On June 3 we made our way from Girona to Santa Pau by bus, finding the local bus stop near our apartment in Girona. For this leg of our trip we’re carrying all our luggage. I carry a day pack and a travel pack. Once we start our walking tour our luggage will go by taxi and we’ll go on foot with just our day packs.
We transferred buses in Olot where we had few minutes for a snack; coffee, apples and coke. Once in Santa Pau we found our lodging at Hotel Sal Sastre right across the street from the castle. We spent some time walking around the medieval town.
On June 4 we began our Macs Adventures walking tour with a loop hike from town up to a high point at Santa Maria Finistres. Here there is a hermitage which has some historical significance. We had a very quite picnic lunch here. This is truly a place of solitude. From the time we left town at 10 am and when we returned at 3:45 pm we had the entire trail to ourselves. The trail was a moderately steep track up the mountainside passing through beechwood and oak forests. Our feet crunched through the leaves on the trail and there was no sign of anybody else having used the trail recently. We clambered over a couple of fallen trees and passed a number of sections in the trail that had been rooted up by wild pigs, as if a roto-tiller had gone through. I would imagine that some sections of the trail could be slippery following a rain, with slippery leaves and mud but with dry conditions we had good footing. It’s a very pretty hike through the cool shade of the forest, passing by farms and pastures closer to town. When we came out of the forest we could see our town on the hill in the distance.
Having returned to town, we had logged 10 miles. The Macs Adventure hike is a nine mile loop. We manged to add a mile with a trip to town in the morning to buy bread, cheese and salami for our picnic lunch. After 10 miles it was time for a cold beer.
May 29. 9:00 AM. We’re in line for the tour of Sagrada Familia. We purchased tickets months ahead of time and I did some research to figure out what would be the best time to photograph the project. Photographing the whole building is a challenge. This is a work in progress with construction cranes towering over the structure. In looking at photos in tourist information I can only assume that some effort went into removing the construction cranes and other construction infrastructure in Photoshop.
The Nativity facade faces east, which where we found ourselves for the start of the tour and the best light is morning. The Passion facade faces west, which is best photographed in the afternoon.
Construction of The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família began in 1882 under the guidance of Antoni Gaudí. The goal is to complete the construction by 2026, the one hundredth anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Security to get into the tour is on par with airport security. No knives, liquids, and such. Backpacks go through an x-ray machine, and you walk through a scanner. My knee brace set off an alert and I was pulled aside. Staff was very courteous.
After picking up our interpretive handsets and putting our day pack in a locker we took the elevator up the tower and climbed back down a never ending spiral of stairs with occasional impressive views of the city below.
Inside the basilica one needs to keep in mind that this is a working Church and some sense of reverence is required. Here the genius of Gaudi’s design becomes apparent. The columns of multicolored stone rise up like trees and branch into smaller supporting limbs. Gaudi referred to this as the forest. Gaudi’s inspiration in the architecture of nature and natural forms and his devotion to his faith become apparent wherever you look. A stunning example of Gaudi’s architecture. And even with the construction there are so many interesting details to photograph that there is no shortage of subject matter for the camera.
Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator. – Anoni Gaudi
May 28. Our first day of touring in Barcelona starts with a tour of La Pedrera, one of the architectural wonders created by Antoni Gaudi. Casa Mila, or La Pedrera as it is commonly known was built in the early 20th century. Construction began in 1906 and the building was finished in 1912. Well worth the tour if you are visiting Barcelona. Get your tickets ahead of time though. We arrived at 9:00 am, a little flustered since we started off on the wrong direction on our walk, and then discovered that we had left the tickets in the motel room. Internet connection was sparse so we had trouble pulling up the confirmation email on Joann’s iPhone. It seems that the clerk at the counter was gracious enough to believe our story and we were able to tour. The tour is self-guided with handsets to listen to narration about the features of the building. Gaudi in known for drawing inspiration from nature and his devotion to the Church.
The tour starts on the roof of the structure with the fanciful design of the roof vents. From there you go down the the attic where you can see the rib like structures that support the roof. The attic served as the work area for servants. The building itself was designed as an apartment building.
From the attic you go down to one of the apartments which is furnished as it might have been in the early 20th century.
May 31, 2019. Waking up from a sound nights sleep. I’m wondering what time it is. I look at my phone and I’m flabbergasted. 10:40! I had no idea we had slept that late. For the previous two days we had tour tickets for 9:00 am both days, so we were up at 7 am to grab a bite to eat and then off on foot to find our destinations. On Tuesday it was La Pedrera at 9:00 am then on to the Picasso Museum at 12:30 and the Palau de la Musica Catalana at 3 pm. At 9 pm we went out in search of Tapas, having our first taste of acorn fed Iberian Ham. On Wednesday it was Sagrada Familia for our 9:00 am tour, followed by a spontaneous walking tour and then a bus up to Park Guell at 6:30 to see more of Gaudi’s work. We logged 10 miles on foot over the course of the day and decided we’d forego the alarm in the morning and get up when we felt like it.
We had numerous warning about pickpockets in Barcelona, both prior to the trip and and while touring. We did have an experience that bears sharing. While learning to navigate the Metro we got on the wrong train. After getting off and feeling a bit disoriented a young woman came up to us and told us we needed to take the elevator up a level to get to the right train. We were on the elevator with her and two of her friends when one of them attempted to access Joann’s purse. She thought they might have taken a notebook , but on later inspection nothing had been taken. Just a lesson to be careful. We’ve been traveling lightly. Leaving our backpacks in the room. I carry my small Sony RX100 camera in a Ripoffs brand holster on by belt with a strong Velcro flap. My pants have zippered pockets and I keep my iPhone in one of those pockets. Even so, I feel a bit bare without the camera support items like the tripod and such, and on both Tuesday and Wednesday I exhausted my camera batteries with the spares in the my backpack in the room. Passport, credit cards and such I keep in a pouch that hangs around my neck and kept inside my shirt. Probably not foolproof but so far so good.
La Pedrera, Palau de la Musica Catalana, Sagrada Familia and Park Guell will require separate blog posts so stay tuned. Pacing myself between touring, editing photos and writing is a challenge.
May 27, 2019 2:20 pm. We are packed and ready to begin our trip to Spain. At 3:45 our neighbor Kathryn knocks on the door to give us a ride to BART. A great way to start a trip. We try to pack lightly since we like to use public transit when we can. We each had one piece of baggage to check and a day pack with things to have on the plane. Our flight was delayed an hour, so it was just after 9 pm when we boarded the plane. Norwegian Air flight 7076 non-stop to Barcelona.
Once on the plane I discovered that I had not packed my earbuds, so I purchased a set on the plane for $3. I thought I’d watch a movie, but the sound quality was so poor with the cheap earphones and then one of the ear pieces stopped working. I decided I’d try sleep. After a light meal of chicken and mashed potatoes I inflated my neck pillow and did my best to get comfortable. As fitful and uncomfortable as it was I felt rested when I woke up for breakfast an hour before our arrival. Ham and cheese sandwiches.
It was 5 pm we landed in Barcelona 11 hours after takeoff. We collected our bags, and found the Aerobus to take us downtown to Placa Catalunya. From there it was a short walk to Hostal Grau.
One of my top priorities was to find a hat in Barcelona to replace my tried and trusted canvas hat which while quite versatile lacks a certain panache. You’ll notice my mission was accomplished with the photo of me on the hotel balcony.