Barcelona travel diary/travelogue

Barcelona - Day 2

Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló & La Pedrera

With yesterday being such a busy one, all intentions of making an early start went right out of the proverbial window (we did have a real window in the room, actually but I never threw anything out of it). The 7:30 start ended up being a 10 o'clock breakfast!

Our first stop for the day was the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi's most famous piece of work, and arguably the symbol of Barcelona. You know the building, right? The tall spires with intricate designs? Wait a minute, why am I trying to describe it when there are pictures that can do a much better job than I?!

Sagrada Familia's spires
Sagrada Familia's spires

As ever, the place was heaving with tourists, people queuing around the block to get inside the cathedral. I didn't quite see the point, to be honest, because inside it's essentially a building site, or at least the pictures I'd seen of it to date made it appear to be that way. I read somewhere that the ongoing work is likely to continue until 2040. Someone ought to get a new project manager or foreman on the case, I reckon! Regardless, I think the best way to see the Sagrada Familia is to step right back from it, across the road, as far back as you possibly can in fact. That's what we did - it's the only way you can actually get a half decent picture of it because the spires are so flamin' tall! Also, looking up at the spires to get a photo is not actually all that nice when the sun's right above you, unless burnt retinas are your thing.

Sagrada Familia from a distance - teh best way to view it
Sagrada Familia from a distance - the best way to view it

After walking around all the streets surrounding the cathedral trying to find the perfect photo vantage points, we hopped back on the metro and made our way to another of Gaudi's famous buildings, Casa Batlló. If The Sagrada Familia didn't look like an enticing prospect as far as interiors are concerned, this building more than made up for it. The entry fee was €16, and that included the interior and also the roof (literally on the roof and in the 'loft' area, if that is the correct description for it). Each and every room in the house had some kind or organic theme, and straight lines were definitely not in Gaudi's repertoire. After all, why make a room look like the inside of a cardboard box when you can make it look like the inside of a fish's stomach. Or something like that. Once again, descriptions cannot really do the place justice, so let your eyes do their thing with this selection:

The front of Casa Batlló
The front of Casa Batlló

View from inside the drawing room
View from inside the drawing room

Looking directly up at a light fitting and the swirly pattern on the ceiling
Looking directly up at a light fitting and the swirly pattern on the ceiling

The rooftop area was particularly interesting in that not only was it functional (used for hanging out laundry with ventilation all round), but truly a thing of beauty - everywhere I looked there seemed to be interesting shapes and shadows to take photos of. If you, dear reader, happen to find yourself reading this as you prepare for a trip to Barcelona, be sure to go to Casa Batlló and pay for the roof-top tickets too, no scrimping please!

Arched shapes in the loft area abound
Arched shapes in the loft area abound

More arches

The rooftop of Casa Batlló, like a dragon's back (some say)
The rooftop of Casa Batlló, like a dragon's back (some say)

Just around the corner from Casa Batlló is the Fundacio Antoni Tapies, an interesting looking building on account of the reams of what looks like barb wire looms along the top. It's 'modern art' you see, although I can't claim to understand what it's all about!

Fundacio Antoni Tapies
Fundacio Antoni Tapies - what is all that wire for?

After that brief diversion, we carried on walking up the road (Passeig de Grácia) to visit our third and final Gaudi site of the day, the Casa Milà (better known as La Pedrera). From the outside, the building looks like a series of waves. Once again, straight lines are just not on show here. Inside there are two openings that allow light to reach even the lowest floors (effectively, a distorted number 8 shape), but the best part of this building is the almost lunar rooftop. All the chimneys have been decorated such that you forget they have a purpose - it's like walking around an open air modern art sculpture museum. Actually, that's pretty much what it is, all things considered.

Looking down inside La Pedrera
Looking down inside La Pedrera

Elaborate chimneys
Elaborate chimneys on top of La Pedrera

In the evening we stayed local again, didn't venture out too far (I was quite happy to take another rest). The weather had been beautiful, perfect for photos actually, but you can have only so much of it before you start to flag, and that's what we were doing. It had been a busy day visiting and viewing the best of Gaudi's work, but we weren't quite done with him yet - tomorrow it'd be time to visit Parc Guell. (To follow)