Our final day in Barcelona couldn’t have gone better, or have been more packed! We began with our private guide, Michelle, taking us on a quick tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana, the gorgeous music hall built in 1905 and designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the mentor and teacher of Antoni Gaudi i Cornet (Gaudi). We were so in awe of this beautiful space, we booked a tour for later in the day.
We then proceeded to visit several Gaudi homes in Barcelona, representing his modernism style of architecture. Think of this as the original and purist form of Art Noveau. The first home, Casa Batllo, was built in 1877 and broke all conventional laws due to its elaborate style and use of ceramics, stone, and forged iron. We visited a lovely chocolate shop in the carriage house area on the first floor, and were able to see the original kitchen of the house.
The next stop was La Pedrera, was one of Gaudi’s main residential buildings, and is really more sculpture than structure! It represents the natural movement of ocean waves with its curved walls. He purposely added ornate forged iron, with uneven and rough edges, to each balcony to keep residents from hanging their laundry to dry; he did not want anything to distract from the exterior architecture.
Before heading to the Parc Güell, we ventured to a little known site on a small and quite narrow street. Els Quatre Gats, or the 4 Cats, café opened in 1897 and the frequent social gathering spot for Picasso and his artist friends. It also attracted the likes of famous noblemen, and authors, such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. The interior café has remained virtually unchanged over the years.
The next stop on our whirlwind last day was to the Parc Güell, Gaudi’s famous park built in 1900. The original plan was to build 60 houses in the park as a weekend home for city-based families. Unfortunately, transportation from the city center to the upper hillside, where the park sits, was nonexistent in the early 1900s. It never took off as a residential community, so only three homes were built, including Gaudi’s private residence. The gardens within the park, and its walls of aqueducts and viaducts, are incredible. It is difficult to do justice to the unique style that is so characteristically Gaudi. The serpentine bench, made of cement covered with mosaics, was unbelievably comfortable!
After the park, we ventured back to the Palau de la Musica for a tour of the concert hall. Incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more ornate and beautiful hall in which to hear music – from classical to contemporary. We were blessed with a short excerpt of Bach’s Toccatta and Fugue in D Minor played on the massive organ. So beautiful, it moved me to tears.
We left the music hall and made our way on foot to the famous La Rambla, the main tree-lined street leading to the city center. We stumbled upon the Boqueria, a daily fresh food market filled with everything you can imagine – produce, seafood, meats, nuts, spices. So fun and so tempting!
Our last evening and final dinner couldn’t have been better. We chose a small, chic restaurant, Accés, for our final meal in this great city. Every single dish was amazing – but Marks’s beef cannelloni, my suckling pig, and Karen’s cuttlefish with black saffron rice were the stars! Such a fine atmosphere with warm, friendly owners and staff. I highly recommend this fine restaurant if you are headed to Barcelona anytime soon!
We depart Barcelona tomorrow (Wednesday) late morning. Our last post will be a combination of memories we don’t want to lose and travel tips we’ve learned along the way! Adiós, Spain!