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The Beauty in Travel: Edition 1

Updated on February 11, 2014

If I had the resources necessary to leave everything behind; you know work, bills, responsibilities, etc, and just travel the world I would pack my bags and be gone yesterday. The world is full of exciting and beautiful places, where adventure abounds; you can bungee jump from the tallest bridge in the world, you can zip line through the rainforest, or you can safari through Africa; but as amazing as that all may be, I am not in search of traveling for adventure. For me traveling is not about thrill seeking or the act of conquering some wild place, I want to enjoy the beautiful things of the world. What I want to see is beauty!

Throughout the ages, different cultures and countries have created and collected works of art; whether to display in a museum or out in a public space, these are the treasures I seek to see. Some cities are works of art in themselves and I want to take it all in. My desire to travel comes from my love of art and culture. Exploring the art and architecture of a certain city or country connects you to that place and the people without even having to learn a new language.

So Much to See, So Little Time

There is so much I would like to see that I hardly know where I would begin. Now there are the obvious places I must travel to; the Eiffel Tower in Paris is a must see of course, oh and the Colosseum in Rome cannot be forgotten; but besides those wonderful places I have a few others I would like to see, for example:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Venice, Italy
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Istanbul, Turkey

For now I will focus on the first two, Barcelona and Venice.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barcelona at nightAntoni GaudiCasa Batllo facadeCasa Batllo balconiesEntrance to Parc Güellmosaic serpentine benchmosaic salamander at the entrance Sagrada Familiadetail of facadeinterior stained glass window, Sagrada Familia
Barcelona at night
Barcelona at night
Antoni Gaudi
Antoni Gaudi
Casa Batllo facade
Casa Batllo facade
Casa Batllo balconies
Casa Batllo balconies
Entrance to Parc Güell
Entrance to Parc Güell
mosaic serpentine bench
mosaic serpentine bench
mosaic salamander at the entrance
mosaic salamander at the entrance
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
detail of facade
detail of facade
interior stained glass window, Sagrada Familia
interior stained glass window, Sagrada Familia

Barcelona

Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain with a population of almost 5 million people including it's urban areas, the city is a bustling and thriving metropolis. It is located in the northeastern part of Spain and has a Mediterranean climate. There are many aspects of Barcelona that attract millions of tourists to the city each year but my interest is in the famous architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

The city of Barcelona is home to one of the most unique and incredibly beautiful works of architecture. Antoni Gaudi was a Spanish born architect who remarkably blended his love of architecture, nature and religion to enrich Barcelona. There are three works by Gaudi that I would love to see for myself; Casa Batllo, Parc Güell and Sagrada Familia. Two of the three, Parc Güell and Sagrada Familia, have been deemed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Casa Batllo was a a remodeled private house that was redesigned by Gaudi in 1904. The intricate details and curved lines of the outside structure give the building an organic feel. The balconies resemble masquerade masks adding to the uniqueness of the building.

Parc Güell is a municipal garden with architectural aspects on the hill of El Carmel. Along with the gorgeous views offered from a visit to the park, the beauty of the mosaic structures that adorn Parc Güell not only add to the splendor of gardens but enhance the park. From the highest point of the park a complete view of the bay and the city of Barcelona is visible, a good reason to climb to the top.

Sagrada Familia was Gaudi's masterpiece and life's work, it is a Roman Catholic church. Construction on the church began in 1882, and although there have been many interruptions throughout the years, construction on the church continues with an anticipated completion date of 2026. The details and planning that has gone into the construction of the church are what make it such an astounding architectural marvel. One can only imagine the sheer dedication it has taken to bring to life Gaudi's fantastical vision.

There are many beautiful and interesting things to see and do in Barcelona but it is because of these three architectural marvels and beautiful sites created by Antoni Gaudi, that Barcelona has become one of my must see travel destinations.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Gallerie dell'AccademiaVenice, a city sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges as seen from above.entrance to Gallerie dell'AccademiaPiazza San Marco from a distancePiazza San Marcogondola ride and Venetian architectureGrand CanalGrand Canal near Rialto Bridge
Gallerie dell'Accademia
Gallerie dell'Accademia
Venice, a city sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges as seen from above.
Venice, a city sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges as seen from above.
entrance to Gallerie dell'Accademia
entrance to Gallerie dell'Accademia
Piazza San Marco from a distance
Piazza San Marco from a distance
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco
gondola ride and Venetian architecture
gondola ride and Venetian architecture
Grand Canal
Grand Canal
Grand Canal near Rialto Bridge
Grand Canal near Rialto Bridge

After reading about both cities, which would you like to visit the most?

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Venice

Venice is located in the northeastern part of Italy, off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. The city is made up of a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. The entire city is listed as a World Heritage Site. Venice is a romantic city filled with history and great cultural, architectural and artistic contributions.

A trip to Venice must include a stop in Dorsoduro, where the The Gallerie dell'Accademia (Museum of the Galleries of the Academy [originally the Academy of Beaux Arts]) is located. Although parts of the buildings date back to 1344, it was in 1807 that the three main buildings became the Academy. The museum houses the largest collection of Venetian paintings.

The Piazza San Marco was once called "the drawing room of Europe" by Napoleon, in reference to the magnificent square where you can relax and enjoy the view of the city. The piazza is famously known for the amount of pigeons that frequent the area, no doubt hoping to be fed by the thousands of tourists that visit the square each day.

Of course a trip to Venice would not be complete without a gondola ride through the Grand Canal, what better way to take in the beauty of such a magnificent city. Along with the Rialto Bridge, which dates back to 1591, there are three other bridges that cross the Grand Canal, Ponte degli Scalzi, the Ponte dell'Accademia, and the most recent of all four the Ponte della Costituzione.

Venice has so much splendor and beauty to take in that I could not possibly cover it all. I am certain that a trip to Venice could never disappoint those in search of beauty.


Later Travels

As magnificent and beautiful as Barcelona and Venice have proved to be, there is still lots of art and culture in the world left to explore!

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