Saturday, October 31, 2009


So, again, things have been fairly hectic since my past two weekend trips. I think what happens is that my school week is only 4 days long, as I don't have class Fridays, so when I get back from a weekend away it's pedal to the metal for four days and then it lets up.

Two weekends ago my friend Sarah and I went to Barcelona! It was a really nice change to go there after being in Paris for so long. It was so wonderfully Mediterranian and warm!!! It was about 70 degrees each day we were there, which was great because it's starting to get pretty chilly and a kind of constant overcast here in Paris. The hostel where we stayed was right on the big street Las Ramblas which goes straight down to the water, so we enjoyed having an ocean to look at! (The Seine's nice and all... but not very grand or expansive.)

I had been to Barcelona one time before on a family vacation. We had a lay-over of maybe 35 hours there on our way to Greece. So, I really didn't know the city very well. I remembered a few things, but it was definitely great to be able to get back and see the places more in depth. Of course, it was great to see all of the Gaudi stuff again.

Above all I think my favorite favorite part was Parc Guell. When my family visited, we didn't have enough time to get to Parc Guell, because it's a little big north of the city and definitely too far to walk to. But this time, Sarah and I got up early both Saturday and Sunday morning and went to Parc Guell. It was perfect because we were able to beat most of the tourist bus groups and to see the area while the sun was perfectly hanging in the sky. The thing about the park is that A. the park in general is beautiful, with nice nature trails winding all over this gorgeous hilltop B. the view of the city is FANTASTIC (of course the skyline is enhanced by the lovely cranes that cover the Sagrada Familia, which I've noticed, are so much a part of the monument now that they appear on all of the postcards. So funny.) and C. obviously the Gaudi designed benches/ building... I don't even know what to call it, is stunning.

I kind of went a little picture happy there! The lighting was so pristine and the ceramic looked really neat. And every time you would think that you found the best design in the mosaic, you'd find another one that was even better!! Here are some of my favorite examples of mosaics.

We also chose to go into one of the Gaudi houses. Sarah had taken a course at school on Modernist architecture so she knew a fair amount about Gaudi and suggested we go into Casa Battlo. Along with the entrance fee you also got an audio tour which did help to shed some light on what Gaudi was aiming for with his architectural and design choices. It's a pretty difficult style to grasp, I think. It's very much inspires by natural shapes, e.g. the swirl of a snail's shell but it's also so focused on the materiality of the items used to produce those natural effects. Very cool but fairly complex.

We stopped by the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art which had a few nice works of the Colorist school and of Abstract Expressionism but I was generally dissapointed. Too much of the museum was taken up with temporary exhibitions one of which seemed to just be about "modernism" and didn't really have any cohesive theme or goal to it. Gorgeous building though, very white cube with all sorts of ramps and glass windows.

While walking back from the museum, we passed a market that was just so utterly foreign to anything we have in the US. It reminded me a bit of the bazaars in Istanbul, but also had a very Iberian flair to it. Lots of of meats and porks and also fruit! So much fruit!

It was a quick trip, we had to leave fairly early on Sunday to get to the airport but we still made it back to Parc Guell in the morning where we just lounged and read books while soaking up the sun. I believe we probably appeared in 75+ tourists' photographs or the panorama. But, it was a great little getaway weekend. Sun and fun!

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