We enjoyed our walking tour so much the first day, that we had to join the folks at Tour Me Out for a tour of Gaudi’s most important buildings. So we all met at the Plaça Reial once again (by now we were becoming quite comfortable with taking the subway and finding our way around town) where we started our tour. I have to say it was much quieter in the plaça that morning, what with the Manchester City fans all dissipated after they lost the soccer match the night before. We had watched it on the big screen in the hostel while eating dinner and getting more instruction on the sport for a lovely chap from Germany, Reinhart.
At any rate, off we went of a long walk, accompanied by What’s up, Olga and Christopher (a Manchester fan). We started with the Palau Güell, with its interesting iron balcony railings and chimneys, then made our way back to our own street, Passeig de Gràcia, for a look at a house that has now been converted to a museum (Casa Battlo), complete with furniture that was designed by the artist himself. As a matter of fact, even the street is lined with the tiles that were meant for this house; the tiles were his special design but were manufactured in too great a quantity, so they were put to good use by the city as street tiles. Of course I didn’t take any pictures, in spite of walking past this building more than once. Ariane told me I’d have plenty of time to do that later and besides, she didn’t like appearing like a tourist! One of the most striking features of this building, in my mind, are the balconies which resemble skulls or perhaps masquerade masks. You decide; have a look at this link from the Casa Battlo Museum. After you’ve studied the site, you can tell me I need to research Gaudi more thoroughly before I write my blog. Sorry Gaudi.
Further up the street, was La Pedrera (Casa Milà), a large apartment building that was said to be so ugly during construction that mothers would tell their children to shield their eyes as they walked past. At this time, the building is under renovation, so we could only see parts of the bottom floor. Apparently, the building is rent-controlled so that you might only pay 250 Euros per month to live there. Sign me up!!
We took the subway again and made our way to the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece. The outside has several spires and so much meaning is built into each surface. Since Gaudi’s death, the exterior has been under construction and is scheduled to be completed in the next 5 years or so. It’s hard to tell. One side which is nearing completion shows the influence of the new architect and our tour guide explained some of the references to Gaudi in the sculptures. We planned to return and visit the inside the next day as the tour was over and it was time for another great lunch at a local café.
We walked over to the El Born neighbourhood and found a great plaza to eat at, along with What’s up and Olga. Lunch was a typical 3 course meal, soup, main and coffee or dessert with wine (of course). The sun was shining and the conversation flowed. We knew we also had a great evening of paella and flamenco ahead, back at the hostel.
And a great evening it was! Olga and I sat at a table directly in front of the small stage. We enjoyed our sangria and paella while the artists sang and danced. I can’t tell you how long I have wanted to see an authentic flamenco. I was quite young when my parents brought back a set of castagnettes from Puerto Rico. I used to pretend I was dancing and swirling my skirt. My love of Spanish guitar started at the same time. And here was the culmination of that little girl’s dream! I’ve uploaded a bit of the evening’s performance on Youtube for your enjoyment. It doesn’t capture nearly as much of the excitement and passion of the music and dance. If you really want to see their performance visit their blog at Sarsalé.