The main attraction, for me, in Barcelona was a chance to see the strange and wonderful architecture around the city created by Antonio Gaudi. Only a few hours after leaving the plane, we were walking to Sagrada Familia, the ginormous Church of the Holy Family begun in the late 1870's. Gaudi spent over forty years of his life on this project, living on site the last 12 years, and it is truly a sight to behold. Always, eternally still being constructed according to his directives, it doesn't appear it will be finished anytime soon, in my lifetime or yours. You can only marvel at the details; the building is so large you can't even take it in as a single image.
Our next Gaudi stop was Casa Batllo, an apartment building that must have been the talk of the town back in the day. This is another decorative wonder on steroids, inside and out, with colorful glass and flowing wood shapes throughout the building. The idea behind the design was to create the feeling of water in color, design and light. A fabulous sculptural garden crowns the flat roof with colorful mosaics. It all looks so contemporary; yet it is a hundred years old.
The final Gaudi stop was La Pedrera, a much larger apartment building that covers an entire city block. Although the outside appearance is less decorative than Casa Batllo, the inside is once again fabulous, and yet another rooftop garden with multiple sculptures reached by staircases on many levels is your reward for reaching the top. Built in 1906-1912, one of the apartments inside is open for touring, and I was amazed at how trusting the Spanish must be, to allow so many visitors to see the contents with very few constraits and protective devices in place. This makes for great photographs when you don't have to shoot through glass or from behind ropes.
And yes, there were a few books on the desk in the apartment (you knew there would be a book in here, somewhere).
Such an exciting and beautiful start to our big adventure, but of course there was more to come. We'll check out Barcelona shopping for paper in the next post!