Monday, May 3, 2010


After sightseeing all the Gaudi work, I went to other well-known tourist spots to do what tourists are supposed to do.  I did go to Olympic site to imagine the busyness of the games in 1992, try to do some souvenir shopping in La Ramble, try to get sunbathing happening in the beaches, check out different historical building in the cities, and attend a concert in a historical Palau de la Musica Catalana and was wowed by the massive ceiling!

It was uneventful until my last leg in Barcelona, back to airport to catch the flight back to London.  So what happen this time? Easyjet's computer system in Luton (the headquarter) was experiencing some difficulties (i.e. crash), so all the flights departing from Barcelona were delayed at least another 2 hours.  My flight was scheduled to leave at 2200 hours, it was postponed to 0030 hours.  In those 2 hours, I was doing some of reflections about the trip, which are mostly shared on this blog.

However, I was quite worried and anxious about the delayed.  Even though London time was one hour behind, I truly landed in London about 3am.  But it's just Standsted airport, not my home yet.  Another 1 hour journey from Standsted to my flat, which made me to be home really at 4am in the morning.  The thing was... I need to be at work at 0745 in the same morning.  In the other words, I had only about 2-3 hours in between to wash myself up and tried to get some rest. You may say that I could call off sick leave; but then, it wasn't too late for that anyway.  So, I went to work... and don't ask me how it was the day.  I felt tired already even just now I'm typing this.

To sum up, the trip was different due to all these different expected elements in it.  All the events that you don't want to experience in travelling all happened in this trip in the time of 6 days.  That's why it made me quite tired and drained.  But now, I'm looking back, I do think that I enjoyed this trip; I do like this city, probably not as much as like other cities.  I'm glad that I have been.  And I do believe that it was a good choice of visiting this city. 

Gaudi Part 2

Casa Mila (La Pedrera) - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Parc Guell & Casa Museu Gaudi - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Casa Vicens (not open to the public, photo only)
Casa Calvet (Resturant, photo only)
Casa Batllo (finally) - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Palau Guell

All these are Gaudi works in different period of time, in different projects.  Some are very nice and successful; but some are not as exciting as the others.  

Doubtlessly, Casa Mila and Casa Batllo are the 2 most well-known building; so as Parc Guell.  However, Parc Guell was an unfinished business after all. One thing I have to say, as a tourist in Barcelona, I need to get to those well-known building as early as the door opens.  Otherwise, it's just filled up by people very quickly and you will be very annoyed by the numbers of people and lacking the chances to take nice photos!

We can read all we can and know how pretty and great about Gaudi's work.  But to be there and seeing for myself, it is totally another story.  I have to say, after seeing all Gaudi's work, I'm totally impressed by his forward-thinking idea, observation, passion, and vision.  For example, in Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, both buildings were designed to allow the maximum sunlight to shine through the building.  Now, when you reading, you will think that it's no big deal.  But considering the time when Gaudi (about 19thC) was designing the building, nature light was not on their dictionary of design and architecture.   It truly shows that how clever, innovative, and futuristic that he is; and yet it is practical! His work is not only pretty to look at, but also comfortably and convenient  use; useful and pretty can go together!

Parc Guell was another showcase for Gaudi.  A failed commission work is like a clever vision Michael Jackson Neverland for me.   It's a place truly full of fantasy, with colours and giant walkways, even though the commission was actually failed! But the place was built with purpose, and layout was drawn creatively and purposefully.  I can't imagine what it would become when this park was built completely  according to the plan.  I wonder whether the original layout planning is still here or the complete layout wasn't there at all, as the park was continued to plan as it was being built. 

From this park, I also believe that either Guell was a very visionary man or Gaudi.  As the location of the park is the mid-level of a hill.  We can see the Barcelona from high,  Imagine, if the park was built completely, it would be a massive statement, about wealth and creativity , to the people in the Barcelona, and even to the world.  For Guell, it would be a statement of wealth; for Gaudi, it would be a statement of Creativity.  From another point of view, Guell properly just purely admire the work of Gaudi; and the location of the park was a playground for Gaudi.

Apart from Casa Mila, Casa Batllo and Parc Guell, others Gaudi works may not that popularly known.  However, they all have their unique characters in them.  I think that the only regret that I have was Palau Guell.  I would love to see those colourful chimneys on the rooftop; however, it was prohibited to enter due to maintenance work.  But most certainly, each building were different.  You can say that I'm totally obsessed with his work.  And I'm! 

      After the drama, it's all about Gaudi! Starting with Sagrada Familia.

      Did I tell you why I have chosen Barcelona over all the cities in Spain? Gaudi! It's truly the only reason for me to come to Barcelona.  After the LnF incident, finally, my heart was at rest to enjoy his great work. 

      Of course, the most impressive work is Temple Expiatori Sagrada Familia.  I summarised my experience after visiting this massive work in my journal in 2 sentences:
      1. How Gaudi built this building with his strong observation and understanding of the nature
      1. The work is still in progress from 1882. 
      It is not an usual classical church that I used to see in Europe.  There isn't full of tradition image (figure) of Jesus, Saints or Mary in this building.  No massive traditional glass window.  But the whole building apart from the both facades, it is full of plants and animals, whose power and beauty are fully displayed.  When I stepped inside of the church (construction site?), and saw the ceiling is filled up with something like leaves in the forest, and each pillar looks like tree beck.  As I learnt later, Gaudi designed in this unique way because he believed that church is like a shelter for everyone.  Therefore, he designed the interior of the church with this forest image to indicate that church is a place who gives shelter to everyone who walk in.  THIS is the heart of Christ… I truly believe.  If the tradition churches (like Notre Dome) revealed the magnificence and greatness  of  God; I believe that this church revealed the heart of God.  

      The church without those traditional images gave me stronger sense of closeness to HIM.  As I said, this church revealed the heart of God, but it does worship and display HIS glory by all the animals and plants in the building.  Didn't God create all of them? Didn't God architect all of them with great mystery and power, which are yet for us too learn and discover?  Gaudi with his amazing observations, he discovered those unseen mysteries of the nature, and he put them into his design. Consequently, he created those magnificent building; to me, this building is much greater than any church that I see, it isn't only displaying the grandeur of this building; but most important of all, the heart of God. 

      I'm wondering that I'm liking this building so much because I have a same sense and attitude towards nature.  I always think that we need to respect the nature; not just by saying but putting them into practise.  I don’t worship the nature, as nature is the products of God.  But as the all are made and created by God; I believe that God revealed His heart, characters, and nature in his work.  As I said before, Art reflects a nature of one true self.  If we really want to know who God is, we will know by looking around his creation!  Therefore, respect His work is to show respect to God! Gaudi did beyond that.  He respected and then  watched, observed, studied, and then applied what he knows about architecture into his work; he melt all nature ability, power with His knowledge and creativity and respect together to create this magnificent building.  That's why, by all mean…. It is the greatest church for me.  Thank You God for showing him to me.  I always think my stubbornness on nature is odd, finding that there are probably not that many people, including Gaudi, it makes me feeling much more like a normal person now. 

      Passion Façade, where I started my tour in this magnificent church.  The name of the façade says what this entrance is all about.  What more to say when we see the story of Christ who giving up his life for all sinners in the world.  This façade was completed 1954, after Gaudi death.  Architect Jordi Bonet took over the project and Josep Maria Subirachs created the giant sculptures in this façade.  Some said that they are too far off from Gaudi's idea.  However, I found that Gaudi probably like the interpretation; I find that 2 styles did melt together in a great way.  I'm still touched by the great love displayed in this façade.  For me, I'm even  having a greater joy to see that Jesus' look is not fixed in one certain look. 

      I just simply can't wait for it's to complete (est in year 2026-2030).  What is it going to be like?? It's good to know that there is a church always there to warmth mankind's heart with HIS LOVE and welcoming spirit.  Thank you God for showing these to me!

      Day 2 is about Lost and Found...

      I woke up with tummy discomfort. Oh! No... you may say. It's the last thing you would want to have in travelling, tummy problem.  But when you are sick, you are sick and I was still thankful that I was able to walk around instead of being bed bound.  So, I went to La Sagrada Familia, to start my day.  My original itinerary for today was:
      1. La Sagrada Familia, Sagrada Familia
      2. La Pedrera (Casa Mila), Diagonal
      3. Casa Batllo, Passeig de Gracia
      4. Casa Amatller, Passeig de Gracia
      5. Palau Guell, Drassanes
      6. Casa Museum Gaudi, Lesseps
      7. Parc Guell, Vallcarca
       as I said..a day full of Gaudi works.  But it turned out the day became La Sagrada Familia and Police station.

      What happen?
       I was pick-pocketed

      How could this happen?? 
      I was in the shop, trying to figuring out what to get as for presents for Alice in the shop and wondering on my uncomfortable tummy.   Next minute… as I was approaching to the casher drawer, and realised… Where is my travel wallet which was in the hand bag ?? GONE! i.e. Money in cash, credit cards card and passport!!!

      What?? I had a minute just standing over there trying to figure that out! It's GONE? Really?? Oh NO!! And panic just came straight at me! I need to tell someone about it...  

      Information desk 
      Me: Hello! I'm being pick-pocketed! All cards, cash and passport are gone!
      The girl in the information desk:  Then you are better going to the police station…
      Me: Where??
      The girl in the information desk: I show you… map??

      So she gave me the direction and I went to pay my unexpected visit to the Spanish Police station, with leaving my mobile number behind.  The girl in the information desk said that it's possible the wallet will be found with all the document, but cash will be gone.  In my heart, I was thinking… "Really?? How possible is can be?? Beside, you are not even asking me for the description of it.  How likely it is??"
      But I did go to police station and made a report (there around 1330 hours).  The policewoman who dealt with my case found that the place of event was in the shop of La Sagrada Familia, she went, 'classic, huh?'.  With her limited English, she still can make this kind of comment, then I truly know how classic it is.

      I made loads of phone call to cancel my cards, and most importantly the Australia consulate for my passport.  To say the consulate is there to help their fellow citizens, BOOOOOOOOBOOOOOOO! I needed to call all the way to Madrid as the one in the Barcelona only opened 2 hours in a day (handy! NOT).  And my first connection was cut off by them;  luckily, my second connection made through and that fela basically advised me to go straight to Madrid to get the cost of 98 Euro emergency passport back to UK.  However, in Barcelona, it will take up to 3 days to arrive; they can try to get one done immediately in Madrid.  The question is, how I can get there?? The guy in the consulate went 'Just jump on the train'.  What?? Do you know how far it's between Madrid and Barcelona?? And how much it costs?? Beside, what about my UK visa?? How I can get that to go back to UK?? Well… it is a question to answer after the passport, so I need to make the decision, staying in BCN or going to Madrid??  Don't know!!

      After 2-3 hours in the police station, I really don’t know what to do.   I was waiting and hoping to hear some news from Sagrada Familia, but actually I didn't know what I should be doing.. Continue the plan or heading back to the hostel?? Sigh! No mood for the traveling actually… so I decided to go back to hostel.  As I passed the 2nd metro station, my mobile rang...

      The girl on the phone: Miss MaayySSzzzz Chang..
      Me: Yes…
      The girl on the phone: It is a call from Sagrada Familia..
      I was quiet for a minute, not that I was waiting for what she got to say; but because I wasn't sure what she said that she is from.  But I only had give the number to the information task in BCN; so I assumed it is her.
      Me: Did you find my wallet?
      The girl on the phone: Yes
      Me: Ok.. I'm going back to get it now!

      Horray!!! It did happen!! My wallet was found at the end in a toilet. Cash is gone (10 Euro in total) but all my cards and passport is still here! Tears are running around my eyes! I was truly relieved when I found my passport.  Thinking that all the hassle in  getting an emergency passport, cancelling my flight to another time… Praise God for protecting my belonging!!! I can't help but realising that HE is truly in control, not only about losing the wallet, but also finding it and controlling myself in all these.  Thank God!!

      It was a 5 hour panic! But at least my passport is found, what I have I learnt:
      1. Separate the passport with cash… I should use the hidden pocket and tuck it in my pant or something.  Anyway, no passport with Cash
      2. Should use the hidden pocket
      3. ZIP up everything.  I can't remember how it happened; but the zip mustn't be up completely as I was changing lens with my handbag.. That's why it wasn't zipped up properly.  NO zip up, opportunity given! So, yes.. I admitted that it's my mistake
      Always learn a valuable lesson in the hard way. But at least, it's here!!!  

      Barcelona is about sick, lost, found, beauty...4am.

      Finally, I'm able to sit down and collect myself to relook my trip in Barcelona.  This trip has certainly much more than I was hoping.  It is very rightly to summarize the trip by these words, sick, lost, found, beauty and 4am in order.

      I think this trip is one of the most trip had the most expected elements, which making it so unique.

      Day 1... sick is because I was coughing and tummy pain...
      Yes.  It all started with coughing.  Cough was my companion all the way to Barcelona. I had this coughs before trip which made me sound horrible.  It was massive big coughs that everyone would stare at me for a good 1 minute. Despite my horrible coughs, I managed to go to see Mr Picasso, who actually spent 10 years of his life in this city.  Visiting his museum was quite an invitation for me, to know more about his work, and him, as a person.  

      Among all his works, the 'Las Meninas',   definitely is the most inspiring one to me.  He had drawn a series of paintings based on his very own interpretation of the work from Diego Rodriguez's ' La Familia de Felipe IV' . The series of Las Meninas are relatively much more abstract than the original one.  But what this series of painting teach me that, being original, interpret the work and express them in MY way, not Rodriguez and even Picasso.  For me,  it takes gut to do so… as I know that I haven't had the guts to do it.  Maybe, it's the inspiration, to push me slight more further. Maybe, it's time to get out of my whole realistic drawing.

      After Picasso, I due to my hostel bed and decided to have a whole Gaudi day.  Who knows that I had a day which was totally out of my plan.