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Barcelona

June 9, 2014

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Leaving Madrid.

We're taking today to visit Barcelona. It's about three hours away (!) by train, so we need to leave early and come back late to have enough time for sightseeing.

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From the train, some of the countryside between Madrid and Barcelona. In places it looks like some immense surrealistic golf course, with rolling hills of (apparently) close-cropped grass, dotted with trees stark against the landscape in the morning sun.

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In Barcelona, step 9 on the road to inner peace.

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With the limited time available to us, the only realistic way to see the city was from a tour bus. We boarded the Barcelona Bus Turistic at the station, and here we are at the Placa D’Espanya, on our way to the Palau Nacional de Montjuic, seen in the distance.

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The Palau enjoys a commanding view of the entire city, which, as usual, spreads far beyond the older parts which make up the tourist’s venues.

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Gaudi’s flagship creation, the Sagrada Familia church, of which more later.

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The Palau, and children on a field trip.

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Barcelona is situated on the Mediterranean, and the city’s famous promenade, the Rambla, extends to the waterfront.

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The Christopher Columbus monument. Columbus reported to the king and queen of Spain in Barcelona after his first trip to the New World.

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The Roy Lichtenstein monument, along the seaside drive.

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Turning inland, the Caixa Catalunya, one of many impressive old structures in the central city.

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Of course, perhaps the most famous of Barcelona’s attractions is the architecture of Antoni Gaudi, and we expected to see his creations scattered throughout the city. If that is so, our tour bus covered only four. Above, the Casa Battlo, on the Passeig de Gracia.

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Casa Battlo, up closer.

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Further up the Passeig, Gaudi’s La Pedrera. Unfortunately for us, undergoing renovation and largely surrounded by a scrim.

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At last we come to Sagrada Familia. The bus lets us out in front, and we see the crowd waiting to enter the church, and the crowd behind them waiting to buy tickets, etc. There’s really no question of our doing either, and so after taking some photos, we hop onto the next bus.

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Some details of the front of the church, and the work that continues to this day.

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After returning to the bus, we move on to the opposite side of the building, whereupon the onboard narration reveals that this is the only part that Gaudi, who worked on the church until his death in 1927, actually took a hand in. The appearance of the two sides is quite different, and the statement in our tourist literature that the ongoing construction continues “amid fierce controversy” is understandable.

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The last stop on our tour for which we disembarked is Park Guell. The park was originally intended to be part of a housing development of the surrounding land, and Gaudi’s house there, in which he lived until his death, was to be the first dwelling. As it happened, the development never took place, and Gaudi’s house is now a book-and-souvenir shop for the site. Interestingly, it has none of the fantastical touches that festoon his better-known work.

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We trekked up the hill from the bus stop to the park, only to find that, because of limitations on the number of people allowed in the park at one time, we wouldn’t be able to enter for another hour and a half. Again, because of time constraints – the rest of the tour, and a train to catch – this was out of the question. We were allowed to wander through the land around the park proper, from which these shots were taken.

Back on the bus, we were driven through the leafy suburbs in the northern part of the city, which are very pretty. We then hopped off for the last time at the station, had a quick meal, and boarded the train back to Madrid, arriving at midnight.

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