did not like it or that something was wrong. Nothing was wrong at all, but his genuine worry for our taste buds was amusing.
La Rambla in the evening

Once again, we had eaten really early. The Spanish are even later eaters than the French, or at least I find. People seem to go out to eat around 9 PM, and then only go to the clubs/bars really not until 1 AM or 2 AM. But I am not really all that sure. Apparently there are even places that do not open until 3 AM and stay open until 6 or 7 in the morning. The girl at the desk at our hostel told us that this is ‘very Spanish’.

To be fair, most businesses do open later in the morning and close for a couple hours in the afternoon for their siesta but then remain open until 8 or 9PM. It is all just relative.

Also, the main meal here is also lunch. You can usually get a good lunch from the Menu del dia for eight Euros, and will come with a number of courses.

Mmmm (with a mouth full of) Pasta!!


  1. Great photos of Barcelona. As I mentioned before: Gaudi was a very interesting architect. Thanks for sharing.

  2. oh he was. i wish i had known more about him! There is so much more of his work in barcelona that we didnt get to see!!
    And anytime, well, any time i get around to it. haha