Barcelona – Park Güell

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A lot of photographs in this post. You may want to put the kettle on.

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TBH and I have been to Park Güell before, on our previous fleeting visit to Barcelona. Back then it was free to visit and didn’t need to be booked in advance.

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Now, like almost everywhere we visited in the city, Park Güell has a not inconsiderable fee.  In general, Barcelona seemed pretty expensive to me. Although the beach is free and the transport system very cheap,  Museums and Art Galleries and the like, were far from cheap. I suppose this is one way in which austerity has bitten in Spain.

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You can’t really come to Barcelona, however, without a visit to Park Güell. TBH and I were both very keen to go.

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Count Eusebi Güell bought this land intending to turn it, with the help of Antoni Gaudí into a luxurious housing estate, with  sixty plots.

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The two buildings at the top of the post were the porter’s lodges at the entrance.

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There was one other building already on the site, which Güell moved into. Two more houses were built. When it couldn’t be sold, Gaudí bought one of them and moved his family into it.

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Gaudi made alterations to the house which was already on the site, but neither of the other  houses were designed by Gaudí.

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Eventually, the Park became a Municipal Garden.

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So in a way, it’s a giant folly. A failed commercial enterprise, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gaudí had some pretty radical ideas…

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…this was going to be the marketplace. Our kids found it adapted well for hide and seek.

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The Porter’s Lodges. The right-hand one is a shop. The left-hand a museum. But the queue was 45 minutes, so we didn’t go in.

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The famous serpentine seating on the terrace (the only clear memory I had from our previous visit) is the work of Gaudí’s regular collaborator, Josep Maris Jujol.

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The (mostly) hidden house behind the trees, is the Gaudí House Museum, the house where Gaudí and his family lived for twenty years.

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This is the ‘other’ house built in the park, the one which Gaudí didn’t buy. It’s in the free part of Park Güell, which is well worth a visit. There are lots of buskers…

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…this harp player was amazing.

And stunning views over the city, including views of Gaudí’s incomplete cathedral, the Sagrada Família.

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Our next port of call…

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Barcelona – Park Güell

Barcelona – Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia

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One final stop for the day, a look-see in the Cathedral, now that the party were all appropriately attired.

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The interior of the Cathedral was most impressive – my photos don’t really do it justice – but better yet: for a reasonable fee (I think it was 3 Euros each) you can take a lift up to the roof.

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For some views out over the city.

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Looking back to Montjuic.

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A curious bell-tower.

Barcelona – Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia

Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic

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Below the Miro Foundation a formal park covers the hillside down towards the city.

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Designed by French landscape architect Jean-Cluade Nicolas Forestier, who seems to have designed parks in major cities across the world, the garden contains an abundance of water features, particularly several waterfalls which take advantage of the steep hillside on which the park is situated.

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I think one of the children had just ‘got’ TBH here, and revenge was on the cards.

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Teatre Lliure.

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Then we were back to the Gothic Quarter in the centre of the city for one final sight-seeing stop for the day….

Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic

Barcelona – The Miro Foundation

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Any visitor to Barcelona will inevitably eventually confront the cities three famous artistic giants: Picasso, Gaudi and Miro. The Miro Foundation, a gallery which mainly, but not exclusively, features Miro’s art, is conveniently situated on the hillside below Montjuic. It was high on my list of places to visit during our stay.

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TBH and I have visited a Miro exhibition before, at the wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park.      That was mostly sculpture, as you might expect at the YSP, whereas at the Foundation Miro’s paintings are more to the fore.

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I think we all enjoyed it, I know that I did, apart that is from Little S who was infuriated.

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“It’s kiddy scribbles, Dad.”

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He was particularly incensed by two very large white canvases. One with a single small blue dot slightly off centre, and the other with a single line across it. (A scribble in S’s view.)

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Even S must have enjoyed the view from the roof terrace though.

Barcelona – The Miro Foundation

Barcelona – Castell de Montjuic

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When we first arrived in Barcelona our taxi from the airport took us along the coast and beneath this hill, with it’s surmounting fort. Later we had good views of it again, when we boarded the Norwegian Epic for our cruise.

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Obviously, we had to visit when we returned to Barcelona.

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It’s quite a modern fortification, compared to most we see in Britain. It was completed in 1799, although there has been a fort here since 1640. It’s had quite a chequered past, having be captured by the British in 1705 and by the French during the Napoleonic wars.

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Situated as it is, overlooking both the city and the port, it would seem to be ideally sited to defend Barcelona, but it seems that more often than not its guns have been used to bombard the city itself to suppress unrest in the region.

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During the civil war both sides imprisoned and tortured captives here. Most infamously, Lluis Companys, President of Catalonia, was executed here in 1940 on the orders of Franco.

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Not a happy story then.

But the views are magnificent, both near and far…

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We’d been concerned about just how hot it would be in Barcelona in the middle of the summer. In fact, aside from on the Metro, where it could be rather sweaty, it was mostly very pleasant. There generally seemed to be a cooling sea breeze and in the Gothic Quarter at least, the high buildings and narrow streets combined to make a deep, cool shade. On Montjuic hill however, it was very hot.

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So much so that many people were tempted to paddle in the pool above the mirador (waterfall).

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We were wandering down the hill…

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…through pleasant parks…

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…and a sculpture garden…

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…to our next destination…

More to follow!

Barcelona – Castell de Montjuic

Barcelona – Sants Festival

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Placa de Catalunya.

Barcelona was the home port for our cruise. We had a couple of days there before we departed and had also decided to stay on after the tour had finished. Those first couple of days were spent largely on one of Barcelona’s many  beaches…

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And during our subsequent stay we would return several times: the promise of a day on the beach had a restorative effect when younger members of the party were wilting from the vicissitudes of sight-seeing. Whilst on the beach, TBH was content to soak up the sun and read her book, whilst the rest of us spent almost all of our time in the sea. We discovered, on the final day, that even the crowded shallows were surprisingly good for snorkelling with schools of small fish, as well as the tiny purple jellyfish of which we were frequently warned over the tannoy system.

Wherever there were trees we heard, but didn’t always see, parrots…

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I’m not sure whether they are indigenous or recent arrivals.

On the first full day of our second visit we headed into town from our lodgings in Sant Andreu. Sant Andreu is quite a way out, but the Barcelona Metro is superb: for a Euro you can travel anywhere in the city, even transferring to buses if need be.

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La Rambla.

I suppose we probably would have wanted to see the city centre anyway, but we had wind of something afoot. (Well, I’d read about it on the internet).

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I’m not sure what this building is, but I thought my friend Dr K might appreciate the sentiment on the banner.

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Carrer del Bisbe.

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In the gothic quarter.

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Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia.

Barcelona, like Marseille and Liverpool, has two cathedrals. This is the older one. On this occasion we couldn’t get in because A and TBH didn’t meet the strict dress code.

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Strangely, the same rules were not enforced at the nearby Santa Maria del Mar.

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We followed this fellow…

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…through the narrow, high-sided streets of the Gothic Quarter, losing each other in the process (not for the last time on this trip), back to the vicinity of the cathedral.

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This parade of giants was what we had been on the look-out for. Part of the Sants Festival which seems to be one of many which take place in Barcelona over the course of the year.

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The giants were accompanied by drums and music, and danced – twirling and swaying.

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It looked like the task of carrying each figure would be hot and exhausting work. Each figure seemed to have its own team in attendance. Those members of the team designated to carry a giant were tightly wound into a broad belt, presumably offering some support for their backs.

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The giants parade was just one feature of week long festivities. Sadly, we failed to find the chocolate event which followed.

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Street Market Pencils.

Barcelona – Sants Festival

Our Grand Tour: Marseille

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Whilst I had some prior ideas about what we might see in Rome, Naples and Florence, my knowledge of Cannes had been sketchy and all I knew about Marseille was what I’d heard in the kind of negative news reports which I suppose any large city can attract. Perhaps not surprising then that I was pleasantly surprised by what we found.

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The city has a new, modern port so that the old port is free to house yachts. For the most part not the huge, gleaming status symbols we’d seen the day before in Cannes, but proper yachts with rigging, masts and sails.

Like Liverpool, Marseille has two cathedrals and the view across the port is dominated by the one which bestrides the hill-top opposite…

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Notre-Dame de la Garde.

We decided to visit it and took a tourist road-train up the hill.

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The cathedral was fascinating, well worth a look, and the view across the city was also spectacular.

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As we queued to catch the road-train back down the hill, I was targeted by a pickpocket. Astonishingly, he managed to unzip my money-belt without attracting my attention, but I did think that his behaviour was a bit odd and realised what he was about before he managed to take anything.

For fans of swashbuckling literature, this is the marvellously named Château d’If…

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…where Dumas had his protagonist the Count of Monte Cristo imprisoned.

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I was hugely impressed with what we saw of Marseille and, once again, felt like we’d hardly scratched the surface. We didn’t look inside Marseille’s other Cathedral…

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Or visit any of the many art galleries or museums, with which Marseille seems to be unusually richly supplied.

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Next time?

Our Grand Tour: Marseille