Thursday, December 12, 2013

Barcelona Highlights

Hi everyone, happy Thursday! Hope you are having a fabulous week! Since getting back from Barcelona, we've already had two snow falls. I guess there is no turning back, winter is really here. As promised, this post is dedicated to Barcelona, a beautiful city filled with rich history, captivating architectural structures, mouth-watering culinary creations and fascinating cultural conventions. If you have never been, I highly recommend a visit and experience everything Barcelona has to offer!
If you have visited Barcelona, you will no doubt agree with me that Gaudi's work is every where in the city. Antoni Gaudi is one of the most influential architects in Barcelona, and a leader of Catalan Modernism. His design was greatly influenced by nature and is reflected by his use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures and colored tiles arranged in mosaic patterns. The combination of his original and thoughtful design with interesting shaped stonework and vibrant colors, give the viewer a truly breathtaking visual experience.
Casa Mila
Gaudi's masterpiece, the still incomplete Sagrada Familia (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), is definitely not to be missed! Gaudi became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style that combined Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. At the time of Gaudi's death in 1926, the Sagrada Familia was less than a quarter complete. To this day, work is still being completed on this basilica. 

My favorite is the Casa Batlló, a renowned building located in the heart of Barcelona. This house evokes the creative, thoughtfulness and playfulness of Gaudí’s work through intricate facades and inventive floors. The experience is like something out of Alice in Wonderland. A fascinating place to visit!

Guell Park, located on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona. This park is a garden complex with architectural elements designed by Gaudi. Originally built for a commercial housing site, which turned out to be an unsuccessful venture. 

Now, you cannot visit Barcelona without trying all the delicious food. I spent most of my time at local fresh produce markets, tasting Catalan tapas, jamon (Spanish cured ham) and fresh sea food. I was told that the best jamon are from black Iberian pigs, super flavorful. I also highly recommend the tomato bread. So simple (you just rub garlic and tomato on freshly baked bread), yet so so tasty. It's like a tomato party in your mouth :P

My favorite? The seafood paella by the beach with some delicious sangria.
For those with a sweet tooth, definitely try the local churros joint and order in Spanish. Mouth-watering churros, fried to perfection and dipped in warm melted dark chocolate, yummo!

Culture & History

One of the most interesting things I learnt is that many Catalans (Barcelona is within the Catalonia region) celebrate Christmas with an interesting tradition. First of all, there is no Santa Clause, but plenty of Christmas logs (Tió de Nadal). These are really just hollow logs with little stick legs and a broad smiling face painted on one end. 

As far as the tradition goes, each household purchases a Christmas log. In the days leading up to Christmas, one is meant to give it a little to "eat" every night and cover the log with a blanket. OChristmas day, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to defecate (the fire part of this tradition is no longer as widespread since many modern homes don't have a fireplace). To make it defecate, one beats the tió with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal. Although thtió does not drop larger objects (as those are considered to be brought by the Three Wise Men), it does drop sharing foods such as candies, nuts and torron (a Spanish nougat). I laughed so hard when I heard about this story :)
Hope you enjoyed this Barcelona travel segment and hopefully rekindled your passion to go and explore this wonderful city. Talk to you soon! :)

Thank you so much for dropping by!

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