Wednesday, April 19

Ah, España!

Ah dios mio, me gusta mucho Espana!! Lo adoro! I absolutely LOVE Barcelona. Love it lots. Want to move here. Well, maybe that´s a little extreme. But one of my friends should definitely move here so I can visit them a lot - I nominate Luba.

Somehow I knew I would love Barcelona before I even walked off my plane, everything I had read about this city, it seemed like a place that´s my speed, my style. The city has a really good personality, and an appreciation for modern art, very similar to Chicago, San Francisco, or Boston (like Boston without all the gay guys maybe?).

It was very exciting for me, yet it made me nervous, to come to a country where I could try to speak the language. I have never been to a Spanish-speaking country, so I have never had the opportunity to try out my 5 years of Spanish from high school. Turns out, my Spanish is not too bad! I know a lot of nouns at least. Verbs are harder. After 24 hours here, it started to come back to me, I even wrote in my diary in Spanish, and I think Mr. Rios would be very proud!

However, it´s funny that he used to always say "In Spain, they pronounce things with a TH, but don´t worry about that, those Spaniards are weird ones." (that´s a direct quote).
Well, ha ha, Rios, now I am learning to say the C sound with a TH. Believe it or not, the locals call this city "Barthelona".

I´m posting some pictures of buildings in Barcelona by the architect Antoni Gaudi who built very modern, very colorful and curvy, parks and buildings, often with beautiful mosaics too. Most of you have probably heard of him, he is the pride and joy of the city, because he has many buildings here and really, it´s plain to see he was one of the most brilliant architects ever to live - probably the word "genius" is even an understatement. It´s like Gaudi was the Albert Einstein of modern art. He was incredibly innovative, not just creative and imaginative.

The two buildings I saw here by Gaudi were the most famous. One is Casa Mila, an apartment-building (now a museum) in the center of the city on the main drag, Passeig de Gracia. Casa Mila is probably on the most postcards because it has this crazy terrace of statues on top which look like they are from another planet (some statues pictured above, and the front entrance is above left).

The other building I visited was the Temple of Sagrada Familia which is a world-famous work in progress. Much like the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, this building has an incredible story and is a very magical place. I´ll try to sum it up.

Gaudi started building this church to be the largest in Barcelona and he had a very specific vision for the church which is still being carried out, or at least interpreted, today. He started it when he was 31 years old only, around 1880 and he worked on it for 40 years until his death in 1926. Gaudi knew that it was too large of a project to be finished in his lifetime, so he dedicated a lot of time to making models and blueprints of the vision.

Unfortunately during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930´s, many of the plans were lost so the architecture has had to be interpreted throughout the century by future builders. Nevertheless, based on blueprints and models I saw in the musuem, it´s very easy to conclude that this building is completely in line with Gaudi´s vision.

Most people are fascinated by the temple´s sand castle-like look, but even more impressive is the sheer size of the sculptures on either side, in the pictures I posted here, each of the statues are actually life size!! There are 3 facades, and only 2 are completed so far. Each facade shows a biblical story, one side is "the nativity", one side is "the passion", and one side will be "the glory".

Gaudi´s inspiration was always nature, so the pillars that support the structure are designed like Eucalyptus trees on the inside, and outside, where they go into the ground, they are designed like Sequoia trees, my favorite!

Before I left for Barcelona, I remember telling Chris that maybe we´ll come back to Barcelona in 20 years, because it´s possible Sagrada will be done by then. I wasn´t sure, but it turns out, that is the expected timeframe that they will finish it, and also it will be the 100th anniversary of Gaudi´s death so... consider that on my calendar already for 2026, seriously.

When I come back to Barcelona with Kate in a couple weeks, there is still so much I want to see. At least three other places just by Gaudi, especially his outdoor mosaic masterpiece, Parc Guell.

This has been a long blog, but I can´t sign off before saying that I stayed with some friends of my mom´s here in Barcelona, and they were absolutely the most amazing and beautiful people. Couldn´t have had a better stay. Albert is a bit of a John Denver groupie, but otherwise has such a wonderful personality, and his wife Sara just had a bebe named Jan (the name "John" in Catalan) who is also una muy muy bonito persona with enormous blue eyes. precious. I am so glad I visited them, it was very good for my Spanish, but also a relief to have friends here.

P.S. later note...
If any of you are skeptical about the iPod having psychic powers, when I came up from the metro to SAGRADA FAMILIA, and looked up at all the cranes and builders hammering away, my iPod mix jumped to, "This is the house that Jack Built" by Aretha Franklin. So the iPod is not only psychic, it has a very good sense of humor.

No comments: