Friday, October 2, 2015

Spain and Portugal: Barcelona, Montserrat & Girona

Sept. 28

Bags packed, we walked to the nearby Puerta del Sol train station and boarded the high-speed train to Barcelona.

Barcelona is located in the autonomous community of Catalonia (one of 17 in Spain). Catalan flags are displayed side by side with Spanish flags and the Catalan language, rather than Spanish, is spoken. Several elections to secede from Spain have failed to get the vote needed, with one occurring just days prior to our arrival.

Barcelona from Montjuïc
View from Hotel Balcony
La Rambla Pedestrian Mall
Entrance to Placa Reial (Royal Plaza)

Our hotel was only steps from the La Boqueria market, a wonderful place to purchase endless varieties of meat, fish, produce, and baked goods. Also, there were many restaurants and cafes.

Sausage Stall in Boqueria Market
Fresh Fruit Smoothies
Mixed Seafood Platter & Proseco

Sept. 29

In the morning, we went on a ½-day tour of Park Guell – Eusebi Guell entrusted his friend, Antoni Gaudi, to create an estate of well-off families on a large piece of property which was in a healthy setting with splendid views over the sea and the Plain of Barcelona. However, many factors made the project unviable and work was halted in 1914. The City of Barcelona acquired the property in 1922 and opened it as a public park. It is a UNESCO site now. You can see Gaudi’s “gaudy” style of architecture here, as well.

Park Guell
Gaudi's Unique Style
Park Guell

In the afternoon, we visited Sagrada Familia, the Holy Family Church. This is Gaudi’s grand masterpiece, begun in 1883 and currently unfinished. The goal is to finish by 2026. It is called the people’s church and all construction is funded by donations. It is notable for its wildly creative, organic architecture and decor inside and out. Some say Antoni Gaudi’s grand masterpiece is quite 'gaudy'.

Sagrada Familia
Architectural Detail of Facade
Church Interior

Sept. 30

Although it was raining, today's first order of business was a trip to the laundromat - we needed clean clothes to continue our journey.

We had nothing scheduled for the afternoon so, outfitted with rain jackets and umbrellas, we walked around Barcelona on our own.

Barcelona Cathedral
Post & Telegraph Building
National Palace

A memorable dinner at Julivert Meu – tomato bread (toasted bread rubbed with garlic and tomato) and topped with roasted onions and peppers, cheese, olives, and potato. This was just the beginning. We also had a platter of cured meats (ham, Catalan pork sausage, hard pork sausage and salami) and Escalivada (red pepper, eggplant, onion and grilled potato). And, of course, there was wine.  A great place on a rainy evening!

Our Fabulous Meal at Julivert Meu

Oct. 1

Today's excursion was by train and cable car to Montserrat, a mountaintop Benedictine Monastery - home to 30 monks and Catalunya’s most important pilgrimage site for a thousand years. The legend is that the 2400 feet-high mountain was carved by little angels with gold saws. From the train, one must take the cable car or rack railway up to the monastery. For a religious site we thought it was very crowded and overly commercialized.

Cable Car to Montserrat Monastery
Funicular Station
Placa de Santa Maria
Memorial Candles
Overlooking the Valley

Oct. 2

On our final day in Barcelona we rode the train to Girona. Located about 60-miles NE of Barcelona, it’s known for its medieval architecture, walled Old Quarter (Barri Vell) and the Roman remains of the Força Vella fortress

The city is divided by the Riu Onyar; the old medieval walled city on the east side and the newer modern city on the west side. We walked along much of the wall.

Girona and Riu Onyar
View from Wall
Exploring Girona in the Rain
The Girona Wall

No comments :

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting our blog.
Please leave a message or comment, we would like to hear from you!