Antoni Gaudi and Urban Living in Barcelona
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia Spain, has long been a thriving city favourite. Since 1992 when the Olympic spotlight shone on it, tourism numbers have gone ballistic. Why is it that many just keep coming back for more? Well I think is because the city just keeps restyling and refreshing itself. And, without Antoni Gaudi and his art nouveau architecture, the rest of the world may have never discovered Urban Chic Barcelona.
Gaudi's legacy spurs cutting edge architectural buildingsGaudi, a loner and spiritually driven man, spent much time at Montserrat just 40 kilometres from Barcelona. Among the serrated pinnacles of rock and the Benedictine Monastery, his imagination ran wild. It is well worth the 4-hour tour with the Barcelona Guide Bureau. You have the opportunity to see the Monastery, the National park and see the natural beauty. His best works are UNESCO sites and are combined into their Gaudi Trail. Gaudi has left a legacy much larger than his own works. The wealthy Catalonians still strive to leave their architectural marks even now. High fashion shopping centres rival the best of Europe and attract thousands. The famous La Rambla stretches down to the seafront. It is lined with cafes, bars, and a place to walk. Once you arrive at the end of La Ramblas, there is the Mirador Column and the seafront stretching eastwards, regenerated for the 1992 Olympics. The city centre beach is packed in the summer months and has a stunning array of buildings but most seen is ‘Piex’; the giant Frank Gehry designed blue fish sculpture. 22@ is an area of contempary buildings housing new technology and communications companies. The Agbar Tower (think London Gherkin) is an ever-changing coloured lava lamp at night. Designed by Jean Nouvel who also designed the Parc Del Centre del Poblenou with sculptures sprouting like trees in a calm oasis. The park is an open space much loved by the local urban dwellers. It’s a great place for an evening jog or to exercise the designer dog.
Hotel Omm: Architecture meets luxuryOn the corner of Pg Gracia and Rossello is at first sight an uninspiring building that may be overlooked. My eye was drawn to the concrete wings flaring out of the concrete facia – another Gaudi? But in fact on closer inspection it is Hotel Omm, a Design Hotel, designed by Juli Capella. To venture inside is like stepping into a dreamlike world of urban chic design at its best. Sandra Tarruella and Isabel Lopez, the interior designers have created a massive space that holds the Hotel Omm reception, a popular cocktail bar, casual dinning Moovida Restaurant and Michelin starred Moo restaurant. The use of simple and modern materials has created the calmness that many locals crave for after work. I dined in the Moovida, with fine food and an award wining wine list chosen by sommelier Roger Viusa. For such quality and service the price is very good value. I sipped chilled Cava while watching young yuppies winding up for a good night down in the nightclub. I stayed the night too but left the clubbing for the young. The black leather lined corridors to my room had non-linear lighting along the floor that reminded me of a landing strip. I am coming into land but before anything else, the bellhop ran me through the controls. And what controls – outer shutters, inner blinds, lighting and different mood levels, the wifi, the DVD and the home cinema setup. But the room is designed to my liking - clutter free. A gloss panel that divides the room from the bathroom is in fact the screen for the cinema – and it is big. I settled into a room with a view that overlooked the Pg Gracia and the floodlit Gaudi homes. From the roof top terrace and pool I could see all the Gaudi buildings and even the towers of the Sagrada Familia. I have friends that return time after time to Barcelona and I can see why. This classy city just keeps improving. Whether you like me love architecture, or just want to shop (not me) or hit the beach bars – Barcelona has it all.
Caroline (Caz) Crutchley is a freelance, British born travel writer residing on Malta in the centre of the Mediterranean for some years. This is an ideal base for her independent travel trips to many of the usual travel destinations. However, her love of venturing off the beaten track has helped her discover places and people who with their stories have enriched the travel experience. Through her travel writing she hopes to encourage other less adventurous travellers to broaden their travel horizons too. Read about the GadAboutGirl.com