Bob’s True-Life Adventures – No.6 2014 Barcelona

Written by Bob Gurr. Posted in Bob Gurr, Bob's True-Life Adventures

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Published on June 25, 2014 at 2:00 am with 13 Comments

Disney Legend Bob Gurr spins the Wheel of Adventures and lands in Barcelona, Spain.   While joining the recent MiceChat Mediterranean Cruise he explored many corners of the ancient lands we visited and brings back his thought, pictures and musings here. He’s starting with Spain and the port city of Barcelona. Let’s take a look.

MiceChat’s June 2014 Mediterranean Magic Cruise, organized by Teresa Cory of Fairy Godmother Travel, launched from the fabulous port of Barcelona in the autonomous Catalonia community of Spain. Bound for France, Monaco, and Italy, our adventure started with explorations of this spectacular and historic city graced with both classic and modern architecture but sprinkled with whimsical artistic creations of the radically brilliant genius Antoni Gaudi. So let’s take a quick tour of some of the highlights of Barcelona prior to boarding the classically beautiful Disney Cruise ship Magic.

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Hotel Continental Barcelona balcony overlooking the famed Las Ramblas

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Las Ramblas pedestrian street

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Olympic Port, summer home to the Disney Magic

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Barcelona city view from Montjuic Hill

 

The center of Barcelona is the Placa Catalunya adjacent to Las Ramblas, a wildly popular pedestrian street that leads down thru classical buildings to the modern Olympic Port and the trendy beach and spectacular architecture of the Maremagnum. The beautiful beach with terraces, shops, and cinemas is home to the sail-shaped W Hotel. A visitor will soon see that Barcelona is a treasure to the eye with wildly differing constructions and arts.

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Two very different kinds of Barcelona architecture

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Maremagnum beach near the Olympic Port

Next, we move onwards to the large Montjuic Hill Olympic sports complex built for the 1992 Olympic Games providing wide city overviews. Also on the hill is the large classic National Art Museum. The whole hill is a very beautiful sports area with a large stadium, many park areas with numerous trails wandering thru the lush forest. The area is filled with artworks and trim gardens. This part of Spanish Catalunya has trees and plants much like Southern California, both having a similar Mediterranean year-round climate.

In contrast to the early grid-like layout of period Cataluyan buildings, the newer port and beach areas are very contemporary. It’s the location of a more adventurous type of 1990′s architecture, such as Frank Gehry’s golden Fish as the rooftop feature of a shopping, bar, and restaurant complex. Compared to some of the ancient Old Town narrow alleyways, this Maremagnum district has very wide open spaces which can accommodate large special event crowds. Remember, Catalunya is a soccer and auto racing mecca with it’s annual Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the nearby Circuit de Catalunya.

The sail-like W Hotel overlooks the Maremagnum Beach

The sail-like W Hotel overlooks the Maremagnum Beach

Maramagnum twin towers

Maramagnum twin towers

Maremagnum balancing ball

Maremagnum balancing ball

The Gehry Fish built for the 1992 Olympic

The Gehry Fish built for the 1992 Olympic

National Art Museum

National Art Museum

 

After enjoying tours of Montjuic and Maremagnum, our tour continued thru the many beautiful tree lined boulevards to view the more classic main city. Typically, Catalunyan roadways are a two or four lane central street lined with sidewalks and trees. Between the main roadway with the sidewalks, another narrower street is located between the sidewalk and another sidewalk adjacent to the buildings. This makes for a feeling of openness while covered in a canopy of large trees. Another feature of this popular city is many parks of all sizes. Barcelona is surely a pedestrians paradise even if swarmed with scooters.

Examples of the classical architecture of the early 1800s

Examples of the classical architecture of the early 1800s

Details of some of Gaudi's whimsical designs

Details of some of Gaudi’s whimsical designs

Many of Gaudi's designs featured interesting towers

Many of Gaudi’s designs featured interesting towers

Barcelona is filled with interesting towers of many styles

Barcelona is filled with interesting towers of many styles

The Gaudi Casa Batilo

The Gaudi Casa Batlló

The fantastical tile covered chimney and roof of Gaudi's Batilo

The fantastical tile covered chimney and roof of Gaudi’s Batilo

 

The main central feature of Barcelona is the spectacular La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that has been under construction for over 130 years. It was a Goudi design originally, but over the years it’s style has changed many times. On one hand, it will not be finished as a single unified gothic design, but evolved as totally unique. That’s the charm of this most interesting venture. It will probably turn out to be a fabulous mixed-pickles church that will be unique in all the world. Sort of like celebrating Christianity as lively and fun.

Barcelona's premier cathedral La Sagrada Familia in pond reflection

Barcelona’s premier cathedral La Sagrada Familia in pond reflection

Contrasting constructions of the La Sagrada Familia

Contrasting constructions of the La Sagrada Familia

One of the many towers of the La Sagrada Familia

One of the many towers of the La Sagrada Familia

Colorful and fanciful La Sagrada Familia tall towers

Colorful and fanciful La Sagrada Familia tall towers

Details of the newer Sagrada construction

Details of the newer Sagrada construction

Each Sagrada tower top is a tiled whimsical artwork

Each Sagrada tower top is a tiled whimsical artwork

 

For more about La Sagrada Familia, visit HERE or HERE

Our tour next continued up to the mountains at the north edge of the city to Parc Guell, another Gaudi creation filled with his work. The park is a vast hillside besides being a special artistic collection of individual homes, tile sculptures and various other interesting caverns, meandering walkways, and gardens.

One of the showplace homes at the Parc Guell

One of the showplace homes at the Parc Guell

Parc Guell features several tiled roof cottages

Parc Guell features several tiled roof cottages

This chimney is surely a monument to Gaudi's artistic eye

This chimney is surely a monument to Gaudi’s artistic eye

The tile work on this roof is a very beautiful and quilt-like

The tile work on this roof is a very beautiful and quilt-like

Gaudi had no fear to build very slender towers overlooking the city

Gaudi had no fear to build very slender towers overlooking the city

The picturesque entrance to Parc Guell

The picturesque entrance to Parc Guell

 

Quoting from Wikipedia; the park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Euebi Guell, after whom the park was named. The site was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees. The intention was to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views from the site, with sixty triangular lots being provided for luxury houses. Ultimately, only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudi, with neither being sold by 1906. The site has since been converted into a municipal garden. It can be reached by underground railway (although the stations are at a distance from the Park and at a much lower level below the hill), by city buses, or by commercial tourist buses.

Parc Guell is a fairyland of tile

Parc Guell is a fairyland of tile

Parc Guell's colorful reptile is world famous - everyone touches it

Parc Guell’s colorful reptile is world famous – everyone touches it

The top terrace is supported by unique columns

The top terrace is supported by unique columns

Columns act as terrace rain water drains to fill underground cisterns

Columns act as terrace rain water drains to fill underground cisterns

 

Parc Guell's mountain park is a graced with beautiful flower gardens

Parc Guell’s mountain park is a graced with beautiful flower gardens

 

Park Güell is skillfully designed and composed to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park. The buildings flanking the entrance, though very original and remarkable with fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, fit in well with the use of the park as pleasure gardens and seem relatively inconspicuous in the landscape when one considers the flamboyance of other buildings designed by Gaudi. The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of sea serpent. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.

Terrace seating provides visitors a place to relax and enjoy the views

Terrace seating provides visitors a place to relax and enjoy the views

Each terrace seat is different - all made with broken tiles

Each terrace seat is different – all made with broken tiles

 

Roadways around the park to service the intended houses were designed by Gaudí as structures jutting out from the steep hillside or running on viaducts, with separate footpaths in arcades formed under these structures. This minimized the intrusion of the roads, and Gaudi designed them using local stone in a way that integrates them closely into the landscape. His structures echo natural forms, with columns like tree trunks supporting branching, vaulting under the roadway, and the curves of vaulting and alignment of sloping columns designed in a similar way to his Church of Colonia Guell so that the inverted catenary arch shapes form perfect compression structures.

Next up: part two of MiceChat’s June 2014 Mediterranean Magic Cruise sets sail from Barcelona for Villefranche to visit Exe and Monaco.

Have you visited Barcelona? Does the whimsical architecture entice you? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. And if you are kicking yourself for missing this amazing trip, take a look at the info on MiceChat’s next big cruise to Alaska on June 1st of 2015.

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MiceChat 7 night Alaska Cruise on the Disney Wonder – June 1st, 2015: Join us as we sail toward the top of the world on the delightful Disney Wonder. We’ll hold all sorts of special MiceChat meet-ups on board. Suggest group excursions you might want to join us on. Dine as a group to discuss our adventures and more.

Ask us for more details on any of our upcoming MiceTrips or for Disney adventures of your own by emailing us at [email protected].

About Bob Gurr

Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part. Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of "leisure-time spectaculars" and "fantastical beasts" for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan's Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg's motion picture "Jurassic Park." You can find Bob's column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don't pin Bob down to a schedule, he's busy being "retired."

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13 Comments

There are currently 13 Comments on Bob’s True-Life Adventures – No.6 2014 Barcelona. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Thank you Bob! You were right about Barcelona, we LOVED it. It’s not just a port for boarding the Disney Magic, it’s an amazing city to be explored.

    So glad we took a few days in Barcelona before the cruise. Allowed us time to throughly tour the city and take a side trip to the fantastic Port Adventura.

    Your photos are amazing. Thank you so much for this travelogue!

  2. Excellent. I lived in Catalonia for a few years. Barcelona is a world unto itself, and so very, very different from Madrid.

    A few things:

    It’s Casa Batlló not Batilo.

    If you’re going to reference “Spanish” Catalonia, I’d recommend going out of your way to explain that historic Catalonia also crosses into the Rousillon region of France and even extends out to the town of l’Alghero in Sardinia. Otherwise, you might incite the ire of nationalists. :)

    I guess you only get so much time when arriving via cruise ship, and you hit most of the big places in town. Some pictures of Plaça Catalunya would be nice.

    For any day-trippers, Montserrat is awesome.

    I could go on forever about Catalonia. If Orwell hadn’t written his own Homage, I’d probably do one myself.

    And now you all know what I studied in grad school.

  3. Barcelona is a must for any fan of architecture.

    A few tips: La Sagrada Famlia has elevators that go to top of the spires. Often people line up only where they see the long line – but there is another line for the other set. So check both lines before joining one. Those with a problem with heights (Me) may want to skip it all together, but try to go to the top anyway. There are walkways that go from one spire to the other and you can get incredible photos from there. Also the circular staircase back to ground is simply beautiful.

    Park Guell is a must for anyone who has done tile work or likes it. So much to see. And there is (hopefully still there) a stand to get gelato. Get yourself a snack and wander this very impressive open space. It is magical. I almost wish WDW would borrow aspects for it’s HUB refurb.

    • Thank you for your comments Chris.

      Regarding the elevators for La Segrada Familia, they assign the elevator and exact time you will use, so there’s no choosing.

      We actually had a bit of trouble finding our elevator and ended up at the wrong one. They turned us around and pointed us to the opposite side of the cathedral. The view from the spires is remarkable and that walk down the never ending spiral stairway is heart-pounding for someone like me with a fear of heights. Loved it!

      • Maybe the ticket policy changed or my memory is failing me. ha! But I do know somehow I got to pick the tower I wanted and got on an elevator with pretty much no wait, while the other tower elevator had a long line.

        Dusty – I was more scared on DCA’s Mickey’s Fun Wheel swinging car than on those stairs – but it was a close contest.

  4. Barcelona is such a friendly town and the architecture is amazing.

    Park Guell was GORGEOUS–I wish there was a community like that now to live in!

    Thank you Bob for taking such great photographs!

  5. Bob

    We had to miss the cruise and Barcelona due to family illness – however, your photos and narrative transported me there! I can’t wait to get to Spain in person and I thank you for sharing your photos and itinerary with us all. Looking forward to seeing more of your trip if you have plans to post them.

    • Yes, there will be three more MiceChat Magic Cruise installments, followed by a four-part African Wilderness Safari.

      • And hopefully more updates from each! Thanks in advance.

  6. Bob:
    Another set of fantastic pictures.
    What time period was Gaudi from?
    Were most of the buildings that you showed from around that time period?
    Have any idea how the engineered those towers to stand without falling?

  7. I was falling in LOVE with Barcelona at this time last year. Thanks for the refresher stories and even more photos. The interior of Sagrada Familia is finally enclosed these days and every bit as astonishing as the outside, completely flooded with colors like no other place on earth. An evening jazz concert on a Gaudi rooftop was something I can never forget. Barcelona also has the most spectacular set of gardens I have ever seen (which is quite of few, I’m love them) at Parc del Laberint d’Horta. The city is full of beautiful people too, strolling gorgeous boulevards lined with sweetly fragrant Linden trees and fountains. And crisp cava bubbles to enjoy everywhere. I need to hear some guitar now…..
    Thanks again. Hope to read more about the other ports too.

  8. I adored Barcelona when we were blessed to have visited a few years ago. Seeing the architecture of Gaudi had been a huge dream of mine, and when it came true, the sights of his buildings brought tears to my eyes. Just incredible and well worth the trip alone. I also remember some great moments spent in his gorgeous Park.
    Your great pictures brought more memories back of a bus tour we took (it was REALLY hot that day LOL), and of an incredible and LOOOONG meal of the most delicious tapas and wine in a restaurant overlooking the water which I think was at the W hotel shown.
    Thanks for sharing this with everyone!

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