Today was my alone day. Matt attended the press event and I was feeling a little under the weather this morning. I ended up sleeping in a bit but got out by 11am. Having missed the hotel’s wonderful breakfast I got an early lunch from the cafe down the street. I was delighted to find Pepsi light and a small ham sandwich for 3,5 €. It was a quite simple lunch that got me back on track.
I headed off to the Metro to get to Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. The metro was clean, efficient and cheap. Also the cars were the most air conditioning I have felt since being here. Nice and cool. 2,6 € got me up and back from the hotel. It reminded me of the Marta in Atlanta. The passages ways to get to the train from the street were a maze but the signage was clear and direct. The hardest part of the metro was figuring out the ticket. Luckily a nice British couple helped me. Seems like a quote about the “kindness of strangers” should go here.
Once I emerged from the metro to the street I was completely turned around. It took a few minutes of trying to understand where exactly I was to get it right. Everyone knows how good I am with directions but once my compass gets disoriented I am hopeless. Finally one of the buses we were on yesterday pasted by and I knew that they were heading north so I got my sense of north and south back and quickly figured it out.
During school this was one of my favorite buildings. It still is. There was a short line and a 16,50 € admission fee. This was a great self guided tour. In the pictures it looks like everyone is talking on a phone but it is the tour they are all listening to. It was hard to get shots without complete strangers.
The first thing to know about this building is that there are virtually no straight lines in the building. We will see one on the top level but that is about it. The curved wood work is everywhere. Gaudi carries the sea and dragon themes through out the building. His craftsmen were raised to an artist level to achieve his designs. The wood doesn´t just curve in the same plane, it curves at you as well. And this happens at the doors. So the wood casing around the door and the door itself is curving.
In the rear there is a wonderful outdoor space (patio?). It was a nice place to sit and take in the back view. The ironwork balconies and tile work. The floor of the patio was also not straight, probably more for drainage but it seemed to have a spine. I tried to capture it on the photos.
Back inside I continued up the lightwells. I could have taken the lift or the stairs, I opted for the stairs. The colors change in several locations in the building. In the lightwells the tiles start out on the lower levels as a creamy white/oystery and then through each level get bluer and bluer just as the levels of the ocean would. Again the detail in the woodwork is amazing. The handrails are simple but were probably hard to craft.
On the top level an interesting means of ventilation was incorporated. There are inverted vents much like fish gills. These vents let in light as well as air.
Then it was up a small spiral staircase for a rooftop view of Barcelona and more importantly to see the famous Dragon back up close. The roof was recently opened so this part may be new to many of you. Gaudi didn´t want random penetrations on his roof so he gathered the chimneys in groups.
After that I just sat outside and and watched people and building for a while. I figured it was about time for my second lunch. I tried a place called pan and co. I can best describe it as Barcelona´s version of McDonald´s. I had a tuna sandwich with fries. It was good and I was able to use their tables and chairs on the sidewalk to sit and eat. It was marvelous just to watch the people.
I think Barcelonaians deal with the tourists very well. I don´t see them going out of their way to assist tourists but I don´t see them being rude either. Everyone is very friendly and most will speak English, if I make a reasonable attempt to speak Spanish. Or perhaps it is my Spanish is so bad that that it hurts their ears.
Later that evening I met back up with Matt and went along with his group to a trendy restaurant on the beach called Carpe Diem Lounge. It was great to meet all the guys he is always referring to on his blog and at solidworks world. The restaurant was dark, with beds along the walls for patrons to lay down and eat. Matt and I decided this would be a bad idea for him. He would be asleep in no time. Luckily they had tables for our group.