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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Urban Sketching in Barcelona, Day 1: Arrival and Exploration

First sketches in Barcelona, on Passeig de Gracia

As you all must know by now, my husband Bob died in December 2015. Before his cancer made its come-back we had planned a 6-week trip to Spain. A slow-travel Grand Tour of the major cities, allowing enough time to enjoy each - Malaga, Cordova, Seville, Toledo, Madrid, Barcelona....you get the idea. But we were forced to cancel our plans to focus on his hoped-for recovery, that sadly did not come. Trying to figure out what comes next for me I have done some solo traveling, recorded here on this blog. In the course of our research I became very excited about this particular city and decided that while I wasn't brave enough to tackle a driving tour through Spain by myself, that I could go to Barcelona, see the sites I was interested in and make it a sketching holiday. I planned to spend 3 weeks, so that I could take my time and really sink my teeth into it. 

Here's my first post. Since I'm writing this now, you know I got myself there and back without incident!

October 4 and 5, 2016

I departed Philadelphia in the evening on October 4 on a non-stop flight to Barcelona. With the time difference, I arrived around 8am and decided the easiest way to get to my apartment without getting lost was to take a taxi. This was my first solo international trip, my first without Bob and I was a bit apprehensive but very excited!

Fernando and Alejandro were waiting for my at my Airbnb apartment in the Eixample neighborhood of the city in a building dating to the 1800s. My little apartment was cozy and comfortable and I loved the patio just outside the double doors. I had looked at many apartments in different areas of the city and feel like I made a great choice with this one. It was well-located - within walking distance or easy Metro or bus ride of all the things major sites! And after seeing the apartment in person, it was everything I had hoped and more. I fell in love with the Catalan brick ceilings and the way the apartment was decorated felt more like Home, than Hotel. My hosts were welcoming and friendly and had even stocked the kitchen with bread, milk, jam, butter, juice, etc. so I would have something to eat when I arrived. So thoughtful! They even took me on a tour of the neighborhood giving me an overview of where things were and which direction to walk for what.  The fact that I would remember none of it later did not matter! I was in Barcelona!!

For a nice history of this area, here's a link to Justine's Blog "Latitude 41

Having slept on the plane I was anxious to explore my new home for the next 3 weeks and set out on foot. I discovered grocery stores, fruit markets, cafes and bakeries, all within the surrounding streets and a broad avenue with shops and restaurants. I was delighted! I found that within about a 15-20 minute walk I was on the famed Passeig de Gracia, the so-called Manzana de la Discordia, the "Block of Discord" -  the most famous collection of modernist buildings sharing the same facade in Barcelona. At number 35 is Casa Lleò Morera, designed by Domènech i Montaner; a little further along you come across Casa Amatller, designed by Puig i Cadafalch; and finally, Casa Batlló, a work by Gaudí! I found a spot to sit across the street and did my first "urban sketch" surrounded by tourists with cameras taking photos and selfies. I couldn't believe I was actually there!!

I was in Barcelona and I was thrilled!

Flying into the sunrise

The back doors of my apartment led to a small terrace

My living room with Catalan ceiling

First thing I did was walk over to Passeig de Gracia, to see the famous "Block of Discord"!

Casa Battlo (Bot-yo) was my favorite! I had a tour scheduled for the next day.

Casa Amatller, next to Battlo, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch

Barcelona Architecture in the Eixample

Taxis, signposts and balconies!

Wide streets and sidewalks in the Eixample (eye-shom-pluh) neighborhood

Detail on Casa Lleo Morera by Montaner, another practicioner of Moderisme

Museum dedicated to the work of Antoni Tapies20th Century Spanish painter, sculptor and art theorist

Walking along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (known simply as GranVia)

Night falls in Barcelona on my first day. Motorcycles abound!

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