March 28, 2011
On the 8th day of our trip we investigated Girona. We stayed at Etap Hotel – wanted to drive to the center and tried to – but no parking space though there we so many and big parking areas around their central gloomy park – not a single free space there. So we drove back to the hotel, left the car there and walked 20 min to the old town which met us with this view:
It has a very Spanish shape of a town, as far as I already notices. The cathedral high up on a hill – not so easy to access… , I wonder how older people attend a mass there. Also – their church towers look mostly as if someone has cut their top or as if they ran out of time or material to finish it, but I guess – that is the style.
So we wandered in the medieval stone streets all over till we got to the Jewish quarter and the Cathedral there. Again – somehow historically there were Jewish quarters in almost every medieval center of the towns we visited. Why where they all pushed away (because I read stories that they were) -I don’t have the answer, I must read more about it…
I recently read in www.Delfi.lt that Zanzibar in Africa is an stone city. I would argue – not only.
Yes, and as most of the towns we visited – it is like a fortress, surrounded with castle walls.
It was fun to wander in such settings with almost no people at all. We found a St. Narcisus grave somewhere. maybe in some little church. Who was St. Narcisus – I have no clue, I only know the legend that Narcisus was very handsome, so he sat on a lake looking at his image and was admiring himself so much. that he turned into the flower:
Somehow I have a felling that this particular St. Narcisus has nothing to do with the flower or his image. i also noticed by this time that Spanish like having either dead Christ in a realistic pose lying in their altar, or other saints in or on their coffins – a coffin theme in their decors is very prominent.
Here, wow, the stairs to the Cathedral - wonderful stairs!
from this joy we started taking pictures of ourselves , as if trying to tell the world- we were here!
Then we visited the Cathedral museum with its cloister:
The columns were very elaborate:
the museum itself:
the most precious artifact in the museum is the 11th ! century embroidery “The Creation of the World”:
The Cathedral has the widest Nave in the world!
and then outside:
the interesting point about this photo is that only now while looking through pictures I noticed that long tailed lizard playfully landed on the roof in the middle. While over there – we didn’t even notice it. Creative Spaniards.
Then we descended through narrow stone streets, which looked one nicer that the other, especially because they were empty from cars!
And we landed at the river front where we had a very tasty meal as they call it “menu dia” – we could choose two plates of whatever was offered and one pastry or sweet plate, plus a drink. The restaurant was on the side of the old town on this river, very strategically called “Selfe Serve”:
After lunch we walked a little to the right side of the old town and here we saw the stairs to the city wall – as my mom noticed – for free! They have been to Dubrovnik, much shorter walk on the city walls over there is far from free. So what could we do -we had to climb and walk…:-)
As you can see -it was a scary walk – the wall is so narrow and so high…
but very beautiful:
And here is the last picture of one of their central squares:
There is much more of beautiful Girona. But we saw it in the evening, in the rain, so no pictures. We even had a wonderful chance to listen to an Armenian pianist Gerard Gasparian in their Casa Cultura de Cultura. My advice -go to the center not of the old town, but of the new town on this side of the street – find the information center in Seu Generalitat de Catalunya right in front of Casa de Cultura – and go from there.
March 26, 2011
On March 1st we packed our luggage and left with a metro, then we a train to Barcelona Airport, terminal #2, where on one end of it all the shuttles from hotels and car renting places stop. In a short while an orange shuttle came -Sixt it said on its side. The rental office was not far away, except that the airport area is so complicated, so many one way streets, highways, exist, turns – it was hard to imagine how are we getting out of the office alone in the car and how are we getting back. In actuality the first part was easy. that latter one – hard. The office itself was also orange and very nice. very big, with the girls behind the counters speaking English. They even had coffee, yogurt, OJ, fruit and muffins for the hungry travelers. Very fast we got a small car and were off for adventures. The positive part – they are driving there on the same side of the road, unlike in New Zealand . For the record – they charged us 184e total with the fees for the two weeks. It came to a little 13e/ day, not bad.
Off we went, around the city through its highways or beltways towards the sea in the north of it and tries to stay on Rt C32. At first it went completely by the sea, then it went through towns. sometimes passing towns on their sides, but all the time we had to be careful and know the next town to follow the right direction, for as you know – in Europe they usually have many round-abouts and they almost never write on the directions the number of the road, but only the next town. The first stop by the sea – somewhere in Mataro area where we noticed an easy access to the beach :
The next stop – I am not very sure which town was that. but it had a big castle-church sticking on top of it so we drove into its narrow streets towards the sea, got almost stuck there. got scared , didn’t find any place to park until we drove out and parked up on a cliff under that strange church-castle, then descended down to the town train station, and up again – lots of climbing up and down in those coastal towns…:
WE even climbed to the top of the cliff to that church-castle (from the back side it is gray and really looks like a castle) and took a picture of its doors:
And then off to Tossa De Mar:
Where there was no problem to park the car though we took the last spot in a small parking place – I wonder where do people park during the season… – by some old ruins which I don’t know nothing about:
I don’t know where those people of those several cars from the lot were, because the whole town looked like dead. like a ghost town with most of the shutters down…
Very existentialistic…Like in an Antonioni’s movie…
But the town was as pretty as it can be and we were as luck as we can be to get pics without crowds in them:
Then we reached the castle-medieval part of the town which was especially impressive:
They usually have a walk on those fortress walls, as I noticed later, wherever they have a fortress. So here is a view to a small beach from those wall. They have another bigger beach, but I can imagine why there is tension in Costa Brava for a space in a beach…Once we had a British couple who said they have a small cottage somewhere there for the summers and they are very angry with the other big nationality in Europe whose people are always the first in the morning to take all the spots on their closest beach. Being used to spacious Lithuanian beaches by the Baltic I didn’t see where is the problem. Now I saw .
Here is a wider beach.
The sun was setting fast, it was good for some pictures, not very much for the others, and definitely bad for us – we had to rush fro to reach Girona we had to drive at least an hour on the narrow winding mountain roads. The last views of Tossa from the road:
March 24, 2011
One morning we went to Sarria – which used to be a separate village when Barcelona engulfed it into its hug. It was ways away from our place but to take a metro would be a hazard too – we would have to change trains several times. So we enjoyed the different and never boring buildings where people live and then we passed through a district of mansions, which reminded Los Angeles rich areas, and at last reached the main square of Sarria:
Here is the main church of Sarria seen in the back of another square:
An interesting thing – while we sat in a square there we heard parrots shouting. Then we noticed the green maybe even amazons or some other species running around the trees and picking branches for their nests somewhere behind the roofs. We saw a lot of them having homes in the tops of palm trees in Park Guell. That was quite strange- as if parrots like warm weather and some days even in March over there seemed cold for us.
Montserat Madona – the Black Madona is usually found in a copy in every church in Catalunya. At the end of the trip we had a chance to see the original in their Montserat Monastery and even touch the magic ball she hold in her hand.
I guess this is just an interesting modern design of a window in an old building.
Spanish seem to like such doll-human figures. I don’t know why they were there exposed in the administration center of Sarria, maybe being prepared for the upcoming Mardi Gras…I also saw lots of such, but smaller figures used in Argentina to decorate their La Boca area of Buenos Aires – only in friends’ pictures. Maybe it is something about their culture.
Little streets of Sarria were a new thing to us still, it was like an introduction to small Spanish towns that we saw later. Lots of nice little shops, that is what one would expect:
Then we walked to Monestir de Pedralbes (it was praised in the books):
And even reached Palau Reial and Pavellons Guell where the gate was locked and we could only see this Gaudi’s dragon:
On the way back we saw a very impressive modern group of apartment buildings with this gate (we didn’t figure it out weather it is Gaudi’s or not, though it seems to be in his style):
The sun was shining at a bad angle, and the street was busy. So we didn’t bother crossing – it was already a big walking trip, we were too tired. The man in the center of the gate is a sculpture.
This Collegi de les Teresianes was also on our way home:
On another afternoon we visited the Cigar – Torre Agbar -the controversial piece of modern architecture:
Then some skyscrapers in Barceloneta:
Then some sculptures and squares in Gracia district:
There are some trees imported from Argentina that have such roots, looks like crocodile skin:
We even saw Arc de Triomf:
And I’ll finish Barcelona topic with a picture for us was strange in itself and strange that we noticed it only on the third day of staying there -it was by our house, on our way:
March 23, 2011
I have shown some of Anthony Gaudi works in others blogs already, though I mentioned that he is not the most favorite architect of mine. I agree that he was very creative, just extraordinarily creative. And some of his artistic details appeal to me, too. Especially his metal works. And that he has built so many of his strange buildings sticking from the other ones in Barcelona, that you can’t escape getting to see at least some of them. This time – the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
It’s pictures are shown so much everywhere, you already know almost by heart how it looks like. Good it at least has a rather big square in front of it -so you can get the whole picture. And good the square is full of trees and greenery. The not so good thing – they still have lots of cranes sticking together with the Cathedral towers- not a good match for an eye…But did it meet my expectations – not fully. I expected it to be higher, I didn’t know why. And I didn’t particularly like the crosses on top of the towers. But I liked the same word repeated and repeated all over on them – it looked very nice and with taste. And I liked both entrances, not that anyone reading this don’t know them by heart:
And here is the funny thing – form one side it seemed that the Cathedral had its own nuclear power station…:
The question – is it safe enough?
And the other day we visited Park Guell, done by Gaudi, sponsored by Guell. The road almost form our apartment led directly to the park, a steep road up with elevators going only one direction – up. That is the first time I saw elevators used in the outside settings. Well here and towards the Museum of Catalunya Art. The main street by where we lived seemed to initially be a canyon, Avenida de Vallcarca. So its walls were turned into rather steep streets, but better them than nothing. So here is the elevator:
Actually, we entered the park from the back side, from the top of it. and then descended down towards its main gate, then again up, it involved a lot of climbing and breathing…
This part is amazing when you see it from the side – the whole big square hold on columns!
So much for the colorful and bright part of the park. The rest of it is, as my mom called it, gloomy and I called it dusty:
Someone living by the back of the park thought that their house was too dull and decorated it to make more amusing, especially for those who have climbed enough that day:
I bet those were the most attractive parts of Barcelona for us. We entered Ciutat Vella from Rambla through Plaza Reial which looks very Renaissance:
Then walked and walked around and around through narrow streets till we would see one church, then another, then notice and admire decorations on street corners:
and the church facades:
and funny eye balls on one house:
Here is the Music Palace from a side street. Lots of their very beautiful churches and buildings lack viewing space, they are cramped in between or surrounded too close by other buildings…So it is hard to get them in their all beauty on a picture not speaking about getting the full view for admiring them in their full splendor.
Behind this building we dived into the Medieval part of the city – Barri Gotic, which seemed at first unreal, like in a movie:
Those were the wall of the cathedral and the castle connected to it But the Cathedral view is not good for they had cranes fixing its towers. So I am showing only the insides which we admired a lot. And I was very happy our camera was sensitive enough to take pics in that low light that they had without a flash that they don’t permit. So here it is - the most breathtaking view I saw in Barcelona:
As my mom said – it was good that we had time to walk and stay in the Cathedral twice, for after one visit it is hard to grasp it and to remember anything. Those pure Gothic lines without any decor on them are very impressive…Its altars were more crowded with decors, which is understandable, but at least it had those pure walls.There was also this crypt -under the main altar, with the remains of some saint, that I forgot whose…:
One of the nicest altar sculptures to my eyes – by the Baptizing pool:
There was also a cloister that we missed the first time – it had the historic geese the monks used to have there :
And again some more of the Old Medieval City:
The Archeological Museum:
And some bright shops:
And the Church of Santa Maria Del Mar – also a Gothic wonder!:
And when my mom got tired, she had beer, even in that cold weather, she said it helped her: