domingo, 11 de marzo de 2007
A Walk to Parc Guell
Today, Ernesto and I decided to walk the 4km to Parc Guell, Gaudi's famed wonderland in the north part of the city. It was a beautiful day and we saw a lot more than the park on the way. Heading out from the house, we walked to Las Ramblas, then headed north. We cut across the huge Plaza Catalunya until we hit Passeig de Gracia.
This long boulevard is always bustling. When Barcelona's northern part (known as the Eixample) wasn't built yet, this street was the main thoroughfare for coach and horses to get to Gracia, once its own town but now part of Barcelona. Passeig de Gracia is quite a noisy and busy street and is where all of the main boutiques are. Some names you will see are Gucci, Prada, Adolfo Dominguez, Zara and much more. Anyone who likes to shop till they drop would love it here.
Along the way, you will also see more of Gaudi's work, like the Casa Batillo, which is a site to see with it's twisted iron work and shiny blue tiles. Apparently the interior is stunning, but I haven't made it there yet. Eventually we hit Avinguda Diagonal which is more of the financial area. You see buildings for companies like Deutschbank around here. This avenue also marks the beginning of the Gracia neighbourhood.
There is truly a different feel here. Lots of little cafés and more boutiques, but the streets are smaller and it feels more like a neighbourhood again. Lots of 'plazas' here to take in coffee or a gelato. Gracia is another spot which is coveted by many...close to the city, but far enough away.
After Gracia, we started going uphill a bit and about 10 minutes away, we stopped to get bocadillos and water. Bocadillos are everywhere her in Spain. Essentially it's a crispy baguette-like sandwich (although about half as long). It can be filled with ham and cheese, tomato and tuna, things like that. They are very good!
We headed uphill even more and we soon got to the entrance. The place was full of tourists, shutterbugs and people just wanting to chill out in this fantastic place. How can I describe this park? It's set into a hill and the entrance has this wonderful, almost enchanted looking cottage with beautiful tile and organic lines to it.
The main staircase leads up to a platform with hundreds of pillars which support the platform above. That platform above was full of people feeling the warm March breeze, looking out on the stunning view of the city or sitting in the little tiles alcoves that act as the platform's railing.
Gaudi made these fantastic rock walkways that spiral up into the hillside. The vegetation is dry but with tonnes of pine trees (or at least pine-like). We stopped on one of the rock precipices that jutted over the public space below and had our picnic in the sun.
After we ate, we walked along the walkways through the woods, feeling the warm sun glinting through the trees. On one path we soon heard a guitar playing and a weird bam! bam! bam! We soon discovered that it was a wonderful flamenco dancer, dancing to the rythym of her fellow guitarist. It was truly a great moment as people gathered around and watched this woman do this amazing dance.
One truly has to experience this park for themselves, for there are just too many views and intricate passageways to describe in pictures. Another jewel in the crown of Barcelona.