And Groovy Rooftops


I was driving, well, sitting in traffic this Easter weekend to get to an appointment in Santa Monica. It was one of those perfect LA spring days…not too chilly to roll the windows all the way up and not too warm to roll them completely down.  So with the windows cracked half-way, I sat on the parking lot known as the I-10 along with the million other drivers who also had no choice but to idle in traffic with me. I looked at the random palm trees populating the horizon and mentally marked the distance to my destination upon passing the Hollywood sign.  I heard the wind move, from the window on the driver’s side to the passenger’s side, gently rustling my hair in its traverse.  And all of the sudden a feeling of deja vu rolled over me and I was transported back to one April afternoon in Barcelona where I experienced the identical perfect weather, and more importantly,  the exact same sensation of being one with the world. Happy to be in my shoes. Happy to be very much alive, even while doing something so banal as commuting.


It’s easy to feel this way just walking around Barcelona.  I’ve always been a fan of the Hispanic culture, language, heritage, and food, but Barcelona is a whole other world.  Catalan pride is worn like skin, and everywhere you go, you understand that they are Catalan first and Spanish second. But for me, my love for Barcelona is wrapped up in the undulating balconies…


sinuous staircases…


and groovy rooftops…


that are characteristic of Antoni Gaudí’s biomorphic architecture, found all around Barcelona. It’s hard to fathom that these incredibly innovative structures were designed in the 1800s. From La Pedrera (aka Casa Milà) to Casa Batlló (whose pictures you see above) to the magnificent and still-under-construction-since-1882 Gothic cathedral Sagrada Família seen here…


you can appreciate the gifted imagination that went on inside this man’s head, even if you don’t immediately love his work.

So anyway, on this one Thursday afternoon in Barcelona, after sitting around on a shapely chair Gaudí had designed specifically for a hallway inside the Casa Milà, I made my way to his equally curvaceous serpentine bench found at his whimsically designed Parc Güell,


a once commercially unsuccessful project of luxury homes (it was meant to follow the English garden city movement) and now municipal park. Only two houses were actually built out of the 60 lots reserved for this enclave, and one was occupied by Count Güell and the other by  Gaudí:


La Torre Rosa is now a museum showcasing furniture that Gaudí designed. The house has the most fantastic view of the gardens and park grounds stumbling below its hill.  I’d read that he loved nature and hiking so this house must have provided him with immense pleasure during the few years that he lived there.  I walked around the enormous park full of tourists and children on school field trips and took pictures of the mosaic found on ceilings and walls:


And then I thought about the small, cramped room he occupied in the last 15 years of his life on the grounds of  the Sagrada Família (a photo of this room is found in the church) as its (literally) resident architect.  He died at the age of 74 with the entire city mourning his passing.  At that moment I thought how it must have been pure devotion to his work and spiritual belief that led to such a monastic existence after the luxury living in La Torre Rosa. But today in my car, I think regardless of his surroundings, he was just a man being one with the world. Happy to be in his shoes.  Happy to be very much alive, except the work he was doing was anything but banal.


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