Saturday, 28 April 2012

Sagrada Familia

Perhaps one of the most famous Barcelona landmarks is the Roman Catholic Sagrada Familia church, another of the Catalan architect Gaudí's œuvre. Construction of the church began in 1882, but Gaudí only became involved a year later in 1883. When Gaudí died in 1926 the church was about 15-25% complete. A hundred and thirty years later the Church is still under construction and the anticipated completion date is 2026. We shall see! This is how it looked on my visit in April 2012. Beautiful carved spires and facades towered over by cranes, and covered with scaffolding.

I visited the Sagrada Familia over twenty years ago and was intrigued to see what had changed since then. Quite a lot as it turns out. When I was there in 1989, the central nave was not completed. In 2000 the vaulting over the central nave was finished so now when you are inside the church, rather than looking up at sky, you look up at this.

The vaults of this central nave are forty-five metres high!!! When I was inside the Church I rapidly got a crick in my neck from looking up.

I confess I don't really like the inside of the Church, but there is no denying that it is extraordinary. The scale is like nothing I have ever seen before. The details...well...ditto.

What I did love was the ethereal light in the side naves (which are a mere thirty metres high). A cool, calming, blanc cassé , off white. 

This spiral staircase is quite something. Not for the vertiginous.

When I walked around the side of the Sagrada Familia I peeked through some broken fencing and saw some of the 'work in progress'. It was fascinating to me to see what goes on before the carved extravagant detail ends up integrated into the structure of the Church.

It is complicated!

This looks like a cooling tower! I wonder what it will look like in 2026.

I love these concrete columns with iron spaghetti emerging from the the top.

And the reinforcement is frankly a patinated delight.

Other recent Barcelona posts:
Estrella Stars
The meeting of Gaudi and Nature
Barcelona's Gherkin

We were in Barcelona as guests of the budget Spanish airline Vueling and the award-winning Indie Internet radio station ScannerFM for the #MyVuelingCity bloggers meet. 

Muchas gracias!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Barcelona's Gherkin

London is not the only city to have a giant Gherkin. Barcelona has it's own gherkin, the Torre Agbar, a 38 storey skyscraper designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The tower is located by Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes at the western edge of the recently developed neighbourhood Poblenou. Poblenou was formerly an industrial area that has been centre of an extensive urban regeneration project since 2000. 

The sky scraper was completed in 2005 and despite initial criticism from the people of Barcelona it has become an architectural icon for the city of Barcelona and is now on the tourist trail. Even when we were nowhere near the Plaça de les Glòries we found ourselves using the tower, visible from many parts of the city, as a point of reference to help navigate our way around.

Here we were by the Arc de Triomf and could see the tower peeking over the Estació del Nord‎.

And here we were in the Parc de Montjuic in the south west of Barcelona overlooking the city.

From a distance the tower looks like a smooth round ended tower. It is apparently nicked named the "el supositori" (the suppository), "l'obús" (the shell), and was described by Jean Nouvel as having a phallic character. 

Well yes... *coughs*. 

As you can see the night time lighting is quite spectacular. 

When you get up close the details are impressive to, I always prefer materials that have some texture, depth and colour. The Torre Agbar has all of these, both at day...

...and at night.

We were in Barcelona as guests of the budget Spanish airline Vueling and the award-winning Indie Internet radio station ScannerFM for the #MyVuelingCity bloggers meet. 

Muchas gracias!

Monday, 16 April 2012

The meeting of Gaudí and nature

"Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator" Gaudi.

Antoni Gaudí the famous Spanish Catalan architect was born in 1856. He studied architecture in Barcelona and graduated in 1878. When receiving his degree the Director of the Architecture school allegedly told Gaudí "We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show."

I think time has shown that the title was given to a genius, albeit an eccentric one.

Day two in Barcelona I went to the Parc Güell, a garden with many architectural elements, created between 1900 and 1914. It is up on a hill a couple of kilometres from the centre of Barcelona. 

Gaudí's passions were architecture, nature, religion and love for Catalonia. Nature is certainly a running theme in all of his designs. The Parc Güell is certainly no exception. Here is a palm tree in the foreground with a stone wall behind.

The roots of a tree.

A stone arcade.

A nobbled tree trunk.

A nobbled stone detail.

A stone trunk.

Harmony between manmade and nature.


Full colour.

Gaudí also does colour extremely well...but that is the subject of another post, here is a taster.

For more information about the 'Parc Güell' have a look at their website.

We were in Barcelona as guests of the budget Spanish airline Vueling and the award-winning Indie Internet radio station ScannerFM for the #MyVuelingCity bloggers meet. 

Muchas gracias!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Estrella Stars

Guillamino and Mina Tindle play in Barcelona
What could be finer than the meeting of fine cutting edge music, a former brewery and free beer...oh...and all of that in Barcelona. Well that's what my Other Half (OH) and I got to enjoy last night.

The venue was here, a former brewery for the Spanish beer Estrella Damm. You can just see through the windows the amazing copper vats that were used in the brewing process (fodder for another blog post to come soon).

Even the lighting was beer influenced. What's not to like?

There was a beer theme in the toilets.

On the music programme were Guillamino a Catalan musician, and Mina Tindle a French musician with roots in spain.

Guillamino plays an engaging mixture of pop and Catalan electro...ahem...soul, hip music. 

I asked the OH who is more savvy than me in these music classifications how he would describe Guillamino's music. His conclusion: "Joyous maverick electrosomethingorother, Jarvis Cocker's Catalan cousin dipped in disco." So now you know. It was good.

Mina Tindle, who is currently on a European tour promoting her latest album 'Taranta', played after Guillamino. Her music is described as pop-folk. She has a fabulous voice. She is beautiful and has a look of Carla Bruni, but there the resemblance ends, Mina Tindle is a real musician with a strong and beguiling voice.

French, with family roots in Spain, she also spent several years living in Brooklyn. She sings in English. In New York she sang in a Franco-American band called the Limes. After returning to France she decided that she would like to make a career in music. 

Taranta, the album that came out on the 19th of March is the result of a collaboration between her and Jean-Philippe Nataf, a French musician and former lead singer with The Innocents

We bought a signed copy, so shall enjoy listening to her once we get back to Paris.

As part of our invitation we were offered a sandwich AND unlimited Estrella Damm beer on tap. As anglophones, used to the drinking culture in the UK, we were surprised at how easy it was to get to the bar. 

This is what happens when you have a few.

We have been lucky enough to be invited to Barcelona by budget Spanish airline Vueling and 
and the award-winning Indie Internet radio station ScannerFM for the #MyVuelingCity bloggers meet.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Delectable Eggs

When I was a child, every Easter we would dye and decorate eggs using onion skins and small leaves foraged from the garden. I have very fond nostalgic memories of this egg crafting. It was a family affair.

For the first time we thought we'd have a go this year.

Step 1
Send kids to forage for small leaves.

Step 2
Peel onions (we only had 6 eschalots, so used the skin off all of them, more would probably be better).

Step 3
Boil onion skins for a bout 15 minutes. As we didn't have so many skins we boiled them in a small pot and used the minimum amount of water required to cover all 6 eggs.

Step 4
Wet eggs and stick damp leaves onto eggs.

Step 5
Get an old stocking and cut into 10cm squares. Wrap the squared around the egg, holding the leaves into place.

Fix the stockings tight using thread.

Step 6
Boil eggs in onion skin water for 10-15 minutes.

Step 7
Remove eggs from boiling water, rinse with cold water, remove stocking and leaves, rinse again.

Step 8
Admire your handy work!

We went a step further and the kids made some chicken baskets.

That's enough crafting for one day, can I have a drink now please?!

This is how they can look of you're a pro (Colour Magic Photography).