Barcelona had become a familiar and comfortable base. The city offers much more to see and do but our visit was rapidly coming to an end. On our last full day, it was time to see the places in Barcelona that we didn’t want to miss. We can never predict when we will be back.
Our standard route from our hotel to La Rambla took us by La Boquería. Stopping for food at one of the stalls in the market was an easy option. As a bonus, we could quell our pimientos de Padron cravings. This would be our ninth serving of these small green peppers on this trip. Some say that pimentos de Padron are addictive. We don’t believe it. We can stop eating them anytime. Well, at least after we have another plate or two.
Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau, Palau de Musica Catalana, and Gaudi’s Park Guell were our day’s destinations. Together, Hospital de Sant Pau and Palau de Musica Catalana are listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site for the Modernisme design. Park Guell is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site as part of Gaudi’s works.
After a Metro ride, we were at Hospital de Sant Pau. Designed by architect Lluis Domenech I Montaner, San Pau was built between 1901 and 1930 and to this day continues to be used as a hospital. A tour allowed us to see the curved lines and distinctive, Modernisme decorative elements in the interior of the entrance building along with the central courtyard.
Our next stop was the Palau de Musica Catalana. On a guided tour, we learned of the building’s history and viewed its beautiful lobbies and entry halls. The tour guide saved the best for last. Inside the main concert hall, spectacular stained glass skylights and windows light the open space. Along with the heavy sculptural decorations, the stained glass creates a jewel box-like interior space. Alas, picture taking was not allowed inside Palau de Musica (check Wikipedia for pictures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palau_de_la_M%C3%BAsica_Catalana). If you visit Barcelona, don’t miss seeing the interior of Palau de Musica. Some guidebooks suggest catching a daytime concert in the hall. In retrospect, this would have been a great way to see the space. These concerts often sell out well in advance. Plan ahead and you can catch a concert in this spectacular venue. We wish we had.
From Palau de Musica Catalana we headed to Gaudi’s Park Guell. To save time and arrive while the park was actually open, we took a taxi. Designed as part of a planned but never built upscale housing development, Park Guell extends Gaudi’s Moderisme design elements to landscape design. Elements of Gaudi’s structures within the park evoke trees and waves. At the same time, the trencadís-style mosaics that coat the parks serpentine benches, sculptures, and buildings have no direct natural reference. An afternoon can easily be spent just investigating the details of the extensive mosaics. Though Park Guell is a tourist attraction for many, most of the park users were locals who jogged or strolled through the open spaces or spent the warm afternoon lounging on Gaudi’s mosaic coated benches. Somehow it seems that this would please Gaudi.
With our day’s primary sightseeing goals completed, we headed to the area around Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar to find a wine bar, La Vinya del Senyor. The bar was crowded, but we were fortunate to be able to squeeze into a small table. The wines offered were well chosen. Of all of our attempts to taste wine during our trip, this was the most successful. We came away a couple of good, distinctive bottles to bring back with us. As a bonus, nearby a boutique pastry shop, Bubo (http://www.bubo.ws/), offered macarons in a kaleidoscope of colors and flavors. Becky added a shocking number of these to our vacation loot.
Spain is famous for its olive oil. We were looking to find some good bottles to bring home. Serendipitously, our day’s route took us past two specialty shops, Olisolvia.com and Oroliquido, where we could both taste and buy oil. We ended up with four bottles. We should have bought more. The oil is better and cheaper than what we get at home.
I don’t know why, but it seems something bad happens on our last day of our overseas trips. I kept expecting some sort of mini disaster to befall us, but this time everything went smoothly. The worst thing that happened was Becky only ordering dinner for just one rather than two while I held a table at Mooz, an excellent small chain of vegetarian restaurants. This was hardly a crisis. I feared that our uneventful day would bode poorly for our return trip.
Pictures from Barcelona:
Pictures from Gaudi’s Park Guell: