Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Arenas de Barcelona, Parc de Joan Miro and FC Botiga

On our fourth day in Barcelona, we decided to go to Arenas de Barcelona in Placa d'Espanya to find the stop where the airport bus (aerobus) picked up passengers.   We planned to take the bus to the airport the following day, as taxi can be expensive in the wee hours of the morning.  Besides taxi, we could take the train, the normal bus or the aerobus to El Prat.  If we chose the aerobus, the stop closest to our apartment would be somewhere in Arenas de Barcelona.

From our apartment we took the short-cut to Arenas de Barcelona by crossing Parc de Joan Miro.  The park was named in honour of Joan Miro, a Catalan painter, sculptor and ceramist.   The park, just like most parks in Barcelona, was grassless.  With sandy fields, pockets of water and palm trees lining the avenues, it looked more like an oasis.  There was even a row of taps in the park, macam tempat ambil wuduk pulak... reminded me of Islamic landscape :).  The park's crowning glory was of course, Joan Miro's sculpture:  Dona i Ocell (Woman and bird).

See if you can figure out the bird and the woman in the sculpture... :P

Once we reached Arenas de Barcelona, hubby went to look for the bus stop while the rest of us when up to the rooftop.  You can either take the elevator (for a small fee) or the escalator (free) up to the top floor to get a fantastic view of the surrounding areas.

Aerial View from Arenas de Barcelona

Our next destination was Barcelona FC, or better known in Barcelona as FC Botiga.   Camp Nou, the stadium, was located in Aristides Maillol.  From Taragona metro station, we took the line 3 metro to  Palau Reial.   This station was near the Faculty of Biology, Universitat de Barcelona.  From this station, we had to walk for about 400 metres until we reached the gate of FC Botiga.  Somebody was all smiles when he saw a billboard which featured Lionel Messi :).  

Don't ask me which one is Messi :P

We didn't go for the stadium tour due to time constraints, but the sons were very happy just to have reached this place :).  Yang not too happy was mommie who had to pay for the Barca merchandises.  Mahal gila tahap cekik darah!  The most expensive so far, compared to even Manchester United and Chelsea!  No wonder it is the *2nd richest football club in the world :P 

*  The richest football club is also in Spain - Real Madrid :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

From Gothic to Modernisme in Barcelona

Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia (Barcelona Cathedral) is another tourist attraction near La Rambla, Barcelona.  It is a gothic cathedral built from the 13th to the 15th century.  Yeah, 3 abad untuk bina gereja tu!  To get to this cathedral From La Rambla, we turned into Carrer de la Portaferrissa.  There were many high street brands on sale along this street that I thought it was another tourist stretch.  It was only much later did I discover that it was part of Barri Gotic, the old quarter of Barcelona.

When we reached the cathedral we found that it was (not surprisingly) partly under restoration.  Yelah... awal tahun... baru dapat budget :P.

Barcelona Cathedral

Although it was under restoration, visitors and worshippers were allowed in.  However, since I have been inside another gothic cathedral (Santa Maria del Mar), I figured, they would probably look more or less the same.  So, after taking a breather, we continued to our next destination:  Basilica de la Sagrada Familia.  It was easy to go there from anywhere in Barcelona because the metro station was aptly named Sagrada Familia, too.

I admit before coming to Barcelona, I know nuts about this UNESCO world heritage site.  However, the daughter was very excited to see the place, having seen it first in the Disney Channel Movie: The Cheetah Girls 2.

Sagrada Familia looming at the background
Boy, was I in awe when I saw the towering structure as we walked out from the Metro station!  As I strained my neck and squinted my eyes to take it all in, I was full of admiration for the man who's responsible for this imposing beauty.  Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic church designed by Catalan designer Antoni Gaudi, the pioneer of Catalan Modernisme.  Construction of the basilica (church) started in 1882 and is still underway.  Yep, you heard me right!  The basilica is expected to be completed by 2026, just in time to celebrate the centenary of Gaudi's passing.

The Nativity Facade of Sagrada Familia

The Passion Facade of Sagrada Familia
The basilica is a fine example of  Modernisme architecture.  Gaudi's modernisme is characterised by the dominance of curved over straight lines, rich and detailed decorations, organic motifs, assymetrical and dynamic shapes.  Hubby wanted to take a tour of the place but I was torn between spending money to buy tickets to this particular Gaudi masterpiece or the other one, the equally enchanting Casa Battlo.  Taking into consideration that snapping photos was not allowed in the basilica, we decided to forgo the tour and bought a guide book instead :).  Maybe, we will visit the completed basilica in 2026, kalau panjang umur dan ada rezeki :)

From Sagrada Familia, we boarded the Metro to the Diagonal station to visit another Gaudi's creation, Casa Mila.  Unlike Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila a.k.a La Pedrera is a residential apartment. It was originally built for a Catalan Bourgeois family, the Milas.  Now, visitors can actually visit the second floor and the roof for a fee, but the third to fifth floors are closed to visitors, most probably because there are residents in these floors.

Casa Mila - look at the undulating stone facade :)
When we got there, La Pedrera was already closed so we just took pictures in front of the place and bought souvenirs at the gift shop located at the ground floor.  Then, we took the metro back to our apartment.  End of  day 3.