EuroTrip 2013 | Spain Day 6: Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, La Sagrada Familia, Guell Palace, Guell Park

La Sagrada Familia, the coolest cathedral I've seen yet

La Sagrada Familia, the coolest cathedral I’ve seen yet

Our final day in Spain and Barcelona was reserved exclusively for visiting Gaudi’s incredible buildings around the area and nearly missing our flight at an airport an hour and a half away. We’re in London now and I can’t believe how many things happened in the past 24 hours.

That morning, we arrived in Barcelona after an overnight bus. We had less than a day to explore the things we missed the first time around. Our biggest regret from the first visit to Barcelona was missing all of Gaudi’s works, so we were determined to make up for that by seeing as many of them as we could.

Just who was this man, Antoni Gaudi? He was a famous Spanish Catalan architect who became part of the Modernista movement, creating many buildings that were both functional and pieces of art. The best way I can describe his work after seeing his buildings is to picture houses from Dr. Seuss or The Nightmare Before Christmas – basically strange, creative, colorful, drab, and unique structures, with no two looking exactly the same.

Skull-like balconies

Skull-like balconies

We walked by our first two Gaudi houses, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera. Casa Batllo was a colorful, wavy building with balconies that looked like masks or skulls. La Pedrera was a more industrial-looking building, also wavy with a plainer exterior. Even though we didn’t get to go inside, I heard both buildings had amazingly designed and decorated rooms.

Our next Gaudi work is arguably his most ambitious and finest. La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family), is a huge cathedral that probably inspired most Gothic-style buildings in movies and pop culture today. It was his last work and left unfinished, with a completion date of 2026.

Interior of La Sagrada Familia

Interior of La Sagrada Familia

Not only was the outside breathtaking, but the inside was absolutely stunning. If Whoville had a cathedral, this would be it. Crazy-looking columns spiraling towards the ceiling, color accents and stained glass all around – La Sagrada Familia was my favorite cathedral of this trip by far, and I spent a while just strolling through and looking at all the amazing details.

After a Spanish lunch with James’ friend (and her friends) who were visiting Spain from studying abroad at Germany, we stopped by Guell Palace, another Gaudi-designed building, built for a personal friend and wealthy industrialist. The palace itself was pretty nondescript, but the interior was again very interesting, with the highlight being the chimney stacks on the roof, which were tiled and painted in all sorts of colors and designs, from a broccoli lookalike to a skull to a swirling rainbow.

Guell Park

Our final stop was Guell Park, which required an exhausting uphill climb in the hot sun because we entered through the back of the park. Gaudi originally designed this for Guell, who opened the park to the public. Apart from the amazing views of the entire city from the back of the park, there were more Gaudi-designed buildings and statues at the front. This was Whoville’s park, complete with a rainbow-tiled dragon statue, a wavy building, and a cave.

With that, we finished our Gaudi visits of the day and bid farewell to Barcelona…except we realized we mistimed the last bus out to our airport an hour and a half away. Since we booked Ryanair, which is notorious for being strict with late arrivals and refunds, we had to think fast to find a way there, or we would be stranded in Spain.

After checking the train schedule (no-go, would be too late), and nearly having a disastrous taxi ride to the wrong airport (15 minutes was suspiciously low), we cut a deal with one of the taxi drivers outside to drive us to the airport in Reus. It wasn’t cheap, but we would’ve paid much, much more for our missed flight fee, hotel cancellation fee, and hostel booking fee. So basically, things worked out in the end, we had an Amazing Race-like experience (running back and forth at the bus station, asking different people about buses, schedules, taxis, etc., with the clock ticking down before the departure gate would close).

After a standard flight, we’re back London, spending one night at one of the nicest places we’ve stayed all trip – a hotel. This Holiday Inn Express is newly built and had one of the most amazing buffet breakfasts, including sausages, eggs (EGGS), baked beans, fresh fruit, piping hot croissants. We’re much more used to a single stale croissant, so this was a real treat.

A few more days in London, looking forward to our stay.

Stay tuned and read about my other adventures in London, Paris, Berlin, Italy, and Spain!

Steps taken: 24,302 | Miles walked: 8.00

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One Response
  1. July 14, 2013

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