Of all the things on my list to see in Barcelona, Park Güell was the most anticipated – even more so than La Sagrada Familia. And it was also the most disappointing.
Marcus and I were taking a day off on a Sunday. After hanging out at the apartment paying bills, writing blogs, and being generally lazy, we needed some activity. Let’s go for a walk in the park!
Park Güell was originally a business venture commissioned of Gaudí by his patron, Count Eusebi Güell. It was designed as a commercial center in the suburbs of Barcelona where the well-to-do could live, socialize, and shop. Unfortunately the enterprise failed, but Gaudí so loved the area he designed that he spent the last twenty years of his life living there. I had seen photos of the serpentine mosaic benches on the terrace overlooking Barcelona, and I couldn’t wait to sit there and take in the view.
We approached the park from a side entrance, so we didn’t see the busloads of tourist entering at the main entrance. As we approached the terrace, we saw a long Disney-esque line snaking back from a ticket booth. Ticket booth? What is there to buy in a public park? Well, it turns out that they control the number of people who are on the terrace at any given time by selling tickets ($9 per person) for appointed time slots. So you stand in line to buy your tickets, and then you stand in line to wait for your time slot. I was incensed and refused to buy a ticket on principle.
There were plenty of other terraces to enjoy on our own time and at no expense. The park had many levels as it wound its way uphill, and we started to hike in search of views of Barcelona. As we achieved each level and admired the view, there was always a higher level with a better view. So up we’d go again. I hadn’t dressed appropriately for the 85° weather. Wunderground told me it was only going to be in the low 70s. The entrance to our apartment building is in an urban canyon that sees no daylight, so it was quite cool when we left the apartment. I wore jeans, a sweatshirt, and boots. Everyone else was in capris or shorts and sandals. How is it that everyone always seems more in tune with the weather than I am? I don’t think I got the weather right a single day in Barcelona. Isn’t this October? Isn’t it supposed to be fall now?
Long story short, I couldn’t get the Disney effect out of my head. By the time we walked down to the main entrance to the park, I didn’t have the patience to fight my way through the mob to look at Gaudí’s mosaic creatures and ceramic buildings. The photo-snapping swarm and the heat had done their worst, and I couldn’t wait to go. We walked home on souvenir-lined streets that seemed to go on for miles. I mean, really, how many mosaic lizards and frogs can tourists consume? It wasn’t until we reached the square near our apartment that I could finally breathe freely – and put that sweatshirt back on.