Barcelona & Gaudí

I Continue From Here 

Backpacking France & Spain: Day 14 (19-Dec-2017)

La magia de Gaudí

I decided to take a stroll around the city. I stopped at a café for breakfast. There were a lot of office goers making quick stops to sit at the bar and grab their breakfast. I had omelet and toast. 

I had not done a lot of research on Barcelona before arriving. Though, I knew about Gaudí architecture, I was not really sure what to expect. But the city of Barcelona took me by a pleasant surprise and I remain mesmerised by the creativity and avant-garde thought process of Antoni Gaudí. I don’t think I need to tell more about these works that loudly cries out modernism in architecture. Gaudí took inspiration from nature for his works.

Casa Batlló - An apartment now converted into a museum. 

Casa Milà - An apartment turned museum. 

Sagrada Familia - Started in 1882 it remained on hold after Gaudi’s death in 1926. With his designs, the work resumed until the civil war when his office burned destroying all his drafts. The funding also remained a constraint. The work has now resumed and is dedicated to complete Gaudi’s most ambitious project. This construction takes inspiration from nature and is one of the best examples of modernism in architecture. The expressionist art work is a complete new look as compared to the gothic or Medieval architecture. The sun rays playing with the tinted glasses inside the church, creates a mesmerising views for the visitors.  I don’t think I have ever seen a construction as spectacular as this. The tickets can be expensive but I would still recommend the best available tour of this architectural marvel. As of now it is tentatively scheduled to be completed by 2026. My eyes turned moist when I read about Gaudi and saw his works. It is remarkable to observe that someone dedicated his entire life for art and his creations cries out loudly, his passion and innovativeness. 

The expressionist art work by Josep Maria Subirachs (Sculptor) are mind-blowing.

When one cannot stop admiring the exteriors, the interiors transport you into a totally different world.

And the work continues.

Park Güell - A park with impressive ceramic art. 

On my way to Park Güell, I stopped at a souvenir shop where I spoke to the shop keeper in Spanish. I had some basic conversation but it felt good to speak the language. Outside the park, African immigrants sold random items. They had their products displayed on a piece of white cloth that had threads attached on either ends. When the cops chased them, they rolled the cloth over and carried their articles. 

While retuning, I also stopped for some Vegetarian Paella at a local restaurant. What was interesting to note is that when an asian family left tips for the owners, they returned it back. In Europe, tipping is not common. I am not sure, but I believe the food includes the service charges as well.

In general, I loved the buildings in Barcelona, they are very impressive. It is also a bit surprising to see people, specially two wheelers ride on foot path. The architecture is much different here from France. The towns in France have more of a medieval feel and the shops are very organised and neat. For example, you have a store for every type of product sold. In Spain things are different, though they have shops selling specific items, they do not present or promote it in the same manner as in France. I found the Spanish are more lively and welcoming as people. The French too are so but in a different manner. They have a sophisticated feel to everything they do. I don’t regard one culture superior to another but would just like to note the differences as I travel along. 

I walked to a grocery store next to my hostel to buy a SIM card. It is run by a Punjabi family. An old lady was taking care of the store while the owner had stepped out for lunch. He had to return to give me the sim card as she did not know much about it. We had some conversation while we waited for the owner. He really made me wait a long time and even on his return was not very helpful. He wasn't quite knowledgeable to answer some of the question I had about the usage and data. 

I called up my Friend Fabien and we decided to meet at his place at around 8:30PM. He was planning on inviting some his friends over and cook some dinner and grab some drink. I carried some vegetables and beer. My friend had sent me some gifts for Fabien and he was delighted to receive them. I had carried some tea and garam masala too for him. Fabien is from France and all his friends (Franc, Bryce, Jen and Remi) who came over that day were French and it was a great experience. When they learnt that I spoke French, they felt comfortable. The only western culture I was exposed to thus far was American. But over this dinner, I got to see a different culture very closely. The friends shared a very special bond and I was very impressed with the kind of conversations they were having. It was interesting. These are young men and women and they seemed quite engaged in conversation about current political condition in Catalan and other topics. I truly enjoyed the evening spent with them. I was impressed by the warmth they shared among themselves that seemed so genuine and not at all superficial.

We drank wine and beer and played several interesting card games that I had never heard of in my life before. It was great fun as every time we lost, someone had to take a sip. It was interesting. When the alcohol got over we decided to buy some more form a store near by. There was some problem in doing so related to the time. All told me to do the talking at the store. As most of the grocery stores in Spain are owned by Indians, Pakistanis or Bangladeshis. Well there was no need to do any talking, the shop keeper quickly got us a black cover to hide our bottles and swiped the card in haste. 

It was around 2:00 AM that we decided to end the party. The others took the bicycle back. To use the public bicycles, one has to be a resident so I chose to walk the long 3kM distance. It was the best night walk I had done so far. As I swayed back to the hostel, I observed people still gathered in pubs and bars drinking and chatting. But most importantly it felt safe. I recollected that one night in Bangalore when I was walking back home at 1:00AM and the police had warned me about possible attacks that could be dangerous. Here, I felt completely safe and fearless. The police were there to protect us and the goons feared them. I did not have to fear about the thugs.  

Back at the hostel, I expected everyone to be asleep but the room lights were on and Jason (from China) was still awake. Jason and I began talking and we connected really well. He is from Schenzen and studies in Finland. Before he returns home in a week, he was traveling around Europe. Slowly, the others returned one after another. They had gone out on bar hopping arranged by the hostel. By the time I went to bed, it was 4:00 AM. It truly had been a great day. 

Continued Here 


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