Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Free Tuesday #2: Palau Güell y Cafe de L'Opera

When I was designing my class schedule at ESADE, I strategically only took classes on Monday and Wednesday so that I would have Tuesday to explore the city and Thursday & Friday as part of an extended weekend.  My goal is to do something special each Tuesday in Barcelona - including checking some things off my "Barcelona & Beyond" list.  So let's get to it!

Today I went to the Palau Güell, a mansion designed by Gaudi and completed in 1890 for his patron Count Güell.  This is not the most famous Gaudi cite in the city, but since it was one of his first big achievements I wanted to see it before the others.  To start, he entire mansion rests on 500 square feet, and yet feels incredibly spacious and open. Every room was a new surprise, and I had to consciously keep my mouth from hanging open nearly the entire time. (I didn't bother on the roof - it was too splendid to hide my amazement.)  Below are some of my very poor shots, but I encourage a visit here to see the splendor documented by professionals. I'll do my best to explain.

Here is the basement, which is where the horses stayed. This unicorn is an example of a horse tie.  Notice the way the columns blend into the ceilings.
This is a view from the grand hall, looking up into the dome. Gaudi designed it with perforated stones that mirrored the day or night, so that the palace would have the feeling of being outside.
Here is a closer look at the ceiling, as well as the view of the organ pipes and the stained glass.
This is a ceiling in one of his great halls, which apparently was one of the most expensive design features of the palace. Simply stunning.
This picture was taken in the attic, in which you can see the other side of some of the stained glass as well as the temporary exhibit about restoring the palace.
And then there is the roof, full of Gaudi's famous chimneys.  The first picture is the view, and the rest are the chimneys. I must have stayed there for a good twenty minutes, as I was just enamored at the creativity and beauty of Gaudi's work.

The way down was via the servant's staircase, which provided this cool shot.
And lastly, here is a picture from the outside looking at the two entrance gates. What a fabulous tour!
Since the Palau was right off Las Ramblas, I prepared to spend some time hanging out at Cafe de L'Opera. 
I settled in with my Philosophy reading, chocolate caliente, and churros. (I can't believe I'm saying this, but this meal was way too sweet for me to finish. But now I can say I've tried it.)  The cafe was exactly what I had hoped for, and I enjoyed hanging out for a while.

When I left, the sun was finally coming out so I just kept meandering around the city.  It seems I am never at a loss for churches to wander in and explore. I love the way the churches are often connected to all types of non-religious buildings.
I noticed this sitting in one of the shop windows, and couldn't help but think that Joe could live off of these bacon cones. (That would be my naming, not the official name of course!)

Lastly, I found myself in this square in front of Barcelona Cathedral, over the old town of Barcino. I finally got to snap this picture without tons of tourists in front!
As for the rest of my day, I have my first Intercambio in 45 minutes! This means I meet a local and we each practice our Spanish/English. It feels a bit like Match.com for language practice... we'll see how it goes!  Later I'm going to Quimet y Quimet for tapas - it's supposed to be the best in Barcelona.  I can't wait! (Feel free to check out some amazing pictures here!)  

So that's been Tuesday #2! I would say it was a great success. I sure do love this city!

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