We spent a few days in Barcelona earlier this month.

Barcelona

Written by Haydn Williams

We spent a few days in Barcelona earlier this month. We were lucky enough to get some really good weather, and I think we got around most of the big sights.

First up was some architecture courtesy of Barcelona’s premier celebrity, Antoni Gaudi. Casa Batlló was changed from a normal block of flats to something a bit mental in the early 20th century. I’m not sure I have the vocabulary to accurately describe it, but there’s a distinct lack of ‘normal’, and also of straight lines, throughout the whole building.

The roof of Casa Batlló, designed by Gaudi. © Haydn Williams 2015
The roof of Casa Batlló, designed by Gaudi. © Haydn Williams 2015

As you wander around the city, it’s clear how highly lauded Gaudi is, and a lot of Casa Batlló was really nice.

Internal lightwell within Casa Batlló. © Haydn Williams 2015
Internal lightwell within Casa Batlló. © Haydn Williams 2015

However, he did occasionally go a bit too far I think. His work on the Sagrada Família, a very large church in the centre of the city, started in 1886. When he died in 1926 it was around 20% complete and it’s still being built today. The cost is around €25m per year. And it’s horrible…

The still-unfinished Sagrada Família, with more Gaudi-designed bits still being added. © Haydn Williams 2015
The still-unfinished Sagrada Família, with more Gaudi-designed bits still being added. © Haydn Williams 2015

After our first day of wandering we returned to the hotel, which turned out to be quite nice.

Sweet. © Haydn Williams 2015
Sweet. © Haydn Williams 2015

The next day started with a visit to the monument which records where Columbus returned to court on his return from discovering America. For the purposes of this light-hearted blog, we’ll leave aside the arguments about ‘discovering’ a continent already inhabited by quite a few people(s), then taking some prisoner just to die on the return journey.

Monument a Colom. We chopped Columbus off the top of the photo, but the lion is wearing my cap. © Haydn Williams 2015
Monument a Colom. We chopped Columbus off the top of the photo, but the lion is wearing my cap. © Haydn Williams 2015

After that we strolled through the narrow streets of the Gothic quarter and eventually made our way to the Arc de Triomf. We visited the more famous one earlier in the year, but this one wasn’t bad either.

The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic). © Haydn Williams 2015
The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic). © Haydn Williams 2015
Arc de Troimf, in brick. © Haydn Williams 2015
Arc de Troimf, in brick. © Haydn Williams 2015

With the heat building, we saw more fruits of Gaudi’s labour, and sweltered our way along the seafront before returning home.

Becs was poorly on the final day, so I did what any considerate partner would, and took myself off on a train for a trip outside the city. The monastery at Montserrat is built on the side of a mountain, which looked pretty cool. The first hermitage was constructed in 888AD, but a proper monastery which followed it was destroyed by the French in 1811 and subsequently rebuilt in 1844.

You want to build it where?! Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. © Haydn Wililams
You want to build it where?! Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. © Haydn Wililams

Lots of people make the pilgrimage to Montserrat, so the main area near the basilica is actually quite busy. I wasn’t interested in that though; with the Welsh 1000m race coming up shortly, the 500m climb on nature trails to the top of the mountain were the main draw. The local rock is conglomerate, which looked great for climbing on where it was firmly stuck together, and a horrible disintegrating choss-fest in less stable areas!

Sport climbing on Montserrat. © Haydn Williams 2015
Sport climbing on Montserrat. © Haydn Williams 2015
Conglomerate rocks. And climbers' dog left at the bottom of the route! © Haydn Williams 2015
Conglomerate rocks. And climbers’ dog left at the bottom of the route! © Haydn Williams 2015

The view from the top (1236m) was pretty impressive, as was the monastery when seen from above on the return journey.

View from the top. © Haydn Williams 2015
View from the top. © Haydn Williams 2015
Looking down to the monastery, and the valley far below. © Haydn Williams 2015
Looking down to the monastery, and the valley far below. © Haydn Williams 2015

From there it was back on the rather vertiginous cable car to the train station, and back to the city. Another interesting trip, and another two UNESCO World Heritage Sites ticked off the list too.

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