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Today was a busy day of sorts. I spend time wandering around by the Las Ramblas, both the area between my hotel and the Las Ramblas and the Gothic area on the other side of the Las Ramblas. While in the Gothic area I made time to tour through the Picasso Museum where I gained an appreciation for how his works evolved over time.

After the Picasso museum I made my way to the Franca train station to reserve seats to get to Arles in Provence tomorrow. First thing this morning I decided I was going to stay in Barcelona one more day, but when I checked with the front desk they where full up for tomorrow night so rather than waste time finding another hotel in Barcelona I decided to move on.

From the train station I grabbed a subway up to the Block of Discord north of the Placa de Catalunya, where I began to wander the area between there and Gaudi's Sagrada Familia several blocks north and east of there. The huge variety of architecture in the area is amazing. It's clear they had absolutely no architectural controls here and if anything it was quite the opposite, no two buildings could be same!

When I got to Gaudi's Sagrada Familia I went in for a tour of the work in progress. This included a tour through the museum where I learnt how Gaudi modelled his architecture after shapes in nature (sea shells, plants, coral, etc.) and I saw how the construction of Sagrad Familia progressed since 1892.

Yesterday I said Barcelona is quite different then Madrid. It is different, in that it seems much cleaner, more big city like, and in some ways much more modern. You see different people on the streets here. Madrid seemed to be dominated by Spanish folks, while here there are plenty more folks from other parts of Europe and elsewhere. I would say Barcelona is a bit more like Paris or even Boston then Madrid, but you won't find such a large mix of architectures in those places. It's also easier to get by with English here than in Mardid.

Here's just a few photos from today.

The pigeons back at the Lisbon train station were nothing like this in Placa de Catalunya at the north end of the Las Ramblas.

pigeons in Placa de Catalunya

The Las Ramblas is the center of activity in Barcelona. It has a large pedestrian walk way up the center and its lined with shops down both sides. It runs from the Placa de Catalunya down to the Columbus Monument near the harbour.

Las Ramblas

The area between my hotel and the Las Ramblas is filled with small streets, some barely 8 feet wide, pack with shops of one sort or another at street level and apartments up above. Today must have been laundry day for many of them. You have to be careful not to walk too close to the buildings, otherwise you risk getting dripped on from wet laundry or freshly watered plasters.

small streets

In that area between my hotel and the Las Ramblas there is a discontinuity in the buildings. That is, this building, the museum of contemporary art, was dropped in amongst those apartment buildings and looks way out of place.

museum of contemporary art

Here is one of the many cool looking shops that line the street level below the apartments.

cool looking shops

About half down the Las Ramblas off to the one side there is a large market called the Mercat Boqueria.

Mercat Boqueria

Anyone for some ham?

Anyone for some ham?

Just north of the market is this Baroque Church, which is quite plain compared to all the Gothic style churches I've seen.

Baroque Church

If the outside isn't proof enough that it's plain, the inside confirms it.

Baroque Church

On the other side of the Las Ramblas is the Gothic area with scenery we are familiar with with.

the Gothic area

The Gothic area also has its share of narrow streets and it looks like laundry day here too.

narrow streets

There are many cool views like this one.

cool views

The inside of Santa Maria Del Mar. I've got a so so photo of the outside, but there are just too many others to show. One of the big challenges of taking photos in the Gothic area is the close proximity between all the buildings. I would need a real wide angle lens, or maybe even a fish eye, to do the job properly.

Santa Maria Del Mar

The next few photos are taken on the Block of Discord just a little ways north from the Placa de Catalunya. In the area you see almost every kind of architecture imaginable and then some.

Block of Discord
Block of Discord

This is Casa Mila by Gaudi.

Casa Mila by Gaudi

And, as an example of the variety of buildings in this area, this is just across the intersection.

variety of buildings

A little ways to the north east is the Casa Terrades.

Casa Terrades

Not far from there is another huge contrast in buildings.

huge contrast in buildings

And just a bit further east is Gaudi's Sagrada Familia (Temple of the Sacred Family). Construction on this building began in 1892 and is likely to continue for at least another 50 years. The construction apparently goes in spurts as funding becomes available. In the past when I heard of other projects that spanned over a hundred years I wondered what it would be like to be alive while they were on going. Now I kind of know. This project began long before I was born and it may continue after I am gone.

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia