When I first viewed photos of his cake icing dripping like paint down fairytale buildings, Antoni Gaudí became my chosen architect. He was born June 25th under a Libra moon; I, a fellow crab, was also born under the same moon. If I believed in reincarnation, of which I can imagine some sort of wave pattern version, I would hope some of his gaudiness flowed into me. (More of this gibberish later when I finish reading The Cloud Atlas.)

My sleepy night train let me off at Estación de França. I stashed my Kelty in a locker, grabbed some maps from the nearest tourist depot, and set off on a Gaudí walk of about 10k, or 6.2 miles, wandering northerly — Casa Calvet...Casa Batllò...Casa Milà...Sagrada Família...Casa Vicens...Parc Güelle. At Casa Calvet, I walked by, looked up, and kept moving. This was one of Gaudí's early efforts before 1900, and he hadn't really warmed up yet. Reminded me of the Alamo with added balconies, but not yet that organic flowing art nouveau style which officially began with Alphonse Mucha's Sarah Bernhardt poster in 1894. The curves of Casa Batllò were much more intriguing. Built around 1904, it swirls the art nouveau in with the older Islamic arabesque. Yummy! But it was the Casa Milà, or La Pedrera 1906, that I had to explore around, inside, and above. Antonioni's Passenger with Jack Nicholson had appeared in April, and I was eager to visit the roof of this casa from whence the George Lucas storm troopers, disguised as chimneys, reconned the earth a few years before they star warred in a galaxy far away.

Calvet Batllò Milà Milà Milà Vicens

Sagrada Família, the Church of the Sacred Family, during my visit was only a shell with two, maybe four, towering spires, reminding me of bombed out churches after World War II. After I donated a few pesetas to its coffers, however, its construction gradually accelerated throughout the succeeding years, and now it contains visions Gaudí could never have conceived, like Jesus parachuting from a Vegas casino ceiling. Did Gaudí plan for his aliens and stormtroopers to find a new home in these secret crevices? Nevertheless, there they are. Something about the interior of a tower, steeple, minaret, lighthouse that lures me in. So I too crawled into the concrete tube of the only open bell tower, ascended upwards to a panoramic view of Barcelona below, and Parc Güelle to the northwest. Then and there, Barcelona became my chosen city.

At birth, with my first breath, I am suddenly shocked by a boundless blur trying to eat me before I eat it. To transcend this infinity, by either crawling back to enveloped spaces, or by reaching out where no one has gone before, becomes my life's purpose. This is what drives the architect who can combine both within one building and collapse the duality that all life is heir to. We are all born to AWE the August, Wonderfilled, and Eternal. Awe is our fundamental human emotion, which, as far as we know, no other creature shares; we are more of an awefilled animal than a rational one. We stimulate awe in many ways — music, dance, art, football, rituals, sunsets, mushrooms, mountaintops, milky way, mass, prayer, meditation, enlightenment, nirvana, satori, voices, visions. Somehow each of us attempts throughout our entirety to overcome our awefillness and become one with it by either gulping it all down or surrendering to it. In the end, there is no difference. I knew a little girl once who lived on Awesome Avenue, and did not know it. She grew up to be an architect, but did not like architecture. One day, she suddenly flew off to Australia to visit the Sydney Opera House. Our awesomes relentlessly expand.

Somewhere along the way, while munching in a small café, I chanced upon a group of 5 or 6 Vanderbilt exchange students. Small world, y'all...How bout that, sports fans!...Yeah, right!...Ciaou! So much for mi familia... Also, sometime during the day, I bought a Spanish Army knife previously coveted in a store window back in Madrid. Wow! All those tools in one gadget! What monuments I can build with this! It can pick my teeth while tweaking my nose hairs. Had to have it! Would have preferred a Swiss Army knife, but pesetas were cheaper than francs.


On the way up to higher ground, I sidestepped to Casa Vicens, one of Gaudí's earliest creations, dating from 1883 before art nouveau became the fad. It's a 3D checkerboard of Moorish geometry that reminds me of an Escher Metamorphoses.


This ceramic tiling twists and swirls into an arabesque fairyland as you enter Parc Güelle, which would have been the perfect setting for the 1967 TV series The Prisoner. For a few hours one June afternoon, it was also my perfect setting.

Before dark, I took a few breaths and descended from Parc Güelle, rode the Metro to Estación França, and bought a ticket to Marseilles. Passport stamped at Port Bou, France, slept on thru the night...Thank you, Barcelona, I shall return...