Saturday, January 24, 2015

Parc Güell

We continued getting physical after our "tiresome" Camp Nou experience. What else? But a hike into the mountain! err I mean hill! To adhere to our adrenaline rush, we chose to scale Carmel Hill where Park Güell is located. However, this park is not your typical park where you can lounge on the grass, have a picnic, and watch the world go by. It requires you to break a sweat instead. Being a hill with uneven terrains mind you, ascents and descents are a given. But aside from this physical challenge, we were also treated with out-of-this-world (but in this world anyway) structures along the way, like the photo above.

Perhaps, the main reason for us in heading to this park is to witness again the works of Antoni Gaudi, after seeing his brilliant work in Sagrada Familia the day before. Yes, he is really a legend in Barcelona. And yes, I was just feigning on the adrenaline rush. Apart from these mind-boggling yet interesting structures, an overlooking view of Barcelona at the top was just as breathtaking.

From Camp Nou, we went back to Palau Reial train station (because we were already familiar with the way) and took a very long route (16 stops!)  in getting to Vallcarca train station through L3. Just imagine the Pythagorean theorem. Instead of taking the line C, the hypotenuse, we took the lines A and B and maybe twice over. But all was good in the end. Somehow, we were able to relax during our train joyride.

With a flow of fellow park visitors leading us the way, we knew we couldn't be lost. That's one thing I realize in the cities we visited in Europe, it doesn't matter if you don't speak the language, the throng of visitors becomes your free guide.

The escalators to forever were also clue enough that we were headed towards the hill.

And just like that, we were enlivened by a solo performer during our "trek" on a well-paved road. Not bad eh?

We further trudged along and came face to face with this incredible wall carved out from the hill. Or whatever this is called. haha Hidden in the midst of it, is a toilet that felt like a cave. Literally, nature calls! (Lousy joke, I know.) There is also a cafe alongside it, as you can see the wide umbrellas sheltering those tired and weary. This area faces towards the city, an ideal place to chill out indeed.

Here is a closer look on the wall that complements well with the palm trees.

This is where the cafe is facing, a much wider area to move and play with seats to bum around. It is ingeniously supported by huge columns underneath. As reference on our route, the road we took is in the midst of those trees. This ain't really a popular choice when heading to the park as we soon realized after.

Willing to further burn our energy, we begged off from this inviting scene and instead, continued our way. Chill lang kayo jan. BRB.

And up ahead, we came upon more of the thought-provoking structures in the park that seem to sprout out of nowhere. These are the design feats done by the genius Gaudi. He was commissioned by Eusebi Güell to develop this hill for a planned residential area for the wealthy during the early 20th century. However, it didn't pan out and only two houses were built, one of which was where Gaudi and his family lived.

For over a hundred years, these eternal structures which remain to be unparalleled, still awe visitors time and again. Rightfully, the park is listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

We were relentless that we made it to the top! We had to go through a steep climb to reach the spot and the splendid views are more than worth it! The house with a church-like spire was Gaudi's and it has been converted into a museum since. The other house we gushed over for some time is in a much higher elevation. It looks standoffish and with such stunning views, it must have cost a fortune. The castle on top of the opposite mountain is where Sleeping Beauty is currently dozing while she awaits for his Prince Charming. She is still up there, I bet.

And what goes up must come down. In our descent, we made our own path, going through wild shrubs and trees that it reminded pretty much of home, where a hilltop is just a short hike away. The terrain was even remarkably quite close. After a few twists and turn, we made it all the way down, back to the comforts of civilization. It was unthinkable if we ended up no longer in Barcelona! Har har... Then on our way, we saw another performer with a strange instrument, we had never seen before. It was an UFO-shaped electronic drum of some sort. The sound was unique and incredible!

We took a rest for a little bit in that open area we firstly ignored. It was a good place to breathe in, looking out to the city and the sea in the distance. As we took turns in taking our souvenir shots, we bumped into a kababayan couple who was also touring Europe that time. It was then "We take your photo, you take ours." kinda thing happened.

I had been wondering where the commonly-pictured structures in Park Güell are and all along, they are just right at the usual entrance! So it was a marvelous climactic ending for us, leaving us with astonishment more than we imagined. There is that building that looked like a ginger bread house in my eyes. What's there not to like?

The park is a nice outdoorsy activity to do while in Barcelona. Much more when the weather is fine and cozy. And the views, of course! Although getting there is a considerable hike especially if taking the train, but the rewards you're gonna get can make up for all the effort.

Other areas in the park can be accessed for free while the Monumental Zone is with a fee. Website here. We took the L3 (Vallcarca) and entrance by Passatge de Sant Josep de la Muntanya.

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