Gaudi's Barcelona - Part I

by - May 01, 2013

Ever since we returned from our holiday in Spain, I've been wanting to share our adventures with you. The sights we saw. The food we ate. New words we learnt. Our little mishaps and accidents. Funny one-liners by Talha. But as usual, life got in the way. Thankfully, in a good way. We have few good things coming up and I can't wait to write about them!

For now, let me share some photos from our first stop in Spain - Barcelona. I'am splitting the post into two as I really do not want you to close the window seeing how lengthy the post is. 

We were in Spain for six days and five nights. We left Dubai early morning of 28th of March and arrived in Barcelona by noon. After checking into Violeta Boutique, a very chic BnB just few minutes walk from Plaza Catalunya, and freshening up, we decided to take a walk around. I had my (very informative and useful) National Geographic travel guide book (pictured above) that helped us find our way most of the time.

We found a lot of places by accident. This tiny bakery was the first one. They sold pastries, desserts and breads. Saleswomen didn't speak any English and it was fun placing our order with loads of actions and broken (very much broken) Spanish. 

We had the best bunyols from Mistral (same shop pictured above). Bunyols are deep fried wheat dough balls covered with sugar. History says that these were introduced to Spain by Moors. I've book marked couple of recipes to make Bunyols at home. If you have a tried and tested recipe, do share. 

We were lost... but that's what traveling is all about. Isn't it?

"Another world is possible - a world where everyone belongs." 

A building at Las Ramblas

"La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona, popular with tourists and locals alike. A tree-lined pedestrian mall, it stretches for 1.2 kilometers between Barri Gòtic and El Raval, connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell." - Wikipedia

We followed the 'walking tour' in our travel guide and reached Palau Guell - our first brush with Antoni Gaudi. Palau Guell (Guell's Palace) is one of Gaudi's astounding works and was built for his patron, Eusebi Guell.

Gaudi's work is very different from what we usually see. They look as if they were the fruit of pure imagination. It is easy to forget that these houses/buildings were made of stone, iron, wood and other unromantic materials.

Barri Gotic or Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere.

Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic although open to service vehicles and taxis." Wikipedia

In the center of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic district), the heart of Barcelona, is the city's Gothic cathedral, known as La Seu. The first stone of the current church was laid in the 13th century, but was fully completed in 20th century.

Craft fairs and markets were a common sight through out Spain.

The next day we decided to take the 'Hop On Hop Off' tour. It is one of the best ways to see a city. You get to see all the important monuments, buildings and sites and choose to see whatever you like in detail later. Taking photos is a real hassle though.

I remember the audio guide saying that Barcelona has seven beaches.

"The Peix (fish) is a unique sculpture that was built in 1992 at Barcelona's waterfront. The large copper structure is indicative of the themes of many other Frank O. Gehry works. Renowned architect Frank O. Gehry was commissioned to build the piece for the 1992 Summer Olympics, which were held in Barcelona and brought the city to the attention of the world. It faces the sea and measures 35 by 54 meters (about 114 by 177 feet). It is made of stone, steel, and glass. Its copper-colored shiny metal plates sparkle in the sunshine and make the sculpture a real eye catcher. The sculpture can be seen from several of Barcelona's beaches."

The above info was taken from web. All I can remember is that it sparkles when sunshine falls on it.

Torre Agbar - headquarters of Municipal water company. This building has 4,400 windows!

  Columbus Monument

Having a good time at Plaza Catalunya 

Talha and Aisha were tired and asleep after a long day of hoping on and off, which meant it was the perfect time to enjoy a quite romantic dinner. This was the first Paella we had in Spain. And the best too.

Third day we went off to check out the food market, La Boqueria , and found this quaint littler 'Xurreria' in one of the alleyways. 

Their Churros were really light and fluffy. Usually you get a cup of warm dark chocolate to dip your Churros in. This particular Xurreria didn't do it that way. They did have Churros coated with chocolate though. We preferred the original versions.  

Following our travel guide and asking passersby we finally found the bustling food market. Turns out that we were walking past it all this time and didn't notice it.  

Freshly cut fruits.. pretty economical too.

The market had a huge variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, sea food, meat and poultry. Most vendors do not like their stalls being photographed and have no issues in telling you so. 

Grilled Squids

Tapas bars inside the market. Very very busy and crowded.

After trying out some tapas and filling our bags with fruits we left the food market and took a funicular to Mt Tibidabo - a mountain overlooking Barcelona which gives really good views of the city. It also has an amusement park which makes it well worth a visit.

I will be back with part two of the series where I will talk more about Gaudi. Or rather what I learnt about Gaudi. 

See you soon insha Allah

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  1. I feel that I've been there with you!! Great post, Neelu.. Love the way you tell the story, will be waiting for the part 2 ..

  2. I can almost smell the food, hear the people and enjoy the architecture! Such a beautiful post!
    So happy you had a great time!

    1. Thank you Arwa! Glad that you liked it. Yes, we had a good time.

  3. What a beautifully written post! Thanks for sharing this with everyone :) you made me feel like I was there with you! Travel blogging should definitely be your next project

    1. Thank you Tasmeea. I'am working on my next post. Hope you find it informative as well. xx

  4. Can't wait for part two!! Such beautiful pics - it must have been heartbreaking to leave the place!!

  5. I've been waiting to spend some time through your post Neelu. Looks like you had a great time Ma Sha Allah! Don't you just love it when you chance upon great places for food by yourself? That's one aspect of travelling I absolutely enjoy. Your Gaudi 'gazing' took me back to my History of Interior Design lessons back in college. Spain has been on our travel wish list for a while. In sha Allah soon. Loved reading this Neelu :D

    1. Thank you Sayana. I'am happy that you loved the post. Yes, love finding places by chance. Spain, has a lot to offer in terms of architecture. I love how Islamic and Christian styles mix together in their mosques/cathedrals. And then Gaudi! His work is something else. Out of the world! You should definitely pay Barcelona a visit Sayana. As an interior designer, you will love seeing his work in person. :)


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