Barcelona: Day One

My parents really wanted to visit Spain while they were on this side of the pond, and I talked Richard into letting me tag-along with them.  He was able to mostly work from home so he could do the school runs, and if you ever have the chance to ask him about his multi-tasking skills he might entertain you with the story of the evening he prepared dinner for the kids while on a conference call.  He had me LOL-ing.  

We flew out of London on Tuesday evening and our flight wasn’t full, which was really nice.  We arrived in Barcelona late and took a bus to our hotel, which was just blocks away from the Placa de Catalunya.  (It didn’t take us long to realize that the Spanish in Barcelona is Catalonian Spanish, and is actually quite different from any Spanish I learned in high school.)  

Since we got in late, we had a late start to our morning on Wednesday, which turned out to be the standard protocol for the rest of our trip. I just figured we were adopting the Catalonian lifestyle, late nights and late mornings.  

Wednesday morning we went to a cafe by our hotel for breakfast.  My parents both had hot chocolate which resembled pudding as much as any hot chocolate we’re accustomed to.  It was soooo yummy.  From there we walked to the Placa de Catalunya and then further on to Las Ramblas.  We stopped in at a Tourist Office where I asked about Flamenco performances (thanks again, Tanya) and found out there was one that night.  My mom wanted to see it as well so we made our way toward the Palau de la Musica Catalana where we bought tickets for the show.  By this time it was around noon and we had a tour booked at the Sagrada Familia at 1:30.  My dad decided to walk to the cathedral and meet us there.  My mom and I found a cafe for lunch and had our first experience with Spanish Tapas.  We were not disappointed.
My mom and I took the metro to meet up with my dad at the Sagrada Familia.  It was really warm outside by this time of day, but the blazing Barcelona sun felt pretty good on my pasty London skin.  Our tour of the Sagrada Familia was interesting and it was nice to enter the cool cathedral and have a break from the heat. 

The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia isn’t an old cathedral.  In fact, it isn’t finished.  It’s been under construction for over 100 years, but as our tour guide pointed out, that’s pretty typical for cathedrals of this magnitude.  The architect and designer of the Sagrada Familia was a man named Antoni Gaudi, who I came to really love during my time in Barcelona.  He was a simple man, with a vivid imagination, passion for color and commitment to incorporating nature in all his work.  Because the cathedral is relatively modern, and because Gaudi put his colorful twist on Gothic design, the cathedral was different than anything I’ve ever seen.  

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I borrowed this photo of the Passion Facade from Wikipedia because it has been professionally edited to remove the cranes, which are an obvious fixture in all my photos. Our tour guide said that the construction of the Sagrada Familia is as much a part of Barcelona culture as tapas and the beach.

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From the Nativity Facade.

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Monochromatic stained glass? Yes please!

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I could not get enough.

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The columns are designed to look like palm trees, you can see the way they flare at the ceiling.

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Glorious.

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We went up into one of the towers where we had fabulous views of the city.

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At the tops of the exterior pinnacles are sculptures of fruit made from Venetian glass tiles.

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A photo bomber in my photo of the tower stairwell. It was beautiful to look all the way down through the center of the staircase, but also a bit unnerving.

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One of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken. The afternoon sun shining through the stained glass was completely bathing the western facing aisle in the most gorgeous orange light. It was magical.

When our tour was finished we ate gelato in the park and then my dad decided to continue walking, as he likes to do, but my mom and I took the metro up to the Parc Guell. We weren’t exactly sure what we were going up there to see, and even after we got off the train it was quite a hike in the summer heat.  But we did find some more amazing city views, and more of Guadi’s brilliant works.  

Guadi and his friend Eusebi Guell had dreams of building a community in the park, plans were drawn up for 60 homes, but only two were ever built and the project fell apart.  

By 6:00 my foot was blistered and we were getting hungry so we walked back to the metro, took a train back to the hotel so I could change my shoes and then hopped back on the metro to meet up with my dad for dinner.  (I’m usually pretty practical when it comes to travel shoes, I don’t take many chances.  But I had just bought a pair of Birkenstocks and I was totally expecting them to live up to their hype and keep my feet in comfort and ease. Apparently they need to be broken in just like any other shoe.)  

We found my dad, ate Tapas for dinner, and then my mom and I went to the Flamenco & Opera show. It was so amazing. We were literally on the edge of our seats for the entire show.  (Partly due to the fact that it was hard to see around the people in front of us if we sat back in our seats.)  The dancing was awesome and the opera was impressive.  I’m glad we were able to get in.  

Once again we met up with my dad, who had discovered the leisure and charm of the Barcelona beachside, went back to the hotel and I think I fell asleep in 30 seconds or less.  

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A photo of the Palau de la Musica where we saw the show. It was taken with my phone so of course it doesn’t do it justice. My mom and I commented about how ornate it is, and how Americans are sometimes too practical or modern to build such detailed theaters.

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