Theme: European Christmas Holiday Country: Spain Languages: Spanish Unit of Currency: Euro Locations: Barcelona & Madrid Year: 2012 Bucket list: Photographing Antoni Gaudi’s architecture
DO: TAKE IN THE ARTISTIC CULTURE
- Celebrating the Christmas spirit and following an architecture map around the city
- Photographing the city at night
- Witnessing the psychedelic side of the city
One of the Coolest Christmas Trees:
Creative Style of Antoni Gaudi’s World of Design in Barcelona, Spain:
1) Barcelona, Spain – Rising to the heavens with eight candle-wax spirits, the enormous Sagrada Familia Church remained a masterpiece in the making. Eccentric genius and Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi was run over and killed by a tram before he could complete his strangest, most controversial conversation. It is finally slated for completion in 2026 to mark the centenary of his death. Gaudi, a national hero, is buried in the church’s crypt, but his spirit persists throughout the city (as I had witnessed!).
Gaudi’s uniqueness – Gaudi put Barcelona on the architectural map with a design approach that was rooted in a playful Catalan sensibility later expressed by Picasso, Miro, and Dalf and led us into a world of inscrutability and creative invention. One of my favorite pieces that he created was that of Park Guell. His designs with tile-encrusted benches and undulating ramparts that overlooked the beautiful city of Barcelona underneath its structure are remarkable. The “House of Bones” or Casa Batllo was called this due to its skeletal quality; however, his aspirations were to create this masterpiece as the illustration of marine life. The building was formulated of stained glass walls, ceramic details, unique elements inside (i.e. mushroom-shaped fireplace), and sinuous curves (there was not straight line in this fabulous design!).
2) Mediterranean Sea – The coastal drive was not a disappointment! The Hop on & Hop off tourist bus was an exceptional idea for a location that had many different sights to see. Driving past the volleyball players and the waves crashing against the small rocks reminded me of why I adored the water and beach. The beach guided into a port that exposed various private yachts and cruise ships stopping in Barcelona for the day. Aerial cable cars (similar to mine in Zurich, Switzerland) were offered to take in the views above the enormous architectural buildings and never ending Mediterranean Sea. I was limited with time and was not able to partake in the cable cars, but the bus was just the right spot to take in the beautiful cityscapes and dive my senses into the Spanish lifestyle.
3) Tapas – Authentic Spanish food was one of the highlights in Spain. French fries with mayo and garlic, cheese-filled croquettes, pala (rice & seafood), and white sangria quenched my taste buds and had me desiring more well into the night. The food was excellent in Barcelona; definitely a successful and tasteful time!
Up-all Night Attitude in Madrid, Spain:
1) Madrid, Spain – An elegantly formal, even decorous city by day, Madrid was transformed after dark into one of Europe’s liveliest capitals. My first thought arriving in my flamboyant neighborhood that I had chosen to stay in a hostel was that it appeared that everyone was out, strolling the streets, at the local pubs, and creating obstacles as I went to reach for the door to get inside the hostel. I soon discovered that my last destination on the European Christmas Holiday was in a homosexual and rainbow-filled neighborhood. Please do not get me wrong, I have no problem with individual sexuality; I am simply explaining my unique experience that I had in this up-all night city. I felt this was the location where the people really created a positive and fun-filled atmosphere. The nightlife was incredible and I met so many interesting people – I was surprised to find out how diverse Madrid really was.
2) Christmas lights – Every corner and all streets were lined with Christmas lights above the busy sidewalks and roads. In my particular street, there were flashy eyebrows and faces that sparkled when I walked below them. In other parts of the city, there were presents, Madrid city-shaped, and Christmas tree lights outlined in the sky.
3) Epiphany – On the day January 6th when I had visited Madrid, there was a Christian feast day that celebrated the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. In other words, there were colorful parades, thousands of people walking about, Christmas lights covering the streets, and dozens of shops closed for the big event! All around the world countries celebrate this event in their own way – without getting into too much biblical context, Spanish traditions originally included children receiving presents on this day rather than Christmas, but now presents are given on both days.
4) Running with the Bulls – Not that the world wide event was being held when I visited Madrid, but it was cool to be in a city close to where I have heard a multitude of stories of Running with the Bulls. Though this is a brutality event, the Spanish population takes great pride in their bullfighting and this popular event in the beginning of July. Brief background: Festival of San Fermin, or the Pamplona bull running officially begins on July 6th every year with “chupinazo,” which takes place on the balcony of the Casa Consistorial in Pamplona. Thousands of people congregate in the square awaiting the mayor’s official announcement that the fiestas have begun, a rocket is launched, individuals sprint as fast as they can away from the raging path of the bulls, and the partying begins.
Here ends the European Christmas Holiday, but stay tuned for my overall favorites of the Europe trip and for more adventures in 2012! Time to head to the UK for a few days, travel to Paris for work, and then journey to Angola for yet another exciting opportunity to work offshore!