24 October 2014

Barcelona Day Four was another walk in another park

On my fourth and final day in Barcelona I again headed for a different part of the city. This was a large parkland area just to the south-west of the city centre where, according to the tourist map, there were several notable buildings to find. So I went off to find them.

My first stop was the underground station at Pla├ža d'Espanya, which seemed to be the closest. This was a new part of the city and a brash wide boulevard of business buildings led towards the park. There I found a little cabin selling coffees and I took advantage of that while trying to come up with some sort of plan for the day. The first part was to head almost all the way back to the metro to find a bank, small cabins do not accept credit cards.

Fuelled and moneyed I started the proper exploration.

I knew about Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion but I did not know that it still existed. Actually "still" is not correct, it was demolished after the expo in 1930 and then rebuilt in 1986 because of its significance - it is one of, if not the, most important buildings of the twentieth century. Its simplicity, clear lines, open spaces and generous glass changed everything. Modern houses still look like this.

It was also where the Barcelona chair originated and that is another design that has endured. I see it all the time in posh rooms on TV shows and I have a Barcelona sofa in my living room.

It is not a big building, it was only a concept built for the 1929 expo, but I still managed to spend a long time there taking lots and lots of photos from different perspectives and at different angles. It was almost heartbreaking to select just one but it had to be done so I chose this one of the pool off the living area.

Heading west from there and starting the climb up the hill (Barcelona was a lot hillier than London) I next went to Poble Espanyol. This was a small development of buildings (shops and restaurants) in different Spanish styles, a sort of architectural theme park. I like architecture and this was an opportunity to see lots of it in a relatively small space.

There was much more uphill walking to do and plenty of places to rest along the way. I had another drink at some point.

The development was very commercial and clearly relied heavily on tourists shipped there by coach so it was good to go there in late October when it was still warm and busy but not boiling and packed.

It was quite a long walk along the road after that with not much to see. Luckily the destination was worth it as the road let to the Olympic Stadium.

That was at the top of the hill and the walking from there would be all downhill.

Unexpectedly it was a walk through lush gardens, a marked contrast to the harsh walk along the road up the hill. The park was divided in to several gardens and the one that I walked through was Jardins de Laribal.

It was subtly constructed with paths, steps, waterfalls and a few ornamental treats. Plenty to keep the eye busy and the walk interesting but not too much to intrude on the natural mood of the garden.

There were several ways down and I preferred to zig-zag my way, taking horizontal paths like this one, rather than taking the quick way down using the steps.

About halfway down was a cafe, La Font Del Gat, almost hidden among the trees. It looked as if they were thinking of closing, it was fairly late in the afternoon by then and I was glad to get a drink before they did. It was a lovely shady spot and the service was the sort that comes with smarty dressed waiters. I was on holiday and I deserved a little luxury.

Emerging from the gardens I was hit by views of the city. I have taken hundreds (possibly thousands) of photo of rooftops while on holiday and this was my chance to substantially add to them. I love the shapes and colours of roofs, plus what they tell you about the city beneath them.

This view had the added attraction of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia dominating the distant skyline.

Then things got even better and the (accidental) plan to walk around the park anti-clockwise proved to be the right one. The walk down from the Museu D'Art was a delight every step of the way and I took every step slowly and carefully to savour the moment and to make sure that I did not miss anything.

The cabin where I had my first coffee of the day was just off to the right of the circular fountain at the bottom of the hill and the metro station was by the two brick pillars beyond it.

The museum was something of a spectacle itself. I had thought of going there but on the day I preferred to walk outside and I ran out of days to go another time. If I ever get back to Barcelona (unlikely as there are so many other places to see) then I'll consider going there, especially if it rains. Holidays are all about making decisions like that one and I am happy with the decision I made.

Water fell down the hill like lively children showing off to their parents. It tumbled and paused and made a lot of noise as it did so.

Steps followed the water down on both sides so it was a constant and welcome companion as I walked down. At intervals the water disappeared under the path allowing people to cross the watery thoroughfare and look back at its playful tumbling.

Half way down or so the view back was as good as the view forward and the large fountain at the very bottom made different patterns with the water as a final hurrah to the water's exploits.

It was hard to say goodbye to the water but the sun was almost done for the day and my legs knew that they had walked a long way and still had a bit to do to get to the metro and then the hotel.

I had gone to the park with not much of a plan and was immensely pleased that I had managed to find such a wonderful mix of architecture and gardens.

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