Walking Barcelona on a Sunday morning
Barcelona Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
We checked out of the hotel at 10 am and let our luggage stay in the hotel lobby behind the counter. The check-out went as smoothly as the check-in: maybe because it was the same girl doing it and she was both friendly, quick and service minded. We decided to walk to 2 km in to the city centre and start at La Rambla, due do the fact that we missed the grossery and meat marked there the day before. We stepped outside and as soon as we left the hotel, we were greeted by a fantastic morning sun and a blue sky; this was going to be yet another wonderful day in Barcelona, the weather was awesome.
We walked the same way as the day before and we were both still taking pictures of loads of details, because new angles were to be discovered. The streets were not silent like in Paris on a Sunday morning; there were people out walking everywhere just like us, and most of them were locals carrying their bread of grosseries in green or white plastic bags.
We passed again the church of Sant Pau del Camp and also the sports centre on the way to La Rambla. This time there was a huge crowd hanging by the windows; the day before it had been a quite modest crowd, maybe because it was young boys playing basketball; this time it was different, it was late teen girls or women playing volleyball and it attracted some other guys than yesterday.
When we arrived to the Rambla, we were met by a blue carpet of women walking or running for a cause of another woman. I didn’t really get the details because it was written in Spanish on the back of their blue T-shirts and my lack of Spanish understanding kept me from getting closer to the issue. There were a lot of women and girls running! I have no guess but we were talking about thousands.
We had hoped to find the market St Josep La Boqueria open but to our disappointment it was closed on Sundays. This had completely slipped my mind, other places the most traded days on markets are the Sundays, but I guess everybody needs a day off.
Placa de Catalunya was crowded as usual and there were doves filling the square, the doves were as always jumping around while young kids were trying to catch them with a colorful balloon in their hand. Things had luckily not changed. We crossed the huge square and walked towards Passeig de Gràcia where there are so many wonderful buildings.
Passeig de Gràcia is nowadays regarded as the most expensive street in Barcelona and also in Spain, ahead even of Calle Serrano in Madrid.
Besides the mentioned buildings there are naturally also the main attractions like the ones where Guadi has put his mark; the Casa Batlló, also known as (Casa dels Ossos - House of Bones), and indeed it does have a skeletal organic look, the Casa Milà, also better known as (La Pedrera - 'The Quarry').
We didn’t walk all the way to the end of Passeig de Gràcia, but we turned to the right just after having passed Avinguda Diagonal which is the longest street in Barcelona. We went right at Carrer de Corsega and it is here you can find the fabulous Comalat House which designed by Salvador Valeri; if you are looking at this house remember that both the front and the back are amazing. We took loads of pictures of the backside before taking the small and narrow streets uphill on our way to our target for the day.
We walked into the neighbourhood La Vila de Gràcia, or better known as just Gràcia, we had been following the small streets Carre de Santa Tecia and Carrer de Francisco Giner before arriving at the wonderful little square of La Plaça de Rius i Taulet.
The neighbourhood here reminded us both so much about place were we live in Belgium that I for my part could have put my mark down here and settled for good; a neighbourhood like this in Barcelona, it must be close to heaven.
The square was just wonderful, we arrived there around 11am and people were all enjoying a late breakfast and a cup of coffee in the warm October morning; what a life. The temperature was passed beyond 22 degrees already and the sun was quite powerful; to find this in the end of October just made my month!
We walked the square very slowly, trying to notice every detail. The square was closed by buildings all the way round and there were no cars; there were just wonderful old houses in warm colours, all almost leaning over to keep its people warm and protecting the squares local ambiance and atmosphere.
In the middle of the square there was a tall belfry like tower, Torre del Rellotge, reaching for the blue sky; it was almost impossible to take pictures of the mighty tower from the square. Around the tower two large dogs linked to each other, were trying to catch a ball that a young boy was throwing against the Belfry, while he was smiling all over his face and keeping eye contact with his mom to secure that it was alright. Everything was just so calm and relaxed; if we had not just started our adventure of the day it could have ended here in a café watching the quiet life pass by. This was it!
On the ground floor of the neat and colourful houses, small cafes and restaurants were inviting you inside with the looks of history. There were no ugly kebab stores here, only the real old stuff, that one looks for in every large city; no commercials no bla, bla - just things that belonged here. Along the whole outercircle of the square trees were giving shade for the outdoor service and enforcing the cozy atmosphere.
We left both knowing that we would be back, together or apart it didn’t matter; we both liked it so much that a return to this area was evident, we even took pictures of some of the local hotel to get close next time.
We strolled along the Carrer de Francisco Giner for a couple of hundred meters before coming to yet another magnificent little square. It was amazing; I could not belive I had not seen this quarter before. I felt that we were on a roll suddenly, everything was just so beautiful and nice, that even half of it could have been enough.
We had arrived at Plaça del Diamant, a place known for giving name to a novel by the catalan writer Merce Rodoreda, and again to the film of the same name in 1982.
This place was not really awake yet that was obvious, the outdoor service tables and chairs were mostly stacked up still, only in a small place in the corner the café was open.
We left also this square happy to have been there; we followed Carrer de Cano to its end laughing at one of the houses there. It had been built 50 cm from another one and it had both windows and balconies. The people were looking directly in to a wall. We turned left shortly before following Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla until it ended at Travessera de Dalt; we were getting close to our goal, we had aimed was to walk to Parc Grull.
We walked along the busy Travessera de Dalt with all its small shops and cafés until we reached Carrer de Larrard; here we started to run into fellow tourists again, but this time they were in huge numbers.
Park Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district. It was designed by the Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, and the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, whom the park was named after.
The park was inspired by the English garden city movement; and that is why the original English name Park and the name of the place is "Parc Güell". The site was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees, called Montaña Pelada (Bare Mountain).
The park already included a large country house called Larrard House or Muntaner de Dalt House, and was next to a neighborhood of upper class houses called La Salud. The intention was to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views from the site, with sixty triangular lots being provided for luxury houses. Count Eusebi Güell added to the prestige of the development by moving in 1906 to live in Larrard House. Ultimately, only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudí. One was intended to be a show house, but on being completed in 1904 was put up for sale, and as no buyers came forward, Gaudí, at Güell's suggestion, bought it with his savings and moved in with his family and his father in 1906
It has since been converted into a municipal garden. While entrance to the Park is free, Gaudí's house, "la Torre Rosa," can be only visited for an entrance fee.
Parc Güell is skillfully designed and composed to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park. The buildings flanking the entrance, fit in well with the use of the park as pleasure gardens and seem relatively inconspicuous in the landscape when one considers the flamboyance of other buildings designed by Gaudí.
The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. To design the curvature of the bench surface Gaudí used the shape of buttocks left by a naked workman sitting in wet clay. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.
Gaudí incorporated many motifs of Catalan nationalism, and elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry, into the Park.
Roadways around the park to service the intended houses were designed by Gaudí as structures jutting out from the steep hillside or running on viaducts, with separate footpaths in arcades formed under these structures.
This minimized the intrusion of the roads, and Gaudí designed those using local stone in a way that integrates them closely into the landscape. His structures echo natural forms, with columns like tree trunks supporting branching vaulting under the roadway.
The large cross at the Park's high-point offers the most complete view of Barcelona and the bay.
We walked around in the park for quite a while; the park was full with fellow tourist; to our opinion too many, you could hardly take a picture without having hundreds of strangers on them. We walked higher and higher up in Park; to get some loneliness and benefit from the view. There were loads of artists playing their instruments and some of them were really good and attracted huge crowds. We had decided to take a taxi back and we tried to find one at the top entrance at the park but found that place too remote for success, so we walked all the way back to the main entrance where loads of taxi´s were available.
People were still coming in huge number when we left and we were pretty happy to leave before the park was full.
We arrived at the square at 14, which gave us a bit more than one hour to have lunch and some sangrias. We decided to go to Taxidermista, where I had been eating numerous of times, the place is especially nice when you have the possibility to sit outside in the sun like we could.
We got a table in the first row towards the square, the waiter was not the fastest in the world and after a while we got the menu to choose from. We started by ordering two sangrias while we checked out the menu. Babs went for a salad and some shrimps and I went for something light as well.
Just after we ordered some action started at the square, first one guy started to dance to the music one guy with guitar was making.
The meal was good and we would have liked to avoid the trouble on the square, we walked to the Rambla and took a taxi there that brought us to the hotel where we picked up the bags and then to the airport. We were getting ready to leave Barcelona.