The train from Paris to Barcelona was very pleasant and peaked my interest in exploring many of the rural areas that we whizzed by. We arrived travel weary to our AirBnB and were greeted by our host Lydia, a transplant to Barcelona from the Netherlands. The apartment is immaculately clean and thoughtfully appointed. More importantly, it has AC, which is very helpful for feeling “fresh” as the French like to say; and we don’t have to choose between cool or quiet.
First full day in Barcelona, we hit the ground running. After cobbling together a breakfast of odd leftovers from Paris, we headed off to visit the first of the three Gaudi buildings on our agenda for the day. Casa Battlo was interesting but claustrophobically crowded. Next up, La Pedrera which was a quite peaceful contrast in both the architecture/design and in how the place is run. The audio tour included with admission was quite good and I recommend it. Lucked out on a fantastic pizza place for lunch. You pay for the pizza by the kilo and the staff was very friendly. Fueled up and ready to go, our last stop on our Gaudi tour for the day awaited. La Sagrada Familia,UNESCO world heritage site, and perhaps Barcelona’s most famous tourist attraction does not disappoint. I loved how all three sites incorporated great displays of Gaudi’s mimicry of nature.
Day two in Barcelona. Leftover veggie paella for breakfast and a nine a.m. entry to the last stop in our Gaudi tour of Barcelona, Park Guell. My favorite parts of the park were the “Hypostyle Room” and the small museum in Gaudi’s old home. The Hypostyle room is an outdoor, covered space that was built partially to function as a market space. I would have loved to see that in action. In the museum, educational materials furthered the impression that Gaudi was a deeply spiritual, beautiful and Zen being. How fortunate to see the bedroom of this architectural genius. For anyone interested in geometry, or modernism, I highly recommend a pilgrimage to see his work.
Now it was time to hit the beach. Noah and I hopped aboard a city bus and got a nice above ground (we have mostly been taking the Metro) tour of Barcelona. The beach was hot, sunny, busy and fun. Even though there were hawkers selling, “Cerveza, agua frio, beer, beer,” cups of cold sangria, massages and tapestries, none were aggressive and I actually needed a cold water. Noah and I crowded on my one sarong and took turns swimming in the buoyant Atlantic. Topless sunbathing for women of all ages, shapes and sizes is de rigeur in Barcelona, very liberating.
Tonight is our last night to enjoy cava sangrias, tapas and our little taste of Barcelona. We found a really good Asian tapas restaurant called “The Last Monkey” in our neighborhood. It has been a good trip and tomorrow the three of us fly back through Paris and on to visit my family for a few days in NY.
On the cab ride to the airport our driver said that tourism is the primary industry in Barcelona and because of this, priority is placed on cleanliness and security. I agree.