Gaudi's legacy lives on in Barcelona landmarks

Cruise editor Rebecca Tobin succumbed to "Gaudi fever" on a one-day layover in Barcelona, Spain. Her report follows:

BARCELONA -- Although the "Year of Gaudi" here is coming to a close, hang onto your Iberia airline tickets, folks.

Officially, the 150th birthday celebrations for Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona's most famous architect and one of its strongest tourist draws, will end this year along with all of the tours and festivals. But luckily for those who won't make it to this year's events, Gaudi's architecture isn't going anywhere.

No visit to this city is complete without a stop to gawk at some of the most unusual buildings in Europe, such as the Casa Battlo and Casa Mila, where the curved facades resemble underwater coral reefs.

The construction of Sagrada Familia church, designed by Antoni Gaudi, was begun in 1883. If your clients have one day to spend in Barcelona, I'd recommend Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia church.

My companion and I bought a one-day pass on Barcelona's subway, the Metro, which is fairly painless to use.

However, the walk up the steep street from the Metro station to Parc Guell had me calling the place "Park Gruel."

But the park -- a relaxing space with colored mosaic benches and fantastical sculptures -- was worth the climb.

Another long walk and we were at the partially finished Sagrada Familia, which -- both massive and whimsical, the definitive Gaudi church -- is unlike any other I've seen.

Visitors can take an elevator to the top of its spires -- affording unparalleled city views -- where you're so close to the sculptures that you're practically in their midst.

Back at our hotel, the posh, pricey and centrally located Hotel Ritz, we discovered that some friends had seen both the park and the church via Barcelona's easy-to-use Bus Turistic.

The bus operates two loops around the city. Visitors can hop on and off; a one-day ticket, at about $14 for adults, can be bought on the bus.

Commissions at the Hotel Ritz start at 10%; rack rates for a standard room start at about $360 per night.

For more on the hotel or to book, call (011) 34-93 318-5200, e-mail [email protected] or visit on line.

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