Spain/Morocco 2011:
Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain


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Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

Saturday, October 22, 2011: Psych! This isn't Barcelona yet. This is Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

We had a layover here on our way to Barcelona, so we exchanged dollars for euros and got some sandwiches at one of the cafes in this wing of the airport. You may be asking yourself where these alleged cafes are.
They're cleverly placed just below departure level in the center of the building. We also stashed the napkins and bag we got here to give to our friend, Paul, who attends adult day care with Claire.
OK, now we're really in Barcelona. We took the Aerobus from the airport which took us directly to Plaça de Catalunya.
Just a few steps later, we checked into the Olivia Plaza Hotel, an ultra-modern hotel facing the square.
The room was beautiful, with glass-walled shower and bathroom, ...
... and a spacious bedroom.
The vanity sink and bathtub were in the main room.
As much as we loved the striking design of the room, we were here for the amazing view of Plaça de Catalunya.
It did not disappoint. Here's the view looking to the left, ...
... and here's the view looking slightly to the right. The blue buses are the airport Aerobus, and the hop-on, hop-off buses start and stop from this location.
Leaving our room on the top floor, we had a great view of Barcelona toward the sea.
Let's take a closer look out on the hotel terrace before getting on the elevator to go out.
Here's a pretty little fountain on Plaça de Catalunya.
On the opposite side of the square, you can see our hotel. It's the light stone building in the center -- our room was the second window from the left.
We headed up Passeig de Gràcia with its beautiful tiled sidewalks, ...
... past a fountain, ...
... and beautiful buildings, ...
... until we reached Casa Batlló, our first destination.
On our previous visit to Barcelona, we only had a few hours to spend, so it was time to see the sites we missed last time. We started with Casa Batlló, where the wait to get in was less than a few minutes.
Casa Batlló was built by Antoni Gaudí, ...
... and it is truly a wonder to behold.
Featuring stained glass windows, ...
... rich woodwork, ...
... unusual chandeliers, ...
... odd little rooms, ...
... and a group of vending machines, that may or may not have been originally part of the house. For the record, the Coca-Cola Light served here is delicious, but we passed on the opportunity to buy Casa Batlló souvenir water.
In the back courtyard, we got a shot of the back of the building, but inexplicably forgot to take a photo of the courtyard itself.
Here's a skylight into the basement surrounded by mosaics.
One of the coolest features of the building are the interior walls that function as exterior walls also, since the glass roof is not completely sealed against the elements.
There's a staircase in the middle of the building that wraps around the elevator.
Individual apartments feature gorgeous wood doors.
On the top floor, there was a cool art installation to indicate that this was the laundry room once upon a time.
At the back of the house, we got a glimpse down toward the courtyard, barely visible in this photo.
Then we were on the roof, the incredibly beautiful roof with its multiple groupings of tiled spires.
The mosaic tile work is absolutely beautiful.
In this shot, you can see a bit of the open area that surrounds the glass skylight/roof. You can also see the large ridge that serves as the top of the house's facade overlooking Passeig de Gràcia.
Here's a closer look at the ridge and the large tiled cross next to it.
Back down a spiral staircase, ...
... to a large vaulted area featuring a hologram of Gaudí's face.
Here's one of the little nooks overlooking Passeig de Gràcia, ...
... and another vaulted hallway opposite the one that had featured the laundry room exhibit.
Back on the central staircase, here's a closer look at the glass roof, ...
... and here's the view down on the beautiful internal walls and windows into apartments unseen.
One last staircase down to the exit and we were done. We loved our visit and were amazed by all the beauty in one building.
Next up: Casa Milà, better known as La Padrera, passed by in 2004 but now on the agenda for a sunset visit. There was one person ahead of us in line, which was nothing short of a Gaudí miracle.
The La Padrera tour starts on the roof. We had the option of taking the elevator or taking the stairs, and in our jet-lagged state, we decided that the stairs would be quicker. Prettier, sure, but quicker? Probably not.
Not to worry, though, because we made it to the roof just before the sun set.
Wow.
The forms were familiar but the mosaic styles were different from Casa Batlló and used much more sparingly.
The spires echoed the shapes of those on Casa Batlló's roof, but incorporate a twist in each.
Yeah, baby, we were jet-lagged but we were there.
In the distance, we could see Sagrat Cor, a Catholic church on the summit of Mount Tibidabo.
Looking down, we could see Carrer de Provença as it stretches out toward La Sagrada Família.
Here's the layout of the roof, with its series of bridges and spires. There are three distinct openings in the roof, ...
... including this one.

Tom got this panorama shot using Debbie's phone.
Isn't this beautiful? We bought a smaller version of this for our home ... much smaller.
And there's the sunset. We couldn't have had a nicer night for our visit.
We explored the back part of the roof and were struck by this beautifully framed view of La Sagrada Família.
Here's a closer shot, with more to come tomorrow.
The roof started to light up as dusk fell. It was pretty magical.
However, it was getting close to closing time, so we went into the building for the short remainder of the tour. These dramatic arches make up parts of the attic.
This is a miniature reproduction of the building.
We caught another glimpse of the roof from one of the attic windows.
This cool display shows how Gaudí designed one of his other buildings, by dangling chains, ...
... then using the reflection of those chains in a mirror to visualize the arched spires in his building.
Most of the building is off-limits, as it is used for private apartments and offices, but one of the original apartments has been restored and is accessible to the public.
This pretty window looks out over Passeig de Gràcia and one of the original wrought iron balconies the building is famous for.
Here's a bathroom, ...
... part of the kitchen, ...
... the laundry room, ...
... and a child's bedroom.
Much of the original woodwork has been painted over, but it's still lovely.
The tour over, we found ourselves in the center of one of the couryards.
The view looking up is magnificent.
Next, we dropped some euros in the gift shop, buying a small porcelain replica of the white-tiled roof structure we had liked so much.
One last photo of the huge, ornate front door, and we were done.
It was a beautiful, warm Saturday night in Barcelona, and the crowds were out along Passeig de Gràcia.
We admired the architecture of the buildings while looking for a place to eat.
We got up our courage to try ordering tapas, without having any idea how the process works.
We got out our pen and circled the photos of the things that looked good on the paper menu, and our waiter typed our choices into his hand-held device that transmitted it to the main restaurant indoors. A short time later, we were eating a variety of tasty hot and cold appetizers.
Back on the move after our meal, we passed Casa Batlló, resplendent in her evening finery, ...
... and the Madrid-Barcelona restaurant, just opening for the evening at 8:30 PM. This restaurant was recommended to us by our friend Jordi back in 2004, and this was the second time we weren't able to eat there because it wasn't open when we were ready to eat.
We passed a McDonald's which featured macarons in the McCafe section of the restaurant. Macarons! That's when we knew we were truly in Europe.
Past the fountain again, this time beautifully lit up at night, ...
... and on to a gelato shop to share a chocolate and mint chocolate chip cone as we walked.
A few blocks later, we were back at our hotel on the square, ...

... admiring the view before collapsing for the night.

Day 2 >


Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

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