There is a Chinese proverb that says “Travel a thousand miles rather than reading ten thousand books.” Two weeks of traveling broadened my perspective on arts, culture, and life more than any school books I have ever read.
Day 1-4: Barcelona
Let’s begin the journey with those astonishing work of Gaudi.
I approached the work with the perspective of a typical tourist, with limited knowledge of the art and having the goal of simply taking as many pictures as I could. Sometimes it’s fun to just be a tourist.
La Sagrada Familia, Native Façade.
Constructed between 1894 and 1930, the Nativity façade was the first to be completed. Dedicated to the birth of Jesus, it is decorated with scenes and elements of his life. Characteristic of Gaudí’s style, the sculptures are ornately arranged and decorated with scenes and images from nature, each a symbol in their own manner.
Gaudi’s astonishing work needs to be seen to be believed so without further explanation — let’s go see Guell Park.
Casa Mila / Rooftop terrace
Casa Batllo, I didn’t go inside, but the exterior was very exciting.
Day 5: Figueres (where Salvador Dali was born.)
Dali’s Theatre Museum, Dali lived here in his late years. He’s also buried here. This eccentric building is covered with eggs and bread. As Dali himself said, “Beauty should be edible, or not at all.”
“Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at 20 Meters Becomes The Portrait of Abraham Lincoln” (1976) by Dali, and The Mae West Room – based on Dali’s original painting “Il volto di Mae West”
Day 6-7: Off to the South – Valencia
The road trip began with the surprise that our $800 USD, 10-day rental car was a gigantic Mercedi-Benz van!
We had been diving along and enjoying the Mediterranean coast for most of the trip when a friend amusingly described it as the “world’s biggest toilet.” I can only imagine all the waste that has gone into this sea with only a tiny outlet to the ocean, but I regretted hearing it since it somewhat ruined the romantic imagery I had about this sea! Nonetheless, it’s still very blue and beautiful.
Valencia Central Market
This stunningly designed indoor market is full of fresh produce, jamone (ham) , seafood, veggies, fresh squeezed juices…you name it! The best part of it is the structure itself, consisting of a tiled ceiling and floor and a huge windowed dome. Lucky Valencians!
While strolling along the riverbed walk we stumbled into this park. Notice the playground is built based on the story of Gulliver’s Travels.
City of Arts and Sciences by Santiago Calatrava:
Day 8: Alhambra, Granada
The last Moorish Castle in Spain, overlooking the Sierra Nevada.
No imagery of living beings can be found in Islamic tradition because it is forbidden. Instead, the walls and ceilings are covered with elaborate mosaics of tiles and symbolic geometric patterns.
Day 9-11: Canillas de Aceituno / Ronda
Canillas de Aceituno is one of the many tiny towns in the mountains of Southern Spain, where we stayed for three days to experience life in rural Spain. This little town has such a welcoming vibe and full of friendly people. Imagine living a life so simple that everyone’s biggest worries are whether neighbor’s potted plants are prettier than theirs or the olive trees in the back yard are not producing enough fruits this year for the family. The town is full of swaying flowers in pots spread across walls. And to maintain this pristine crispness, there is a building code requiring residents to paint their house white every three years!
Ronda: One of the last Moorish cities in Spain sits on a big rock high up in the mountain. Cool enough as that is on its own, they also have a magnificent bridge on a cliff!
Day 12-13: Malaga
Another city beside the Mediterranean Sea like Barcelona, Malaga is a touristy city but it has a totally different energy– laid back and warm. It’s also known for being the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Of all the cities or towns we visited, I can’t say it’s my absolute favorite but thought I had most fun shopping and dining.
Unfortunately, the trip may be over, but the journey will continue another day! -Joi