Yesterday I made way to Barcelona's Parc Güell. It is such a common tourist destination that I truly wasn't sure what to expect, but it was far better than I imagined, and much more manageable than I had read (of course, I did go on a weekday for that reason - maybe that made a difference). The park was the mastermind of Count Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudí, an architect famous for his work in the Catalan Modernista movement. It was intended to be a housing development, but it failed, and has since been turned into a municipal garden. Only two houses are in the complex, neither by Gaudí. Still, the park itself is amazing and beautiful, with fanciful structures, complex bridges and aqueducts, and wandering roads and paths. It seemed everywhere you turned, there was another stairway or path leading somewhere, and it became a game of choosing which one and seeing where it went. The views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean are amazing in themselves, but what I liked most was how it was not only a tourist spot, but a living park full of locals walking their dogs, playing games of pétanque, running, or just hanging out. The further you dive into the park, the less crowded and more relaxed and beautiful it is. One of my favorite spots was a stone monument with three crosses on it at the highest point in the park. Gaudí wanted a chapel there, but remains were found on the site, so they made the monument, which you can still climb. At the top, along with people enjoying the setting sun, was a guy selling mojitos he was making on the spot. It was easily the best mojito I've ever had.
[apologies for blog posts before 11/2008 that are not yet updated to format]