La Sagrada Familia as seen from the Bus Turístic. The tourist way!!
Todays plan is to do the Red Route, but we are off to a slow start. We are out of bed rather late (around nine) and we have to do groceries, have breakfast and do the dishes.
It is almost eleven o’clock when we leave the appartment and by the time we get to Plaça de Catalunya people are standing in line to get on the buses. Since we don’t feel like waiting for 45 minutes we decide to walk to the last busstop of the Red Route and get on the bus there. This is a good choice, because the bus is almost empty and we can sit where ever we want. When we get to the busy square again, the bus is filled to the last seat in a jiffy and we begin the city tour with the sun shining on our heads.
The first part of the route is the same as the Ruta Azul that we did yesterday, but not for long. After only a few crossings we take a right where blue goes straight on.
The mozaic dragon is the symbol of Parc Güell.
We see La Sagrada Familia in the distance, while the information about everything we pass keeps coming in a steady flow through the earphones. It is still before noon when we reach the famous cathedral, but the line of people waiting to buy their entrance tickets is already enormous. I take some snapshots from atop the bus and remain seated, we’ll come back here one of these days, late in the afternoon when the buses with day tourists have already left to go back to their beachside hotels.
From here it is only a short ride to Parc Güell.
We drive through the Gracia district, that used to be an indipendant village, before it was gobbled up by the city of Barcelona. The area has the looks of a village, making it stand out a bit. From the stop near Parc Güell it is about ten minutes walk up a rather steep road to the parc. Before we start the climb we buy some drinks in a local supermarket, cold and less than half the price that vendors in the touristic hotspots dare to ask.
A bridge in Parc Güell, looking like it's made by Mother Nature herself.
Parc Güell is an amazing place that visitors of Barcelona mustn’t miss. Even the wall surrounding the parc is a piece of art. The entrance of the parc is flanked by two houses, that are designed to look like the dwellings Gaudí drew, inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel.
The one on the left being the house of the children with a cross on the roof, the one on the right was meant for the witch. The fly agaric mushroom on the roof of the latter was brought in because Eusebi Güell used to collect these. The stairs on either side of the mozaic dragon lead to the Hall of Columns, which was designed to be the market hall of the garden city that was supposed to be built here. The hall looks more like a Greek temple because of the shape of the pillars and the mozaics in the ceiling. It is nice and cool though... What I found fascinating is that underneath the Hall of Columns is a basin that collects rain water, for use in the garden city, and when the water reaches a certain level in the basin it gushes out through the mouth of the dragon at the entrance of the parc. The garden city was never completed, because Güell died when only two houses were built. The city then bought the land and made it a parc. All of Gaudí’s creations were left in tact and now it is a wonderfull place to get lost in.
The houses of Hansel and Gretel (right) and the witch (left).
When we walk around, there are times when I feel like I am somewhere in Middle Earth where elves or Orcs could emerge from the man made structures looking like natural caves or rock bridges. When we get to the central square with the undulating mozaic bench the sun is at full strength and the shade is a much more pleasant place to be. On our way out we see a cellist, dressed in 18th century clothes playing in an almost deserted part of the parc. The setting of natural looking arches makes it look very odd.
The famous snake like bench in Parc Güell.
When we are outside the parc it feels like we have been in a surreal world for a while and I have to get used to reality again. Slowly we walk back down to the busstop and move on to the next attraction.