Fabulous Butchart Gardens




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We first visited the Butchart Gardens on our honeymoon in August of 1981, almost 35 years ago. We have been back once or twice since, but it has been quite a while. This past weekend we visited once more. And it is as gorgeous as ever with many new amenities added.

The amazing Sunken Garden, considered by many to be the highlight of any visit to the gardens.
The amazing Sunken Garden, considered by many to be the highlight of any visit to the gardens.

Robert Pim Butchart and his wife Jennie bought the site in 1903, moving there in 1904 so Robert could build a cement plant. The area had natural limestone, an essential ingredient for Portland cement, so Butchart both mined the limestone from quarries on the property and built a factory to process the mineral.

Jennie started the gardens in 1906 when she hired Japanese landscape architect Isaburo Kishida to design and build the Japanese Garden, the first of many that would become the Butchart Gardens.

The first thing you see along the walking tour of the gardens is a bower of hanging baskets. Fuchsias, begonias and many other specimens make up this cornucopia of colour.

The hanging basket bower is on your left just before the entrance to the Sunken Garden.
The hanging basket bower is on your left just before the entrance to the Sunken Garden.

Hanging a left brings you to the Sunken Gardens, possibly the most striking feature in the entire gardens. Formerly a limestone quarry, Mrs. Butchart set out to reclaim it when the limestone ran out in 1909. It took over ten years of painstaking work before the Sunken Garden was finished in 1921. Workers commandeered from Robert’s plant drained the quarry and brought in tons of topsoil. Jennie Butchart had herself lowered in a bosun’s chair over the face of the cliffs to hand plant ivies.

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The Mound, a rocky outcrop in the centre of the Sunken Garden.

In the middle of the Sunken Garden stands a pedestal of plant-covered rock called The Mound. A winding staircase lets you climb to the top for a panoramic view of the Garden.

Looking out from atop of the Mound.
Looking out from atop of the Mound.

Further along the trail you arrive at a lake. Dragonflies like to fly around above the lily pads here. Butterflies are also common at the gardens.

The lake as seen from the Mound.
The lake as seen from the Mound. There are many lily pads and dragonflies here.

Walking around the lake you can look back and see the Sunken Garden through the drooping branches of two giant willow trees. Further along the trail we come to the Ross Fountain. The Butcharts gave the Gardens to their grandson Ross in 1939 on his 21st birthday and he maintained the garden until his death in 1997. Ross created the night-time illumination system in 1953 and the fountain in 1964 on the 60th anniversary of the gardens.

The Ross Fountain
The Ross Fountain

Leaving the fountain, we walk back along a trail that rises and brings us to the Childrens’ Pavilion and the outdoor amphitheatre. The rising path brings us past excellent views of the Sunken Garden on the right and in a grassy area on the left we see three deer made of sphagnum moss. There are a number of these mossy creations throughout the park, including a cougar, a couple of rabbits, some ducks and an owl.

Another view of the Mound
Another view of the Mound
Some deer made of moss.
Some deer made of moss.

The Childrens’ Pavilion and Rose Carousel were opened in 2009. The horse and other creatures were hand carved. It is the only carousel on Vancouver island. It costs $2 to ride and my wife and her friend hopped aboard.

Across from the carousel is an amphitheatre where live shows are held throughout the summer season and at Christmas. Further along the path are two totem poles and just beyond that is a vast open area and a lake where fireworks are displayed every Saturday evening in the summer.

Where the fireworks are held on Saturday evenings throughout the summer.
Where the fireworks are held on Saturday evenings throughout the summer.

Continuing our journey we come to several large apple trees flanking the amphitheatre and then the Dragon Fountain on the left. Still further along, another fountain, the three fishes.

The Dragon Fountain
The Dragon Fountain

From there we arrive at the spectacular Rose Garden. A path parallels the garden taking you through several colourful arches. Then the garden proper, a large circular grassy field surrounded on all sides by roses.

Janis and Sheila at one of the arches beside the Rose Garden.
Janis and Sheila at one of the arches beside the Rose Garden.
Roses and baskets of flowers at the Rose Garden
Roses and baskets of flowers at the Rose Garden

At the far end of the Rose Garden is a covered path, a series of arches made of roses. A stunning display.

The covered path at the Rose Garden
The covered path at the Rose Garden

Leaving the Rose Garden we come to the Japanese Garden. This garden trails down a hillside toward Tod Inlet where the family moored its motor launch and spent a lot of recreational time. The Japanese Garden was the first of the gardens built by Jennie Butchart.

A stone path leads across this pond in the Japanese Garden
A stone path leads across this pond in the Japanese Garden
Janis on one of a couple of bright red and black bridges in the japanese Garden
Janis on one of a couple of bright red and black bridges in the Japanese Garden

There is a trail from the Japanese Garden to a dock where they now offer 45 minute boat ride around Tod Inlet and the surrounding area. On the other side of the garden is a trail leading up to the Star Pond. Robert Butchart liked wild birds and kept ducks in the pond.

The Star Pond. Just decorative now. No ducks.
The Star Pond. Just decorative now. No ducks.

And just past the Star Pond is the formal Italian Garden, built in 1926 on the site of a former tennis court. The garden is surrounded on two sides by buildings, one of them the main residence which is now a restaurant.

The Italian Garden
The Italian Garden
The main restaurant
The main restaurant

Between the buildings is a path leading you almost to our starting point. Here you’ll find the famous Wild Boar statue. An exact replica of the fanous Italian statue created in 1620 in Florence, Italy. Like that statue, this one’s nose is shiny from people rubbing it for good luck.

Tacca the Wild Boar.
Tacca the Wild Boar.

Without a doubt, the Butchart Gardens are a must see for visitors to Victoria. And if you’re a local, the season’s pass is a bargain at under $60. We spent five hours there, including an hour for lunch after four hours walking the gardens. We left at 4:30 PM. But after dark, the gardens are illuminated, creating a whole different look. And on Saturdays in the summer there are the fireworks. Definitely worth a repeat visit.

Be sure to click on the Photo Gallery below for more pictures, or just scroll on through if you are on the main page.

 




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Photo Gallery: The Butchart Gardens




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Here are some additional photos of the Butchart Gardens.

The Sunken Garden
The Sunken Garden. You can see the last remaining stack of the old cement plant among the trees on the right.
The flower gardens are stunning in their beauty.
The flower gardens are stunning in their beauty.
The Mound surrounded by flower beds.
The Mound surrounded by flower beds and shrubs and covered in ivy.
Janis, Chris and Sheila on top of the Mound.
Janis, Chris and Sheila on top of the Mound.
The Mound from the other side.
The Mound from the other side.
The Ross Fountain
The Ross Fountain
Janis rides a brass horse.
Janis rides a brass horse.
The carousel
The carousel
Close-up of a fuchsia flower
Close-up of a fuchsia flower
Close-up of whatever kind of flowers these are.
Close-up of whatever kind of flowers these are.
A beautiful yellow rose
A beautiful yellow rose
A blood red lily
A blood red lily
A busy bee gathers some nectar
A busy bee gathers some nectar
There were a few salamanders in this garden.
There were a few salamanders in this garden.
A moss owl.
A sphagnum moss owl.
Gorgeous lilies
Gorgeous lilies
The Three Sturgeons
The Three Sturgeons Fountain
The Butchart house
The Butchart house
The Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden
Sculpted trees in the Japanese Garden
Sculpted trees in the Japanese Garden
An interesting flower in the Japanese Garden
An interesting flower in the Japanese Garden
Looking out to the Tod Inlet from the Star Pond
Looking out to the Tod Inlet from the Star Pond
Tod Inlet
Tod Inlet. Boat rides are now offered.
Colourful flower bed alongside the Italian Garden
Colourful flower bed alongside the Italian Garden
Close-up of some flowers in that garden
Close-up of some flowers in that garden
Janis and Tacca, the wild boar.
Janis and Tacca, the wild boar.
A superb succulent garden near the parking lot.
A superb succulent garden near the parking lot.

 



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Our Cabo Adventure




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The iconic image of Cabo San Lucas is the famous arch, El Arco, a rocky outcrop on the tip of the peninsula not far from the town of Cabo San Lucas. But Cabo is more than just the town and the rock formations. A plethora of large resort hotels dot the coastline between that town and the town of San José del Cabo. And, of course, there are lots of golf courses and a national park near by.

Our first visit to Cabo was to the town. It was the first port of call on a cruise we took in 2007. Although there were excursions available, we opted to wander around on our own. We were surprised to see heavily armed soldiers on duty on the docks.

Along the waterfront in Cabo.
Along the waterfront in Cabo.

Cabo is a pretty little town and we stopped at a place called Margarita Villa for the largest Margaritas we had ever seen.

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Janis and I knock back a couple of giant Margaritas.

Our second trip to Cabo was in 2013 when we spent a week at an all-inclusive resort about half-way between the two towns. The Dreams Resort, like many resorts along the strip, has fabulous amenities – a large swimming pool with a swim-up bar, several fine restaurants, and entertainment.

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The Dreams Resort at Cabo San Lucas

Sandy beaches spanned the front of the resort and off in either direction past many other resorts. Every morning we would start our day with a walk along the beach for an hour or so. The ocean here is a deep blue and the surf is quite fierce. There are warnings to be careful of undertows and riptides. Swimming is at your own risk.

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At one end of the long beach along the Cabo peninsula are these rocky outcrops. You can see the ferocity of the waves as they crash.

One time we were walking along talking and maybe closer than we thought because a large wave crashed and pounded up to where we were. The water swirled around our feet and Janis lost her footing. As she fell, her new hat flew off. I quickly grabbed the hat and was surprised to see her sliding down the sand flat on her back away from me into the sea.

I followed her out and as the wave settled she struggled to her feet and I grabbed her hand and we raced back up the sand out of reach of the next wave. It was a bit of a scare and she lost her glasses in the process. But hey, I saved the hat!

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The picture of me that serves as the header for this blog was shot on our Cabo vacation in 2013.

One day we took the bus into the town of San José del Cabo. It’s a picturesque village with a large church and a central plaza. We wandered around and visited a few shops but there is not a lot to do there.

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San José del Cabo, a pretty little town but not really a lot to do here.

The resort often had entertainment and one evening show featured acrobats twirling batons of fire as well as a lot of dancers on the beach.

Of course, a lot of time was spent just lounging by the pool reading, or going for a swim. Who wouldn’t want to take a dip when the pool has a swim-up bar!

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Sipping Margaritas at the swim-up bar. Life is good!

Later in the week we booked a sunset sailing excursion in town. We took the bus to the city and boarded the boat, a large sailboat. This was a terrific adventure, the surf, the wind, the sail flapping in the breeze.

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Heading out on the sailboat.

The ship took us past the famous El Arco and along the way we saw a narrow strip of sand between two imposing cliffs. The beach, we were told, led to another beach on the other side. The beach on this side was called Lover’s Beach. It is safe to swim here as this is the sheltered side.

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The gap leads to the Pacific side of the Land’s End and Divorce Beach. Swimming there is dangerous. This side, on the Sea of Cortes, is quite safe.

The other side is called Divorce Beach. Here you are exposed to the open sea and the surf is unpredictable and dangerous. Rogue waves, strong undertows and riptides have claimed lives here. Swimming is not recommended. When we returned home I found a few stories on the Internet of drownings and narrow escapes.

We were served a tasty meal aboard and then we sailed into the sunset. A gorgeous sight. We enjoyed this sailing adventure a lot.

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Sunset at sea.

And while we had a great week what with the sea and surf, the swim-up bar at the pool, the fabulous restaurants, and the sailing adventure, we had an unexpected surprise on our last day there.

Dreams Resort is part of a sea turtle rehabilitation program. Five species of sea turtles lay eggs on the beaches of Cabo every June. Some are protected and sheltered until they hatch and return to the sea, but many of the eggs are gathered and taken to safe hatching grounds. When the hatchlings are large enough, they are returned to the sea.

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A large bin full of baby sea turtles.

On our last day there, the resort announce that they would be having a turtle release in the evening just before sunset. Everyone eagerly gathered on the beach to watch.

Hundreds of little sea turtles were placed on the sand and they crawled eagerly out to the sea. As they got closer, the surf pulled some in, and also washed some back up onto the beach. People were eager to help the little critters make it back to their home. It was quite a sight to see.

After a week in Cabo we flew back home and had another adventure, an emergency landing in San Francisco as one of the engines on the plane failed. So we got home a day late, but very happy to have spent a week in fabulous Cabo San Lucas.

Be sure to check out the additional photo gallery for more pics and vids. Either click on the link or if you are in the main page, scroll on through.

 




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Photo Gallery: Cabo San Lucas

Here are some additional photos of our Cabo adventure.

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This was shot from our cruise ship in 2007. 
Armed security guard outside a jewellery store in Cabo.
Margaritaville Restaurant
Janis at the Margarita Villa Restaurant
Me and a painted lady at Cabo San Lucas
Me and a painted lady at Cabo San Lucas
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Looking out to sea from the lobby of the Dreams Resort, Cabo San Lucas
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Miles of sand and many other resorts dot the landscape between the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo
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These were private condos along the Cabo resort strip.
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The church at San José del Cabo
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Mexico’s Independence Day was coming up while we were there so streamers and banners were everywhere.
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Independence Day garden in San José
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More wild surf in Cabo
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Janis and I with a large wave coming up in the background
Janis keeps a wary eye on the waves
Janis keeps a wary eye on the waves
Magnificent rock formations
Magnificent rock formations
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Large breaker comes crashing down
Poolside
Poolside at the Dreams Resort
Janis relaxing in the pool
Janis relaxing in the pool
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El Arco seen from our sailing ship. The sea can be quite rough here.
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Janis and I with El Arco in the background
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We are in the Sea of Cortes. On the other side of the rocks is the Pacific Ocean.
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Not a very well centred photo but it captures the ferocity of the waves here. El Arco is just to the left of the wave.
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Lots of pelicans hang out on the rocks here, leaving behind quite a bit of pelican poop it seems!
Lots of pelicans surround this local boat.
Lots of pelicans surround this local boat.

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The sun sinks into the sea.
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The boat turns on its running lights
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And we head back to port

We’ll leave you with another video of the turtle release. In it we see a couple of waves washing the turtles out to sea, but then one large wave, instead of carrying all the remaining turtles out, pushes a number of them back up the beach. There is a bit of chaos and then the staff tell us we can pick up and carry the turtles back to the water. The video ends with me picking up a turtle and putting it back down closer to the water. The sun had set so the video is a bit grainy.

 

Cascade Falls, B.C.




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There are a lot of scenic wilderness parks in British Columbia and many within driving distance of Vancouver. One that is well known to locals but not very well known to Vancouverites is Cascade Falls Regional Park near the City of Mission. It’s a two hour drive from Vancouver, but just 25 minutes from Mission.

Best way to get there is to take Highway # 1 to the Abbotsford-Sumas exit. Take Highway # 11 to Mission and turn right onto Highway # 7. Shortly after Hatzic Lake, turn left onto Sylvester Road. This is winding road that takes you up the mountain. After 14.6 kilometres, turn right onto Ridgeview Road for a kilometre to the parking lot.

Cascade Falls Regional Park is a 22 hectare park surrounding Cascade Creek. Its main attraction, of course, is Cascade Falls. You’ll find it up a winding trail, a fifteen minute hike that takes you to a viewing platform.

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The falls itself is spectacular. A 30 metre drop carries the swift current to a deep emerald pool below. We were there in July but the amount of water running over the falls is heavier in the Spring. Although the water is cold, there were a few people in swimsuits gathered around the lower pool, cooling their feet and enjoying the view.

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Locals enjoying the scenic beauty of Cascade Falls. Yes, that is someone sitting up at the very top of the falls.

It is not recommended that people stray off trail, but there were certainly a few on the day we were there. From the viewing platform there is a suspension bridge that takes you over the creek and some additional lower falls which drop another 18 metres.

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The suspension bridge

From the other side you get another excellent view of the falls. We were surprised to see a young woman at the very top of the falls standing in the flowing water snapping a picture of some friends.

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Some daredevils at the top of the falls standing in the swift flowing water. She later waded across to the other side.

After watching the young daredevils with bated breath, we wandered in the other direction. We could see additional cascades below and a calm area below that.

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Additional cascades take the creek down another 18 metres.

There were a lot of people surrounding the calm lower pools – a great place for a picnic lunch or a cool dip.

People wading in the lower pools.
People wading in the lower pools. The water is clear and refreshing.
Looking downstream at the lower pools.
Looking downstream at the lower pools.

Upon heading along the trail back to the parking lot, we stopped to check out a giant stump. There are a few of them around the park.

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An old stump in Cascade Falls Regional Park

So if you’re a long time Vancouverite looking for something new to explore, take a trip to Cascade Falls. And if you’re just visiting the area, this is one of many nature parks worth exploring.  Do check it out! We’ll conclude with a few extra pictures.

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People enjoying the cool waters of the pool at the base of the falls.
One of the downstream cascades below the main falls.
One of the downstream cascades below the main falls.
Looking through the trees to the calm pools below.
Looking through the trees to the calm pools below.
Two old stumps!
Two old stumps!
Cascade Falls
Cascade Falls




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Barcelona: La Rambla and More




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After visiting the Parc Güell, the four of us split paths with the wives opting for shopping and Chris and I deciding to take the Hop On Hop Off and get an overview of the city before meeting the girls later to wander up La Rambla. The Barcelona Bus Turistic has three different routes and we took the western route which took us past the Olympic Stadium as well as the waterfront.  One of the first buildings we passed was the Casa Mila, better known as La Pedrera. This is one of the buildings designed by Antonio Gaudi.

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La Pedrera, designed by Antonio Gaudi and built from 1906-1912

The Summer Olympics were held in Barcelona  in 1992 and many of the buildings and public spaces are a lasting legacy. The Montjuic Communications Tower is in the Olympic Park and was used to transmit television coverage of the games.

The Montjuric Communications Tower is 446 foot tall tower designed as a stylized Olympic runner carrying a torch.
The Montjuric Communications Tower is 446 foot tall tower designed as a stylized runner carrying the Olympic Flame.

The Olympic Stadium is still used and was home to Barcelona’s football team until 2009. Many rock concerts are staged there. It was built in 1927 and completely renovated for the 1992 Olympics.

The Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium

Cable cars run from Montjuic to the waterfront and are very popular though we did not go on them. The bus took us past the waterfront where we got off to explore on our own before meeting the ladies.

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The cable cars offer a great view of the city and the waterfront

Barcelona’s waterfront is amazing. Extensive broad pedestrian paths, many shops and restaurants and a lot of intriguing public art. There is a lot of interesting architecture. One prominent feature is a giant sculture of a fish, El Peix, by Canadian architect Frank Gehry. Gehry is also known for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

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Broad plazas and interesting architecture abound on the waterfront. The golden fish sculpture is by Canadian designer Frank Gehry.

Another sculpture is of Gambrinus, a giant lobster. It used to be the mascot of a restaurant called Gambrinus. When the restaurant closed down, the city bought and restored the lobster as public art. A right friendly looking chap he is!

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The unusual sculpture of Gambrinus, the giant lobster.

At one end is a large public beach. The Spaniards are not as prudish as some and topless sunbathing is common here.

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Barcelona’s beautiful beach

We walked up the beach and out along the breakwater, stopping to dip our toes in the Mediterranean for the first time. The breakwater is popular with fishermen and just for walking along.

Out on the breakwater
Out on the breakwater

We walked back past the Spanish Natural Gas Company’s building and along the boardwalk to the statue of Christopher Columbus to meet the ladies. Along the way we noticed many parked motorcyles as well as places where you could rent bicycles. Bikes and motorbikes are very popular in Barcelona.

Bicycles for rent!
Bicycles for rent! These are like a ride share program and you have to be a member to use the bikes. You just pick one up from one of the many locations and cycle to another close to where you want to go. Lock it up and pick up a new bike when you’re ready to head back.
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The statue of Christopher Columbus is in a square at one end of La Rambla

The statue is at the end of La Rambla, Barcelona’s famous street market, and the four of us headed out to take in the sights. And sights there were. The street is full of stands selling a myriad of different products. Fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs, to be sure, but also exotic pets – ferrets and hedgehogs, as well as a lot of birds.

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Food stalls on La Rambla
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Exotic pets for sale on La Rambla.

There were also a lot of street entertainers. Very popular are the human statues, people dressed in colourful costumes and posing as statues until someone drops a coin in the hat at which they become quite animated.

A colourful human statue
A colourful human statue

There were also a number of entertainers dressed as popular cartoon or movie characters. We saw one dressed as Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and another as Edward Scissorhands. Drop a coin in Ed’s box and he would pretend to snip your hair.

Finally we got to the end of la Rambla – the Plaça de Catalunya. A number of hotels and other buildings overlook the square, a central meeting place for many. We had dinner at one of the restaurants near here.

Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya

After dinner we wandered around for a while. We wanted to see the Sagrada Familia at night, which we did. Along the way we noticed great crowds outside every pub and bar. The local football team was playing their great rivals, Madrid and everyone wanted to catch it on television. The home team won and Barcelona became a sea of honking vehicles and flag-waving crowds. A fitting end to our last day in Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia at night
Sagrada Familia at night

We loved Barcelona and it is definitely on our list of cities to visit again!

Click on the Photo Gallery link below for more pictures, or just scroll on down if you are on the main page.




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Photo Gallery: La Rambla and More




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Here are some more pictures from our last day in Barcelona.

Riding the Hop On Hop Off bus
Riding the Hop On Hop Off bus
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A neat old building we passed on the tour. But I don’t know what the building is. If you know, please let me know.
Another close-up view of Casa Mila - La Pedrera
Another close-up view of Casa Mila – La Pedrera
Cable Car Tower Near the Waterfront
Cable Car Tower Near the Waterfront
A reproduction of the Ictineo II, the world's first true submarine.
A reproduction of the Ictineo II, the world’s first true submarine.
Another sculpture along Barcelona's waterfront
Another sculpture along Barcelona’s waterfront
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One of several ultra-modern buildings of the Fenosa Natural Gas Company.
The beginning of La Rambla
The beginning of La Rambla
Hedgehogs are among the exotic pets you can get on La Rambla
Hedgehogs are among the exotic pets you can get on La Rambla
Living statues on La Rambla
Living statues on La Rambla
Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas on La Rambla
Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas on La Rambla
Jack again
Jack again kibbitzing with a couple of teens
The Hotel Ginebra overlooking the Plaça de Catalunya
The Hotel Ginebra overlooking the Plaça de Catalunya
Another view of the Hotel Ginebra
Another view of the Hotel Ginebra




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Barcelona: Parc Güell




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On our last full day in Barcelona we wanted to see everything we had missed so far. A tall order. On our first day we had explored the fabulous Sagrada Familia. On our second day we took a side trip to Figueres to check out the Dali Museum. So we started our third day with a visit to Gaudi’s other masterpiece, the Parc Güell.

We hopped a metro to the Plaça des Lesseps station which is just a fifteen minute walk from the park. Visitors are warned to beware of pickpockets in Barcelona and we encountered one on leaving the station. I was walking up the steps on the right side holding onto the handrail when a young guy came up quickly behind me and tried to barge his way between me and the handrail, but my friend warned me and I held my ground. He went up the stairs empty-handed. When we got to the top I pointed at him and shouted out a warning, “Watch out! That man is a pickpocket.” He gave me an angry scowl and slunk back down into the train station.

The fifteen minute walk took us through some narrow streets and up a fairly steep hill which did have an escalator. When we emerged, there was the elevated plaza that is the centrepiece of the park.

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Our first view of the Parc Guell. Our route took us right to the top of the plaza.

Parc Güell was conceived as a housing development by banker Eusebi Güell. He had acquired a large plot of land on Carmel Hill and commissioned Antoni Gaudi to design the development which was to have sixty upscale houses. Work on the project started in 1900 and continued through 1914 but a variety of factors – complex leaseholds, lack of transportation, and the exclusive nature of the project – doomed the project to failure and only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudi.

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The upper terrace on its 84 Doric columns and edged by the wave bench.

What Gaudi did build was the central terrace, supported by 84 Doric columns, as well as the central staircase leading to the lower terrace. And at the base of the staircase, two buildings – a porter’s lodge and an office (now called the Warden’s House) are pure Gaudi, built when he was at the height of his creative powers. And so were several viaducts, created in Gaudi’s distinctive organic style.

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The Warden’s House, originally designed to hold offices,  and the Porter’s Lodge, both built by Gaudi as part of the entrance area of the park.  The two spires above the apartment building to the left in the background are the Sagrada Familia, another of Gaudi’s master works.

Güell died in 1918 and his heirs sold the property to the city. It opened as a municipal park in 1926.

The terrace is bordered by a long serpentine bench, sometimes called the wave bench. Like many of Gaudi’s works from this time, the bench is inlaid with colourful tiles. The upper terrace commands a brilliant view of the city and the Mediterranean in the distance. Looking down from the terrace, you also see the Porter’s Lodge and the Warden’s House, both also richly covered in mozaic tiles and reflecting Gaudi’s naturalist style – lots of curves.

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Janis and I on the wave bench at Parc Güell, the spire of the Porter’s Lodge behind us.

We descended to the lower terrace and marvelled at the mozaic ceiling between the columns supporting the terrace. The lower terrace itself is often frequented by buskers providing some entertainment for the many visitors.

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Janis on the lower terrace.

From the lower terrace we walked down the sweeping staircases and admired the giant mozaic salamander that is the centrepiece and a hallmark of Gaudi’s style.

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The giant mozaic slamander. We were there on a Saturday and it was very busy – a very popular place with locals as well as tourists.

We then followed a path underneath one of the viaducts. These large structures were quite different in style than the buildings and terrace. The supports and decorative elements were more reminiscent of the Sagrada Familia – a tawny jumble of stonework just piled together. No smooth lines except in the aggregate. Graceful and delicate looking despite the rough hewn edge.

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Along a path taking us beneath one of the viaducts.

Beneath the viaduct we came across another busker playing his instrument, and the path then took us past the Casa Museu Gaudi. This house was built as a show home for the Park Güell residential project by by Gaudi’s right hand man, Francesc d’Assís Berenguer i Mestres and Gaudi lived there from 1906-1925. It is now a museum dedicated to Gaudi and his works. We did not tour the museum.

The Casa Museu Gaudi
The Casa Museu Gaudi

We then walked over the viaduct and back down to the Porter’s Lodge which is open to the public as a gift shop.

The Porter's Lodge
The Porter’s Lodge

Inside we found curved spaces everywhere. Gaudi was fond of curves and used them to good advantage. A narrow winding staircase took us upstairs. From the windows we caught a good view of the sweeping stairs leading up to the terrace.

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Curved spaces in the Porter’s Lodge Gift Shop
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The staircases and terrace that form the entrance to Parc Güell

On leaving the gift shop we came across another busker playing in one of the grottos at the base of the staircase. It was an interesting instrument, both percussion and stringed. He hammered at the strings with mallets creating a very pleasant sound.

As we were about to leave Parc Güell we came across someone in a salamander costume. He had a helmet to match which you could wear to pose for pictures with the man. For a modest fee, of course!

Chris and the salamander man
Chris and the salamander man

We had an enjoyable tour of this popular venue and still had time for more. But the wives and the men had different ideas of fun. So while our wives went shopping, Chris and I jumped aboard the Hop On Hop Off bus and took a last tour of Barcelona. We arranged to meet up with the ladies in the late afternoon at the statue of Christopher Columbus on the waterfront, after which we would explore another must-see Barcelona venue, La Rambla. And that will be the subject of my next post!

Please click on the link below to see an additional photo gallery of the Parc Güell or if you are on the main page, just scroll down. I’ve included links to official websites for the park and for the Gaudi House Museum.




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Photo Gallery: Parc Güell




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Here are some additional photos of our visit to Parc Güell.

From the metro station we took some narrow side streets to the park, including this very steep one.
From the metro station we took some narrow side streets to the park, including this very steep one.
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There is a large natural park behind the terrace. Gaudi wanted to preserve a lot of wilderness in the original plans for Güell’s ambitious project.
The Porter's Lodge, now a gift shop
The Porter’s Lodge, now a gift shop
The Warden's House, originally meant to house offices
The Warden’s House, originally meant to house offices
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Ceiling mozaic above the lower terrace
Janis, Chris and Sheila sitting at the top of the staircase entrance to the park.
Janis, Chris and Sheila sitting at the top of the staircase entrance to the park.
Underneath one of the viaducts. Buskers are a common sight during busy days.
Underneath one of the viaducts. Buskers are a common sight throughout the park on busy days.
We head up onto the viaduct
We head up onto the viaduct
Janis and Sheila and some very large planters on the viaduct
Janis and Sheila and some very large planters on the viaduct
The two buildings at the base of the entrance to the park
The two buildings at the base of the entrance to the park
Looking up to the upper terrace
Looking up to the upper terrace

 

Inside the gift shop
Inside the gift shop
Looking at the Warden's House from a window in the gift shop
Looking at the Warden’s House from a window in the gift shop
A couple of grottos at the entrance to Parc
A couple of grottos at the entrance to Parc Güell. Buskers often entertain in them.
The Warden's House from the street
The Warden’s House from the street




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