Some of you may have read about the Western expat phenomenon. While there’s been a great deal of recent press dedicated to both legal and illegal immigration into the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the Western European countries, there’s been a quieter flow of Western retirees and digital nomads retreating from post-industrial economies to the developing world.
In my travels, I’ve met Americans living in Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador, Australians and Kiwis living in Indonesia and Malaysia, Brits living in Spain and Thailand, and Germans, French, Dutch etc. living in all the afore-mentioned countries plus a handful of other destinations. While expat retirees may have a different set of criteria than their younger digital nomad counterparts, they all share the desire for a reasonable cost of living, temperate climate and lower levels of stress in their daily lives.
Most people either love or loathe Gaudí’s designs. Some architectural critics have described his work as garish and overly busy. Gaudí was certainly not cut from the same fabric as Mies van der Rohe and other later architects who espoused the notion that ‘less is more’.
Personally, I admire his disregard for convention and dedication (or obsession) to finding unique solutions to the structural engineering problems posed during the process of creating his more unique buildings.
While Gaudí always aimed for perfection in his work and collaborated with the best artisans of his time, I’m drawn to the projects he designed in the latter half of his career with their whimsical style and forms imitating nature. Gaudí supposedly said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that there were no straight lines in nature so he didn’t intend to use them in his work.
The technical difficulty and expense of building such elaborate and unusual structures is apparent since only the highest quality materials were used and every detail was meticulously executed. These buildings were made to last through the ages, unlike the poor quality construction slapped together in most world cities these days which is expected to be replaced after a period of 30 or so years.
Following are photos of four of Gaudí’s buildings in Barcelona: 1) La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family), 2) Casa Battló (my favorite), 3) La Predrera (also known as Casa Milá), and 4) Güell Palace (one of his early projects).
I’ve been a huge fan of Antoni Gaudi’s work since my first visit to Barcelona in 1993. Since then, I’ve come to admire his knowledge of engineering as well as architectural design along with his personal tenacity and maverick spirit that, while not always pleasing his clients, drove him to perfect his methods. Viewing his work up close, I’m always struck by the attention to detail and exquisite craftsmanship evident in his completed works. As the old saying goes–they don’t make ’em like this anymore!
Granadamay be world famous for its magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site, the Alhambra, but this fascinating city has so much more to offer. A stroll up hill from the city center and the Granada Cathedral will take you through the ancient Muslim quarter known as the Albayzin with its narrow lanes and palaces.
The historic Realejo, Granada’s former Jewish district, is also a must see with its hipster hangouts where I was lucky enough to find a delicious vegan restaurant. Granada is home to more than 80,000 university students so the city is always buzzing with activity.
Of course, it’s the Alhambra that draws legions of tourists to Granada. To those who are unfamiliar with this architectural treasure, the Alhambra isn’t merely a building. The expansive hilltop compound encompasses a fort, assorted palaces, gardens, churches and museums.
The difficulty of securing a last minute ticket to see the interiors of the Nasrid Palaces, the highlight of any visit, is well worth the effort. These palaces display the very best of Moorish craftsmanship that had developed over the previous seven centuries in Al-Andalus. Of particular note is how effectively the architects used water to add a sense of infinite space and tranquility.
GRANADA, the last kingdom of the Moors in southern Spain, is a treasure trove of historic architecture. The apex of any visit to the city are the marvelously detailed palaces of the Alhambra, which were built on a hill overlooking the city center. While I personally didn’t find the buildings comprising the Alhambra to be any more beautiful than those of the Alcazar in Seville, the Alhambra’s setting in a magical forest high above the city is what makes it truly special.