Welcome back weirdos! If you’re just joining us (OK, me – no one else wants to claim responsibility for this), you’re way behind. Just what you need, huh? Someone else in your life telling you how behind you are. On getting your oil changed. On shaving your legs. On having babies. On making other extremely important life decisions like, “How many more episodes of ‘Making a Murderer‘ am I going to watch before I finally get up to pee?”
I can’t help you with the rest of your life but regarding catching up on this blog, you might want to start with Day One of 4 Days in Barcelona. If not, whoa – you live on the edge. We should be besties. WARNING: my friends have to sign a lot of waivers.
To recap, my friend Amanda and I spent 4 days in Barcelona last June. Four days makes for a fast trip, sure, but you can pack a lot into that short amount of time and I never back down from a challenge. Remember the waivers?
4 DAYS IN BARCELONA: DAY TWO
The thing about Barcelona – it’s a land of abundance. Swine, wine, sunshine, pick-pocketing, color, vibrance. For those last two you can thank Antoni Gaudí. [Not the other ones though. Did they even have pockets to pick? Probably not. I don’t think monocle theft was a huge issue in the late 1800s. At least not as much as contracting smallpox or dysentery. Yikes.]
It’s almost a shame I posted some of these pictures in black and white but I’m the boss and I do what I want.
In Barcelona – and Europe in general – art surrounds you. It smothers you. Like the fat cat that loves your tempurpedic pillow a little too much to share. You find yourself sitting on it, walking through it, climbing it, falling down on it, and it’s all so beautiful you don’t even care. Plus, you’re probably drunk a little.
While Day One was all ham, strolling, ham, bear penises, rooftops, ham, sweaty dancers, and beige, Day Two was Ashley, Amanda, art, architecture, and beach – everything you’ll find in the first volume of the dust-covered Encyclopedia Britannica weighing down the shelves in your bookcase.
Day Two went like this:
- Mandatory cappuccinos and chocolate croissants in El Raval
- Park Güell
- An awkward lunch encounter – Upon ordering a vegetable sandwich on a croissant (damn those croissants are good) I ended up with a tuna sandwich on a roll. Amanda ordered quiche on a plate and was served quiche smeared with tomatoes onto slices of thick bread.
- Some time in the sun at Barceloneta Beach
- A nighttime exhibit at Casa Milà
- Yet another confusing and side-splittingly hilarious culinary adventure
Let’s get started…
WHAT IS A GAUDÍ?
A Gaudí is not a “what.” It’s a “who” and also sort of a “what the hell?” Antoni Gaudí was a man. An artistic genius. A nature lover. A bachelor. A vegetarian. The bearded poster boy for Barcelona before bearded poster boys were cool.
OK, if you want to get technical because you came here for legit information… fine. And also… ha HA! Gotcha! According to Wikipedia (does not ruin your shelves) he was “a Spanish Catalan architect and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works reflect an individualized and distinctive style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Familia (which we’ll get to on Day Three, hold your horses).” That last part wasn’t on Wikipedia but I could totally make that happen if I wanted.
Gaudí incorporated the natural world in all themes, designs, and materials used for his works. The wings of butterflies, ripples of the ocean floor, bees, trees, caves, and waves all inspired his creations.
He utilized organic mediums and recycled materials – scrap metal from junkyards, wasted ceramic tiles (Spain’s hottest commodity?), discarded bricks – whenever possible. He was green before green was cool.
Antoni Gaudí: original hipster.
So there was this guy, Eusebi Güell, who was really rich and wanted some cool stuff built. Fast forward the VHS of life – he and Gaudí became best friends, a late 19th century bromance ensued and, indeed, a lot of cool stuff was built. Güell understood the intentions and inspiration behind Gaudí’s designs, something not a lot of other people did. He just… got him.
Construction on Park Güell began in 1900. About the same time that:
- L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Queen Elizabeth’s mom was born – dayummm
- Max Planck birthed quantum physics, something I think we’re all thankful for. Am I right?
- and the most important of all historical facts: The first modern hamburger sandwich was made. Thank you year 1900.
Güell & Gaudí originally conceived Park Güell as a housing development, an eclectic neighborhood of sorts, with 60 FANTABULOUS residences. So while Güell totally respected Gaudí’s imagination, the rest of Barcelona didn’t quite get it, the project flopped, and shortly after completion it became a public park. Can you imagine living here? What a fantastic, scrumdiddlyumptious, Willy-Wonka life we could have led!
The bitchin’ pink house – that currently graces the face of my business cards that I may or may not have drunkenly given you at a bar – stands as one of the only two houses that were completed. Put up for sale but never sold, Gaudí moved in himself and lived there for 20 years. This is now the Gaudí House Museum and sits high on the list of places I’d like to live with my team of oompah-loompahs and a crapload of cats.
If you enter Park Güell where you are supposed to, you will be greeted with an entrance like this:
Stunning, right? The grand staircase marks the picturesque welcome into Park Güell. We, lost and confused as always, entered through the rear. Sure, that was a unique experience in its own way but it eventually landed us on the bad side of a really bitchy Catalan. Man they can roll their eyes with superhuman force!
Instead, this was our entrance:
The most well-known parts of Park Güell are the massive patio (Nature Square), the grand staircase, and the lizard, but there’s a huge park behind all of that, none of it lacking in creativity and wonder. Even the rear entrance in all its brown glory.
Exploring the park in opposite fashion we enjoyed it more or less alone. While everyone else – who apparently knows how to read maps – occupied Nature Square snapping photos of gingerbread Dr. Seuss houses, we busied ourselves enjoying the architecture, the views of far-off and far-out Sagrada Familia, and mingling with the loud-as-crap palm tree parrots.
So yes, we entered on the wrong side. That’s what happens when you tell your cab driver to take you to Park Güell not knowing how extremely massive it is and how little they care about you. (Hint: not at all.)
We arrived at our pre-paid and assigned time and thought nothing of it when a park employee looked at our tickets, agreed we were on time, and pointed into the park for us to continue. We strolled through the empty park, took pictures, and took it easy. Thirty minutes later we arrived at Nature Square.
Imagine our surprise when an unnecessarily bitchy woman told us we were 30 minutes late and would not be allowed into the park. I get it, you have to deal with dumb tourists all the live long day – I really do. I’ve seen them. I’ve been them. I’ve served them.
But when the guy at our entrance looked at our tickets, told us we were on time, then let us into the park, we thought we were good. He never said, “Hurry the hell up! You came in the wrong way and have three minutes to run a mile uphill. Go!” Had he, we would’ve better understood the situation. We can take hints like that.
Mind you, zero signs and zero park employees existed to share this information. I mean, obviously arriving at the correct entrance would have been helpful but who am I to argue with the cab driver when I can’t even figure out how to hold a map? And am probably drunk a little.
Long story just slightly less long, it took about 10 minutes of sass-arguing with the girl to let us in. And voila! Pretty pictures for you.
Much wiser now, the main entrance is ridiculously and painfully obvious.
Nature Square is the main and most well-known section of the park, primarily because of the opportunity to take photos like this:
This massive, open space was originally intended as an open-air theater. The dirt floor is simple and the cement bench is more comfortable than it appears. Like lying on a bed of nails or peeing in a wetsuit. Antoni Gaudí – master of ergonomics.
As I’ve mentioned, Antoni Gaudí obsessed over nature and organic forms. The fluid motion of the ocean, reptile scales, tree trunks, the list never ends. The Wave is one of my favorites, designed to appear as though you’re trapped under an intense ocean wave about to die a painful, slow drowning death surrounded by hungry great whites.
The Hypostyle Room
I don’t know what hypostyle means.
This part, directly underneath Nature Square, was intended as the neighborhood’s marketplace. The views are fantastic and the cool shade is life-saving.
Nevermind, I just looked it up. “Hypostyle” comes from Ancient Greek and means “under columns.”
// Give me a word, any word, and I show you that the root of that word is Greek. //
The Dragon Stairway
OK, I don’t know what this thing is. I’ve read dragon? Lizard? Salamander? Look at those fingers! It’s clearly a gecko.
Park Güell is the second must-see in Barcelona, behind only Sagrada Familia, and is a great introduction to the works of Gaudí. It’s the perfect place to spend a sunshiny day, listen to some Spanish guitar, and get belittled by the mean lady with the ticket scanner who clearly has too much power.
Go because it actually is worth all the hype, to take the famous photo, to learn about Gaudí, pretty colors, shiny things, and lizards.
PARK GÜELL // NEED TO KNOW
- Purchase your tickets in advance for guaranteed admission.
- Just make sure to tell your cabbie to drop you off at the main entrance. You’ll know it when you see it.
- A little assertion goes a long way. Applicable everywhere.
- There’s gelato in the snack bar.
First of all, I just Googled Barceloneta to get some information and this is what Wikipedia tells me: “La Barceloneta (Catalan pronunciation: [ɫə βərsəɫuˈnɛtə])”
Does ANYONE… anyone actually know how to read that?
Regardless, this is Barsuhlownetuh Beach. I did not expect it to impress me as much as it did. Clean. Comfortable. No one bothered me to buy friendship bracelets… I mean, they were there, but they didn’t bother me. They could read the distaste on my face, I’m sure.
We hopped on a bus at El Raval and were at the beach in minutes.
We hopped on a bus at El Raval. Some nice people saw us in our bikinis, carrying towels, and quickly began shouting to us that we were going the wrong direction. We hopped off the bus, crossed the street, hopped on another bus and within minutes were at the beach.
I told you a map is no help to me. Like, none. Except maybe as a sun shield.
One great thing I just read about Barceloneta Beach is that they have handicap accessible beaches, amphibian wheelchairs, and personal volunteer assistance so everyone can enjoy the beach and the ocean. This makes my heart happy.
BARCELONETA BEACH // Things that kick ass
- Very clean
- Not crowded at all (beginning of June)
- Close to wherever it is you’re staying
- Apparently you can work out here. I don’t know a single person who would choose fitness over sunbathing at a Spanish beach but apparently none of my friends are European. Or from New Jersey.
- Many bars/restaurants/cafés along the beach
- Changing rooms/showers/public restrooms available nearby
BARCELONETA BEACH // Stuff that sucks
- It’s an urban beach – that’s just weird to me. The city is right behind you. Why is this weird? I don’t know.
- Though they didn’t bother us, there are still beach peddlers. I hate those guys. I don’t want your friendship bracelet!
- The sand is brown. I. AM. SO. SPOILED.
CASA MILÀ // LA PEDRERA
// I wrote extensively on Casa Milà last year after my trip. Check out my article on the La Pedrera: The Origins exhibit for tons more information! //
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Casa Milà is the former apartment complex designed by Antoni Gaudí for some more super rich people. Dude. Is. Connected. La Pedrera is the nickname for the same building that refers to its mundane exterior appearance resembling a stone quarry. Hey, just like brown paper bags from the liquor store, good things sometimes come in boring packages…
So Gaudí – he loves nature. Everything he creates has some natural element or influence to it. Touring Gaudí’s creations is the best way to give you a sense of what a mad genius he was.
Casa Milà tours like a museum where you learn about the man, where he drew some particular inspirations from, and how his brain worked. (Spoiler alert: better than yours)
La Pedrera: The Origins is the can’t-miss after dark audio/visual experience at Casa Milà. After touring the museum you climb up to the roof no matter how high your heels are for a mesmerizing presentation on everything that inspired Gaudí, all projected onto the rooftop warriors. If you’ve ever been to or researched Barcelona, you’ve no doubt seen photos of La Pedrera’s rooftop – but it’s rare to see them the way you will at The Origins experience.
Read my article here. Seriously, it’s pretty funny.
DINNER // TALLER DE TAPAS
What do we want? Paella! When do we want it? All the damn time!
You’re right – the photo above is not paella.
What you see above was the dessert we ordered: Goat cheese with honey and pine nuts. Little did we know it would come atop a… baby wipe? The dish was delish but why wasn’t it simply served on a plate? Were they trying to fancy it up? Whatever sort of “towel” it was presented on had the exact texture of a moist baby wipe.
Has anyone else experienced this?
We couldn’t handle it. Commence laughter paralysis – for the second day in a row. A byproduct of the combination of alcohol, jetlag, and the high of being in a foreign country.
Has anyone else experienced this?
This took place at Taller de Tapas – La Rambla location. I would not recommend. On Day Four you’ll read about Taller de Tapas – Gothic Quarter location, the HIGHLY recommended.
WHAT I LEARNED // DAY TWO
- Catalans consider tuna a vegetable?
- Quiche is actually a condiment?
- Sometimes you just have to be a bitch.
- People are inherently nice and won’t let you get on a bus going the wrong way. Aww…
- Antoni Gaudí is THE MAN.
- When ordering dessert, make sure to tell them to “hold the baby wipes.”
WHAT GAUDÍ SITE IS YOUR FAVORITE?
LET ME KNOW BELOW!
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Keep going! On to Day Three…