Monday, May 4, 2015

Barcelona ~ Part One

In May of 2013, I traveled with Andy and his family to Barcelona for 10 days.  With the two year anniversary coming up, now is a great time to look back on the adventures we had and the memories we made.  I think it is pretty natural to never look back at the hundreds of pictures you take on vacation once you're back in "real life mode", so I'm glad that I have Lemon Butter Love to give me an excuse to look back through all of these pictures (the photo count was close to 900 for this trip) and remember all of the places we visited, as the aptly named Barcelona Seven.

Andy and I had been dating for about 7 months when we left Detroit for Catalonia.  Of course we both knew in our hearts and minds that we were in for the long haul but this trip really sealed the deal that Andy and I are quite compatible!  It seems like this trip was not very long ago but a lot has happened to us since then.  We bought a house, got married, took a two week to France, both started new jobs, lost a beloved pet and gained another one...and those are just the big things for us!

Our youngest nephew, who was just a baby then, will turn three-years-old this summer!  When we were in Barcelona, he was just starting to walk and we all loved taking turns walking the Bear :)

Andy and the Bear at Plaça Jacint Reventó

Watching 10-month old Daniel eat lemons and calamari was pretty entertaining.  He loved it!

The first few days in Barcelona we were all excited to see the places we read about.  Our first stop was La Sagrada Familia, miraculously the line wasn't terrible - I think we only waited 45 minutes and I'm so glad we did!

As you may know, La Sagrada Familia isn't like any church.  Work on the church began in March of 1882 and it is still not finished yet, 133 years later!  Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to work on the church starting at the end of 1883 and he worked on the church until his death in 1926; since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea.  The building could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century.  

The interior was designed to look like the the underside of a canopy of trees and it was awe-inspiring!  Gaudí was known for avoiding lines and right angles to follow his belief that he should follow nature so where you'd expect a sharp corner, a smooth arch was in it's place.

The stained glass filled the church with some pretty intense colors next to regular glass windows with natural light.  To have this vision and then create something so uniquely detailed and different than any other building is beyond magnificent!  I feel so lucky to have been in such a historically monumental building with my (now) family.

It is pretty cool how you can see the drastic difference in the weathered darker portions and the lighter new portions near the Nativity Façade on the back side of La Sagrada Familia.

I believe Ariel took this photo of an Arc.  I don't know it's name but this is a prime example of the beautiful architecture everywhere you turn in Barcelona...

^^ Love this pic!  They are way too cute!

After La Sagrada Familia we began our hike to Park Güell on Carmel Hill.

Park Güell officially opened to the public in 1926.  Before that it was the private estate of the Güell family.  Around 1900, entrepreneur Count Eusebi Güell bought land in the Gárcia district in Barcelona and employed Gaudí to build an estate for the rich, with luxury homes decked out with the newest technologies; a 'garden city' where nature and residences were intertwine, with panoramic views of the city.

Only the roads, the park and two houses ended up being built (one is now the Casa Museo Gaudí, where Gaudí lived from 1906-1926).  No one else wanted to live there.  So it became a large private garden that Güell allowed to be used for public events.  Can you imagine having this entire park as your private garden!?  Check out the link this link to the map of the park to see how large it is.

We spent a good amount of time taking in the views of the city and the sea on the the main terrace, which is surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent with elaborate mosaic tiling throughout...

^^ I adore this photo of mother and son.  I asked them to tilt their heads out so I could include the cross at the top of one of the pavilions at the entrance to the park in the photo.  Their heads tilting either way always makes me feel a little dizzy when I see this picture!

Gingerbread house topped with white and red wild mushrooms...

Just wandering off to take a picture of "Roadway in the Park" which resembles the trees in the park that are planted on top of them.  You can see the bird nests that were installed in the walkways.

Daniel, our tour guide, mapping out our next move...

^^ There were parrots everywhere!  I thought I got a good shot of him but he ducked (parroted?) away so I was left with a shot of a nest - I'll take it!

Using the camera timer in Sala Hipóstila to take a picture of the whole family.  I had only been part of the family for about 7 months at this point and I love that someone came up with this idea!  What a weird photo, I think I fit right in :)

After our first full day of tourist-ing (a noun in my book), we headed into the city to find a place for dinner.  And we very, very luckily stumbled upon Ristorante Gravin (fairly rated on my favorite travel site, TripAdvisor)  The food was outstanding!  Fresh, rich, tender...

Grilled octopus and mushrooms

Sea bass and artichokes

Fried chicken

Pork chops

This was a little guy is a dessert burger.  I distinctly remember making fun of James for ordering this.  I was foolish to doubt him, this thing was the bomb.  I wish I knew what it was, yum!

A couple of bottles of wine later and ... who knows!

We found out the hard way that the subway closes at 10 p.m. so after dinner we walked our 4 kilometers 'home' - an apartment we rented near Parc de Diagonal-Mar.  It was late May so it was slightly chilly but warm enough for a long, refreshing walk after a big day!

Up next, Barcelona ~ Part Two ...

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