Barcelona, Spain was where I spent my birthday in 2008 - with Jeanette treating me of course. It was about a 2 hour flight from Munich and a further 40 minute train ride into the city, before taking the subway to our hotel.
The single thing I must say that is most striking about Barcelona is the influence by Antoni Gaudi's work. Gaudi is a renowned Art Noveau architect who lived in the late 1800's in Barcelona. He was credited for creative buildings of the "art noveau" style which are today being exhibited in Barcelona. "Quaint" is perhaps the word I would use to describe his handiwork but nevertheless, the use of bright colours in his mosaic work is a signature he can rightly claim to be unique.
Some of his work, like the Sagrada Familia - a fantastic looking church - remains unfinished at the time of our visit. It was undergoing some serious interior work by present day sculpturers.
Our time spent at Park Guell, Gaudi's creation on behalf of owner Eusebi Guell for Barcelona's aristrocacy was enjoyable. The park was preceded by a steep walk up to the park gates and within the park. It was tiring but enjoyable nonetheless. The park featured stone scupltures, his signature tiling and fascinating building design. The park also offered stunning views of Barecelona city - we were fortunate that during the visit, the rain clouds had dispersed to allow a single ray of sunlight to slip between it. Watch out for this picture! My 10mm Ultra Wide Angle lens was used to create dramatism in this shot - no prizes for guessing how pleased this shot turned out to be!
We were also treated to Spanish musicians and traders from India and China hawking their wares for bargain basement prices (and quality) - simply an enjoyable day had by us. The colourful mosaic tile designs were clearly displyed throughout the park - statues of a mosaic dragon, the seats along the terrace and through the buildings and pylons etc.. The park was designated world heritage by UNESCO.
On Barcelona's mains street - Passeig de Gracia - Gaudi had two buildings - Casa Battlo and Casa Mila (La Pedrera owhich means "The Quarry" in Catalanian language). Casa Battlo was unique in that its facade depicted skulls and bones. The bones were part of the structure of the building itself, while the roof were tiled in green, blue and amber - depicting the scales on a dragon body.. Inside, there was again an intrigueing use of coloured tiles which depicted sea life.
We spent a great deal of time on La Rambla, a street mall in the middle of Barcelona. This is where where most Barcelonians appear to hang out. Street foodstalls were accompanied by buskers, temporary kiosks and pet stores. Jeanette was fascinated by Chincillas that were sold for €40. She wanted to take a couple home! .. thankfully after considering our hectic schedule until the end of 2008, we decided against that idea. Chincilla's are large mice-looking things that behave more like a clean cat and live for an average of 15 years. La Rambla was the "happening" place in Barcelona.
Food was something we both enjoyed tremendously in Barcelona - especially the tapas. There was also paella, chirros and seafood stews although these can be quite expensive. Tapas is Spanish for "snacks" and consist of many little servings of snacks such as broad beans, sweet peppers (capcicum), preserved onions, prepared eggplant, asparagus spears, baby octopus (my favourite), baby mussels, ham pieces etc.. The paella (rice mix stew) can be quite expensive, ranging from €7 to €20 depending on what type of ingredient it has - the most expensive was seafood of course.
As much as we have seen, there were plenty which we missed out on. Portaventura is a port city close to the harbour. Our business passed this place during its journey but we didn't get off due to lack of time - we understood this to be the main terminal where cruise ships would ferry their clients to/from. Our trip on the "Hop On Hop Off" tour bus showed us plenty of such places - perhaps to lure us back to Barcelona some time soon.
We hope you enjoy the pictures,
Jeanette and Raymond Han
Note that images have a 24 bit colour depth, requiring both Adobe Flash and Shockwave to work. It works best when viewed through systems appropriately configured