The Arduous Walk Up To Parc Guell in Barcelona

Everybody talks about how wonderful Parc Guell is in Barcelona, Spain… And it is. It’s a very unique place to visit. Buuuuuut. Nobody ever talks about how much of a booty workout it is to get there when traveling by foot via public transportation which is what I thought might be nice to address in today’s post. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I was just ill prepared to actually walk up the steep incline and thought it might be nice to give anyone thinking of visiting Parc Guell by foot a little heads up.

After wandering through the outdoor market at La Boqueria (catch up on that post here), we made our way to Parc Guell via the Barcelona Metro System. Considering the fact that I’ve never owned a car and grew up riding the metro in D.C. and the subway in NYC, I felt right at home using the metro system in Barcelona (and in Paris since we’re on the subject). 
 ^^ Sortida = Exit

Once our train got to the Vallorca stop, we exited the station and followed the street signs pointing us in the direction of Parc Guell. We walked 5 blocks and then saw another sign that told us to make a left on the next street. Lo and behold, look at what we saw when we made that left…
Oh yes my friends… The ONE day I decided to wear a dress and look cute w/ my sandals on during our entire euro-trip just so happened to be the day that Charles and I were going to have to get our steep incline on. It was too funny. Thank goodness I had also decided to wear my biker shorts under my dress or else my thunder thighs would’ve had a good ol’ time rubbing against each other up the hill haha. 
^^ Proof of exertion haha.
^^ But then we approached the most wonderful thing I saw… An escalator!!! #firstworldproblems
When we finally made it to the top and followed the crowd to the entrance of Parc Guell, we met a fellow with an interesting hat, left our mark on the fenced entry and leisurely wandered around, taking in the scenes. In case you were wondering, Parc Guell is the product of renowned Spanish architect, Antoni Guadi, who was commissioned in the early 1900’s to design this public park at the top of Carmel Hill in Barcelona during the age of Catalan modernism.
One area of the park that is especially famous is the “monumental zone” which is filled with Gaudi’s mosaic work and stone tunnels. Unfortunately for Charles and I, we didn’t do our research before hand (we had an itinerary for Paris and Amsterdam but kind of flew by the seat of our pants in Barcelona) and didn’t know that there was a fee to enter the monumental zone. On top of that, ticket entry is assigned for specific times. When we went to inquire about the tickets at visitor services, we were told that the next timed entry they were selling tickets for wasn’t until 4:00pm… Mind you, it was about 1:00pm when we asked so Charles made the executive decision and said, “Nah” since we didn’t want to wait that long. Next time we know to buy our tickets ahead of time.
^^ This is my “Didn’t get into the monumental zone but I got it pretty damn close” photo :)
^^ Crazy views of Barcelona from atop.

So I know the photo above photo projects the image of us as happy tourists in Parc Guell. And we were happy. But can I be honest with you and admit that we weren’t as blown away with Parc Guell as we expected to be. When we eventually left the park and found a restaurant to sit and grub at, we reflected on the day and came to the realization that we had both left the park feeling unfulfilled, wanting more. I know we didn’t get to see the monumental zone which may have been a part of the problem but the parts we did see didn’t inspire me in the way I expected to be inspired when I usually look at art and/or take in architecture.

It’s funny because in one of my arts management classes, we’ve been discussing all the different elements that play a factor in influencing how a person experiences art. One of those key factors is history and education… The past interactions you’ve had with art will influence how you respond to different kinds of art in the future and having some kind of context or story about what you are about to see before you see it also influences whether or not you have a pure experience. Thinking back on this discussion in class, I was reminded of our day in Parc Guell. I realized that because I hadn’t done my research on Gaudi beforehand and didn’t know about the cultural revolution of modernism that was taking place in Barcelona during early 1900’s (I only learned about it, like forreal forreal, when I googled information on Parc Guell for today’s post), I had no context to pull from to understand what I was looking at while we were there. <– If you skipped over this big bulk of a paragraph, I don’t blame you haha.

Charles and I went to Parc Guell simply because someone had recommended that we go see it. What we were missing was the story behind how it came to be. Because it’s usually the story behind a destination that makes us want to go visit in the first place. Lesson learned. Next time we visit Parc Guell, we’ll be alot more prepared to appreciate it for what it is and next time, I’ll also dress more practically.

Have you ever been to Parc Guell? What were your impressions?

Linking up with Travel Tuesday and Treat Yo Self.

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  • I love Parc Guell! I was so shocked to see parrots everywhere. It is beyond cool. But yes, it is a trek getting up there!

  • Joanna Śliwińska

    Hi! It's great you share such things that you can hardly read about. And don't you appreciate the place even more when getting there is such an accomplishment? ;)

  • omg, yes! There were sooo many parrots, in the trees and all over!

  • Hi Maria! Thanks for that tip! I will definitely give the bus a try next time we're in Barcelona. And we didn't check out Casa Batllo but I'll have to add that onto my list for next as well. Now that I understand more about what inspired Gaudi's works, I feel like I'll be able to appreciate his work much better :)

  • Thanks Joanna! And yes, Charles and I felt like we had conquered the world when we finally made it to the top haha.

  • Looks like a fun time, plus a good workout. I want to book a trip to Barcelona now!

  • Loved reading this and I think you're so right, having a back story or history about a place really adds to your enjoyment. It's not something I've thought about that much but after reading this it reminds me how important it is! Sometimes I feel like on a city break I can snap so many pics of nice looking buildings without knowing what they are or why they are important, which isn't so interesting! Thanks for sharing :)

  • haha it was most definitely a workout! And do it! Book that trip!

  • Ahhh Marcella, you read the paragraph! I didn't think anyone would read it because it was pretty lengthy so I appreciate you taking the time to read through it! I'm somewhat of a history buff and when traveling, I always like to mentally transport myself back in time to when these destinations weren't tourist attractions but places which were built as a cultural reflection of the times people lived in back then. Basically, it helps me to understand the relevance of what I'm looking at if I try to put myself in the "past's shoes". But that's just me; there are many people who could care less about the history part and that's fine too. Everyone travels differently and is entitled to their own experience :)

  • Zoe

    Hey Setarra :)

    Firstly, I just want to say how much I love your writing style – completely honest, with a pinch of clarity and a dash of humor ;). It is like drinking an ice cold, homemade lemonade!

    Secondly – you are not alone in the Parc Guell dilemma. I have visited Barcelona twice (once with a friend, once with the partner), and I found the Parc to be a mix of great and blah. Especially the part about buying tickets to the main attraction – we said 'nah' too and stood right where you did to get a photo! Tehe ;). But then we visited the Parc de la Cuitadella – down the other end of town – and had a much better time! In saying that, we did have a hammock that we set up, and there were gypsies there selling hot vegetable samosas and cold beer!!! But it sounds like you have made some wonderful memories, and I am hugely looking forward to reading your next posts!

    xX Zoe

    http://life-gazing-and-wildstrawberries.blogspot.com/