After a good night´s sleep and a filling breakfast at the hotel, we ventured out to see Parc Guell, a 30-acre park that artist Antonio Gaudi intended to be a residential community. That notion failed, but the park is magnificent! The architechture is stunning and the colors are breathtaking! Ceramic mosaics cover many of the park´s surfaces along with stone structure that seem to defy typical architectural convention – columns that aren´t quite straight, buttresses that appear too delicate to support the weight of the stone overhead, and curves of columns that call to mind a surfer´s wave invite you to explore.
After a hot climb up a very steep hill (stopping in every market in search of extra camera memory cards and multi-litre bottles of water), the ¨Hall of 100 Columns¨was a cool respite from the summer sun. Seated in the center was a guitarist serenading the visitors. Though open on three sides, the acoustics were so good that you could hear the music just as well sitting on the steps behind him as you could standing in front of him. While we listened, a group of school children were guided through by their teacher, who pointed their attention to the glass mosaics built into the vaulted ceiling.
Spanish school children visiting Parc Guell´s´"Hall of 100 Columns"
We managed to cover most of the park in a few hours and enjoyed ID´ing the many Mediterranean plants we saw.
Bougainvillea, Wisteria, and Gelsemium clamber up the columns supporting the balconies above
Gaudi´s ceramic mosaic dragon fountain
A note to those visiting Barcelona: Parc Guell is an absolute must-see and it´s best to get there at opening to avoid the crowds. After an easier walk down hill and a quick lunch, we hopped the Metro back toward Montjuic and the Jardi Botanic de Barcelona. We were hoping to meet with the garden´s staff but they were unable to meet us. They were very generous and granted us complimentary admission, which we were quite grateful for.
The botanic garden is home to one of the largest collections of Mediterranean plants in the world, representing all the Mediterranean regions of the world. Each region contains plants native to the area, such as Australia, California, the Canary Islands, etc. Since it´s summer, the color palette was heavy on green, but a few plants were in bloom and everyone was keen to know their identies.
Grevillea johnsonii (Australia)
Anigozanthos (unknown species)
After a few hours´exploration (and bloodshed by an attack Agave), we went in search of a garden that was recommended to us by Longwood staff. Many miles later, we learned that the garden we sought was closed for renovation but we did have a fantastic view of the sea and waved as a few cruise ships left port.
Deciding it was time for dinner, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up. On the Metro we ran into a familiar face:
So nice of Greg to join us (we wish you were here!)!
At dinner (a Spanish-Italian restaurant) we celebrated Gavin´s birthday with good food, good company, and even better dessert! Tomorrow we´re off to another Gaudi masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, and the Jardin del Laberint (if we can find it!).
Stay tuned for more of our Spanish adventures!