MaiTaiTom's "Insane For Spain" - 2015

Old Jul 18th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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I'm in for the ride too
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 09:05 AM
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I am really enjoying your report. I am glad to hear you weren't that impressed with going up one of the towers in the Sagrada Familia as we had to pass on that during our visit (I was in a walking boot due to foot issues.) Your photos were amazing!

La Boqueria and the Palau were two of our favorite places in Barcelona.

You may have explained previously, but what is the "The Elevator List"?

I am looking forward to reading more but what is this ominous reference to the hospital???
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 09:25 AM
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Loving your report, as usual. Wonderful photos of the Sagrada Familia. I first saw it in 1962. Here's a photo from 1963:

There's certainly been a lot of progress since then. I last saw it in 2000 and hope to be around to witness its completion someday.
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 10:41 AM
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Love that you worked in Iron Butterfly and I love it when you get " the look"!
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 12:30 PM
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KT - "You may have explained previously, but what is the "The Elevator List"?"

I'll just copy from myself..."We had 10:15 reservations to visit The Nativity Tower, and at the appointed hour a small group took a very small elevator to the top. We crossed a slightly vertiginous bridge and before you could say, “Why did we book this?” we were on a spiral staircase heading back down. We had expected more of the tower, and in hindsight, it was not worth the effort (although the pictures turned out pretty good).

In subsequent days, whenever we visited something that we thought could be skipped, we would put it on our “Elevator List.”

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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 12:33 PM
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As always enjoying your TR. Great photos! Like others I am also amazed at the progress on the Sagrada Familla. I couldnt belive the interior -- it was a consturction site when we were there.
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 12:57 PM
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Maitaitom, your trip report is fabulously helpful and I am very much enjoying all the tips and remarks and the pictures!! Can't wait for Chapter 3 (but, no pressure!).. What is the UNESCO card? Sounds like a card for admissions, but I hadn't heard of it before. Did you use that instead of individual tickets? And I'm glad for your info on the "Fast Pass" is worth euro5 to us, too!!! Is that obtainable online, like the regular admission is? Again, thanks,..... I have been busy gathering info from you for our trip!!
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 01:11 PM
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"What is the UNESCO card?"

Alas, there no such thing as a UNESCO card. The "UNESCO Card" is an idea that we made up in our heads a few trips back. I wish UNESCO actually had one. We have visited so many UNESCO sights, that it would be fun if they had a UNESCO card or booklet that could be stamped at each sight (sort of like they do now for Presidential Libraries). Perhaps, they'll utilize our idea some day...but probably not.

As far as the Fast Pass...I'll pay five or so bucks a ticket anytime not to stand in line. Yes you get that online. Website below.

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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 01:47 PM
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Ah, I should have read more carefully. Thanks for explaining "The Elevator List."
I hope you didn't have too many more sights to add to that list.

Hello to Tracy!
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 03:05 PM
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Trophywife007 reported above, "feeling a sense of foreboding to see the word "hospital" in the title."

I had that same foreboding, Trophywife. Never fear, I think I know what Tom was up to when he referenced a hospital in the title of his next chapter.

Here's a hint:
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 08:59 AM
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Very informative and entertaining TR.

Love the photos with the:
Beautiful blue sky
Amazing architecture
Fabulous food
Sensational smiling faces on all of you

This is better than any travel guide you can get elswhere. I have taken many notes and hope to get to Barcelona one day. Can't wait for the next installment!
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 04:30 AM
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<B>Chapter Three: A Wonderful Hospital Experience</B>


<B>Day Three: Up On The Roof (Part Tres), Another Familia View, A Lovely Gaudí Walk, MaiTaiTom Is Admitted To The Hospital, “Kingdom Of Health”, I Think I’m Done With Tapas, Tracy Is Definitely Done With Ruins, Museum Stays Off Elevator List…Barely, Rodney Dangerfield Lives, Take My Wife…Please, A Nacional Treasure, Let’s Meat For Dinner and The Rain In Spain</B>

I got up before the rest of the gang, and walked out into the quiet of Barcelona for some pastries. The church was empty and the place where we would grab taxis throughout the week was nearly cab-less.

Today our tired feet would take us to our first destination, which just happened to be another Gaudí creation, Casa Milá (La Pedrera). It was about a 20 – 25 minute walk from Hotel Colon.

Upon arriving, I was glad I was not drinking this week because the exterior of this house looked like a wavy hangover dream from the Stone Age. At first I thought, “This kind of looks like Fred Flintstone could live here.” For a second, I even thought I saw Wilma. Yabba-dabba doo!

La Pedrera translated means “The Quarry,” and I guess the locals didn’t particularly care for this design when it was first built in 1910. “There goes the neighborhood!”

We had 9 a.m. tickets I had bought online, and the woman said, “Oh, you have premium tickets, so you can go straight to the roof.” I didn’t know I had purchased premium tickets, but I was glad I had done so because we were the first people allowed on another crazy Gaudí roof.

Casa Milá made the Casa Battló’s roof look almost normal. Clearly, OSHA has no control at this property. As we carefully navigated the sloping roof with steps, we feasted our eyes upon the 28 chimneys that were nicknamed “Espanta Bruxes” (witch scarers). Come to think of it, the chimneys were bewitching and nothing to twitch your nose about.

A poet once called Gaudí’s rooftop chimney park “The Garden Of Warriors,” although I didn’t see a statue that looked like Stephen Curry anywhere.

I can see why Gaudí went a little over budget on this project, resulting in a bit of friction with the Mila family (who lived on the main floor…while the apartments above were rented out).

La Sagrada Familia and its cranes could be viewed from a few vantage points. The audio guide enhances the entire tour.

As the roof filled with people, we went back inside to scope out the remainder of the house, which, as we would find out, has a much more livable layout than yesterday’s Casa Batlló.

In the attic are displays of Gaudí’s works. Tracy and Mary did their best Godzilla imitation destroying the replica of Casa Milá.

Through the house we ventured to the Pis de la Pedrera (please insert your own joke here) apartment where we traveled from room to room to see what life was like in early 20th century Barcelona. From the kitchen…

…to the bathroom (Pis de la Pedrera indeed)…

…to the study…

…to the dining room…

…and more…

…and more.

It was an interesting stroll through the apartment. We all agreed we liked this house better than Casa Battló.

Ornate doors opened to a beautiful courtyard with a gorgeous grand staircase, and if you don’t think Gaudí was ahead of his time, he also constructed an underground parking structure, one of Barcelona’s first.

This is another place where advance reservations and early arrival are highly recommended. When we walked out at 10:15, there were seven tour buses letting off the masses of tourist who descend upon this house. Instead, we grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then it was time to hit the pavement again.

We walked toward La Sagrada Familia and our next destination.

I really enjoyed the different architecture and green spaces we would see on our various sojourns through Barcelona.

We commented that this had to be one of the cleanest cities we had ever visited in all our trips.

We came out on the other side of La Sagrada Familia,…

…which is just as crazy as the side we had seen the previous day. We stood and gawked with others…

…and then headed up the aptly named Avenida Gaudí, a lovely tree-lined street. As the path with beautiful light fixtures rose in elevation, La Sagrada Familia appeared even larger as we walked away from it.

Suddenly I blurted out, “I feel I should go to the hospital.” Tracy responded, “Damn, this happens every vacation!”

As Kim and Mary were pulling out their trip insurance documents and Tracy was rethinking that “sickness and in health” oath she sometimes regrets, I replied, “I’m not ill, I just want to see the Hospital de Sant Pau (aka Sant Pau Recinte Modernista…Modernist Complex), and it’s straight in front of us.” The official name is Hospital de Santa Creu i de Sant Pau.

This Domènech i Montaner architectural gem became our favorite sight in all of Barcelona. It started out with a stroke (fortunately not by me, but we were at a hospital) of good luck. We arrived at 11:58 and walked to the ticket counter. “I heard you have tours in English…when is the next one?” The answer…”Two minutes.” The cost: €14 each…it was worth it and more.

Our tour guide Marta told us that Domènech i Montaner built this as “A Kingdom Of Health” for poor people, and it earned him his third Barcelona “Best Building” Award in 1912. It took 25 years to complete (1905 – 1930). After a renovation and restoration process, it opened back up in February of 2014.

At the time of its construction, the King of Spain was not quite as impressed. He thought that too much money was being spent on poor people and refused to donate any money to the hospital.

Montaner believed an environment that was cheerful and not sterile would help patients heal faster, so along with the buildings there are plentiful, colorful gardens throughout the complex.

It’s also the world’s largest Art Nouveau Site, and yet another UNESCO World Heritage spot.

Marta first led us through a network of subterranean tunnels that connected the different pavilions (27 of them). It was fascinating.

Once outside, we viewed the incredible buildings, façades and stained glass windows. I felt like we were at an historical Disneyland without the rides. The gardens were planted with herbs and plants dedicated to healing.

Stone represented death, while ceramic and glass stood for healing. There were ceramics, statues, mosaics and murals at every turn. I only wish the day would have had blue skies, because then the buildings would have really popped with color for our photos.

There was only one spot in the complex where brick touched the ground…the Surgical Suite. It represented “where life meets death.” I could relate. The Surgical Suite faced north so the sun is behind it all the time and emitted soft light for the surgeons. Fruit trees were everywhere.

Then it was time to enter the Administration Pavilion that looks more like a chapel, which was the whole idea. The “wow” factor rose even higher. amed Spanish artist, Paul Gargle, decorated the reception area.

he entrance hall with its columns and beautiful ceilings led to a gorgeous hallway and then staircase that took us to more wonderment located upstairs. The ceilings had people gazing upward and luckily no one fell down any stairs while staring.

There was a view of La Sagrada Familia out one of the windows. The tour last nearly 90 minutes and was tremendous. Let me just say ou have to see this place in person to believe it.

Our taxi ride back to the hotel provided us with more thrills.

Hélio Castroneves is a Sunday driver compared to our guy, who got us back before we could sing the second line of “In Sagrada Familia.” I quickly changed my shirt that I’d spilled on, and we were off again…to lunch.

We stopped at a little tapas place in Barri Gotic, where we chose from an array of items on the bar. We had chorizo sausage, potato frittata, cheese with blueberry sauce and anchovies…all on crostinis. Although the food was pretty good, and my table manners impeccable…

...I knew I had to stop eating tapas. Man does not live by bread alone.

Our next stop almost made the Tracy/Tom “Elevator List.” Kim and Mary enjoyed it more. The Museu d’Història de la Ciutat (situated in the former Royal Palace) contain Roman ruins, and I’m kind of ruined on ruins. All these ruins are starting to run together.

What saved Barcelona’s Museum of History from The Elevator List were two things: the palace’s history (the steps are where Isabella and Ferdinand greeted Christopher Columbus) and the Palace Chapel.

There is a huge altarpiece in the chapel. It was created by a host of Catalan painters from the 15th century.

Mary and Tracy went back to the Hotel Colon, while Kim and I walked over to the Museu Picasso to pick up the Articket BCN that Kim had ordered online. It gets you into six museums (Museu Picasso, Fundació Joan Miró, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and Fundació Antoni Tàpies).

It also lets you skip the line, which is really helpful at the Museu Picasso, because when we picked them up, there was a two-hour wait. Since we planned to hit three of these museums, it was a no-brainer…Cost €30. The courtyard at the Museu Picasso was quite tranquil.

There was some rain as we headed to the hotel. When we got back to the Hotel Colon, there was a police presence at the Cathedral (probably someone getting angry at the €7 entrance fee).

For dinner that evening we headed to El Nacional. It was raining fairly heavy by now, so we scurried over to our taxi pick-up area in front of the Caixa Bank building, and got into a cab driven by Rodney Dangerfield’s long lost Spanish nephew.

He started talking in broken English about his ex-wife and soon that escalated into a five-minute comedy routine. Seinfeld would have been impressed. Among other comments, he said, “Once I got the number for Pizza Hut, I filed for divorce.” To celebrate his divorce, he traveled to the United States with a fellow taxi driver and would send a postcard to his ex-wife from everyplace he visited. “Greetings from Atlantic City…F-U!” The “greeting” would remain the same…only the cities would change. He would receive our largest tip of the trip…hell he was cheaper and funnier than a Comedy Club.

We dined at La Braseria, a steakhouse located inside El Nacional. A few of the best dishes included a roasted pumpkin soup (poured from a pitcher) with croutons and chorizo (fabulous)…

…a sirloin steak with French fries…

…some roasted peppers…

…and a bitter chocolate fondue accompanied by fresh strawberries waiting to be dipped.

Our waitress had told us that this heavy downpour was unusual for Barcelona, and we had an important decision to make the following morning. As we went to bed that night with the rain pounding at our hotel, we didn’t know if our plans for the next day would be called on account of inclement weather. If it cleared up, however, we’d be heading for the hills.

<B>Next: Day Four – The Train In Spain, Mountain Basilica, The Near Shutout, Going To The Chapel, Incense & Peppermints, Direcció Barthelona, Lunch At The Bullring, Cascading Fountains, A Nacional Treasure (Part Dos), Joan Of Art, Tracy’s Favorite Piece Of Modern Art, Public Transportation, I Finally Need A Siesta and A Beautiful Restaurant Find</B>
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 07:35 AM
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Thanks for the next chapter! Nothing like giving your traveling partners a heart attack outside the hospital! (Your pictures and comments were wonderful!)

Your pictures of the Gaudi roof made my knees into jelly just thinking about the height involved.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 08:37 AM
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Thanks again, tom. Barthelona indeed.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 08:49 AM
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Continued "WOWs" to you Tom. You really planned a great trip. We loved Casa Milá--wonderful shots. That hospital (which we missed--closed then I guess) is astounding! So wonderful to read that you went in vertically. Taxi driver a hoot.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 09:58 AM
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TD - Yes, the Hospital de Sant Pau wasn't even in a couple of guidebooks I had perused. I received some an email (don't remember from where) before I left that told me it had reopened in 2014, and it looked interesting. That's an understatement. A remarkable complex. Thanks.

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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 11:21 AM
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My daughter lives in London and she goes to Barcelona three or four times a year as her best friend lives there. She has never mentioned Hospital de Sant Pau so I'm forwarding your trip report to her. Maybe I should wait until we go next spring and impress her with my new found knowledge of Barcelona.
Wonderful report.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 04:38 PM
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That hospital tour sounds amazing.
Always love your photos, too.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 07:22 PM
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I agree with TD regarding your hospital visit -"So wonderful to read that you went in vertically."

Touche! Great report and pics. Gracias....
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 01:05 PM
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""So wonderful to read that you went in vertically."

I thought about asking for a gurney for old times sake, but decided against it. Our tour guide was excellent and really made the hospital come alive. Very entertaining tales.

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