Reading movies

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Latimer: I love watching TV series and movies in other languages. It really immerses you in the story and gives you a sense of that culture.

Having spent so much time watching anime and Asian dramas, I’m used to subtitles. Once you get into the swing of reading them, it becomes like second nature and it doesn’t distract you.

I usually have to go looking for the subtitled dramas or movies, but this week, one found me!

On Irish television I happened across the finale of a German TV miniseries called ‘Generation War’ (in German it’s called ‘Our Mothers, Our Fathers’).

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The series is a gritty Second World War series about 5 friends in Germany and their experiences during the war. It’s full of heart-wrenching moments (moments where you are shaking your head wondering how these things happen), and moments where you are screaming for one thing – just one thing to work out for someone…!

Watching this series reminded me of a few of the great foreign language series and movies I’d seen over the years. It resulted in me taking a little trip down memory lane.

Pans Labyrinth

This is quite simple a gorgeous, eerie movie; it has that supernatural gothic, dark element that I like. It also has this ambiguous feel to it; is the girl dreaming all this fantastical stuff, or is it real? Full of fairies and demonic creatures – Pan is one scary fawn it must be said! – this is one of those movies I could watch again and again. I still will randomly start humming that theme tune (epic)!

Joyeux Noël 

About a true event during the First World War where during Christmas time at the front there was a brief ceasefire, where all the men on all sides came together to celebrate Christmas. It’s in French, German and English. A very sad, but inspiring story.

Moving on from war, to romance… yeah, bit of a drop from drama to mindless fun…

My Princess

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A Korean drama that follows a girl who finds out she’s related to the defunct Korean monarchy. The story is about how a wealthy group in Korea want to re-instate the monarch with her as the Princess. Okay, it follows the typical girly love story, but – hey, that’s soul food to a fan-girl! It’s a fun series!

Hana Yori Dango

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Ah, this might well be our (Ridley and I) most favourite Japanese series! As a result of watching this series, Ridley and I knew all about the actor that plays the leading man – Matsumoto Jun (who’s in a band called ARASHI :)). And so, when we were in Tokyo and we saw some Japanese girls holding up a sign which said in English – ‘Foreigners, do you know who are ARASHI?’

Well, Ridley and I looked at each other, ‘Shall we?’.

And so we sidled up to the girls and said; ‘We know of ARASHI’. Then the girls asked us how; Ridley beamed, ‘Hana Yori Dango’. Then all of us, across language barriers smiled and started laughing (ah, fan-girls unite!).

Trollhunter

A Norwegian film about… a Troll Hunter. I now have a greater respect for Norwegian folklore about trolls and love saying the Norwegian word for bear (bjørn)!

And finally… Ros na Rún

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Okay, this is not technically ‘foreign’ language – it’s Irish – but it is subtitled (sometimes!)!

We have an Irish Language TV channel here called, Teilifís na Gaeilge (TnaG) (basically Irish TV).

When we were getting ready to do our ‘Irish oral and aural exams’ in school, our teacher made us watch Ros na Rún without the subtitles to practice. While I didn’t get the nuances of what was going on, I thought at the time that this was a great series (probably because there was a scandal involving a cute guy and a baby he may or may not have been the father of!).

Stephen Fry also did a cameo in it once (those two auld lads have been in the series for YEARS… and yet, they have not aged).

Plus Ros na Rún also had a cross-over with Cold Case (sort’a)!

“I told you I don’t understand English” – Daniel

“Where is this woman? Did you murder her?” – Lieutenant Stillman

“Do you understand now Daniel?” – Detective Rush

Yup, I think this post has made me want to re-watch some things! I do like me some subtitled stuff 🙂

I wonder what else is going on around the world that I should look into! Suggestions very welcome!

Take to the Streets

Down by the Luas Lines in Dublin
Down by the Luas Lines in Dublin

Latimer: Recently I’ve been taking a lot of notice of street art. To the point where, as I walk down the street and come face-to-face with an empty wall, I start to daydream about what maybe I could put there…

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I imagine images weaving across the concrete. And I start to think, leaning back and getting some perspective on the wall – ‘That would be fun!’

My daydream then takes me to the street at night-time, wearing dark clothes and carrying a bag of spray-paint cans. I’m going to unfold my masterpiece image. I’m going to fix it to the wall, by climbing a steep rickety old ladder that stretches up six floors to the roof. And I’m not afraid to do it (this would never happen, I’d be crying if I had to climb a ladder).

I spray-paint the stencil. I scramble down the ladder and race across the road.

Girl in an egg, Barcelona
Girl in an egg, Barcelona

No police catch me.

I admire my mural, and then, I fade into the darkness like a thief in the night. A wispy shadowy creature of the witching hour; in the morning people will pass the image, wondering – who did that? How’d they do that? And I’ll pass by, smile a secret smile, and walk on.

Then my daydream ends with the harsh whack from the reality stick. I don’t go down that street at night-time, because it’s too dark and could be full of people baying for my blood; like gangs of New York.

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I don’t dress in all black, because if I remember correctly I don’t have a black hat and I threw out those black jeans the other day. Where would I find the stencil? That’s a big wall, the perspective would be too much; I mean drawing on an A3 page is the most I’ve ever done. And I’ve never made a stencil…

No. I’d get caught! Definitely; if anyone would I would. The police would catch me. I’d get in trouble.

It's too risky!!
It’s too risky!!

Where do you get the spray paint anyway… is it expensive… etc. etc.

Yup, the dream fades pretty fast.

So, I’m left as a voyeur on the street art of others. I like the secret pictures and I like the mysterious people that flit in the night, spicing up the streets with quirky images. Their work waves at me as I pass the streets, from time-to-time, and I smile thinking, “Well, hello there piece of art!” Like it’s a secret discovery, belonging to just me and the street.

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After you see one, as with all things, a door opens and suddenly they’re everywhere. It used to be a Dublin thing, now it’s a world thing. The images from people I’ll never know, waving across countries at me, a little Latimer they’ll never know.

Here are some I found in Barcelona.

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Keep an eye out on whatever streets you’re walking! There are cool secret artists out there! Thank you for sharing your art!

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I’m not sure who the artists are, so if anyone knows, drop us a message and we’ll tag the photos etc!

God’s Architect

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Latimer: I got to go to Barcelona last week.

My stupidity started when I neglected to pack sunscreen. Oh yes, I brought sunscreen to England and Scotland… but to Spain? No. Why? I don’t know! “Latimer you fool! You complete fool!”

It was so hot over there. I touched down, stepped off the plane and my insides began to melt! I didn’t actually burn like I thought I would – nope. I boiled, from the inside out!

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My second lot of stupidity was my continued disregard for one Antoni Gaudí. Yup; I was more or less content to let my exploration of the man’s work end at a fly-by visit to Sagrada Família and a hellish, blistering walk around Parc Güell .

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WOW!! @_@

I flew by Sagrada Família for two reasons; 1) I thought I didn’t like it (but actually I was in awe like everyone else when I saw it) and, 2) the queue to get inside stretched around the entire building, in the harsh glare of the sun.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t queue (not after a summer of queuing in London, and the heat of the Barcelona supernova sky @_@).

Parc Güell was a-trip-and-a-half.

A view of Barcelona from the climb!
A view of Barcelona from the climb!

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It was the height of the midday heat, a harsh, steep upward climb to the top of the park, and 30 minutes spent traipsing around looking for the damn Gaudí lizard fountain! I didn’t come into the park through the entrance, but rather the end; so I really faded fast walking around in the heat.

I don’t know what feeling Gaudí was looking to create, but to me, it was like I was in hell; walking through the dried out skeletal carcasses of vast beasts that had perished in the desert sands of Güell/Hell.

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Whoooh, are those two peeps snogging? I think so!! HA!

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I nearly gave up looking for the entrance, but I steeled myself and plodded on, thinking of Bear Grylls and how I must have learned something that could save me, should the moment arise (which on a few occasions I thought, yup, it’s time to go Grylls!).

All I could think was; “Drink my own wee? Güell no…”

I found it in the end, and the lizard was being held hostage by the mob. I couldn’t get to see him much.

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Back away from the lizard… pluz-leezz? No? Damnit…

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I was feeling nauseous at this point, so I fled almost straightaway for a lie down in the hotel.

After that I thought, no more Gaudí.

BUT! An accidental walk over to Palau Güell changed that.

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It was the mansion of the Güell family, the patrons of Gaudí, who commissioned Parc Güell . This family was super-rich, by today’s standards they’d be on the Forbes list and worth 70 billion euro. Their mansion was, actually very small, but the Gaudí -ness of it was astounding. I came to appreciate that he was in fact a genius architect and his mind was a wave of pure inspiration.

No one built like Gaudí before or afterward. The buildings are wacky and over the top; but its more how he built, his attention to ventilation or the way natural light could be brought into buildings. He put so much thought into the building itself, how it should and would function.

Palau Güell doesn’t have doors as such. It has two massive ornate wrought-iron gates, with curling metal.

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When you stand in the entrance hall you can see right out onto the street, but the metal is deceptively thinner and thicker in parts that means the people on the outside can’t see in. That’s all Gaudí.

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The halls curve and arch like waves; it’s like stepping onto a movie set, something from the imagination of a fantasy, or sci-fi writer.

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Shakespeare-inspired stained glass! The Bard is everywhere!!
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That is a Gaudi designed toilet!

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When Gaudí was awarded his degree one of his teachers remarked that; “We have given this degree to a madman or a genius, only time will tell.”

The most famous of the Gaudí buildings is probably Casa Batlló.

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The interior is inspired by the sea, the ceilings are like ripples of water and there are whorls and eddies all over the house.  

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People have lots of thoughts of what the façade looks like. Some say it looks like bones (the spine of a fish); so they call it the House of Bones. They also say that Gaudí was inspired by Monet’s lilies painting and that the façade looks like that; or the balconies look like the masks worn in the parades that used to walk down the street outside the house. And the roof is supposed to look like a dragon resting.

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Many people in Gaudí’s life died in the first decade of the 1900s – including his close collaborator and his patron Eusebi Güell. He took refuge in his work on Sagrada Família. By this point Gaudí didn’t have much money and confessed:

My good friends are dead; I have no family and no clients, no fortune nor anything. Now I can dedicate myself entirely to the Church.”

He had to take alms to continue his work on the church.

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One day, aged 73, Gaudí walked away from Sagrada Família and was knocked over by a tram. He was dressed in tatty clothes so people thought he was a beggar. He did not receive immediate aid and by the time he got to hospital, and was recognised, his condition was critical.

He died of his injuries and was buried in his Sagrada Família.

His story ended on a sad note. But we can look at it like this; his work survives to inspire people in big ways and little ways, and even though he passed away in poverty, the inspirational wealth he left behind will always be far greater than the money he might have had 🙂

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Ridley also went to Barcelona a year ago! Check out her thoughts here!

Also, just a quick note: if you want to see any more of our photos we’re up and running on instagram, pretty regularly now 🙂

If you are on it too, drop us a line! Or if you haven’t joined yet, do!, it’s a great fun way to share your photos!

Broken Laptop & Delirium

Ridley: Apologies for the radio silence recently, we’ve been a little absent from the blogging and twittering world. Mainly because I’m down with a cold (What’s new! I’ve the immune system of a dead person!) and Latimer is currently banned from the internet. Well…her laptop is broken. Yes, I heard the collective wince. I winced even as I typed that. I will readily admit I’m an internet addict (and a chocolate and caffeine one, we all have our vices!) so that would be hell on earth for me (and it is for her too!). You really don’t realise how often you turn on your computer until you no longer have it!

Now, you’ll have to picture her pulling out her hair and pacing furiously, while simultaneously pleading and threatening her silent blank screen. I’m just hoping the IT peoples she brought it to can recover the information on it! I’d say she’d have had to hold back the urge to not punch the IT man as he dithered over whether he could fix it. I imagine it could have gone like this, (but for the fact that she’s a nice, polite self-restrained individual):

Latimer slams in through the glass door of the shop. It’s still fairly empty, having just opened a minute and a half ago. Her feet make a scratching sound as she scurries across their grey carpet, zipping in between the aisles of empty boxes advertising anti-viral software and straight to customer service. When she reaches the white counter, a man in a yellow t-shirt has his back to her. She swings her laptop bag around and slides onto the counter top.

“Help me…please.” She whispers. “It’s broken.”

The man jumps and twists round, dropping his pen. He blinks at her sudden appearance. “Wel-welcome to the IT help desk.” He stumbles and then swoops down under the desk to pick up his biro. “How can I help you?”

Latimer frowns at him and points at the black square bag. “It’s broken. I don’t know what happened. It won’t turn on.”

“Of course, well then you’ve come to the right place. Let me take a look.” He slides the laptop out and peers at the underside of it.

“So it won’t turn on…now, you did plug it in, right?” He asks.

Latimer’s hands drop down to her sides, her fingers twitch. She narrows her eyes. “Yes.”

He nods and opens it up. “Intel pentium core processor…good…”

“Hmm hmm…” Latimer’s fingers begin to drum against her thigh.

He examines it, there’s silence for a little while. Latimer bounces on the balls of her feet.

“So…” She bites her lip. “Does it look bad, can you fix it?”

He starts mumbling to himself. ‘Well…I suppose, I could try to…but then I don’t know if that would work. Hmm…’ He scratches his head with his blue pen. Latimer’s hands curl into fists. ‘I wonder if I…’

He turns the laptop round. He jams his pen behind his ear and jabs at a few keys, frowning down in intense concentration.  Latimer leans in nodding, her eyes widen. “Yes?”

After a few moments, he draws back with a shake of his head. “No, the power button isn’t the answer anyway…”

*SMACK* Latimer throws down her laptop case.

“I’ll kill you!” She leaps over the counter and shakes the man by his collar. “Fix it! Fix it, god damnit!”

“No Latimer! It’s not worth it!”  (Some random person who happens to know her shouts-as I’m not there, but if I was, ’tis what I would say! haha.)

People haul her off of him. He’s unscathed, but the same can’t be said for her. The police are called. It all ends up with her rocking in the corner of a damp mouldy cell, giggling and muttering to herself. “Fix it…fix…fix…fix….I’ll fix it…”

Her one phone call is made to Ridley-not a good idea this time (is it ever a good idea? haha).

Ridley is at home, her flowery covers have been tugged up to her chin. She’s shivering and sweating in bed. There are empty tubes of Tyrozet throat lozenges littering the floor in amongst scrunched up tissue paper and tatty brown cardboard toilet rolls.

She’s randomly hollering out words in her delirium.

“Nurofen!”

“Batman!”

Ridley often gets up and wanders to the kitchen like a grumpy Lurch, peering in the cupboard for things to make her feel better and making endless cups of tea.

When she returns to her room, she peers around.

“Who put these little flashing lights in my room, they won’t turn off!”

Then she realises they’re in her eyes.

A distinct overpowering whiff of TCP wafts from her to join the smell of cooking chicken that’s drifting up from downstairs. Her mother is in the kitchen, she’s like a witch over a cauldron with a big wooden spoon. Churning and churning a bubbling broth in a large saucepan. She’s making Chicken Penicillin and she’s tossing in vegetables, spices, whole chicken carcasses and chanting about, “Bone marrow and antibodies!”

Ridley gladly accepts anything to relieve the misery. She really doesn’t remember when she swallowed the barbed wire that is now stuck in her throat.

As she feasts on her soup, and having taken more drowsy medication, her mobile beside her rings.

“Hello?” She whispers in a hoarse voice.

“Ridley! Help me, my laptop is broken! And I’m in jail!”

Ridley pulls back and peers at the number on the screen. She puts the phone back to her ear. “Who is this?”

“What do you mean, who is this? It’s Latimer! You need to get me out of here, I need to fix my computer!”

Ridley yawns, her tablets begin to kick in. “I don’t understand…my brain it’s not…Lat I can’t help right now, ‘m sorry…ring back later.”

“What!? No, wait…”

Ridley hangs up and immediately nods off.

When she wakes up. She begins to remember the dream, which involved chicken soup and a phone call. She shuffles downstairs, trying to recall its ending. There’s a reporter in the kitchen. There are also two scientists in white coats, huddling over the grubby silver saucepan and poking at a raw onion. 

“I’ve just won a prize!” Her mother beams. “I found the cure to the common cold!”

“Your mother’s made a massive break through.” The man at the kitchen table says with his head bent over his notepad.

“Has she.” Ridley nods to her mother. “Well done. Always said your soup was some good stuff.”

“Your phone keeps ringing, I just took it out of your room, as you were fast asleep and I didn’t want it to wake you.” Her mother hands her back her mobile.

“I’m sure it probably wasn’t important.” Ridley shrugs and scrolls down through the missed calls, the log shows numbers that get longer and more foreign with each hour. There are numerous text messages too.

Ridley, I’m now in Panama. It’s quite hot here.

2 hours later:The Spanish is confusing me, amigo.

7 hours later:Could you send me sun cream?

7 hours and 2 minutes: “Rid, how do you cure burns?

8 hours later:Slowly rising up the ranks, turns out one of the main mob bosses likes Lord of the Rings too. Lots in common.

10 hours later:Am now his right hand man…woman. Thinking of getting a tattoo. Ideas?

12 hours later:It’s a bit loco here at the moment, we’ve decided to stage a break out. I told them all about that one episode of ‘Prison Break’, I watched. It seemed to give them all ideas.

15 hours later:Success! On the way home, can you pick me up from the airport? I’ll show you my new tattoo! Arriving at 5.”

Ridley sighs and glances at the clock, it’s 4.30. Lights from a camera flash blind her. The reporter has started taking pictures of her mother holding up a soup bowl and a spoon.

“I’m going to go change. Gotta pick up Latimer.” Ridley turns to go climb back up the stairs and texts: “Fine. Going to be a little late though.

She gets an immediate reply.

No problem. BTW I’ve brought friends. See you in a bit 🙂

“Have fun!” Her mother calls.

“Depends on your definition.” Ridley mutters.

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And that, my friends, is how it all went down, in my head. Haha. Who knows what happens when I got to that airport. I was probably insanely jealous of Latimer’s great tan and cool tattoo (or horrific sun burn and hodge-podge black smudge?) Either way, fun times!

Need more sleep I think! 🙂

Thanks to freedigitalphotos.com for my pictures (except the TCP one,that’s all mine)

Recharging Batteries in Barcelona

So many sweets&so small a mouth

Ridley: I was in Barcelona for the bank holiday weekend. It was three days away, but it felt like a full week. Sometimes what you really need is to get away from the drone of your everyday existence and see new, distant lands! You come back all the better for it. And also sunburnt, in my case!

While I love the sun, my pasty Irish skin might as well belong to a vampire it burns so easily. My arms, neck and chest looked like I’d dumped a bucketful of pink blusher powder on them. Thankfully it didn’t hurt, the holiday snaps are just a bit dire.

The food stretched for miles

Also on this trip, apart from the cooking of my skin, I took the always worthwhile open-top red bus tour, ate loads of ice cream (blue bubble gum flavour from a sprawling market place, yummy!) and faced one of my fears: heights!

We went up along the side of the mountain to the fortress of Montjuic via a gondola box thing that trundled along a rope and swayed with the breeze. Once at the top, I got these lovely photographs of the view. Worth it? Perhaps…. 😛

Barcelona in all its sprawling splendor

Throughout the trip, I took quite a number of pictures of all the artistic elements of Barcelona. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

It’s-a-me, Mario! Er…Toad I mean

I travelled with people who were more interested in the city’s fine cuisine and shopping opportunities than the art it holds. Despite this, they were good enough to let me drag them round to one or two places I wanted to visit. I, unfortunately, didn’t insist on visiting the various museums though, one glance at their bored faces was enough of a deterrent! I’m certain they thought I was strange taking pictures of the graffiti on the walls, but I thought the pictures were unbelievable.

Whose hand is that though?
It’s cooler than my actual name

Another strange picture I took was of my empty coffee cup-guess who probably won’t be invited on any further holidays!! Haha.

Here’s where I was asked to give my name in Starbucks so they’d know it was my order. Though I’ve never had to do this at home, not that I minded but I think it confused matters. When he kept saying my ‘name’ with the cup in his hand. I kept telling him ‘No no, I ordered a frappuccino café, not a Reg-whatever.’ Eventually we battered down the language barrier between us and I realised it was my order. And he was repeating some weird version of my name. Oops.

Now while I know there is a Picasso museum in Barcelona, for me the one man that really represents Barcelona and kept reappearing during our time there in all sorts of places was Antoni Gaudi.

He was a Catalan architect and artist in his own way. He seems to have had the most influence on the buildings, parks and even the lampposts of Barcelona. He drew a lot of his ideas and designs from nature to create beautiful organic pieces.

Casa Batlló

Front of the building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the buildings he designed and built, that we saw, was Casa Batlló. It is located on a main street, Passeig de Gracia. It was absolutely magnificent and really arresting. There were flowing lines and vibrant colours throughout the building, he took a lot of inspiration from the ocean.

The loft/ribcage

The roof alone is beautiful, the glossy colourful tiles covering it are meant to represent the scales of a dragon.

The roof

Nothing is conventional or boring about the house, there’s something unusual to see everywhere- in the windows, doors, handrails and the ceilings.

Even it’s roof space-the loft or attic- whatever you want to call it, was also different. With the whole house filled with colour, it’s a surprise to reach the top room and find it’s completely white and sparse. The joists jut out, enclosing the small space. They are meant to represent the bones, possibly the ribcage, of a large animal.

Their website is here, you’ll be able to see better pictures then mine.

Lamp posts

Impressive lighting

He also designed many of lamp posts that line the street. He was commissioned in 1878 by the city to create them. They are really quite stunning; though sometimes street lights are so a part of the background, they can go unnoticed. It would be a shame to miss them, don’t let them hide in plain sight if you ever visit Barcelona!

A close up on the swirls

The Park Guell

Looks like it lifted its head from drinking

The other major attraction we visited was The Park Guell. It was originally meant to have 60 luxurious houses build on the large expansive land for the rich to live in and enjoy the amazing views over the city. In the end only two houses were built and Gaudi lived in one of them with his family.

Gaudi’s work fills the park with all the mosaics and ceramic work lining the walls. There’s even a beautiful green mosaic dragon fountain, where we had to wait a good ten minutes to be able to take a picture of it. The place was swamped with other tourists.
The two buildings at the entrance to the park really reminded me of a gingerbread house, like something straight out of a fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers. They were really different.
There were also numerous colonnaded pathways in the park. They supported the road above with sloping columns, many of which were designed to look like pine trees. Really unique. It was the attention to detail that was so impressive.

The tree of rocks
Hansel&Gretel anyone?

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

More pretty lamp posts

The other place that Gaudi designed was the magnificent Basilica. It’s construction was started in 1882 and it’s still ongoing.Gaudi devoted his last years to it, when he died it was only a quarter of the way to completion. Now donations and the visitor entrance fees are what are used to build it.

I’m ashamed to say we ran out of time for visiting here. I would have loved to go inside, but we left it too late. I saw the façade at least and it was impressive. It was almost like something out of Mordor or Isengard really!

I will build an army! Mwhaa…

Anyone else been to Barcelona recently? I’m sure I missed out on a few fantastic places. The ones I did see though were pretty spectacular, so I’m not complaining! I also, of course, had to get the picture of this giant book on my camera:

Pretty, but with blank pages.

I wish I had a giant book in my garden…..*sigh*