23 October 2014

Barcelona Day Three was mostly spent at Gaudi's Park Güell

Having discovered Gaudi on my first day on Barcelona it became a simple decision to go to Park Güell for a day.

The hotel's wifi was just about up to the task of telling me where it was, when it opened and how to get there.

The advised route was to take the underground to Vallcarca and walk from there. Finding the route was easy as a lot of people were going the same way but I was not prepared for how steep the climb up was.

It is never a good sign when the pavement has escalators and this one had several.

The Park had two sections, a public part that anybody could go to and a private part that you had to pay to go to. This was on a timed ticket and I had a couple of hours to wait before going in. That was fine with me as that gave me plenty of time to walk around the public part and to get something to eat and drink. The drink was more important as this was quite a hot day.

The public park was very structural with several criss-crossing paths spread over a steep hill and with a few strange structures along the way. It reminded me to much of Port Portmeirion and did so for the rest of the day.

Walking through the public park gave enticing views back down in to the private section and I would have been tempted then to go, if I had not already got my ticket. The people who were in before me certainly seemed to be enjoying the view from one of the main vantage points.

There were vantage points in the public park too though I had no idea how precarious this one was when I walked along it.

This was a fantastical place and I was being wrapped up in its spell. It was also large enough that it could entrance many other people too and not seem that busy. Or perhaps it is because I am used to London that it seemed hassle-free.

Then the time came for me to go in to the central part of the Park and that part of my journey started with the curved terrace that I had looked down on earlier. There were several bays in the elongated bench and I was able to find one that was empty for a moment.

The sun was too hot to allow me to stay there for too long, which is just as well as I could have spent a long time there otherwise and I had other things to see.

The erratic mosaic construction meant that each section of the bench was different and that, in turn, meant that each section was worth looking at closely. The design looked haphazard but the effect was dazzling.

Walking down the hill, through a half tunnel cut in to the rock, revealed that the terrace was suspended on pillars which, like the pillars above, stood at unusual angles.

The pillars also created an interesting indoors space that had both shade (welcome on that day) and artistic reward (also welcome) with a decorated roof.

At the bottom of the hill, by one of the other entrances, were a couple of villas. They were probably intended to be gate houses for a development that never really got started, the gardens are there but not the villas, but they have become tourist attractions and shops. Somehow I did not buy anything but it was very close.

The main (lower) entrance shows the sheer exuberance and folly of the design. This was not Port Meirrion Portmeirion any more, this was Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and I had a golden ticket.

I also had a little thirst and a little tiredness so the cafe just to the left of the picture was the perfect place to sit for twenty minutes or so before rejoining the bustle and reclimbing the hill to see some more of the park.

As elsewhere, the structures warranted a closer look. This time the mosaics were more ordered but no less colourful.

This salamander basking towards the top of the grand steps was the icon of the park and featured on a lot of t-shirts and mugs. It was not my favourite thing there but most of the most spectacular things were of too large a scale to use on mugs so it is no surprise that the one small thing there became the icon of the park.

It was a long and rewarding day in Park Güell and there was more effort to come as I took a different way back to the hotel that still took quite a bit of walking, all be it mostly downhill.

And that was enough for me for the day. I ventured only a short way from the hotel to eat that evening before settling in for an easy slumber. Barcelona was proving to be just my sort of city.

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