I’ve been off travelling again – this time for a few days with family in Barcelona, Catalonia. Before going here, I didn’t really know that there is the difference between Spain and Catalonia (an autonomous community of Spain, with a sense of independence that stemmed from the countries’ history).
There are loads of things to do and see in Barcelona, especially if you’re interested in art and architecture – as this city is the home of work by both Gaudì and Picasso.
This is probably the most famous attraction, and to be honest I can see why! It’s a very grand cathedral, designed by famous architect Gaudì. It’s big, ostentatious but gorgeous (and only going to get bigger with their aim for the construction to be complete by 2026, 100 years after the death of Gaudì). I wasn’t so impressed by the outside; it looked too over-the-top for me, although this impression was probably not helped by the cranes and construction work surrounding it.
The inside, however, was breath-taking – I was stunned as soon as I stepped inside. Naturally, being a cathedral the inside was huge, and combined with the beautiful design, my phone camera was never going to be able to capture the magnitude of it all. (Although I tried my best!) I particularly loved the deliberate imagery of nature (a focus of Gaudì’s work), like the flowers on the doors and how the arches looked like trees in a forest.
We had tickets to go up one of the towers, but unfortunately it was closed so we didn’t get to go up – which was pretty disappointing, but couldn’t be helped I guess… (Although since I’m scared of heights, part of me was a bit relieved!)
La Padera/Casa Milà
This is another of Gaudì’s creations in Barcelona that you are able to visit, and go inside. We got audioguides with our ticket, which were very informative (and useful to know how to get round the museum). This was another beautifully innovative building of modernist design – that I think still looks modern today.
Walking Tour: Gothic Quarter and Jewish Quarter
We booked onto a walking tour with the company Free Walking Tours Barcelona (where you only pay at the end, with how much you think the tour was worth). I’ve never done one of these before but I thought it was fantastic! Our tour itself was really good; our guide focussed on the Catalan culture (which was great for me to learn more), and the city’s history in its most historical area – learning about how long the cities walls have stood for. (FYI: they were up until the 1850s!)
Yet another of Gaudì’s creations, but I felt it was rather disappointing in contrast to everything else we had seen. Particularly the failure of the project itself, and the consequent lack of buildings, all made it seem underwhelming in its lack of over-the-top I had come to expect.
This is such a good museum! We went in the evening when I knew it wouldn’t be too busy, and actually the museum is free all day for students so even better! It was fascinating to see Picasso’s older pieces (going all the way back to when he was just 12 years old ! And wow he was good! It made me feel very inadequate…). I also loved seeing how his art changed over time with the different influences he discovered – from very realistic landscapes and portraits to the style we know him for now.
We also did a lot of wandering around the city to other places too, such as the Parc de la Ciutadella, Palau de la Musica Catalana, and even up to Montjuic Hill on the funicular.
As with our last Easter break to Florence (see my post here), we also took a day trip away from the city. This time we took a train out to a theme park: PortAventura. I’m not the biggest fan of rollercoasters, but I gave some of them a go and even surprised myself (and everyone else) by enjoying them too! It was a very well set-out park, with themes for different areas (far better than any I’ve been to in the UK). It was a fun, if tiring, day out – and we got a discount too, with the park ticket and train ticket combined when we bought them at the station.
All in all, a fantastic five days spent in a gorgeous place, with some equally brilliant sunshine to go with it.