I don’t have any business trying to photograph the great architectural sites of Barcelona. I don’t have any cool lenses. At one point, I was completely lense shamed into just putting my camera away, choosing instead to save memories in my heart, but then I got into Sagrada Familia and I wanted to at least take I was here pictures. Graciously, Gaudi just shows up so well in pictures that some of them came through in the end. We knew we had really big Gaudi stops to make still. These are his most famous: La Sagrada Familia and La Padrera. It was a little hard to face the crowds and the lines, but in the end, we didn’t regret one minute of the time we spent in line and we felt like we had plenty of space and time inside the buildings to soak them in. They are spectacular and where with other architecture, you feel like you are inside the architect’s work, in these buildings, you feel like you are inside of Antoni Gaudi’s mind they are so original and well… genius.
La Sagrada Familia
You see this massive cathedral from all over the city and you think it is going to look like some other Gothic cathedral you have been to. Then you walk in and it looks like a concept from the 1960s, with angular, clean lines, lots of natural light, and abstract decorative applications. I never could grasp where Gaudi used repetition. Every surface seemed to be unique and yet they made a harmonious whole.
This was the last residential project Gaudi worked on before dedicating the rest of his life to La Sagrada Familia. There are things about it that I struggle with. It looks Flintstonish to me sometimes with the curvaceous stone exterior and the nonangular window and door frames. But again, the space inside has such a feeling of calm. The sculpture garden on the rooftop is fantastic in the definition of being from one’s imagination. Who thought this was OK to do in 1910? It is completely out of time, but these sculptures against the Mediterranean sky are ethereal. They remind me both of the monolithic moai of Easter Island and of the wind-made sandstone sculptures at the national parks in Utah.
And then I just happened upon Vincon, a shop I had read about, but hadn’t planned to completely seek out. It is one of those really cool housewares stores, a combination of industrial and luxurious. I think I remained pretty cool, considering. I bought a huge paella pan to use for paella or many other foods on our backyard wood barbecue, a salad spinner, 10 linen napkins, and an olive oil pourer to keep near the stove for cooking. I took a picture of the woman checking me out. She was surprised, but she couldn’t know how long it has been since I’ve had a dose of retail cool like this.
Finally, I took some pictures of our wonderful boutique hotel, Villa Emilia. This is such a clever hotel: urban, hip, comfortable, smart. We have loved staying here and I will be using many of the ideas I have seen.
Lots and lots of visual stimulation in Barcelona. It will be resonating with me for some time.