Tibidabo

When I said there were a ton of places to get a good view of Barcelona, I wasn’t kidding. Tibidabo was one of those places, and most definitely the one with the highest viewpoint. This is, after all, the tallest mountain in the area.

At the top of the mountain is the Sagrat Cor Church next to the 100 plus year old Tibidabo Amusement Park (Europe’s third-oldest). Most of the rides in the park were still original. It was closed for the most part, unfortunately. But still, we got to climb to the very top of the Sagrat Cor church.

So funny story… transportation to the top was kind of a hit or miss. You’d have to take the metro, then a tram and then a bus to get there. The first time we got there, it was a little late, but I wanted to get a nice night shot of Barcelona. Unfortunately, it was so late that by the time I finished, the church had already closed.

So what do we do? We head back there on our last day in Barcelona. We had left over time, so why not?

And let me tell you, that peak point right by that statue of Jesus at the very top? Extremely windy! But so worth it!

So this was our last stop in Barcelona. It was a fitting place as we got to see the best view of the city that I came to love with the most gorgeous sunset.

No, this isn’t my last of my Barcelona shots. I got more. So ha!

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Basilica de Santa Maria Del Mar

Here’s another one of those unplanned stops.

At the end of La Rambla is a sea port heading off to the Mediterranean Sea. And around that edge is the Basilica de Santa Maria Del Mar or the Santa Maria of the Sea Basilica. Our driver (a Polish fellow who married a Venezuelan and are both now living in Barcelona) dropped us off there.

It was hard to see how it looked on the outside as it was already dark when we got there, plus the street it was on was very narrow. But inside, it was just as grand and beautiful as the Barcelona Cathedral.

Props to our driver.

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

So this was another unplanned excursion.

Barcelona had a lot of scenic viewpoints. Like, a ton. From the rooftops of Barcelona Cathedral, Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló and Palau Güell to the peaks of Tibidabo, Montjuïc Castle and Park Güell, it was everywhere. One recurring sight we often saw whenever we reached one of those viewpoint peaks was this art museum. So naturally, our curiosity took us there. It wasn’t in our itinerary, but I made it fit.

The architecture and the gardens were beautiful, of course. The domes from the inside were amazing and the artworks were intriguing. There were a couple of paintings, in particular, that I couldn’t stop staring at: “Woman in Evening Gown” by Romà Ribera and “Winter 1882” by Francesc Masriera. Sure, they may look like every ordinary painting to most people, but they captured my attention. There was just something dreamy, photographic and enchanting about Ribera’s piece. As for Masriera’s? I just loved the fur. So amazed by the fur.

Anyway, majority of the artworks we came across were by Catalan artists. Pretty spiffy.

Yay, art.

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Arc de Triomf: The Barcelona Version of Arc de Triomphe

This was more of an accidental stumble. We had a choice of either taking the metro to Sagrada Familia from La Rambla, which would’ve taken about 10 minutes or less, or take a 45 minute walk around Barcelona.

We, being the overly curious tourists that we were, of course, chose the latter.

So aside from seeing the quiet, non-touristy parts of Barcelona and tried some of their local diners and cafes where I had another one of their amazing, fudgy hot chocolate, we came across this: the Arc de Triomf of Barcelona. In case this you didn’t know (like me for the longest of time) triumphal arches are a common monument in most major cities, Paris being the most famous one. Even North Korea has one (bigger than the Paris one, according to North Korea).

It’s a neat stop. Took a buncha pictures. It’s one of those times when I’m glad I didn’t take the shortcut.

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Park Güell

This isn’t quite the last of Antoni Gaudí’s that I’ve seen. There’s at least one more.

Anyway, situated at the near top of Carmel Hill, the freakin’ steep ass hill that took forever to climb with that humongous amount of stair cases, Park Güell was originally meant to be a high-end housing development by Eusebi Güell, Gaudí’s wealthy patron and good friend. Five of Gaudí’s structures actually bears the name of Güell and this and Palau Güell are two of them. It was meant to resemble an English garden, hence the use of the English word “park” in its name instead of its Spanish equivalent.

In this particular project of his, Gaudí went crazy with the tiles and mosaic. It almost looks like some sort of candy land with two gingerbread houses. It’s a very interesting place to visit, but very difficult to photograph, considering where the sun shines and the ridiculous amount of crowd. But hey, I got some very hipster looking shots. Some people actually like sun glares. And I am definitely not one of them. I like my shots clean, gosh darn’t!

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The City of Girona

Welcome to the lovely, medieval city of Girona, the capital of the northeastern Catalan province of Girona and a region historically inhabited by Iberians, my ancestors.

Surrounding the old town of the city is an ancient, Roman wall that once protected the area, recently reconstructed in some parts. In another part of the old town is the Girona Cathedral (the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona), restored in 1015 and redesigned around the renaissance era. Next to the Onyar river are houses reconstructed to resemble houses by the Arno river in  Florence, Italy (I like the Italian ones better. More authentic. Peh).

Though it is a very picturesque town with a lot to offer, it is more famous being one of the locations filmed for scenes in Game of Thrones, episode 10 from season 6. Look it up because I won’t. I haven’t seen it. Don’t kill me.

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El Salvador Dalí

Just an hour and half outside of Barcelona is the town of Figueres, birthplace of Salvador Dalí. And since someone was a huge fan of Dalí, of course we had to veer a little off of Barcelona and visit the town.

There in middle of the town, is an old theater, once destroyed by the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in the 60’s as the Dalí Theatre and Museum. Considering how theatrical and dramatic Dalí can be, a theater is quite a fitting venue to display his works. I’ve been to the Van Gogh museum and I’ve been to the Picasso museum, but dang, I’ve never seen a museum as kooky as this. Unlike Picasso and Van Gogh’s museums, this guy turned practically every the structure within the museum into a work of art. From the doorways and entrances to windows and corners. It’s bizarre, just the way he liked it.

Anyway, if you live under a rock and have never heard of Dalí or just need a quick pointer, he’s the Persistence of Memory guy. Now, hanging suspended and upside down at the courtyard of the museum is a boat called “Gala’s Boat” with water drops (made of, what I didn’t know then, condoms. He’s a surrealist, go figure), symbolizing tears. Below that is a car filled with water, supposedly underwater beneath “Gala’s Boat,” called the “Car-Naval.” Get it? It’s in a theater or carnival, but it’s also a car underwater so it’s also called “Car-Naval?” Yeah, it’s Dalí . Leave me alone.

Surrounding that courtyard area are golden statuettes, modeled after the Oscar awards. He was a fan of movies and film. From what I’ve learned in this theater, he did dabble into film several times and had even collaborated with a longtime fan of his, Walt Disney. Creation of their short film “Destino” began in 1945, but wasn’t released until 2003.

One of Dalí ‘s iconic images that was often reflected in his work (besides the melted clock, the long-limbed elephant, the ants, the eyeballs, etc.) are the drawers attached to the human body. This supposedly symbolized the unconscious and the secrets that are filed within every person. It’s Freudian stuff… and stuff. Once these drawers were pointed out to me, I couldn’t stop keeping an eye for it. Another one of his iconic images was his wife and muse, Gala Dalí. If you ever see a portrait or a painting by Dalí of a woman with double pointy, half-way up hair, that’s her. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

From what I’ve gathered from the museum, Dalí was an eccentric and vain narcissist and damn well proud of it. I mean, his body is buried at the front stage of the theater, just underneath a huge painting of Narcissus, fer cryin’ out loud. That’s a pretty big hint. Aside from loving the limelight, he was also extremely talented in so many ways, not just in paintings, but also in sculpture, jewelry design, photography and writing.

Now, going into Barcelona, I knew I will be seeing a s*load of modern art, which I confess, I wasn’t a fan of coming in. Coming from California where often times I ran into contemporary works by young, so-called artists, I’ve grown accustomed to really bizarre artworks created by people with very minimal (if not nonexistent) artistic skills, but with a lot to say, most of which are either very obvious or just so completely out there that methinks I am an extremely shallow person who just don’t get it or they have no idea how to reach their audience. But after coming across the early works of Picasso and now seeing the quality of Dalí’s hyperrealism, I saw how developed their talents were before they delved into cubism, surrealism or whatever form of modern art they chose. They got their mad skills down, no longer needing to prove that to anyone, and decided to venture off into a more cultural, layered level. They wanted to escape from the real word, the wars and all the crazy crap that was going on in their time so they dove right into their art. That concept gave an appreciation for the strange world of modern art. Now if only their contemporaries would follow suit…

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