Day 43 July 1 Barcelona, Spain
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso
Daily Position: N 41º 23’ 17”, E 002º 11’ 41”
Status: In Port, Barcelona, Spain
Weather: clear blue, 23º C, NW 17 kts, 2 m waves
Art Nouveau has always been a personal favorite, and I can’t wait to get ashore in Barcelona to see premier examples of the style carried into architecture, in the whimsical buildings of the great Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.
For the 1992 Olympics, city elders approved a nine-month plan to remove the ancient city wall, long reviled for messing up traffic and trade. Disgruntled citizens showed up the next day with picks and shovels, and cleared it in a weekend. More than 20 years later the city’s facelift still feels fresh, inviting, and clean. It is fun to see their patron creature, the bat, on every lamppost.
Gaudi’s work is scattered throughout the city, but is fully on display at the glorious Parc Guell, planned as an exclusive gated community. His serpentine bench is a prime example of organic influence realized in reclaimed tile. It is without question the most comfortable bench I have ever sat upon. The multi-colored mosaic salamander “el drac” fountain at the park entrance is completely mobbed and I can’t even get close. Instead I tap my foot to the echoes of a flamenco guitar beneath vaulted pillars in the park’s open-air marketplace.
La Sagrada Família is a living example of medieval cathedrals that took generations to complete. Under construction since 1882, three façades tell the story of Christ’s birth, life, and death. Gaudi only saw the first façade completed, but left instructions that still guide the builders to an expected completion in 2026. All of creation is represented in the exterior statues, and the interior is a rising forest of multi-colored concrete and stone, interlinking catenaries that mirror gravity and draw my eyes toward heaven.
Ed remarks with embarrassment about his jaundiced photographer’s eye, skipping great shots in search of something “better.” Five ports in five days. Each monument-filled city should be granted a week, at least, but we are on a schedule and dashing around the planet.
(Travel with us around the world all summer. Purchase the book as a gift or for yourself. Please share the journey with your friends!)