Barcelona and Gaudí

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Barcelona and Gaudí

We started the day in the Barri Gòtic, the old Gothic neighborhood of Barcelona. After checking out the interesting architecture and running into a very lively parade for the soccer team, we went looking to find people dancing a Catalan traditional danced called the Sardana.

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It took us quite a long time to find Carrer de Montsio, the street where a restaurant called 4Gats (Les Quatre Gats or The Four Cats) is. Eventually with the help of some directions from a few Barcelonians, we found it shortly after 2pm. This moderniste cafe was founded in 1897 and is famous for its relationship with Picasso when he lived in Barcelona (he designed a menu and came often to the place). Its name means “4 cats”, which is a Spanish expression meaning “a few unimportant persons”. The food is Catalan, which is to say it has both Spanish and French influences. The green Spanish olives were great – normally I don’t care for green olives, but I like the ones in Spain. I loved my tuna with tomatoes, potatoes, and onions. Nicole’s sea bass was tasty but had lots of bones which was annoying.

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After lunch, we took Metro Línia 5 (blue) to get to La Sagrada Família. In the words of Wikipedia:

it is a Roman Catholic basilica and the last, and perhaps most extraordinary, of the designs of the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí worked on the project for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to this endeavour; on the subject of the extremely long construction, Gaudí is said to have joked, “My client is not in a hurry.”

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Then we went on to Casa Milà:

Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (Catalan for ‘The Quarry’), is a building designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1905 to 1907. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia (‘passeig’ is Catalan for promenade or avenue) in the Eixample district of Barcelona…

The building does not have any straight lines. Most people consider it magnificent and overwhelming — some say it is like waves of lava or a sand-dune. This building seems to break our understanding of conventional architecture. The most astonishing part is the roof with an almost lunar appearance and dreamlike landscape.

The building can be considered more of a sculpture than a regular building. Critics remark on its detachment from usefulness, but others consider it to be art. The Barcelonese of the time considered it ugly, hence the “quarry” nickname, but today it is a landmark of Barcelona.

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Then on to Casa Batlló, another work of Antoni Gaudí:

Casa Batlló (pronounced Casa Batyo) is a building designed by Antoni Gaudí and built in years 1905–1907; located at 43, Passeig de Gràcia (passeig is Catalan for promenade or avenue), part of the Illa de la Discòrdia in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (house of bones), and indeed it does have a visceral, skeletal organic quality. It was originally designed for a middle-class family and situated in a prosperous district of Barcelona.

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Not sure what this building is, but I thought it looked cool:

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Some shots of the Eixample at night:

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We found a nice tapas place called La Bodegueta. With Casa Batlló on your left, take left on Carrer D’Aragó, go 1 block and take right on Rambla de Catalunya by Pedro del Hierro (PdH). Go 3 blocks.

La Bodegueta
Rambla de Catalunya, 100

We had:

Surtido de embutidos
Patatas Bravas
Tortilla (egg & potato omelette)
2 copas de Cava Rosat @ 1.50 €. (Cava is a sort of Spanish champagne)

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Later on we had dessert at La Poma – namely Canaletas – vanilla & almond ice chips, er, ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Greve to Barcelona

Getting to the airport

6:00 am Got up after pressing snooze 2 or 3 times
7:00 am Taxi from Villa Vignamaggio to Greve SITA stop
The taxi driver drove to a cafe to get change. When I offered a tip, he refused.
Had to walk down to Caffe Santa Anna to buy SITA tickets.
7:50 am Caught bus from Greve to Firenze
8:50 am Arrived at Firenze SITA station
9:00 am Bus to airport
9:15 am Arrived at Firenze airport

Florence airport

We waited on the wrong line for 1 hour, then switched
Flight scheduled to board at 11:10 am.
We ate at an airport cafe where you have to pay before ordering even though there are no signs or menus. I had an uninspiring proscuitto panino and Nicole had some crappy pastry and a yogurt. There were tall tables and no chairs so we had to eat standing.
11:25 am Still haven’t boarded yet.
12:15 pm flight left
Nicole slept quite a lot and I kept falling asleep while trying to read about Spain.

Barcelona airport

1:40 pm got into Barcelona airport
Took Aerobus (3.60 E x 2 = 7.20 E) to


One thing you should know about Barcelona is that the people here have their own language. Barcelona is part of a region of Spain called Catalonia (Catalunya). The people of this region have a unique culture from the rest of Spain and some of them consider themselves Catalonian first and Spanish second (not unlike the relationship between Sicily and Italy). They have their own language called Catalan and that is the primary language here, although Spanish is widely understood as well. From an outsider’s perspective Catalan sounds like they took Spanish and French and put it in a blender.


  • “Exit” in Spanish is “salida”.
  • “Exit” in French is “sortie”.
  • “Exit” in Catalan is “sortida”.

English and Spanish are widely understood in Barcelona though.

Plaça de Catalunya

and found Hotel Lleó with only slight difficulty orienting ourselves.
At 3:15 pm, we got to our room. While sitting in bed and fiddling around with what I thought was the air conditioning remote control, I discovered that we have adjustable beds.
I drank some water on a bench by Passeig De Gràcia and started sneezing right after, which was odd.

Les Rambles

This is the famous street of Barcelona that all the guidebooks talk about, but we weren’t that impressed.

Plaça Reial

Mercat de la Boquería

An impressive food market although I think the one in Florence was more impressive.

By the harbor

As we were walking along the waterfront looking for dinner, a jogging woman dropped her keys. She had headphones on and couldn’t hear our yells so I picked them up and ran after her and handed them off without either of us stopping. An amusing moment.


8:30 pm Can Majó. Dinner was excellent at this Barcelona restaurant renowned for its seafood.

  • Seafood croquettes
  • Seafood soup
  • Seafood paella (without shells!)
  • Creme Catalan

10:33 pm Waiter forgot the check. Ergh we’ve been waiting over 40 minutes and we just want to get out of here and sleep.
They smoke in restaurants here – how annoying.
10:49 pm done
12:41 am going to bed

SFO to Rome

The day arrived – the day that we leave for Europe. We’re hanging around Italy (mostly the Amalfi Coast), then going to Tuscany for Andy and Erin’s wedding, and then heading to Spain. This is our second trip to Italy (our first one was in September of 2004) and our first trip to Spain.

Nicole’s parents drove us to SFO. Our flight from SFO to EWR was a bit late so when we deplaned, they were calling our names on the airport loudspeaker. Luckily, the gate for our flight from EWR to Rome was literally next door so were able to quickly board. Along with another couple, we were the last people to board the plane. During the course of the two flights, I read many pages of a book that had been on my nightstand for a few months called Arab & Jew. Nicole watched In Good Company, Are We There Yet, and about 10 minutes of White Chicks, before she realized how horrific it was. Neither of us had realized before that it was a blatant parody of the Hilton sisters.

Our flight got in late to Newark and we just barely made our connection to Rome.