Barcelona – some impressions.

I had never been to Barca before and a few things struck me immediately. In contrast to many Asian cities there is a distinct dearth of skyscrapers. We climbed up to both Montjuic and Park Guell and the vista is one of predominantly low rise buildings. This is from La Sagrada Familia.View from LSFThere is a labyrinth of old, narrow streets and alleyways yet finding your way around seems easy enough. There are plenty of landmark buildings by which to orientate yourself and in the popular tourist areas everything is reasonably well signposted. I love exploring the old parts of any town and Barcelona was no exception. It is ethnically quite diverse and I like that.

I was surprised at how little English I heard although we got by well enough without Spanish or Catalan. There were plenty of Russians, Germans and Chinese. We met some very pleasant folks from the US and enjoyed their company at dinner one evening.

The Catalan flag was everywhere and you can feel the sense of identity. And of course memorabilia for FC Barca can be found all over the place. Sadly we did not make it to the Camp Nou.

I don’t think I have ever seen a city with so much graffiti. Every door and wall seems to be a target for urban art.Alice

ExistenceAnd there are buskers and sadly beggars in abundance. Some of the buskers are very good and I threw a couple of Euros in the hat for a few of them. One young girl was an excellent violinist and I was happy to listen to Harpo for a while.HarpoI was quite irritated by the number of people who would pose with these performers then give nothing. They didn’t get off so lightly with the street artists, who dress in strange garb and move only when a few coins are donated. It looked hot work and I am not sure how rewarding it is. Nevertheless I would rather see people do this and make an effort than to simply sit and hold out a plastic cup. Some of these performers seemed quite mature. Unemployment makes no allowances for age.

I have already mentioned the number of smokers in an earlier post. I don’t make a moral judgment but in many countries smoking is in decline and it was in stark contrast that we coughed and spluttered our way along.

The architecture is wonderful. I love the old buildings, interspersed with the oddities that Gaudi created. If La Sagrada Familia is synonymous with Barcelona today it is with justification. We spent a few hours here including a trip to the top of one of the towers. It is an extraordinary building – still under construction – and the way the light bathes the interior is quite enchanting. We did visit the Casa Batllo, another Gaudi building and it is certainly a curiosity. I had 2 issues with it. It was extremely expensive to go in compared with virtually other tourist site. Perhaps  the reason is the fact that it is in private ownership. Secondly, it was very crowded and we were there in March. We chatted to the hotel manager about the crowding as early as March and he said it was a school break week. Nevertheless, if this is what Barcelona is like in March I don’t want to go in peak Summer. It must be unbearable.

Despite my frustration with Casa Batllo, here are some images that hopefully illustrate why it is so popular. You will have to excuse the slightly awkward perspectives and angles. You take what you can get in a crowded house with little room to manoeuvre. I need a tilt-shift lens.Casa batllo arch Casa batllo bluelight casa batllo door

Casa Batllo roofOne of the best things about Barcelona is the ease of getting around. It is largely flat and the public transport is superb. We bought a ten trip ticket and it was good for the metro, the buses and even the funicular railway up to Montjuic. There are also plenty of good places to eat at reasonable prices. We liked Bar Lobo near our hotel and Tapas 24.

I will continue the tour of Barcelona soon but leave you with a shot I liked from Park Guell, which, in contrast to Casa Batllo, was excellent value for money and highly recommended. But go early to avoid the crowds.Park Guell school group




21 thoughts on “Barcelona – some impressions.

  1. Eight such tiny creatures !!! 🙂 Listen, you done REAL GOOD with the photos inside, Andrew! – under the circ.s, they’re brilliant ! Looking forward to more, though …

  2. Andrew, these photos are superb. I’ve only visited Barcelona once but I’m looking forward to going back. It’s gritty, edgy and hip, the most ‘modern’ of Spanish cities. I had the best ham sandwich of my life there (not a metaphor!) and excellent tapas. I found the architecture fascinating and the people very friendly. Your mention of the young violinist reminded me of Laurie Lee in ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ it seems little has changed in almost 80 years!

    • Oh no! Now I have to go and look if I have the book. It is certainly ‘hip’. It’s just that we ate old fuddy duddies these days. We did few museums and galleries I confess. I went to a Picasso museum / gallery in Lucerne once. I don’t really get Picasso. I prefer Miro. Less taxing on the brain 😜. It’s absolutely worth going back and staying at Casa Camper if you can run to it.

  3. Really enjoyed the tour of Barcelona,great display of colour and shape. The closest we got was a Heathrow Hotel to catch an early flight, but only caught a ‘dreaded lurgy’ and limped back to Wiltshire. Interesting observations of smoking and graffiti, not much of either in UK today compared with 10 years ago.
    Kind regards

    • Thank you Geoff. What a misery to fall ill before you start. We saw a vintage car rally which I suspect you would have enjoyed. I’ll see if I have any decent images. Glad to hear the UK is cleaning up. Some of the graffiti is good. A lot just spoils the environment. We don’t have too much in
      HK now. Glorious weather today at last.

  4. Very good shots. Some day we will get there too. Yes, the smoking habits of the Spanish are legendary. I suppose anything interfering with enjoyment is anathema to Spanish and their culture. If life is shorter but more at full throttle and to the full, so what?
    Here in Australia we smoke less and less but it is accompanied with ‘lights out at 9.30 pm’ and listening to cricket with a cup-o-tea. 😉

  5. Nice quick overview, Andrew. The examples you’ve shared of the architecture are so refreshing compared to what passes for architecture here in the states…at least the current and recent architecture. I love the archway although its a shame about the velvet rope barrier. Interesting door too. It’s nice to see that the arts are mixing with the crafts in some places. The carving on Harpo’s harp is neat too.

  6. My company has an office in Barcelona and I am still trying ti manage a trip over there.. Busy, cosmopolitan yet still has that old world charm..
    Thanks for the sight seeing tour through your photographs!

  7. I was back there with you Andrew – thanks for the wonderful pictures and I’m gutted that Casa Batllo was so busy and expensive – not our experience at all. We did manage to get to the Nou Camp (that was a reward to Son for tramping him around the Gaudi sites) – and it was a pretty intimidating place – best bit though – Ronaldino in training on the small ground opposite. Made Son’s weekend …

  8. I especially liked the arched walkways in Casa Batllo. Haven’t been there in summer, so have no idea how crowded it might be. Though I remember when we had to wait in line for some time when we visited the Sagrada Familia in summer. Love the pic of the little kids with their reflection taken at Park Guell!

  9. I have never been to Barcelona, Andrew, so your photographs were welcomed with open eyes!!!
    The angles you captured in the first Casa Batllo are stunning, and the black and white of the children had me smiling, waiting to see them all jump in the puddle!

  10. Brought back memories. Thanks for the photos. It rained when we were there in October about 15 years ago.
    You might like my poem Gaudiamus about the Sagrada Familia etc. It’s in my Poetry section.
    Thanks for following my posts.

  11. We have a fondness for Barcelona (January is good) and the Sagrada Familia is forever changing and developing. Love your pic of the white corridor in Casa Batllo – and the kids in the Park Guell.

    • Thanks Hilary. I think going out of season is a good idea. I am contemplating a very unseasonal trip to Venice and Florence. Last time we enjoyed both places a great deal and we want to go back. I’m not sure about January though. I would like to Sagrada Familia again in maybe 10 years time to see progress. Maybe I will get the chance. Who knows?

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