Gaudi´s favorite dish: jamon

Day 14
Barcelona, Spain

The streets were filled with book vendors and florists here this morning — today is Dia de St. Jordi, what could most easily be described as Valentine’s Day in Barcelona. Men buy women roses; women, in turn, buy books for men. It has become a much-loved national holiday, which meant the streets, plazas and monuments were even more crowded than yesterday.

If one man represents Barcelona’s Modernist movement, it is Antoni Gaudi. His architecture, art and legacy are ingrained throughout this city and we spent a good part of today seeing his work. The Casa Batllo was our first stop — this renovated apartment building has a façade whose blue, green and mauve tiles and wave-shaped window frames give the impression that it’ll wash away with the next tide. Inside is much of the same: the main salon swirls onto the main drag outside, Passeig de Gracia, while the internal courtyard is filled with undulating deep sea-blue tiles.

Next was La Sagrada Familia, perhaps Barcelona’s most defining and recognizable landmark. Gaudi became the chief architect of this unfinished temple in 1884 and spent the next 43 years of his life working feverishly to complete it, while obsessing over every detail (when asked why he fussed so much over embellishments at the very top of the towers which no visitors would see, Gaudi replied: “The angels will see them”). Today, over 125 years after construction began, La Sagrada is said to be still only half complete.

Rarely do you get to see the construction of a religious structure of this magnitude — more often, you can only experience them years after their completion. While the portions of La Sagrada that have been finalized are no doubt magnificent, part of its appeal, at least for me, was watching the artisans, craftsmen and construction crew continue to build it.

An elevator to the top of a tower offers another perspective of Gaudi’s work, as well as distant vistas of Barcelona and a vertigo-inducing walk down to the ground.

Needing an escape from the tourist onslaught, we walked back to Las Ramblas and bought a baguette, some Manchego queso and a couple varieties of Serrano jamon, packed it up with fruit and a bottle of Spanish red wine and jumped on the bus to Parc Guell for a picnic. It was a delicious desayuno.

After lunch, we walked around the park, which Gaudi was commissioned to create in 1900. There are fairy-tale style gingerbread houses, candy-colored mosaic tiles and sweeping views of the mar.

Tonight is Charlotte’s last night. So, we’re off to do something special — I’ve got a feeling it might involve jamon y queso.

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