Today, I completed my planes, trains, and automobiles hat trick by taking the train from Donostia back to Barcelona. I'm again a little out of practice with travel skills - I got aboard the wrong train. A gentleman was kind enough to ask if I was going to Barcelona, and pointed out that the Barcelona train was the following one. I just barely got off in time. That would have set me back a little if I ended up in the wrong city! My thanks go out to that guy and all the helpful locals who got me to my final destinations, sometimes in spite of myself.
After checking in at the new pension in the Eixample neighborhood of town, I got a little snack - a pressed sandwich with sobrasada and manchego, with a blueberry muffin. It's a polished looking operation called Forn Pacific, which is funny to me because they're doing straight up European style sandwiches, coffee, everything.
My goal for the rest of the afternoon was to spend a little time at Parc Guell, which was originally intended to be a housing development designed by Gaudi, but eventually was turned into a city park. I took the subway to the station closest to the park which turns out is still quite a ways from the park. Additionally, the park is in a hilly area, and I guess the tour buses and the metro bus line sort of circle the whole park before letting people off at the entrance. So I followed the signs, but I ended up walking almost the entire perimeter of the park before cutting through a jogging path to get to the more developed area of the park. I certainly need the exercise.
From the upper area of Parc Guell, there are incredible views of the city and Mediterranean. This is as close as I got to the Sagrada Familia church, also designed by Gaudi.
Because I entered from the east, I saw things in reverse order than most visitors. This is the plaza area of the park - the outside ring of it is all mosaic tile bench, in undulating curved shapes, and a gravel/dirt area in the middle. By the way, the benches themselves are not very comfortable. Fascinating, though.
More Parc Guell and Barcelona after the jump... >>>
The park is extraordinary, and yet has a rough hewn, unfinished quality to it in many areas. This is a tree that they seem to have left in place and built the columns around it.
Near the main entrance, there are two guard shacks, this one also serves as the gift shop for the park. It's stunning in person - has almost a fantastical, Dr Seuss kind of vibe to it.
I'm not sure if I'm correct in calling this a parapet, but it's like a outdoor corridor with stone columns on the left side, some of which have decorative statues and the inside is this wavy form instead of a standard arch and wall.
These are the substantial columns supporting the plaza area above. Although it seems very regular here, just off to the right out of frame is an area where a few columns are "missing". Also, the ceiling is domed and inlaid with mosaic tiles, as well as the occasional sculptural piece.
The famous salamander near the entrance stairs.
I was in the area, so I stopped in to visit Anna and Mariana at Les Tres a la Cuina. Anna had given me some great tips for Barcelona, and we hadn't yet met in person. They have a charming little gourmet store in the Gracia neighborhood, a hip and artsy area that reminds me of San Francisco. They have carefully chosen food products and wines from Spain and elsewhere. They also serve their own hand crafted food for eating on the spot, or to take away, and they also cater parties. We had a great conversation and share many of the same opinions about food. If anyone is ever nearby, I recommend a stop to say hello to these talented ladies.
I ended up having just a small steak for dinner from a cafe near the pension. Nothing special.
Tomorrow, my last big name restaurant reservation... Can Roca.