While we are staying in Mataro, the purpose of the visit is to see Barcelona. The campground we are staying at is about 40 minutes outside of Barcelona, but offers free shuttles into the city which is nice. It is one of the huge campgrounds in Spain that cater to European snowbirds, there are over 300 spots here, with a bar, restaurant, pool, beach club, and tourist activities. It is quite a place.
The weather was a little better than yesterday but cold. The place we visited two days ago had snow overnight, and it was still raining when we set off. We intended today to be a bit of a reconnaissance of Barcelona so we did not have any firm plans but just wanted to get a feel for the city.
When we got there it was raining pretty hard so we decided to duck into a coffee shop to plan the day. After nursing our coffee and chocolate as long as possible we decided to head towards the medieval cathedral. Barcelona has two cathedrals, one is world famous, and the other is the medieval one. We will talk about the famous one later.
On our way to the cathedral we bumped into a “free” walking tour of Barcelona. We had done these “free” tours in Chile and enjoyed them so we joined it. It was a good decision as it gave us some good background on Catalonia, Barcelona, and the history of Wilfred the Hairy which is Ron’s favorite medieval name, (Richard the Lionhearted, Charles the Brave, and Wilfred the Hairy were all contemporaries more or less, apparently Wilfred was exceptionally hairy).
We stopped in a little cafe on the tour that was run entirely by Americans, but they had a good vermouth that Ton and I enjoyed. After the tour was over they were offering a non-free Gaudi and modernisme tour. We decided to join that tour also.
The modernisme movement flourished in Barcelona in the early 1900’s and is led by a guy named Gaudi. We looked at several interesting versions of modernisme buildings ending with a tour of the La Sagarda Familia. It is an extremely interesting building. Gaudi was a Catalan who is considered the leader of the modernisme movement. The university he received his architecture degree from said they were giving a degree to either a genius or a madman.
The Sagarda was commissioned by the city during the 1880’s and Gaudi took over the building a year after it was started. In the end he did descend into madness, and it became his obsession. It is still under construction 140 years later, and looks like it has another 20 or 30 years to go, though the official completion date is supposed to be in 8 years. One interesting fact is that for the first 130 years it was under construction it did not have a building permit. They recently resolved that and the commission that owns it paid a €30 million fine. We will tour the interior on Tuesday so more to come on Gaudi and the Sagarda.