Remember when I said that I sometimes prepare for trips? Apparently for this one I am less than prepared. I feel significantly more scattered than usual which is showing in the adventures I’ve had in Barcelona. The first full day ended up being a success even if I felt like I was going to melt in the heat.
The second day was going to be a success. I just knew it, could feel it in my bones. I even took the time the night before to screen shot all the routes I had to take.
I woke up early and headed for the train. First stop, go to the adorable bakery I found the night before for a chocolate croissant because they are delicious then head to the Sagrada Familia train station to catch the L5 up to Park Guell. This was going to take me about 45 minutes and my goal was to get there by 1015 to hit up the Gaudi house first then wander the park. I undershot where I was supposed to get off the train because I didn’t screen shot that portion of my route. I had a picture of my walking route but no idea where I was supposed to exit the train. I got off the train at El Carmel and then literally wandered the streets for an extra 40 minutes. For some reason I couldn’t get my bearings and kept walking in the wrong direction or heading into neighborhoods that would be dead ends. At one point I thought I found a shortcut that once existed but has been blocked off as an access point to Park Guell. Tip: don’t take the routes through the parks, take the main roads.
After literally hiking up a hill, coming to terms with the fact that I am grossly out of shape (nothing says you’re out of shape like a bus full of people gawking at you as you sweat and gasp for air up a hill), I finally arrived at Park Guell and felt like I was about to die.
I bought a bottle of water, chugged it, and then proceeded to walk through the park. If you have the time, you could spend 4-5 hrs there just reading the history, seeing Gaudi’s work and taking in the views.
If you don’t know Park Guell, it’s literally in the Barcelona mountains/hills and overlooks the city all the way out to the coastline. You can see the Torre Agbar, La Sagrada Familia and the beaches from this park. There are amazing view points all along this park from which you can perch and take in just how large this city is. It is… Overwhelming. I thought I had seen a large portion of the city and staring at it from the park really put things into perspective. I saw about a tenth of the city in the hours I had wandered through the city. Barcelona is beautiful and breathtaking from above. If you go, target a clear day. That is the one thing I would have changed.
As you walk through the park, the highest point has a rock monument with a cross at the top that you can climb and get a full 360 degree view of the city. It’s crowded up there but it’s amazing. There’s definitely portions of Barcelona that I wish I had the chance to visit. Like the Cathedral in the far distance outside of the city overlooking everything. It looks like castle and now I’m curious.
There’s also a portion of the park that houses Gaudi’s work covered in ceramics (I think) and his famous lizard dragon is there. I didn’t buy tickets to check it out and in my flustered heat driven craziness, the thought of being in direct sunlight any longer made me want to cry. I opted not to go down to that area but stated longingly at it from the shaded areas above. If you go, note that there are capacity requirements to help preserve the work and you must wait in line. I think it’s worth it but only if you haven’t run through El Carmel in 95 degrees and 100% humidity first.
Also, one thing that is always so entertaining to me would be the people selling things along the walkway. I remember in Italy you would see them with counterfeit purses and gadgets. And someone would yell ‘Policia!’ And they would grasp all four corners of the cloth their merchandise was on and they would bolt. Same thing at Park Guell but on a much smaller scale. The cops are very present there but they don’t seem to mind. I did see someone mid-sale pick up his umbrella of earrings and get ready to move but then just settled about five feet away. It’s an interesting interaction to observe.
After the park I proceeded to find my way back into the city itself. That is a story for another day. Until then, imagine feeling tiny and being reminded just how fascinating creative minds are.