What a start...
In 2016, the travel bug bit and it’s venom has set in permanently. In November of 2017, I gave myself something to look forward to by purchasing a flight to Barcelona, Spain for March of 2018. The time finally arrived and I was happy to fly 11 hours from Los Angeles to Barcelona, non-stop, for a relatively short, 4 night, 3 day journey to the beautiful Spanish metropolis.
The first evening was simply about arrival and logistics. I landed, rode a bus to Plaça de Catalunya, found the hotel that had my room key, then found the hotel where I was staying (long story). I was exhausted and it wasn’t time to take out the camera, but I did have a nice pasta dinner and glass of wine to end the long day.
Before going to bed, I did some research on how to start out. I was interested in viewing sunrise. I probably Googled something simple like “best view in Barcelona,” and one of the recurring results was Bunkers Del Carmel. Destination set.
Bunkers Del Carmel
Located on top of the Turó de la Rovira hill in the district of El Carmel, Bunkers Del Carmel has a great history of being built in 1937 and serving as an anti-aircraft bunker during the Spanish Civil War. It later became a shanty town housing upwards of 3000 people. Before the 1992 Olympic Games, in a sweep to clean up the city, all residents were moved into housing off of the hill. The site itself has been uninhabited since, and a few residents remain on the outskirts of the hill.
I awoke this morning and knew my path via Metro stops and what would eventually be quite a long walk….uphill. It was worth it.
Climbing higher and reaching closer to the peak, the area started to be a tease of views. I find that happens a lot on hikes or journeys through cityscapes that head to a peak; I get excited by the glimpses along the way before the “real view” begins. Naturally, I started to photograph things “early” and on the way to Bunkers, hillside views began to show between the apartments:
I still wasn’t at the peak, but beautiful views to the Northeast began to show looking over Sant Andreu and some surrounding neighborhoods:
Technically, I made it to the top and this is when the views really began to wow. I’m very thankful I arrived at the time I did, because sunrise was washing the city below at a great angle for shadows and contrast off the buildings. At the peak of Bunkers del Carmel, you’re primarily looking south and southeast and one of the first sites you take in, is that of the unfinished Sagrada Familia towering high over it’s surroundings:
There are plenty more views coming up, but I also took the time to capture a few details of architecture or a dog at the top. Again, it was still a partly functioning neighborhood with housing:
He blinked on his first one...
Okay, that's better...
Taggers aren’t shy and the ongoing Catalonia/Spanish conflict showed on the surface of a few of the Bunkers’ walls. Also, before even reaching the peak, there was a large plastic highway divider in the road which had tagging that read, “Tourist go home!” So, basically, taggers make their presence felt:
I spent a few more great minutes scanning the view over and over, and capturing various angles of the city clutter. In post, I played with color as well making for unique shots of the view:
After coming down from the top of the hill, and walking back towards the metro, I found a few city views to be intriguing. Alleyways were a recurring part of the character of Barcelona. This short moment from Day I was just the beginning:
Sagrada Familia walk-by
I did not have much planned for the day (aside from what came later. You’ll see if you continue to scroll) so I thought to head towards the heart of town and pass by the Sagrada Familia. One of Gaudi’s masterpieces, construction cranes and all, was a site to behold. I only lingered for a moment, capturing a few exterior details, knowing I was returning for an interior visit the following day:
To see images of the interior of the Sagrada Familia from my visit the following day, click below:
After leaving the Sagrada Familia, I wandered south towards Avinguda Diagonal and caught a backlit glimpse of the Parròquia de Sant Francesc de Sales:
A short walk further and I came face to face with Plaça de Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer, a statue and pedestal commorating it’s namesake, Jacint Verdaguer, a 19th Century Catalan poet:
Sculpted reliefs around the base depict scenes from some of his most memorable work:
I continued to scroll the Exiample district in search of more Gaudi’ works (which are coming). I must have looked like a complete tourist as I kept my head up with the camera in hand admiring all of the architecture. Balconies, ornate windows, colorful materials…and this was standard. Just about every facade felt special:
I was very excited to finally see one of Antoni Gaudí’s most famous designs, the Casa Mila. Completed in 1912, and also know as “La Pedrera” or “The Quarry,” it stands out on Passeig de Gràcia because of it’s undulating facade that Gaudí described as a “constant curve.” My agenda was all over the place, and I did not get the chance to tour the inside which includes a few art exhibition spaces, residences, the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation and some retail space, but I thoroughly enjoyed admiring it’s exterior for a moment:
Onward down Passeig de Gràcia I stayed in tourist mode and captured a few images while walking:
I stopped by this other Gaudí design on the night of my arrival during all those logistics of finding my hotel, and was happy to see it again during the day. I would visit it on my last night in Barcelona, and I look forward to blogging those images soon:
It wasn’t all Gaudí. A wonderful detail from Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s Casa Lleó Morera:
I couldn’t seem to find any information on the following building other than it houses a real estate agency by the name of Fincas Siglo XXI, but what a beautiful exterior rotunda and winged statue sitting at the top:
I was heading towards Plaça de Catalunya and just before, on the left, sat Cases Antoni Rocamora by Josep Bassegoda i Amigó. It’s buildings like this that make me chuckle while in Europe. This incredibly gorgeous building (finished in 1917) and many other like it were residences, hotels, and still are, but the are something of graceful antiquity, something of history. I chuckle because the first floor of this building has…a Curtain Store. I mean, the Curtain Store has to be somewhere, right? Why not this absolutely astounding Gothic structure? I had the same feelings on Regent’s Street in London:
Plaça de Catalunya
This Barcelona square is more than just the place where the Aerobus dropped me off, it’s the city center of Barcelona connecting the Gothic and Exiample districts, the old and the new. Originally conceived in the mid 1850’s and “completed” in 1929, there was plenty of activity to capture. From vendors, tourists, locals, to pigeons, art and statues, there was a nice energy in the plaza:
After a little searching I couldn’t find the name of the sculpture in this foreground, but that’s Noia by Josep Dunyach in the background:
La Navegació or “The Navigator” by Eusebi Arnau (left) and Pastor del Flabiol, “Shepard Flute” by Pau Gargallo:
Maternitat by Vicenç Navarro:
Everyone loves the bubble man…
A very endearing and innocent sight was a man making bubbles and young children in the plaza chasing them with wonder:
Why not wash some dishes in the public space?
I’ve learned that children are the same all over the world. Whether they are playing on the streets of Cusco, Peru or chasing birds in Barcelona, I think I’m trying to say something about universality and cherishing the innocence of children:
After those sweet couple of moments, it was back to admiring statues and sculptures. “La Diosa” by Josep Clarà:
The Equestrian Statues, “Saviesa” by Miguel Oslé:
and Treball by his brother, Llucià:
Pomona by Enric Monjo and L'Esperit Popular by Jaume Otero way in the background (left) and the Monument to Francesc Macià:
I started to venture down the famous Las Ramblas, but nothing too official. I had planned to come back in following days, but a nice introduction:
Again, alleyways are wide, walkable and very nice part of the Barcelona cityscape and culture. Couldn’t get enough:
Along the way, the exterior of Parròquia de la Verge de Betlem presented a few nice images:
A little more wandering through alleys and I found myself behind the Santa Maria Del Pi, a church that I would visit the following day:
You gotta love live musicians hanging in European alleys:
My first day ended with…you’ll see in a just a second…but I needed to hit the metro to head back to my hotel. On the way, I couldn’t help but catch more shots of alleyways:
My first day in Barcelona ended with a great experience at Camp Nou seeing an FC Barcelona match. Click the link below to check it out!
Final thought, random image:
Before heading to the FC Barcelona match, I found it necessary to capture a self portrait in my hotel room. I was kinda excited, enough to order the FC shirt on Amazon a week before the trip…