Sunday, September 26, 2010

"But man does not create... he discovers." - Antonio Gaudi

It was a weekend of discovering new things, both about the world around me and about myself. Like how much I look like a Spanish woman, which means people ask me for directions. In my 3 weeks here, I have had 5 different people ask me for directions. Or what happens when you bring 4 books in your backpack, as well as a change of clothes, when you will be walking a lot. Turns out your back kinda doesn't like that so much. Also, how embarrassed one can be after tripping over someone's suitcase while you are walking, and they are too. The worst part was I apologized in Spanish, but I think he was British. Another thing I discovered was that while speaking Spanish, most people don't know if you accidentally slip in an English word into the sentence. Luckily, 'breakfast' is known around the world, and if it isn't, most people know I'm crazy.

We also discovered more about the streets of Barcelona, and how ridiculously confusing they can be. and about the works of Gaudí. I discovered how much I admire him as an architect and as a man. The way in which he could create so much symbolism in a space is amazing. He could design a building without straight lines, such as Casa Batlló. He could put so much symbolism in a building that no matter what you look at, it means something, such as La Sagrada Familia.

We left Thursday night. We bought tickets the day before to travel at night, since it is an 8 hour (more or less) trip. We left Thursday night without a place to sleep for Friday night. Of course, I was kinda freaking out. I like to have things planned out and taken care of, so it was a huge leap of faith for me. I knew that God would not let us leave without a place in store for us, but I was still really nervous. 

The bus left at 11 pm. We get on the bus to find that it is pretty full, and to find a couple sitting in our seats; or he was in my seat and she was in Alexandra's seat. Elise's was across the aisle. We had to explain to the couple 4 times, and show them our seat numbers, that they were in our spots. I knew it wasn't their spot, but they just wanted to sit somewhere where they could sleep better. But we got it all figured out. We slept a little on the way there; I am blessed with the ability to sleep anywhere, so I slept for like 6 or 7 of those hours. 

So we got off the bus at Barcelona. We stood there for a bit, trying to decide what to do. I bet we looked kinda silly, smiling and giggling: We were in Barcelona! We had 2 whole days in Barcelona, and just didn't know where to start. To help decide, we went into the station and got coffee and breakfast. A little side note: Donut in Spanish is Donut. And if you want one filled with pudding or chocolate or something, it is a Bismarck. That's right, just like in English.

After some nourishment, we were able to decide to take the metro (subway) to La Sagrada Familia. By this time, it was about 7:30 am. When we got to La Sagrada Familia, it was raining. Hard. The night before it was raining hard in Burgos, so I had been wearing my rain jacket and my beret from Italy. So I pulled those back on, wishing I had an umbrella too. I had books with me (big surprise right) and was worried about them getting wet. We saw that the cathedral didn't open till 9, so we had an hour to kill. Guess where we killed it? Starbucks. I know, I broke one of my own rules. But Alexandra LOVES Starbucks, which I guess they have in Germany, so I decided to suck it up. It was kinda nice having something familiar. So during that hour we looked on Elise's ipod touch to get directions to a youth hostel. We decided to go to this hostel to see if we could get a place to stay for the night. We had tried making reservations, but was unable to.

At about 9:05, we decided to cross the street back to La Sagrada Familia and get in line. It was still raining, but there were these little Indonesian women selling umbrellas for 5 euros next to the line. Something in life that never changes, no matter where you go: people are always there to sell things. :) Elise and I decided it would be a good investment, and it was; it rained off and on all weekend. There were times I asked God to bless that little woman, since at times it llovía a cántaros (Spanish equivalent to raining cats and dogs).

La Sagrada Familia is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It is very difficult to describe, but I will try. It was like walking into a holy forest of stone. Gaudí himself said, "The purpose of the building is to shelter us from the sunshine and rain; it imitates the tree, as this shelters us from the sunshine and the rain. The imitation touches the elements, as columns were trees first; then we see capitals decorated with leaves. This is yet more justification for the structure of La Sagrada Familia. The...shape of the columns and their great number will give the congregation the feeling of truly being in a forest." 

In Castille, the region I am in, they call stone the 'noble material', and you can tell that Gaudí believed the same thing. Every stone was placed with meaning; every stone had a purpose. Even the statues were carved with deep emotions present. On the Passion facade, the figures almost seem to be crying. The picture at the right is of St. Peter after he betrayed Jesus 3 times. There is one of Judas giving Jesus the kiss of betrayal; the soldiers on this facade are even carved to seem cruel. It is fascinating. This whole facade recounts the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. It is so moving and beautiful.

The other 3 doorways on the Nativity facade are Faith, Hope, and Charity. Next time I go to Barcelona I will show pics! But, I love this facade, because, again, the joy is seen in the statues. They are just so happy that Christ is on Earth that they can't hide it! I just love the detail present in these too. It is so amazing. It is almost as if the emotion, the joy or sorrow, was carved into these sculptures, almost infused. You cannot go to this cathedral and see these statues and not think or believe or know that there is a God.

One of my favorite things was the Rosary Chapel, completed while Gaudí was still alive. I LOVE this chapel, as it is full of meaning. The words to the Hail Mary are carved around the whole chapel, with corresponding statues/carvings to the words. Once I noticed that, I was just in awe. Gaudí obviously lived his faith in his life, and couldn't help but transfer all that to his designs. You can tell that La Sagrada Familia was his opus, his life's work.

After visiting the museum of La Sagrada Familia and the gift shop, we decided to follow the directions we had written down before to get to the youth hostel. We were all hungry and I, for one, was just focused on not being grumpy. The whole way I was praying that God had a place for us. We found the hostel without any problems. Turned out that either she had a 6 bed mixed gender room with 3 beds free, or a 4 bed room in which we would pay for the other bed so no one else would be in there. After a discussion, we decided to go with the 4 bed one since it was about the same price and this way we had our privacy and our own bathroom.
It turned out to have a great view and was very nice. We changed clothes, put some stuff in the lockers, and then went out to find food. After lunch of pasta and patatas bravas, we took the metro to visit the Casa Batlló.

 Situated in what is called 'The Apple of Discord' (Manzana means both apple and street block in Spanish), Gaudí was commissioned to simply redo the facade and do a few other small designs to the house. He ended up designing one of the most beautiful, whimsical buildings ever created. There are no straight edges in the house, except in the attic for dispersion of light. I don't even know how to describe it. The thought that went into each doorway, each window, each material used, even each piece of glass for the mosaic: Gaudí stood across the street from the Casa Batlló to tell them exactly where to place each piece. It has been likened many times to water and anything to do with water. Such as the main light fixture in the living room, which resembles an eddy or whirlpool. It is also called 'The House of Yawns', since the balconies on the facade look like they are yawning.

By the time we went through the Casa Batlló, it was like 5pm, and we were pretty tired. We walked around for a bit, went to see the outside of Casa Milá, wandered around the area. We visited the Casa Asia, built at about the same time as the Casa Milá as a center for knowledge and getting to know the Asian culture better. Finally, we took the metro back to our hostel. We got out and then proceeded to get lost for an hour; when all we had to do was simply walk down one street a little farther than we did. It was during this time I was grateful for that little umbrella-selling woman (side note: the Spanish word for umbrella is paragua, which literally means 'for water'. I love it!)

We were so grateful to be back in our hostel. Once we got to the room, we decided that after such a long day, we needed a sangria. So we went down to the bar/restaurant to enjoy a little rest and relaxation (the sangria wasn't that good. I wanted a beer, but they had only light beers). I got on the computer to FB people to tell them we made it okay, and was totally confused by the Spanish keyboard. I get spoiled with my laptop. After a bit, we went back to the room. After a little chill/shower/reading/talking time, we crashed. As we fell asleep, there was a beautiful thunderstorm outside. It made me so happy.
I don't think I moved at all that night; I woke up in the same position/place in which I had fallen asleep. We were exhausted.

When Alexandra's phone alarm went off, I thought it was part of my dream. When Elise's watch alarm went off, I heard it but my body didn't move and my mind didn't register it. Finally, when Alexandra kept saying, "Buenos dias, chicas!" I finally woke up. We kinda took our time getting ready and getting everything together. We went down to breakfast and enjoyed our meal. We checked out and left the hostel at about 9:30. Elise wanted to see what this weird tower thing was, that we could see outside our window. (Left is a pic of it from the night before). We walked over to the tower, and upon leaving, we still couldn't decide what it's function is! Finally, we took the metro back to Casa Milá, to actually visit this time. We stopped to get a coffee at this wonderful little place (can't remember the name..something with San Francisco or something) to relax for a bit; and get directions. Barcelona is a confusing place! Probably because it's so big :P

It is beautiful, but in a different way than the Casa Batlló. Whereas the Casa Batlló is more whimsical and fanciful, Casa Milá, also called 'La Pedrera' (The Stone Quarry) seems more...well, stone-like! From the outside anyway. The inside is beautiful. It has more abstract references to nature, such as the carriage doorway to the right. It has been likened to a turtle's shell, butterfly's wings, or cell tissue. Also, the entryway's ceilings are all painted with beautiful murals. I wish I had more pictures of those; next time I guess.

First, we decided to visit the terrace/roof since the workers said that it would be closed if it rained again. I was like, no! We are not missing this opportunity! So we went to the terrace, with all the famous stairwells, chimneys, and ventilation towers. They have been likened to many different things, but I like to think that most of them had faces. I do wish that the sky wasn't so dreary and sad when we were there, it would have made picture taking that much more fun for me!

After the terrace, we went through the museum in the attic, and then through one of the apartments that is open to the public. None of the ceilings have a straight edge; everything is met in a curve. I love it!

After we went through the whole house, the girls wanted to do some shopping. I was tired and my backpack weighed as much as a small child. So while they shopped, they would leave their stuff with me. I was like, I feel like a mother. But I was okay with that. They didn't complain when we went to my stuff, so the least I could do is let them shop.

Then we went to a restaurant called TapasTapas. It. was. delicious. I loved it. Tapas are basically little servings of whatever you order. So like the mussels I ordered was perfect. It is the perfect, and cheapest, way to try a bunch of different things. I had mussels, a delicious salad of grape tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella cheese, the local manchego cheese, and we all shared paella. It was a great restaurant, and we want to go back.

Our last place we visited was Parc Güell. We were only there for about an hour and a half, and you definitely need more time to see everything. Plus we were exhausted, and the child in my backpack was gaining weight. It is gorgeous. I love how Gaudí really utilized nature and symbolism behind everything.

Finally, we headed to the bus station. After eating at McDonald's (yes, I broke two of my own rules those two days), where I had a happy meal, of course, we boarded the bus home. We met a nice teacher from Peru who was learning English. It was kinda fun teaching each other words for different things. 

There were only 9 people on the bus, so it was nice being able to stretch out and doze. We got back to Burgos at like 4 in the morning. I walked home since I live so close to the bus station; it would have been silly to pay a taxi to take me 2 blocks. As I neared my house, I could hear how many people were still in the 'party plaza' as I like to call it. I walked up to my door, only wanting to go to sleep, to find a couple making out in my doorway. I was like, okay fine. I walked up, unlocked the door while they stared at me, and just walked in. I was like there is no way that I am going to let a horny couple keep me from my bed.

A weekend of discovery, a weekend of learning, and a weekend of fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment