We all have a bucket list. Ever since our good friend Doug went to Barcelona over a decade ago and came home with amazing photos of his odyssey through Gaudí’s architecture, I’ve felt a need to go see it for myself. Then my niece went there just a few years ago, and reinforced that desire.
We like to cruise, and we REALLY like cruising on Seabourn’s ships. I believe I have written about what that is like on previous occasions. You can search “Seabourn” on my blog and find several posts, one all about the on board experience. you can find it here. Anyway, when we found a Seabourn repositioning cruise that began in Barcelona, we decided to book a cabin. We traveled to Spain several days in advance of the sailing date, so that we could do some sight seeing.
First, let me tell you right away that if you decide to go to Barcelona and want to visit some of the popular sites, it is WELL WORTH getting on line and booking your tickets to those sites in advance. The most popular venues are ticketed in such a way that the number of people inside is controlled, so they do not get too crowded. Your ticket will have a date and time, and you must be there during the window of opportunity for entry. If you show up at the place you want to visit with no ticket, you may find yourself waiting in a very long line and then perhaps not even be able to get in that day, or possibly having to wait several hours before you can enter. So take my advice and BOOK AHEAD.
That all being said, I have to tell you that I wish we had planned to stay much longer in the city of Barcelona. There is a LOT to see and do, and it is a fantastic place to eat, drink and be merry as well as be completely gobsmacked by art and architecture and history. We booked a very nice apartment through Airbnb, and completely enjoyed our non-hotel experience.
So. To the sights! While Barcelona is host to a myriad of amazing artists, the one we were most interested in on this trip was Gaudí. I will not bore you with a biography of this architect. If you are interested, google him and you will have PLENTY of fodder for your edification.
Our apartment was in the village of Gracia, a few blocks off the main drag. Every time we walked down to catch the metro, we walked past two of Gaudí’s very famous buildings: La Perdrera and Casa Batlló. We never actually paid for the interior tours available for these buildings, and in retrospect we probably should have. There are thousands of images of these, so I’m just going to favor you with a few of my favorite captures from the street.
La Perdrera: The exterior of this iconic house is sculptural. Bear in mind that this was designed and built in 1906-10.
Almost directly across the street is Casa Batlló. Apparently, the owner of La Pedrera saw this house and immediately hired Gaudí to build his own surrealistic paradise. The exterior mosaics and roofs are amazing. We spent a lot of time standing around just looking at them.
We did not spend our first day immersed in architecture, though. We planned a fairly easy day to accommodate our jet lag. We took the metro down to the maritime museum and spent a pleasant morning being awed by the gigantic building and the amazing models within it.
Called the Drassanes, this place began as a shipyard for the Spanish royal navy, construction of which happened in the 13th century. In the 16th century, another building was put on top of the original. When they were doing excavations during the restoration in the 2000s, they discovered a Roman cemetery beneath it all. Needless to say, the place has been around for a long time, and the structure itself is probably even more interesting than the ships and models inside it.
Bear in mind that the gold encrusted royal yacht in the right hand shot is 60 meters long.
Before we even got into the museum, we were captivated by this wonderful wooden submarine. It was donated to Barcelona in 1859! This is a replica of the original.
After spending several hours in the museum, we walked along the waterfront to a restaurant serving Neapolitan style pizza, baked in an authentic wood fired oven imported from Naples.
The pizza was great!
I will continue this odyssey in the next post….