Trails and trials of the writer who walks
Today I splashed out 6 euros to see the section of Guell Park that contains Gaudi’s commissioned creations. The story is that Gaudi’s friend Guell bought up a large section of the lower mountain slopes overlooking what used to be called the ‘plain of Barcelona’, ie the flat area where all the industry took place and all the money was generated. Following the traditions of wealthy English industrialists, Guell sought to create a superior residential area (we’d probably call it a ‘gated community’), and for that reason Guell Park uses the word ‘Park’ as in Windsor Park rather than its Spanish or Catalan equivalent. Each home was to be set in 60 acres. Gaudi and his patron envisaged a leisure arena, for dances and musicians, walkways for that all-important Sunday promenade, even a market which was a very grand affair, being colonnaded in Roman style. Presumably the peasants and tradesmen would have had to be allowed in to run the market. He had a show house and a gatekeeper’s lodge, but the project was deemed unviable before it was completed and the city council took it over.
It was a bit difficult to take photographs without photographing other tourists taking photographs. This was an unseasonably cold late January day. I imagine in high season you’d have to mount your camera on a selfie stick to get over their heads.
Gaudi inspiration is said to have been the twists and curves of nature. You can recognise the shapes of seed pods and leaves, the whorls and bracts found in common wild flowers. But I still think the show house gives the place a Disney feel, sort of gingerbread cottage in the woods.
Today I discovered a most wonderful bar not far from the hostel. It’s address is 308 Torrent de L’olla. (Easy to remember: a torrent of Laugh Out Loud). It’s called El Bodegon – that’s Spanish for ‘big bodega’. Inside, around 300 hams are suspended from the ceiling and of course there are the huge wooden barrels you would expect in a bodega, but I think these are just for show. I forgive them that. A glass of quite decent rioja will set you back one euro, and really that’s all you need to know. This is now to be my evening base where I can have a couple of wines and do some writing. Adequate though my hostel is, it’s not all that appealing for a quiet night in so I prefer to stay out until around 8.30 pm and then retire to bunk with Kindle. Each bunk bed, by the way, has its own little shelf and cubby-hole (for those items you might want within reach during the night), it’s own light, and its own socket which is so useful for overnight recharging. I noticed one girl had her electric toothbrush plugged in. How uncool is that.