16 May Barcelona
Day 1 Barcelona
Walked around and took pics of local area. Booked into paella class for the next night. Had fantastic tapas (pinxos) – payment based on toothpicks.
Went to house Gaudi built, Casa Batilo. Went to Inglesia Santa Maria – took photo of brass statue, very modern. Went to paella class. Boqueria (?) markets, prepped tapas, sangria, seafood paella. Went back to Travel Bar for free shots, more sangria, and a fun quiz night. The winners shared their prize, a bottle of Jaegermeister, as shots with everyone.
Christine slept in till 10. Host gave us a lecture on how dangerous meat is and how vegan is much better. Apparently smoking is fine.
Metro to Colonia Guel, among other things the famous Gaudí Crypt. The crypt is unfinished as Gaudí abandoned the project in 1914 after an horrendous failure of another project with Guel (Park Guel, not to be confused with Colonia Guel) when the money ran out. He devotes the rest of his life to working on the Sagrada Familia.
Colonia Guel was created as a brand new community to house the corduroy and velvet factory and workers to remove them from the horrors of Barcelona city at the time. This was while the fascist government was murdering its owns citizens and trying to stop children from being educated.
The town is beautiful, with incredibly unique buildings designed by Gaudi. This is where the Crypt is located. We spent a couple of hours walking the streets, with a pleasant stop for a pub lunch.
First stop was a train and bus trip up the mountain to visit Mont Juic. It’s referred to as “the castle” but really it’s a fort, and it has an appalling history. Spanish government troops used the fort to torture and execute citizens of Barcelona, and also to rain thousands of bombs onto the city below. The structure which was supposed to protect citizens, attacked them instead, even in the face of world wide condemnation.
With the fall of Franco, democracy was finally restored, and control of the fort given back to the Catalan people.
Watching the news not long ago, with Catalunya working so hard to secede from Spain, and observing the brutal response of the government, including jailing the President of the Catalan parliament, I thought at the time how disgusting the situation was and wondered how they had the gall to behave in that way. Now I’ve seen some of the history, I note it’s simply par for the course for a government bereft of humanity. In a way little has changed since 1640.
I left the castle feeling quite despondent and sad to think of all the lives destroyed, even including some of the most innovative and remarkable people of the time. Honestly I was glad to leave it behind.
From there we went to Park Guel. This vast area was a failed development by Guel and Gaudi. It was meant to be an exclusive community for high society, full of beautiful and unique homes, and equally beautiful and unique parklands.
Unfortunately no one wanted to live there because it was considered too far from the city. Today of course it is right on top of the city.
It failed spectacularly and rotted for many years until the Catalan government bought it and began restoration work.
Gaudi’s unique genius is fully on display, with architectural and artistic structures that blow the mind.
Our final site for the day and an incredible last experience was the famous Sagrada Familia. Gaudi devotes the last 23 years of his life solely to this work, and is buried there in the crypt.
Work goes on to this day exactly as Gaudi had planned. He hoped that each architect who took over his work in the decades to come would keep to his plans but also express their own unique style.
It’s hoped that the work will be completed in 2026, exactly 100 years after Gaudi’s death.