Day 1

Liverpool Day 1

I am staying Liverpool for a couple of days to visit my Stepbrother who is at university here. We are going to the Liverpool Philharmonic to see Beauty and the Beast live in concert, my Christmas present to him, and to myself. Whilst here I am of course planning to do some building spotting as I have never been to Liverpool.

Being dropped off at your hotel by a lovely Liverpudlian taxi driver is the perfect way to begin a trip to Liverpool. After a long train ride from Bristol and a much needed rest most of the day is gone. We have the theatre this evening so not too much time for sight seeing but we’ll do our best.

Our first early evening stop is to the Albert Dock and the surrounding area. A good way to tick one building off of the list and get some food before the show. The Albert Dock is one of the buildings from the book ”1001 Buildings you Must See Before you Die”. I have to say personally I was  more impressed by the  Liver building and other buildings that surround the Albert Dock although I think the wind and heavy rain may have influenced my opinion slightly.

Here are some of the pics I took of the buildings that I fell in love with.

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DSC06381.JPGThe Cunard Building  – Some closer pictures of this spectacularly detailed building.DSC06350DSC06408

Beautiful detailing on the side of this buildingDSC06398

DSC06412DSC06374The all important Liver Building

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DSC06348But it was this art deco gem was my personal favourite. More stunning detail coming up

DSC06357This was a truly stunning building and I was quite shocked to discover that it was only a ventilation building. (The Mersey Tunnel Ventilation Station).

When we finally got to the Royal Albert Dock time was pressing on and the weather was worsening so I don’t think these pictures do it justice and despite what I said earlier I love this area and think it would be a great place to spend time when the weather is nice.

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Just as I thought that that was it for the evening with regard to building watch the theatre looks like this!

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Full of lots of lovely Art Deco details I was pleasantly suprised once again this evening unfortunately my camera died and the photos that I took on my phone were not good so this is the only picture I have to show you of this building.

Well that really is it now. Time for the show. Can’t wait to explore Liverpool tomorrow, I have a feeling it’s gonna be good.

Day 4

Barcelona Day 4

This is the lovely footbridge that we walk over on the way to the metro station.DSC05990I think that I exercised the art of compromise very well today. Two amazing Gaudi buildings, in exchange for one.

We had planned to see the Casa Mila and the Casa Batllo today but due to cost and taking into account what my friend wanted to do we decided to go to the Palau Guell (and I have actually been to the other two before, so I thought this was a fair compromise).

DSC05995The building has a modest entrance but looking closely at the iron work all of the Gaudi detail is there.

Look at these amazing details.

The tour starts at the very bottom with the stables.DSC06017DSC06020DSC06006I’m not sure what I was expecting from this building. All that I previously knew of it was the roof top with the famously designed Gaudi chimneys. I can honestly say that I was surprised and blown away by the beauty of this building and the interiors, but then it does have the word palace in its title.dsc06041.jpgDSC06054DSC06060DSC06064

This bullding was Gaudi’s first commission from Guell. Gaudi collaborated with other craftsman and designers to complete this building.DSC06071This fireplace (along with a few others that look very similar to this one) was designed by Gaudi.

DSC06097After six Glorious floors, this is it! We are about to step outside onto the Wonderful roof of the Palau Guell. I cannot remember how long I have waited for this moment. Last time I was here I remember that the building was closed for some reason.DSC06207DSC06158DSC06152DSC06161DSC06227Wow! Is all I can say, definitely worth the wait.DSC06149 2This is definitely my Favourite chimneyDSC06162Some more great views of the city.

After the Palau Guell we needed a sit down and some food as we spent about two hours walking around the building and listening to the very informative audio guide.

A little unsure of what to do next, and fast running out of funds we decided to find the music hall, the Palau De La Music. After walking there we arrived twenty minutes too late for the last tour of the day. Unfortunately access to the inside of the building is by guided tour or by going to a performance only. But we did get some lovely exterior shots, and it does leave me with something to do on my next visit to Barcelona.DSC06280DSC06298

A little bit of art deco detailing  in this very nouveau city.DSC06321Just time for a few more pics along the way.DSC06242

DSC06250DSC06252dsc06253.jpgDSC06254So unfortunately for me that is pretty much it for this visit to Barcelona. Now there is only time, (and enough money) for a coffee and a quiet night in.

DSC06335Well almost it, I can never resist a photo opportunity.

Barcelona you’ve been utterly fabulous and even more amazing than I remembered. Farewell, until we meet  again!

Day 3

Barcelona  Day 3

Today’s itinerary is a change in the Gaudi schedule. We ventured a little further out of the city today to visit a building designed by one of my absolute favourite architects, Mies Van Der Rohe. The Barcelona/German pavilion is a building that I have never visited before however I have seen the scale model of it (which is housed in the Bauhaus Archive Museum, Berlin) three times! As you can imagine I am very excited to see the real thing. As we exit the metro station I am already very pleasantly surprised by what I can see. Here are some pictures from the surrounding area.dsc05629.jpgdsc05632.jpgdsc05634.jpgDSC05642DSC05648

                 I absolutely love the carvings of the sheep like creature on the pillar above.

Whilst walking around and enjoying the surroundings I am pleased that the Pavilion is not too far away and am very excited when I see it from the corner of my eye. It is not as I would have expected to find it. It is serenely tucked away in a corner of the square, which seems quite fitting. You have to stand and wait to be served by the attendant, who sits there in a Mies Van Der Rohe designed cantilever chair.

DSC05734As a lesser known attraction there weren’t many people around which was great, but I still had to wait ages to get the shots I wanted.DSC05675DSC05676DSC05695DSC05670DSC05711The Barcelona chair, (and stool) my personal favourite in chair design history. This chair was designed specifically for the pavilion in 1929 by Mies Van Der Rohe in collaboration with another designer, Lilly Reich.DSC05680DSC05732We spent longer than expected at the pavilion and in the shop! After we left we thought we might try and find the Olympic Telecommunications tower (or the white sculpture thingy as I had been referring to it). As we came out of the station I saw it on the skyline and it’s something that had previously caught my eye, not only that I was sure that I had seen it in the 1001 building book.

We walked further and further and further up the hill. As I finally saw it in full view I decided that it could not be that far away and I’d come this far… there was no going back now. I also hoped/dreamed that there would be a cafe up here. I was wrong!!!DSC05748We made it to the sculpture and we walked around the olympic park areaDSC05778DSC05806By the sweetest of coincidences we then found a shack with a few chairs so we were able to sit and have some water and an ice cream.DSC05810I found this bell (next to the ice cream shack) quite interesting.

I have since found out that not only is the telecommunications tower in the book but It was designed by a famous architect, Santiago Calatrava. Calatrava is an architect that I learnt about at university. I have seen many pictures and am very interested in his work.DSC05801What is also very interesting about his tower is its fan shaped white base.DSC05795DSC05797It didn’t occur to me at the time what its purpose was or why it was there. I have since found out from the book ‘1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die’ that Calatrava designed this base using the ‘Trencadis’ approach (a technique developed by Gaudi) with white mosaic tiles to pay homage to work of Gaudi.

I found this incredibly moving, what better way to reflect the city than with a beautiful contemporary monument but with the added tribute to the city’s architectural and Catalonian born master Antoni Gaudi.

On our way back down the hill after failing to flag a taxi down we followed signs to a metro station and came across an escalator….DSC05829DSC05830…. And anotherDSC05819Until we end up hereDSC05824Which is actually here!DSC05642DSC05855And there is another escalator (look to the right hand side, by the trees) right down to the bottom. why walk up a hill/ mountain (Mount Montjuic) when you can get an escalator! Hindsight is a Wonderful thing!

Some more pictures and details from this lovely area.

The rest of our afternoon was spent back in the Gothic Quarter.DSC05869DSC05870DSC05873DSC05889

A few more samples of what the gothic quarter has to offer.

We went back to our hotel early today to have a little rest before going out again this evening on a trip to another mountain.

This is it (as seen from near our hotel)IMG_1015We got a taxi up to Tibidabo, (which was surprisingly cheap). When we got up there there was snow on the ground, I know it’s high up but I didn’t realise it was that high up. It was a beautiful and hot sunny day in the city!

Although very chilly it was worth it to see the cathedral, (the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) and to get some great views of the city.DSC05939

          Another highly detailed, beautiful cathedral.

DSC05952Stunning view of the city.DSC05948Doesn’t look like such a big hill now!DSC05950I thought I could get to this observatory, looked quite close, I can see now it’s miles away.DSC05958And of course I can never resist the urge to take a picture of my fav!

Well that’s it for another day but I have to say I’m very impressed by what we have achieved. Two mountains and two buildings from the book. Great day.

Day 2

Barcelona Day 2

Very excited this morning to finally be returning to the Sagrada Familia. I’ve been planning to get back here for quite some time now, but have not made it until today. Straight away I wonder what on earth took me so long! This is what greets me as I exit the metro station.

DSC05365Words and photos could never do this place justice. If you have never been here then you need to go!

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A bit of background on the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi took over the design and building of this cathedral in 1883 and spent the next 43 years of his life working on it. He even moved in to his study in later years and spent the last years of his life living there, devoting his life solely to its work.

The the construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 (by a different Architect who left the project before Gaudi took over) and is still under construction today. The latest date for its completion is 2026 marking the 100th Anniversary of Gaudi’s death. I say this somewhat sceptically as the completeon date has changed many times over the years and I can certainly remember that after one of my visits in the early 2000’s that completion was planned for 2012!

I wonder if I will ever get a shot of this building that doesn’t have a crane in it!

Anyway, the last time I came here it had no roof and you could roam about the space and watch workers carving some of the plaster pieces like the bowls of fruit to be added to the exterior.

DSC05394DSC05422Wow what a ceiling. There was definitely no glass in the windows last time I visited.

Again it saddens me to say that this building has also been Cordoned off and access is with military precision. Timed entry and bags checks are in place, and again I understand the need for this but find it so sad this is necessary at all. I can remmeber visiting (having to queue for ages) but the queue was so informal and close to the building that you could reach out and touch it, it was also a great chance to take photos while waiting.

Like most things the entry price has gone up significantly. When my Mum Brought my Brother and I all those years ago the modest entry price covered access to and around the building as well as museum entry and a lift to the top of the towers. Now the tickets are broken down into access to the building including school building and museum.  Guided tours which are sold separately and the all important tower access which seems to be sold as an add on and is really quite expensive.

However, having said all of that I feel that I am happy to pay what I have to, especially if the money goes towards the building and it means that I may see the Sagrada Familia finished in my lifetime.

On this occasion due to timings and cost my friend and I decided not to go for the tower access. I have done it twice before and I had to let my brain overule my heart today which I have to say probably worked out for the best as we spent hours marvelling at the bullding itself that is now a proper enclosed building with a ceiling and windows. We also got to look around the school building (which I have never done before) and see the wonderful museum which contains a very poignet  view into the closed off crypt of the building and of the tomb of Antoni Gaudi himself.

DSC05445DSC05455DSC05458The School building, set in the grounds of the Sagrada Familia, designed by Gaudi for local children and children of the cathedral’s workers.

DSC05428DSC05430Comparisons in Gaudi’s sculptures can be made to other areas of his work – the helmets upon the above figures remind me very much of some of the chimneys designed for the Casa Mila (a private residence designed by Gaudi)DSC05431DSC05435These hard lined sculptures on the passion facade are very different to the shapes on the other facades. I found out in the museum that the passion facade is all about the crucifixion of Jesus. The blunt, harsh lines of all of the sculpture work on this facade was designed to depict the mourning and suffering caused by the crucifixion.dsc05481.jpgZoomed in view of the very top of the towers, stunning.DSC05477Here you can quite clearly see the multiple bowls of fruit that adorn the building.

What a morning. This has to be the best morning of the year so far. I know it’s only March but I will have to go a very long way to beat it.

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Change of scenery this afternoon and after lunch we went to the Gothic quarter for a wander around.

DSC05584From one cathedral to another The Barri Gotic cathedral in the heart of the gothic part of the city.

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I loved some of the wonderful details that I found whilst walking around this afternoon.

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DSC05605These two buildings stand opposite each other in one of the city’s stunning squares

DSC05624DSC05626The amount of palm trees in this city really enrich its beauty especially in its square’s like the pictured above. The lamp posts are pretty spectacular as well.

 

dsc05616-e1522169912664.jpgI could not resist adding photos of these two very different, very beautiful windows.

My friend was very keen to visit the beach whilst in Barcelona and there was something else that I was very keen to see also near the beach so after a wander and coffee we got a riskhaw to the… ‘Fish Sculpture’

IMG_1698IMG_1701Designed by Frank Gehry, another of my favourite architects I was very happy to add this to my collection of Gehry buildings and scupltural instilations.

IMG_1716I like the look of this building that I saw on the way back from the beach.

That is pretty much all we had time for today in terms of sight seeing. We sure did cover some ground. Now time for tapas!

Day 1

Barcelona Day 1

I arrived in Barcelona this morning to beautiful sunshine and I enjoyed a taxi ride taking in some of the sites of the city’s outskirts along the way. My friend arrived the day before so I was able to go straight to the room and prepare for the day ahead. We stayed in a hotel in the outer part of the city which was nice to get a different perspective of the city and to see some buildings that we would not otherwise have seen, oh and we were very close to the Park Guell!

It is at the Park Guell that our adventure begins. I cannot believe it has been 12 years since I last visited this place. Upon first glance the only thing I recognise is the main entrance, which is now closed off. As there is already a big queue we decided to explore the outer areas of the park and see the main park later. Here of some of the delights that you can expect to find in this wonderful parkland setting.

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When we decided to go into the main park we bought tickets and had to wait an hour as the entry is now timed to allow only 400 people in the main park at any one time, as we later found out whilst queuing again to get in at 3.30pm. I asked one of the attendants when the entry fee and timed entry came into place and apparently this has been the case since 2013. On the one hand I do not mind spending money and helping towards the preservation and upkeep of such a Wonderfull place. On the other had I find it so sad that on the two previous occasions that I have visited (although busy) it was so much more relaxed as you could just wander in through the main entrance. Now the main entrance is the exit and you have to enter through one of the other designated entry points. I do however like the fact that the timed entry limits the number of people in the park at any one time. However nothing can deter from the stunning beauty of this place and the incredible attention to detail which is what makes this park truly magical.

 

The above buildings show the porters lodge (left) and the administration building (right)

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DSC05326DSC05325Gaudi was commissioned by his good friend Eusebi Guell to design the park and the individual residences that were due to be built here.

The land was bought by Guell and his intention was to build a community for the wealthy of Barcelona in a natural setting outside of the city. Designs for the park were based upon the idea of the English garden cities, whereby people could escape the urban city life and live in a more natural environment. 60 plots were due to be built in this parkland setting. The development was eventually stopped by Guell in 1914 for a number of reasons, largely due to Guell’s strict restrictions on the site. The main being that he would not allow public transport into the park which made the park very difficult to access, and put people off buying plots on the site. The park remained as it is today and upon Guell’s death was bought by Barcelona council and opened up as a wonderful public space that is now a UNESCO World heritage site.

DSC05316The famous serpentine bench, designed by Gaudi was designed as a communal area for the park’s residents.

dsc05344.jpgThis building is where Guell and his family lived, (not designed by Gaudi) and is now a school.

Sadly, there is building work going on at the park at the moment (which I guess makes sense as it’s only March. They are doing the work now so the park will be looking its best for the popular summer months). Although disapoinnting it was actually quite interesting to see some uncovered areas of the park.

DSC05300In the above picture you can see the dome shapes in the ceiling whereas on the area above you have the gravelled path that is clearly flat and shows no evidence of the shape of this ceiling.

DSC05310DSC05308In these photos you can see the stripped back raw surface of the ceiling below and just how much gravel is used to create the lovely smooth surface that is usual in the park.IMG_0541In this picture you can see how flat the surface is usually

Building works also meant that you could not access all of the bench but no matter how many times I see this bench is does not fail to take my breath away with it’s sheer beauty.

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And that was it for the day. What a great reintroduction to Barcelona.

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Additional Information

The Story of Mackintosh’s Tea Rooms

As a fan of Mackintosh’s work I have wanted to come to Glasgow for some time. One thing that I have really struggled to get my head around though is the story of the infamous tea rooms.

My Mum has previously visited Glasgow and said that there are two Willow tea rooms and the research I have done talks about a few other different tea rooms, most of which I have not heard of. I was very confused but have since managed to get my head around the situation after visiting the city and speaking to very informative people along the way. For anyone else who may be Confused this is the whole story, from the beginning.

Mackintosh was commissioned by local business women Kate Cranston to design/co design the interiors for her tea room business. In total Mackintosh was involved with the design of four tea rooms. The Buchanan Street Tea Rooms, the Ingram Street Tea Rooms, the Willow Tea Rooms and the Argyle Street Tea Rooms.

Eventually all of these tea rooms were sold and buildings were used for different purposes, interiors destroyed.

In the 1980’s two of  properties were bought with the intention of restoring the buildings back into the Mackintosh tea rooms that they once were. These are now the only two Mackintosh based tea rooms in Glasgow. One of these properties is the place I visited today ‘The Willow Tea Rooms’ at Buchanan Street, (only a few doors down from the original tea room site). This site was purchased and restored 20 years ago. The owner of this business also bought the name ‘The Willow Tea Rooms’ and all the rights to the name, even though this was not the original site of The Willow tea rooms but the Buchanon Street tea rooms. Which is why as my Mum said there are two Willow Tea Rooms. One question answered! This also explains why the people I met referred to this site as the Buchanan Street tea rooms rather than Willow tea rooms. Very confusing.

Be aware that if you go onto ‘The Willow Tea Rooms’ website they have another business: At The Watt Brothers. This looks like a beautiful building and was designed buy an architect that Mackintosh previously worked for. But is not a Mackintosh building inside or out.

The second renovated site was 217 Sauchiehall street, the original site for the Willow tea rooms, which again explains why people refer to this site as the Willow tea rooms even though its not actually called that as the other tea rooms own that name!

The plot thickens, just when you thought it couldn’t get any more confusing. 217 Sauchiehall Street (which was the more authentic of the two tea rooms having incorporated some of Mackintosh’s original work, his famous doors for example) was only opened on a lease. The property was opened 34 years ago as I’m told by the lovely lady I met at ‘The Willow Tea Rooms’ this lease has now expired and the tea rooms have closed once again. which is why I find myself today in Buchanan street instead of enjoying a more authentic Mackintosh experience.

I have been given conflicting information. The lady at the Glasgow school of art told me that 217 Sauchiehall st was closed for renovation whereas the lady in ‘The Willow Tea Rooms’ told me that 217 Sauchiehall st was closed indefinitely as the lease has run out.

As mentioned above one of the things I have heard a lot about and was very excited to see were the original Mackintosh doors. Unfortunately these were in place at the 217 Sauchiehall tea rooms so I haven’t been able to see them. I am given a glimmer of hope when the lady at the ‘Willow Tea rooms’ tells me that as the doors belonged to the building they have remained with the building. She then said that the owner of the building has since donated/sold them to the Kelvingrove museum which is lucky because my hotel is only a few minutes walk from there.

Bad news (for me) is that my hunt for the doors was unsuccessful. I absolutely loved the Kelvingrove museum, especially the Mackintosh exhibit but I saw no doors! Before I left I asked at the help desk about the doors and was told that the doors were on temporary loan to the museum and have since been returned to the owner. I found this news very disappointing.

Good news. A few days on and I have now found out that there is a planned renovation of the 217 Sauchiehall Street site. The willow Tea Rooms Trust is currently renovating the site which is due to open 7th June 2018. This date marks the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth, and I am really, really, really hoping that this is where the doors are now!

I hope this clears things up.

Sources for all of the information that I have used in my blogs about Glasgow:

The House for an Art Lover

The Glasgow School of Art

The Willow Tea Rooms at Buchanan Street

The Lighthouse

The Kelvingrove Museum

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society

Visiting Charles Rennie Mackintosh- Roger Billcliffe

Charles Rennie Mackintosh – illustrated book produced in collaboration with Glasgow School of Art

Architectural Diaries

Glasgow Day 5

Today is sadly my last day in Glasgow. I don’t have to be at the airport until about 3pm so I am going to try and cram in two small adventures.

Even though I definitely want to return to Glasgow I thought that I would like to see at least one of the buildings from the 1001 buildings book.

Glasgow has been a little disappointing. Quite a few buildings that I have wanted to see have been closed at this time of year, and others shrouded in scaffolding or undergoing restoration you get the picture, I’m not bitter at all, but I do need to see at least one of the buildings from the book.

I took a taxi to the St Vincent Street Church. As the building was closed I asked the taxi driver to wait for me whilst I had a good look around and took some pictures of the exterior. Another fabulous Glaswegian building.

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Although closed today I got to have a good look at the building exterior. Look at some of the beautiful detailing that you cannot see in the above picture.

 

 

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There we go at least I can tick off one building from the 1001.

I got back in the taxi to go to the Mackintosh Church in Queen’s cross, also home to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh society.

Looking at this church from across the road it is very plain to see that this is a mackintosh building. however, I arrived at the building by a taxi that approached from the side and I was quite underwhelmed. For a few seconds I genuinely thought the driver had brought me to the wrong place, which is what made the following few seconds all the more magical as I began to notice every little beautiful detail that makes a Mackintosh a Mackintosh.

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You could almost be forgiven for mistaking this church’s interior as any other traditional church interior. This is the genius of this building. All the subtle Mackintoshisms make this building really special whilst still achieving the simplistic interior that was required.

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Above are perfect examples of what set this church apart from any other.

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Interestingly small Mackintosh details have been introduced into the surrounding area, like this Mackintosh inspired clock tower and some of the front doors have used the nine square formation that Mackintosh was famous for.

 

Do you like what I did there!

With about two hours to go before I need to leave for the airport I think I have just about enough time for one last Mackintosh gem…And I really need a coffee.

On my limited time frame I decided to head to a much lesser known and more hidden Mackintosh masterpiece. The Daily Record Building. I was quite shocked to see such an amazing and beautiful building down such a narrow backstreet alley. I had a good look at the building and took some photos, although it was hard to take a good photo due to the narrow proximity of the lane.

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I poked my head into the building, now a cafe called Stereo but nothing left of Mackintosh to see in there so I wandered back onto the main road for a chance to see some of the city’s other lovely buildings and also to get that much needed coffee.

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Very happy with my day today. Not only did I manage my two adventures but I also had time for another along the way. Successful day and now it’s time to go to the airport. Bye bye Glasgow.