Cultural invasion

The invasion
So we spent this afternoon doing some fun stuff – specifically organizing and booking our holiday for the end of the year. Taking advantage of Claudia’s Paris conference in mid-December, we’ve added on a trip through southern France into Spain and extended our total stay to 13 days.

In Paris, I’ll be doing the tourist thing whilst Claudia slaves away at the conference although we have six days there to explore. The usual tourist traps will be visited but I’ll be attempting to get to the palace at Versailles. The Louvre and the Blackpool Tower (copy) will also be on the list.

Carcassonne
After the conference, we drive south to the medieval walled town of Carcassonne where we’ll spend a couple of days. One of Claudia’s colleagues from Georgia State University happens to live there so we’re hoping to meet up and break bread (and wine). We originally looked at going to Bilbao specifically for the Guggenheim however we decided to save that for our next trip to the region which will also include Santiago de Compostela.

There are many places to visit but you could spend months driving around and discovering interesting places. This quaint town is both architecturally and culturally appealing.

Barcelona
Since we’re visiting several World Heritage sites, we will also be hitting two in Barcelona. This one is the Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music) and was designed by a renowned Spanish architect (Lluís Domènech i Montaner).

He also designed the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Catalan for Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul).

Since we’re on the architecture trip, we’ll be visiting several important buildings designed by Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet. One of his more magnificant projects was the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (official Catalan name; Spanish: Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia; “Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family”). Ignoring the cranes, here visible in this 2006 photograph, it’s definitely a complex structure.

He also did the Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (Catalan for ‘The Quarry’) and worked on the renovations of the Casa Batlló, known to locals as Casa dels ossos (House of Bones) thanks to its rather skeletal appearance.

There’s a whole ton of stuff to do and with five full days in Barcelona, we will be busy. Barcelona has an excellent metro service so getting around should be simple.

Should be a fun trip and we’ll take advantage of the light Christmas Day air travel volume to get back with minimal hassle. It’s traditionally a very light travel day since most people would rather be munching turkey than stuffed in an aluminium tube propelled though the atmosphere by exploding gases. Still, by coming back on Christmas Day, we not only get a quiet flight but we also get to have midnight mass at one of the big cathedrals in Barcelona. A rare opportunity indeed.

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