Friday, February 1, 2013

What I got up to in BARCELONA, with pictures!

Hey you guys :)

I returned from Barcelona safe and well last Wednesday after a few amazing days of sun, beautiful architecture, and slightly warmer temperatures. As promised, here are some of my (many many many... I blame digital photography) pictures that I took. Click them to enlargen, please don't use without permission. The one right above is a partial view of the city taken from the Park Güell which is situated atop one of the hills in the city. The church you can see in the middle-right-ish part is the Sagrada Familia, which was (like the Park Güell itself) designed by Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), a very famous Catalan architect. Gaudí's work can be found all over the city and I really love how incredibly imaginative and colorful it is! Also, he very rarely used perfectly straight lines in his designs because they don't exist in nature. Below are some more examples of his work from the Park Güell:

This pics don't really capture the amazing wealth of detail though! It's all so intricate and well thought through! This was even more the case in the Sagrada Familia, a church project he took over from another architect who gave up. He greatly developed and elaborated on the original plans, but died before it could be finished. It's still not finished, mostly because they had to stop multiple times because of funding problems. But I really really hope that I'll live to see it finished - I have rarely been so impressed with anything in my life! I was overwhelmed when I stepped into the church. I almost cried at the beauty of it, to be honest. And every detail, every column, every spire, every angle, every image, every part of the outer design on the facade, has a symbolic meaning intended by Gaudí. He had such a vision for this building! It looks like an amalgam of different styles but it still has its own interior logic. It's also mathematically consistent, and parts of the plans were finalized by the people working on it now based on computer animations that were fed his original data and formulas, because everything adds up in proportions again. Here are some pictures from both the inside and the outside of the Sagrada Familia.

 This is part of the more traditionally Gothic side of the building.

 And this is the other side of the same building... it goes so far beyond the usual Gothic style!
Now let's enter!
We were there in the morning, and the sun painted so many colors unto the white surface of the church because of all the wonderful stained-glass windows! It was filled with light, not at all broodish and dark like so many older churches.

The roof structure was fashioned to resemble a forest, with the columns symbolizing the stems of trees.
This was a balcony overlooking one of the entrances. Gaudí wanted there to be many entrances because there is not only one true way to God.
Stairs and elevator (to the right of it) to go unto the higher levels and into the spires. Since the church is still being built, the windows in that part of the church do not have colored glass in them yet.

Honestly, also with the music being played and the way the light fell into the church, I felt a little reminded of Rivendell. My Mum had the same thought :) I am not at all a religious person, but I was awed by this place. I really hope I can go back one day!

Alright, you guys are probably fed up with my Gaudí-gushing by now, but there were two other houses he designed that we went to look at. Only from the outside though, because admission was so expensive...

Looking at them... I don't know. How did he come up with this?! I felt like... I don't know, like he had a dream one night and entered another dimension in his sleep. And when he woke, he tried to recreate what he saw there, and he just kept trying to get it right.
He even designed the stone plates on the street these houses are at:

So yeah... loads and loads of Gaudí! Don't hate me ^^'' I also did some shopping of course, and I checked out a secondhand English bookstore I'd found via google before leaving. It's called Hibernian Books and it's awesome! It took a few wrong turns to find it though :P I spent a long time browsing there and you'll see what I bought in my StS post tomorrow. Stupid me didn't take any pics of it though, sorry >.< But unlike the secondhand stores here in Switzerland (not that there are many that have English books), this one was wonderfully ordered with its own fantasy & SF section, as well as antique books, classics, newer books, crime, several non-fiction themes... in many of those, the books were even in alphabetical order! I'm used to relying on luck and recognizing bookspine design / title as I browse. This was really nice :)

Right behind our hotel, the city branched out into the old city and Gothic Quarter with its many small, narrow and angled little alleyways and side-streets with cool shops, amazing food, more sights, and lots of other stuff! I didn't take all that many pics there, but my sister did with her professional camera and maybe I'll do a second post with some of her shots. Here are two of mine:

Yeah, sorry... another church! This time it's the cathedral. Typical Gothic style.
Street art! Those chairs are real, not painted or anything!!! I thought that was awesome ^^ That area had a sort of hipster-ish feel to it with lots of little cafés and vintage boutiques.

Now... food! There's a big market hall situated directly the Rambla, the big tourist-ish street leading from the Catalunya square all the way down to the sea. They had tons of fruit and chocolate. Look!

I was salivating. My sister bought loads of chocolate and I stole 2 or 3 from her :P With her approval, of course, so I don't know if it's technically stealing.

My sister was in Barcelona before in the summer, and she said at that time, the actual tourist season, the Rambla was full of dressed-up people like this! There were only 2 or 3 this time, sadly. This one reminded me of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone ;) Ziri and Madrigal...

Finally some more impressions:
 This is the former bull fighting arena. That 'sport' is forbidden in Catalonia now.
 This building is dedicated to art now. This is what you see when you stand all the way at the top and turn around towards the city:

The Arc de Triomf. My sister and me were actually looking for something else, then got lost, then stumbled upon it by accident ^^'

Time to wrap this up! Bottom line: I had an amazing time in Barcelona and can only recommend the city to anyone! Going off-season as we did, hotels and flights were really cheap and the city was neither as crowded nor as stifling hot as it is in the summer /fall. I definitely want to go back at some point and give it a little more time!

To conclude this post, I give you two shots of the Alps I took on the flight back. Even though I live in Switzerland and can see these snow-covered tops on every clear day when I walk past Lake Zurich, I'm rarely aware of how magnificent they are. Whenever I was on a plane flying over them so far, it was cloudy and I could see nothing. This time it was different, and I was really impressed and now understand much better why so many English authors of the Romantic period were fascinated with them! My pics don't really do them justice though...

Congrats if you made it to the bottom of this insanely long post :P Thanks for sticking around! Sorry to all Spanish / Catalan people if I made any mistakes in what I said about the pictures. I am no expert :/ Feel free to correct me!
I promise to get back to blogging regularly, posting reviews, and answering comments now :)


  1. Awesome picks! Ioved Barcelona because it's so vibrant and colorful, modern and urban but still doesn't have that crowded big city feel like Madrid.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your trip!

    1. You summed it up pefectly! It's vibrant and urban but it doesn't feel hectic and polluted like many other big cities. I mean it does have a certain size, but it still feels somewhat small and like you can get an overview or 'mental map' of it. Can't really compare it to Madrid though, this was my first time in Spain :) Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you like the pics ^^

  2. Wow!! What an amazing experience that must have been for you :D And thank you for sharing some of your gorgeous pictures of the trip! I LOVED the Gothic feel of the buildings & the Sagrada Familia Church Project seems truly breathtaking (though I'm sure MUCH more so in person) I definitely hope to see it with my own eyes someday ♥♥ And like you I'm not much of a church kind of girl haha. And I thought of Rivendell too!! Though the ceilings kind of reminded me more of Lothlorien -probably because it's similar to a forest like you said! :)

    1. It truly was amazing, I hope you'll get to go one day too :) It's really impressive! And you're right, Lothlorien is a great fit too! I like looking at churches as works of art and architecture, even though I'm not a fan of organized religion. If there is a famous one in a city I'm visiting, I always check it out. But the only other one that I can think of that impressed me as much as the Sagrada Familia is the dome in Milan. It was built over a period of almost 600 years!
      Thanks for commenting <3

  3. WOW, amazing pictures! Everything you took pictures of and described sounds absolutely magical. Thank you for sharing it all. I can not wait to go to Barcelona one day