Thursday, May 10, 2012

Barcelona, Spain

We arrived in Barcelona at about 7am and made it off the boat an out of the port area about 7:30am. Yes, that is crazy early, and because of that it was FREEZING! I had not packed for 7am weather so I apologize that in the pics below I look like I am wearing pajamas. I have on as many layers as possible!!
Our first stop was the Christopher Columbus statue (Colon). It is very massive and we were disappointed that the elevator to the top wasn't running yet. The funny thing about the statue is that is isn't pointing to America...he is pointing the wrong way!!

The statute is at the start of Las Ramblas, the major shopping/pedestrian avenue in town. Since it was early there were no people out yet. I was excited to be able to enjoy it without all of the hustle and bustle and to be able to get some pretty pictures!
Rambling down the Ramblas.
Of course there is a McDonald's there


We dipped off of Las Ramblas to see Placa Reail. The guide books instructed us to be wary of pick pockets in this area, but I guess they like to sleep in because there weren't many people in the Placa at all.
Coolest part of the Placa--the light posts

We also made a detour to walk through Barrio Gothico/ the Gothic quarter. It was very old and quaint with cobblestones and then all of a sudden you walk out of the tiny alleys and see a monstrous Cathedral! Oh how beautiful it was!!



This choir area dates back to the 14th century!

In the cloister

We meandered through the Gothic quarter up to the Placa del Catalunya, a more modern area of town, and continued walking toward some of our most anticipated stops, the buildings designed by Gaudi.
Many of the buildings were decorated with all kinds of crazy things! It was so neat!
Also they don't have corners on the ends of the buildings--they look like they were cut off and made flat

Placa del Catalunya
people were posing like this statue and taking pics!

 Do you know about Gaudi? He was an artist/architect and he left his mark all over Barcelona. If you have no idea who I am talking about, google him. We say things are "gaudy" because of his name! Anyway, our first Gaudi stop was Casa Batllo (Bat-yo). Oh how beautiful and weird it is! The roof looks like a dragon and the front looks like skeletons (to me).


I thought that was maybe the coolest building I had ever seen until we walked a little further and saw Casa Mila/La Perdrera.  This building has no corners and was supposed to house businesses and apartments, although it didn't go over well because it is so funky looking! How are you supposed to furnish a room with no flat walls???

We pondered that as we headed to Sagrada Familia, probably the most recognizable place in Barcelona. This behemoth was also designed by Gaudi and remains unfinished, after decades and decades of work! It probably won't be completed until at least 2030! How cool! We had to wait in line for about 30 minutes but it was totally worth it. The outside fascade is SO intricate, I can't even tell you what all is on there! I know I saw birds, lizards, snakes, people, everything! The inside is truly breathtaking!! From the towering columns, to the windows, to the flower-like ceiling, Gaudi thought of every detail, and then some! We also took the time to walk through the museum to see how the church began and what it will look like when it is finally complete! Schedule us for a return trip to Barcelona in 20 years!!




ceiling



Ceiling!

We grabbed a cab up to Parque Guell, another Gaudi location. This park was originally build by Gaudi to be a housing development, that ultimately failed! After seeing this place I cannot imagine why! It is gorgeous! We were apparently there on May Day (May 1), a holiday in Spain and all over Europe, so it was PACKED with people, but we had fun nonetheless! I really liked being able to see Gaudi's personal home!

crowds at the main stair case at the parque

Hansel and Gretel houses

Relaxing on the long curvy bench



High up in the park. This is a giant cross I am leaning on


Gaudi's signature lizard/dragon

Columns and medallions


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Gaudi's house!


After the park we walked to the subway (which is easy to figure out, thank goodness), and headed to Placa Espanya. After seeing all of the whimsical Gaudi architecture, the Placa was a stark change. The massive museum toured over the beautiful fountains and plaza down below. It was cool to see how the old and new melt together in Barcelona!!



We walked and walked and walked to try to take the gondola to Montjuic, but alas, the machine wouldn't take our credit card and we didn't have enough euros!! Boooooo! I was really upset but Forrest suggested we take the subway back to Las Ramblas, enjoy some delicious tapas, and then ride the elevator in the Columbus statue. He is always so smart!!
It turns out a nice snack stop was just what we needed. We were very "Barcelona" and enjoyed sangria, tapas, and paella in a little restaurant right on the Ramblas.
Delicious Sangria! (It should have been-it was 8 euro!)

Seafood paella

No more tapas!

We enjoyed shopping and people watching down the Ramblas to the statue. However, all plans of getting up the statue were instantly dashed when we got there. Columbus was surrounded by police tape, ambulances, police cars, news crews, and onlookers! WHAT HAPPENED? There was a big crane with a bucket attached right in front, and a news crew confirmed my suspicion--some tourists were stuck in the statue and they were trying to get them down! After answering my question, the same news crew asked Forrest if they could interview him! Cool! They asked where he was from and what he was doing there and if he would ever go in that statue! How funny!!We never saw what happened in the end so I hope it all went well and they didn't have to use the crane and bucket!!

The buckets!

The crew that filmed Forrest

We were sad to get back on the boat because we LOVED Barcelona so much and had a spectacular day. We did have fun dinner plans at the Pinnacle Grill, one of the extra pay restaurants on the ship. I had booked us reservations for the "Le Cirque" night, where they use the menu from Le Cirque in NYC. They even had Le Cirque's personal china! Our dinner was delicious--especially Forrest's chateaubriand, which they wheeled out on a cart to cut in front of him! We also enjoyed their amazing creme brulee!!
Chateau briand with au jus, beets, and horseradish flan

Le Cirque's creme brulee recipe was on the bottom of the dish


It was a long, long day but a GREAT day! We definitely hope to get back to Barcelona again and explore everything we had to miss!!

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