After visiting the Gothic Quarter, which I covered in my earlier blog, we had our lunch at a restaurant at OBE restaurant on Plaça de Santa Caterina. Very good food, fabulous service and reasonable prices. Friendly staff with a fine understanding of English along with English menus made both our stomach and heart full.
European type of electrical plugs are similar to our two-pin plugs, but unfortunately, there is a circular sleeve in many of the sockets which prevent shorter plugs fitting correctly. So we needed an extension to our smaller 2 pin plugs. We found them easily at the supermarket nearby. On the way out we saw this Flamenco theatre nearby. Courtyard of the theatre was beautiful. Since the shows were to start only in the evening, we could not visit the venue.
Flamenco has been influenced by and associated with the Romani people in Spain; however, its origin and style are uniquely Andalusian. Flamenco in its strictest sense is a professionalized art-form based on the various folkloric music traditions of Southern Spain in the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia. Modern flamenco is a highly technical dance style requiring years of study. The emphasis for both male and female performers is on lightning-fast footwork performed with absolute precision. In addition, the dancer may have to dance while using props such as castanets, shawls and fans.
The flamenco most foreigners are familiar with is a style that was developed as a spectacle for tourists. To add variety, group dances are included and even solos are more likely to be choreographed. The frilly, voluminous spotted dresses are derived from a style of dress worn for the Sevillanas at the annual Feria in Seville.
In traditional flamenco, young people are not considered to have the emotional maturity to adequately convey the duende (soul) of the genre. Therefore, unlike other dance forms, where dancers turn professional early to take advantage of youth and strength, many flamenco dancers do not hit their peak until their thirties and will continue to perform into their fifties and beyond.
Out of Gothic quarter, we found three girls having a great fun using Cargotrike. This three-wheeler cargo bicycle is made in Holland and great idea to carry kids.
Here is the Barcelona Cathedral view from Carrer del Dr Joaquim Pou.
The same view using the dutch angle to capture it.
As we came out of this street, we saw this unusual Ohla Barcelona hotel with lots of eye on the wall. The old façade of this neo-classic building was dotted with 1000 ceramic eye sculptures, inserted into the building by the architect Frederic Amat. The resulting effect was spectacular. The modern and the ancient so beautifully juxtaposed.
The hind of this Ohla Barcelona hotel was studded with many eyes a purple background. This is probably a perfect example of how a heritage neo-classic building is transformed into a brand new, cutting-edge boutique hotel. Check out the making of ceramic eye video below.
Here a view of Caixa de Pensions Building (1917), by Enric Sagnier – Unusual office building built in a trend of the Neo-Gothic style inspired by central European churches with a white façade.
The Sailmakers’ Guild, or Gremi dels Velers (who made hand-woven sails and silken ropes), gained importance in the mid-18th century when the crafts achieved major prominence. This prosperity led to the building of its own building located between the Via Laietana, the Carrer Sant Pere Més Alt and the Plaça Lluís Millet. The building is one of the few surviving examples of 18th-century guild buildings and was commissioned from the mason Joan Garrido. Construction began in 1760 and was completed in 1764, although the sign on the door reads “Guild of Sailmakers of this city 1763”. The building was extended in 1928 by the architect Jeroni Martorell in the same style (the extension included the entire section of the building overlooking the Plaça de Lluís Millet). The first floor still belongs to the guild (Collegi de l’Art Major de la Seda, the institution representing the silk industry) while the others are used as private flats. Among the outstanding decorative elements on the façade are the sgraffiti showing classical depictions of caryatides and atlantes. Sgraffito was a widely used form of wall decoration in the 18th century and involved scratching through a top layer of plaster to reveal a different layer of colour below. On the balcony on the corner, a chapel houses the sculpture of Our Lady of the Angels, by Joan Enrich.
Carrer Comtal is one of the most famous shopping streets just behind Ohla Barcelona hotel. Take a walk through the maze-like corridors of the store and fall in love with a million and one items at incredibly low prices, with a variety of items costing 1 euro, including ice creams and two-for-one bottles of water for the hotter days.
Raima is a stationary store chain that has been in business for almost thirty years. Raima’s stores sell products like pens and pencils, notebooks, binders, folders, gift boxes and more. The stores sell several items that can be used for arts and crafts, like yarn, tape, acrylic paints, textile paint, and paintbrushes. In front of the shop, there is a valet who looks like Jeeves from PG Wodehouse fame.
Shopping along these streets took us quite a long time and we returned back to see another masterpiece of Gaudi Casa Batlló. The building was closed. Casa Batlló is one of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces. A remodel of a previously built house, it was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudí and has been refurbished several times after that. Gaudí’s assistants Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, Josep Canaleta and Joan Rubió also contributed to the renovation project. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality. Like everything Gaudí designed, it is only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stonework. There are few straight lines, and much of the façade is decorated with a colourful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís). The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia, Gaudí’s home), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.
Here is the Panorama of the Gran Via de les Corts circle. Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (Great Way of the Catalan Courts), more simply known as Gran Via, is one of Barcelona’s major avenues.
This impressive building at Passeig de Gracia holds the headquarters of Banco Vitalicio de España. It was built from 1941 to January 1950 on the same place where Palau Marianao was. The building was a project of Lluís Bonet i Garí (1893-1993) one of the architects who, after the Spanish Civil War, continued with the building of the Sagrada Família. With its 17 floors, it was one of the first high-rise buildings in Barcelona and a sample of the new prosperous times after the end of the dark postwar period of the 40’s.
On the way back we say a colourful show of 175th Anniversary of the Santa Eulalia. Founded in 1843, Santa Eulalia remains Barcelona’s prime destination for luxury label whores, the beautiful William Sofield-designed shop sitting proudly among the international labels’ flagship stores on Passeig de Gràcia. Whilst it no longer creates the haute couture collections through which it made its name (it’s the city’s oldest design house), it still does a line of ready-to-wear for women and bespoke tailoring and shirt-making for men. The family-run business also features top luxury labels in its boutique, such as Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Dior Homme, Martin Margiela, Etro and Lanvin. And, with same-sex marriage legal in Spain, it also carries a stylish selection of wedding wear for grooms. The lights decoration was made up of 50 patterns and over 20,000 LEDs. It covered the store’s entire facade at Passeig de Gràcia, in homage to Saint Eulalia the Martyr, which recreated the cross saltire and skirt of snow from the altarpiece of the Crucifixion of Saint Eulalia.
It was drizzling quite heavily. On the way, we saw kids playing football near a watch tower at Vila de Gràcia Square.
Last stop that night was Restaurante Sol Soler for some Tapas for dinner. It was highly recommended by local. Small place with some more room outside in the square. Tapas were decent and I am glad we came. The wait staff really hustled to work all the tables. I can’t say that this was the best tapas bar, but they are good at what they do. After sumptuous fill, we were back to our hostel for a good night sleep.
I will cover our travel next day in my next blog.