Barcelona, city of genius

July 31, 2009

For someone as fascinated by architecture and cityscapes as I am, Barcelona is a dream of a city.  It is beautiful in a strictly urban fashion, and contains buildings and textures and colours of every kind to please the eye and the brain.

Home to both Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, Barcelona was the playground of Antoni Gaudi.  Our hotel was in the Gracia neighbourhood and within walking distance of several Gaudi “monuments”.  The Sagrada Familia church didn’t impress me, though I was impressed to learn that several million visitors per year make it one of Spain’s largest attractions.  However, Gaudi’s more domestic architecture, such as the Casa Mila …

Gaudi Domestic_small

… and the Casa Battlo ….

Gaudi 2_small

were interesting distractions just a block each from where we were staying.  A more modern rendition of Gaudi-esque forms was also close….


Each of these buildings features balconies; and I was particularly taken with the range of balconies throughout Barcelona.  Each building seemed to be different and each building seemed to revel in these marvelous excretions.

Barcelona balconies

And then, there is the modern stuff!  Barcelona’s skyline seems to change every decade, with each generation of architects seeking to make their mark.  Just two examples among so many:  There is the glorious Torre Agbar:


(image from

And a marvelous red building that I saw only on our way out to the airport …

red tower

(image from

This is part of Las Torres Fira, by architect Toyo Ito.  No wishy-washy rust colour;  just red and proud of it.

We had barely a day in Barcelona, with too much to see.  I need to return there and just spend a good long time looking at the architecure of the place.  I have absolutely no idea whether it actually works as a city, but for the visitor with an eye to its looks, that hardly matters.

Back From Travel

July 30, 2009

Just back from almost a month in Europe.   We cruised from Spain to Italy and France, before driving around England (and a bit of Wales).  I’ll have more to say about all that in the next few days.

I’ll also be posting some of the images I collected during the trip — the first ten or so can already be found at

As we sailed into Naples early one morning, we were offered this gift of sunrise at Mount Vesuvius:

Sunrise at Vesuvius_Etsy