Part 11: Barcelona Day 2 - Plaza Catalunya and Sagrada Familia


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The Trip

We had to get our rental car and that turned out to be more traumatic than expected.  The Hertz rental office was not close to us and was somewhat hidden.  The cars were 5 stories underground in the narrowest parking structure known to civilized man.  The streets of Barcelona are frenetic to say the least.  But the big surprise was the parking under the hotel.  It required a guide and several access cards to gain entrance.  The entrance to the private parking was "car width plus 2 inches", maybe less.  A multiple point turn was required to be able to line-up for entrance.  Once we got into the private parking, all was well, but it was tight-jaws getting there.  When we had the car situation resolved, we decided to head out on foot to see some of the local sights.  Our first stop was right outside our hotel at the Plaza Catalunya.  Then we hiked down the street to the high-rent district and from there to Sagrada Familia which is Antoni Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Our hotel was right across the street from Plaza Catalunya, the main plaza in town (by tourist density).  From our hotel window, we watched bus after bus drop off loads of tourists at the plaza.  We passed the plaza on our way to Corte Ingles, a huge department store.

The plaza had fountains and bazillion pigeons drinking and bathing in the fountains.

Plenty of nice fountains in the plaza with intricate sculptures.

The Roman Baccus theme is always popular with statues.  Grapes and naked women: let the party begin.

There were tens of thousands of pigeons in the plaza.  And to make things worse, people fed them attracting more.  Kathleen had to watch them scatter.

Pigeon Pot Pie - its whats for dinner!

From our window in the hotel which overlooks the plaza, we watched the city workers pressure wash the plaza each morning to hose away the pigeon droppings.  This fountain was drained and cleaned daily.

A crown of thorns to prevent the pigeons from alighting on the statues.

There were nicely-tended rose gardens in the plaza.

More interesting statues.

As a stroke of (bad) luck there was an important soccer game in town and the Italian fans showed up en-masse.  They, were in the plaza shouting, singing and marching.  The riot police were there with crowd-control equipment.  These fellows were loud but otherwise well-behaved.

The largest sculpture in the plaza.

Our hotel was under the Samsung sign.  New, contemporary architecture and very nice inside.  The building to the left in the Banco Espania.

These happy fellows were part of the riot police on duty in the plaza.

We started marching toward the high-rent district and the sun came out giving nice views of the great buildings on the boulevard.

Note the detailed embellishments on the building.

Note the intricate iron work on the balcony and the patterns in the wall.

Casa Batllo was one of Gaudi's buildings and was turned into a museum.  There were huge lines to get into the building.  We settled for a view from the street.

Gaudi was famous for his odd patterns and non-linear edges.

In the distance, I could see another structure that if not designed by Gaudi, was clearly influenced by his style.

This building clearly shows his influence.  Note the detail under the smaller balconies.

Down the street was another Gaudi-designed building, this one likely an apartment building.

Note the odd iron-work and non-symmetrical contours.

We walked north toward the Sagrada Familia cathedral and came upon this odd work.  I was surprised it was not yellow.

The story here is not the statue but rather that the base of it is a gas station.

Many stunning buildings in Barcelona.

Our first view of Sagrada Familia. Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece.

We were unable to get a tour or gain access to the inside, so we don't know the full story other than Gaudi died before the cathedral was completed.  Who is funding the completion or setting the architectural standards now is unclear.  What IS clear, however, is that this is the icon of Barcelona and the biggest tourist attraction in town.  Logically, one could conclude that the city fathers would be driving the completion of the building.

At least 3 cranes were at work as part of the construction.  This side of the building appears to be the entrance.

The spires are truly unique.

The upper parts of the spires are covered in tile in the classic Gaudi style.

Gaudi's vision of Christ on the cross.  The cross is made of I-beams.  The figures below are macabre, to say the least.

This was our last full day in Barcelona.  Despite being here for a few days, I am still in awe at the number of tourists on foot and the frenetic pace of the traffic.  That said, should your travels bring you to the area, this city is a "must-see" for many reasons.  If you plan to see any of the Gaudi buildings, I would strongly advise getting fully-paid tickets well in advance or be prepared to suffer being skunked like we were.

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