We docked in Barcelona at 11 am on April 25 (Day 1) after having our port-of-call at Sète, France cancelled due to gale force winds closing the port for two days. Passengers were free to disembark by noon. We went into the terminal after lunch hoping to find some free internet. There are three terminals here and none of them had wi-fi. We located a Seafarer’s Cafe which is for only ship’s crews but the two fellows invited us in anyway. Unfortunately my laptop settings did not like the password combination they used (we got that fixed later though) so we were unsuccessful. We went back aboard and enjoyed a bit of a down day.Our first tour in Barcelona was called Gaudí’s Barcelona; a tour of some of the architectural wonders by the famous Catalan architect. Antoni Gaudí detested straight lines and sharp angles, and loved the shapes and colours of nature, so his buildings and designs are very unique. For many it is a love or hate relationship; sometimes a bit of both. Barcelona is blessed with more avant garde architecture than any other city in the world. Gaudí lived decades ago (he died in 1926), but was a man well ahead of his time – he even used recycled materials. The United Nations World Trust protects much of his work and the buildings are living museums still used as offices, shops and/or residences.The Columbus Monument was built to honor the explorer’s first trip to the Americas. It is situated just outside the passenger terminal entrance at the end of the famous promenade Las Ramblas. Casa Batlló. Built in 1877 this conventional house was completely restored in 1904. When under construction there was much criticism from local residents and the city government (the building broke almost all of the city by-laws at the time). Yet, in 1906, the city hailed it as one of the three best buildings of the year.
Casa Milà was built for the wealthy Milà family and is one of Gaudi’s main residential buildings. It is also one of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture. It is called La Padrera (The Stone Quarry) by locals. The building was designated a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1984. It is now owned by a Savings Bank and there are only four people living in the apartments. The colourful lobby.
The bus took us to Park Güell (pronounced, believe it or not, Way) that Gaudí designed for a wealthy friend (Count Güell) who had created an exclusive 60-lot sub-division outside the main city with the hope that other wealthy citizens would purchase them and create something like an English Garden Village. They were so expensive and so far out of the city that only three lots were ever sold. It eventually was turned into a public park.The walkways and paths follow the terrain of the hill and were built of similar coloured stone and other materials. Gaudí lived in this house for several years. It was not one of his designs. Gaudí would send his assistant to the shops to purchase plates and other dishes that would be smashed to make the ceramic patterns on the terrace bench wall.Underneath the large ‘patio-like’ space are smooth columns and interesting circular designs in the ceiling. After we explored Park Güell we got back on the bus and were taken to one of the most famous buildings in Barcelona – Sagrada Familia.