After deciding to head further south in pursuit of warmer weather, our Christmas and New Year period was spent in Barcelona.
Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city and was host to the 1992 Olympic games. The city has a good transport system and we made use of this very efficient, clean and cheap metro to get around the city on the occasions when we didn’t wish to walk. Barcelona’s port area is clean and modern and has some lovely areas to just sit and enjoy life – there is also a lot of community activity focussed around the port area.
On Christmas day we watched dancing competitions and a series of swimming races in the port itself. The latter were a mixture of hilarity, with teams of Santas swimming complete with sacks, and more serious racing from other competitors. A bit like a City to Surf in the (very cold) water.
Like most Europeans cities Barcelona has an interesting historic area, which we wandered through many times enjoying the sights and visiting the many old churches. There are several large sunny squares where you can sit and enjoy the local food and drinks, or just watch the world go by. The area is centred along La Ramblas – the main café and shopping street of the city, which also provides some interest.
Barcelona’s architecture is dominated in many areas by the work of Antoni Gaudi, whose style is seen clearly in buildings such as La Sagrada Familia and open areas such as Parc Gruel. Gaudi’s designs are influenced strongly by the patterns of nature and are quite distinct from any other architecture. It is certainly easy to detect a Gaudi design (or one influenced by his work).
We spent several hours wandering through La Sagrada Familia, quite blown away by the uniqueness of the style and the detail in the design. I find it hard to define whether I like the style or not. There is something about the style that is a bit too grand for criticism although there is an element of just too much detail to be peaceful.
One thing is certain – having seen the grandeur of the work it is not something you can easily forget or mistake for any other architect.