Barcelona, Spain – September 14, 2011
This visit was another of my quarterly business trips to check on the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona. However, this time was different; my lovely wife accompanied me. After work, we were able to fit quite a bit into a short time.
We visited Park Güell. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so designated in 1984. After receiving a commission from Eusebi Güell in 1900, the renown architect Antoni Gaudí began work on the park. His “canvass” was a land area of about 11.2 hectares (28 acres).
Güell’s vision was an English-style residential park. The site of the park is on a place known in the late 19th century as Muntanya Pelada (bare mountain). It offered a sweeping panorama of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. Designed with some 60 lots, Güell knew the development would quickly sell out. It did not. Güell moved into his house in the park in 1908. He died at that home in 1918. His heirs offered the park to the City of Barcelona, which agreed to purchase it in 1922. In 1926, the municipality opened the park to the public.
For those interested, additional information about the park and its history is at the Park Güell website.
Gaudí’s vision and works in the park might be considered in the Modernisme movement style, a sort of an offshoot of the art nouveau style. Honestly, the only way to adequately describe Gaudí’s creations is through photography. The following photographs barely scratch the surface of what one can see at this incredible park. It is a must-see if one is ever in Barcelona.
Just inside the entry gate to Park Güell.
The following evening, we decided we would eat dinner at the restaurant, la Gavina at the Barcelona Marina. To get there, we decided to stroll along la Rambla. A walk on la Rambla is always an experience. It usually is jam-packed with people, street performers, and various vendors. There often is a pick-pocket or two interspersed in the crowd. We have been lucky never to have been victimized.
Part of the charm of la Rambla is the numerous sidewalk cafés. Sitting at a sidewalk café with a vino tinto and watching the world go by is both very relaxing and entertaining.
After our wine, we continued our walk to the port area. As we arrived, we saw the colossal yacht, Stargate. Suffice it to say that one needs about US$500,000 to “fill ‘er up”! At 80 meters (262 feet), Stargate is tied with three other yachts as the 93rd largest super-yachts in the world. There was another yacht docked in front of Stargate, but I neglected to get the name. It was not as large as Stargate, but it was a thousand times larger than any boat I have been aboard.
We had a wonderful dinner at la Gavina. It was my second time there, both have proven to be very good. We had two glasses of the house red wine, fried shrimp for a starter, two huge pieces of sole, and dessert. The total bill came to about 150€ (US$183).
During our entire meal, we both found ourselves distracted by a couple at a nearby table. The man was older and stocky. The woman was very petite and quite attractive. She wore a diamond ring so large that I am sure she would have quickly sunk to the bottom of the marina if she had fallen into the water. I do not know how many carats the ring may have been, but the stone was as large as one of my fingernails! Leslie and I speculated that the man was the owner of the Stargate — but we have no idea.
The following day we walked through part of the Gothic Quarter to the Barcelona Cathedral. That area of Barcelona is always bustling with people. Across the plaza from the cathedral is the Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (College of Architects of Catalonia). It boasts three murals on its façade done by Pablo Picasso. There was a time when I may not have been impressed with the murals, but now that Picasso has become my favorite artist…
As with our trip to get to Barcelona, we rode on the AVE train back to Madrid. The AVE is a high-speed train, reaching speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph). The train turns a 6.5-hour drive into a 3-hour, very comfortable, train ride. Well worth the money.