|Subject: Spain Trip-Day 3, Part 2|
After a very short break we were back out the door of our hostel and down
into the subway for our short trip to the Eixample. As is the case in
most cities with subways it is the most efficient way to get around. There
are a number of different passes that will save you money over buying
each trip individually. These multi-journey tickets are called targetas
and we purchased the one known as T1 which was valid for ten trips on
buses and the Metro. At a cost of 700 pesetas it was a savings of 600
pesetas if the trips were purchased individually. Also, one ticket was
sufficient as I was able to pass through the turnstile and hand the ticket
back to Sara. The Barcelona subway is clean and efficient. We highly recommend
it to visitors. One nice feature is a digital timer on the platforms informing
the riders of the next train's arrival.
The journey from the Liceu Metro station (Las Ramblas) to the GrÓcia station (Eixample) is only three stops and a change of lines; less than ten minutes. The Eixample (meaning expansion) is where Barcelona grew beyond the old medieval city after the mid-19th century. It is within this neighborhood where the largest concentration of Modernisme-style buildings are situated. Modernisme was Catalan's uniquely inspired style of Art Nouveau design. And, of course, the most famous Moderniste was Antoni GaudÝ, although there were many other proponents of this style.
As we climbed out of the subway up onto the Passeig de GrÓcia (the Eixample's main boulevard) our gaze fell upon the Casa Batllˇ one of the three houses on the block known as the Illa de la Disc˛rdia (Block of Discord) called such because of the startling visual discord amongst the three. The Casa Batllˇ, designed by GaudÝ, with its humpbacked iridescent-tiled roof appears to have been inspired by a dragon. Meanwhile, its curvilinear facade boasts balconies pierced with holes giving one an impression of Carneval masks.
Next door is the Casa Amatller where within its lobby is found the Centre del Modernisme. The Centre offers free maps detailing the Ruta del Modernisme with 50 historic buildings to see. Also available is the Onepass which offers reduced admission to tours of many of the area's finest buildings for a month. Unfortunately we were unable to take advantage of this pass due to time constraints. However, we did put the map to good use making a long detailed walk throughout the Eixample, peeking into lobbies and straining our necks and eyes to catch every detail.
The Casa Amatller was one of Sara's favorite buildings due to the many carvings in stone of spiders, birds, mice and other animals. It also has a beautiful stained glass skylight in the lobby. Its facade is a blend of Moorish and Gothic elements with a stepped gable roof dotted with tiles. The third building in the Illa de la Disc˛rdia, the Casa Lleˇ Morera, was undergoing renovation and was closed. However its Moorish tower could be observed standing guard over the Passeig de GrÓcia.
During preparations for our trip Sara had found a very detailed book about the architectural elements of Barcelona's Moderniste buildings. She had prepared a list of highlights for us to track down. We compared these with our newly-acquired Ruta de la Modernisme map and set out on our uniquely Barcelona scavenger hunt. Along the way to one of the sights we happened upon a truly outstanding general store that specialized in wines, alcohol &foodstuffs from Spain and around the world. Colmada Quilez features many choices with a group of assistants in smocks ready to assist. I managed to find a bottle of Vega Sicilia, a Rioja wine which, according to a recent Conde Nast Traveler's article, is reputed to be one of the finest wines produced anywhere. Its price ($100) was half of what it would fetch in the U.S. (if it could even be found). We were so impressed with this store we would return later to pick up some chocolate turron, a milk chocolate bar filled with a chocolate mousse. A type of turron we were unable to find during a later search in Madrid. On a friend's suggestion we toured the roof of the Casa MilÓ, La Pedrera, GaudÝ's wavy, white apartment building. This is arguably the most photographed building in Barcelona. Atop the roof is the only way to see and appreciate the chimneys and vents that appear like veiled Moslem women, knights, or ghosts. There are a number of different tours one can take of this building. We enjoyed the rooftop tour not only for the access to the unique structures but also for the views and perspective of the surrounding city from such a vantage point. There is also an outstanding exhibit of Gaudi's other works and designs in a museum located in the building's attic.
It was a perfect time for a break. So I'm going to take one now and head off to work. The remainder of this full day of sightseeing will continue in the next installment.
I've uploaded two photos to the Travelzine website which are relevant to this day of our trip. You can see them at http://www.egroups.com/files/TheTravelzine/.
John Rule San Diego, CA