Tag Archives: urban hiking

Spelled Out in Gothic Barcelona

Even amidst the brain fog that will drift into any 25-hour day it was unlikely we would forget we were in Barcelona last summer. And these bold metal letters near the Catedral de Barcelona were solid proof that our city amble was no dream. Rich with the Roman remnants of a 2000 year history, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) remains the heart of this lively Spanish city.

The ancient section is a labyrinth of narrow streets punctuated by courtyards and placas -larger squares that are hubs of activity and commerce. Our day’s exploration took us first through the Portal del Bisbe, a city entrance dating back to the time of Emperor Augustus.

From there we found the Placa del Rei and ambled on to the Placa St. Miguela. Eventually, at sunset. we arrived at the 15th century church Santa Maria del Pi where age-old histories infused the medieval architecture with a haunting sort of beauty that made the afternoon an almost otherworldly sort of experience. An evening of sushi and wine on our seventh floor balcony primed us for the next day’s explorations.




Featured Photo: Cloud Kisser (Trump Tower Chicago)

Featured Photo: Cloud Kisser (Trump Tower Chicago)

It fits. The Trump Tower Chicago (or more formally: the Trump International Hotel and Tower) is settled into its Wabash Avenue address and holding court over the famed Magnificent Mile as if it had been there all along. 92 stories of hotel, residential and meeting space rise up within the newly completed 415 meter structure. In a city known for architectural achievement, the Trump complements without overwhelming its surroundings. Its spire may get in the way of the occasional cloud, but the building itself is an attractive addition to the downtown skyline.

I caught this moment in August of 2011 while on a morning coffee run, walking west on Whacker toward Michigan.

More album photos: Heather Dugan Creative on Facebook


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Better with Balconies


High rise living could leave one yearning for the outdoors. In Barcelona, Spain, however, the outdoors is generally within easy reach. As we explored the urban canyons created by the six and seven story apartment buildings so common in this city, we were struck by the number of balconies jutting out above us.  In fact, most windows were actually doors opening to essential outdoor space.  Rising above us were countless floating patios upon which residents could sip coffee or wine as they watched a day dawn or diminish.

Our own balcony doors, seven flights up, were always open to the outdoors.  We listened to anonymous guitars in the evening and engaged in quiet people watching as we listened to the sounds of the city. Reluctantly segregated from the outdoors as we stepped into the hotel elevator, the open balcony doors always received first glance upon entering the room.  Hours of walking and exploring the city each day still left us wanting more, and our Barcelona balcony allowed us to linger in it and savor it even from seven stories above.

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