Sunday, June 30: This morning, I get a late start. I sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast on the patio (including sliced bananas drizzled with chocolate and a potato quiche) and work on my blog and check emails. I’m going out today to take the blue line on Barcelona Bus Turista, which encompasses all the Gaudí attractions on the north side of the city. Before I go, I’ve heard it’s best to get tickets online to avoid waiting in lines. As I start to buy all the tickets online, I realize my debit card from the USA, the one that holds most of the money for my trip, expires today, June 30!!
Now, I used to be a banker for 12 years, and I know how to deal with money issues. I took every precaution before coming here, including calling my banks, for both credit and debit cards, to inform them of my travel plans. I made photocopies of all my cards with phone numbers to call in case a card is stolen. I keep my Bank Muscat card in one place, by BB&T cards in another place, and my Barclay Card in yet another place. I wear a money belt under my clothes with one card and most of my cash; my wallet contains only cash I need for the day and one card. So you see I’m a very thorough person when it comes to money issues while traveling.
So how on earth did I overlook this expiration date on my card??
Lucky for me, I also have a debit card for Mike’s and my joint account, which I never use as we have been separated for so long. I can luckily transfer money from my account to this joint account. But now I have one less payment method if I lose a card. Duh. What a dunce.
Anyway, I use my card to buy tickets for Sagrada de Familia, Casa Batllo, and La Perdrera, all quite expensive! Then I determine that I will get as much cash out of my account as I can today, while my card is still good. As of tomorrow, it will be useless.
It isn’t until 11:00 that I finally make it out of the hotel. I leave my neighborhood, L’Eixample, Barcelona’s 19th century answer to overcrowding in the medieval city (Lonely Planet Spain). L’Eixample was inhabited from the start by the city’s middle classes and that remains broadly the case. It’s home to many Modernista creations.
I head to Gracia, north of L’Eixample. It has a Catalan feel with its narrow streets, small plazas and multitudes of bars and restaurants. Casa Batlló, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, is in Gracia. Luckily it’s not far from my hotel, just about 5 blocks, so I walk rather than take the bus.
Casa Batlló’s Modernist façade is sprinkled with bits of blue, mauve and green tiles, and graced with wave-shaped window frames and balconies. It rises to an uneven blue-tiled roof with a solitary tower. Inside the main salon, everything swirls; the ceiling is twisted like a snail around a sun-like lamp. The doors and windows are waves of wood and colorful glass. (Lonely Planet Spain).
The patio of the house has some interesting mosaics.
I love the oval mosaic samples and the round photos of Gaudí’s work that make up the wall decor.
The central well of the house welcomes light into the interior.
The roof is covered with mosaic-covered chimney pots.
According to Casa Batlló’s website, the building is a key feature in modernist Barcelona’s architecture. It was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1904 and 1906, having been commissioned by the textile industrialist Josep Batlló. The “Manzana de la Discordia”, or Block of Discord, is a series of buildings in Passeig de Gràcia. Casa Batlló is only one in this collection of buildings by renowned architects.
The building was bought by the textile businessman Josep Batlló and his wife in 1900. The original house was of no particular architectural interest; however, its location in the middle of Passeig de Gràcia, which was a very fashionable and prestigious area, made it a desirable dwelling. Being a distinguished family, they wanted to stand out from the crowd, and to do this they wished to build a spectacular house.
In order to realize this ambitious project, Josep Batlló decided to contact an architect who was different, who was an innovator. The one he selected was Antonio Gaudí. His initial orders were to knock down the original building and to build a new one from scratch. Gaudí, however, managed to convince Josep Batlló that this was not necessary, and that renovation would be sufficient. In November 1904, when Gaudí was 52 years old and at the height of his professional maturity, the planning application was submitted.
The building works were completed in 1906. Gaudí carried out a full refurbishment of the building using innovative techniques and with total creative freedom. Gaudí modified the main facade and added the balconies and the main gallery. In the interior of the house, he transformed the main apartment, which was the Batlló family’s residence, expanded the central well to supply the entire building with light, and added new floors. He also crowned the house with what appears to be the spine of an animal. The roof represents Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon.
In the same year the Barcelona City Council selected the house as a candidate for the 1906 award for the best building. In the end this prize went to another architect, probably because the same prize had recently been awarded to Gaudí for another house, Casa Calvet.
In 1934, Josep Batlló died. In 1940, his wife, Amalia Godó, died. Following the death of the two parents, Casa Batlló passed to their children.
In 1970, the first refurbishment of Casa Batlló took place. In 2002, as part of the International Year of Gaudí, Casa Batlló began a new line of business: cultural visits to the Noble Floor, the former dwelling of the Batlló family. For the first time, Casa Batlló opened its doors to the public, and the initiative was met with a wholly unanticipated success. (Casa Batllo)
Later this afternoon, when the sun is brightly shining, I take another picture of Casa Batlló. I adore this house!