Barcelona :: From Gaudi to Graffiti
– D.Kay & Epsilon
On our last day in Barcelona La Sagrada Familia was at the top of our list. We had bought tickets online the day before and found out that the signs for “Caixa” that we’d seen 600.000 of while walking around the city were the very machines where we could get them printed. As luck would have it, one of said machines was embedded in the wall of the building opposite our hostel, haHA!
This was the only day we had breakfast at our hostel/apartment building (C40 Rooms), mostly because we were out and about before it was served (10AM) and Tiril got her hands on a favourite of hers: Pancakes!
We sauntered about for a while, again, taking in the lush trees and subtle entertainment of the dudes selling birdsong-whistles on La Rambla (yeah, your social intelligence is quite on par, that WAS sarcasm)… I caught a glimpse of the murderous gleen in Tiril’s eyes and heard her musings on poisoning said whistles before we reached the metro and were whisked away from that particular noise.
Does anyone else find it ironic that the name “TIRIL” has been used to describe the sound of birdsong? Sometimes I just love life ;-D
My feet were ever so grateful to us both and decided to play nice – something I welcomed with great enthusiasm. Seriously, you can walk yourself to death in Barcelona… bring sneakers. We reached La Sagrada Familia at around 11-ish and went straight past the line. We had a schedule because we’d booked access to one of the towers and if you’re not there on time you miss your spot. No complaints, no refunds. I barely had time to close my gaping mouth (it fell open when I entered, I couldn’t help it) before we headed for the lift. It was a swift trip up to the top of the tower and from there we’re left to our own devices to meander our way down again. You can’t actually go wrong though, the stairs go… well… down.
The first thing you do is go from the tower you came up in and onto a caged “bridge”. Obvious safety precaution for tourists with suicidal feet, very nice. This bridge offers a fantastic view of the city and some closeup views of the outside structure itself.
Gaudi took over the project La Sagrada Familia in 1883, but it still isn’t finished. In fact, when he died in 1926 only near a quarter of the project was completed… I guess it’s a good thing he had vision, because he would never see it finished. Then… The same may be true for us at this rate, it’s a neverending project, it seems. But don’t let that discourage you from going. If you are going to Barcelona and only have the time to see one thing, I would recommend La Sagrada. We spent about three/three and a half hours there and the time flew by. We took our time walking down from the tower, there are many smaller windows you can get a view from and most of them (the views) quite spectacular. The carved staircase going downwards called to my “historical whisper”-mode and I felt a certain level of awe descending the many steps. Who had gone there before us? Who had carved this particular stone? Who had put this in its place and what was their story…?
Of course, that made it especially “awesome” when we saw stuff like this:
We saw quite a bit of graffiti in Barcelona, there’s tons of it. Some of it’s just stupid tags, no skill required, just plain vandalism. Others were real pieces, the artform of the streets, impressive work. Either way it was much more than I’m used to seeing so it really caught my eye. I took quite a few pictures of the really good ones, unfortunately I came home to discover some of the files on my camera were corrupt and a good portion of those were obviously the graffiti-pictures 😦
Anyway, back to La Sagrada, we got down to the ground floor again (the last couple of stairs were some great “snailhouse” project, I cheated a bit and made one of them the feature image for my previous blog post – because it’s Gaudi and the picture was really cool. you can see it here).
The rest of the time in La Sagrada was spent just being mesmerized by the thousands of details, big and small, in the nave. I especially loved the rich, deep colouring of the mosaic windows – with the pillars branching like trees, the colours and light really gave you the feeling of sitting in a surreal forest… This was particularly the case after I found a small bench that allowed me to sit out to the side and sort of “hidden away” from the rest of the room.
We went out to see the Nativity Facade, probably one of the most iconic parts of La Sagrada and like the inside it’s full of details. You can literally stand there for hours to take it all in. The birth of Jesus, donkeys, holy men, geese(!), large, leatherback turtle at the base on the pillar, oh man! If I hadn’t been so exhausted (yeah, my feet again) I would have spent those hours studying everything further…
After La Sagrada Familia we had one last stop: Park Güell. The park didn’t get the time it deserved, but at this point I really was all Gaudi’ed out. We took the easy way there, getting the metro to the VALLCARCA stop and walking down Ave. de Vallcarca, taking a left at Baixada de la Gloria. Following the Gloria we reached the heavenly escalators that make the climb to Park Guell a lot easier! (There are even small shops along the street where you can browse souvenirs, jewellry, bags etc etc…)
When we reached the top the first thing I noticed was: graffiti. Yeah… Someone had tagged “Free Park Guell!” with very visible, very red spraypaint, trying to get a message of occupation through. I wont pretend I investigated that one further, but we did see more signs as we proceeded up the hill. Eventually we saw a house were we think the “would-be-rebels” might be plotting their next dastardly moves…
The park has several vendors, of course, but I’m not going to complain about these, considering we bought somewhere in the vicinity of a million earrings from them while we were there.
Finally, we reached the benches I was there to see (primarily). They were magnificent and remarkably comfortable, considering they are tiled and quite hard…
The way back to fetch our luggage opened up for some more graffiti’ed surfaces, which is good considering I lost the other photos. Some examples of the really good stuff:
And lo and behold. The piece de resistance! Here we have mosaic, Gaudi AND graffiti!