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Pure madness or pure genius?!

Gaudi’s Barcelona

View Madrid & Barca - 2019 on JackiesJourneys's travel map.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

We left the room 14+ hours ago and are just now getting back after 10pm.

Once we returned, Cindy spotted an airfare deal from Chicago to Barcelona. Is it too early to book your next trip while still on your current one?! I didn’t, but man I’d love to come back to Barcelona (and not wait 24 years before that next return). I was actually pondering my need to return while wandering the streets today, completely enchanted with everything. I may leave here with a permanent krink in my neck from always having something catching my eye, causing my head to fly back or swivel up to get a better look. Even our one guide said after 10 or more years of living here, she still find herself discovering little things she’s probably walked by hundreds of times before. But I suppose, let’s dive into those 14+ hours worth of fun and excitement.

The one definite for this trip was getting a tour of Sagrada Família. That was all researched and booked before we ever left home. I was keeping my expectations low as you never know with those tours what you’ll get. I wanted a small group, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen (but it did this time!!). I am so unbelievably happy to say that the tour ended up far exceeding expectations. The building itself is awe inspiring and our guide, Georgina, did an amazing job of explaining what we were seeing and really bringing it all together. She had facts, figures and stories, all of which were delivered brilliantly.


So the tour was scheduled with a 9:30 start time where we needed to arrive and check in at least 15 minutes early. Not knowing exactly where to go, we left early and ate our bocadillos on the street on the way there. As you come up out of the metro it’s like BAM...there’s Sagrada Família just across the street. It’s just this mammoth unfinished building rising straight out of the middle of a few city blocks. Still covered in cranes and netting and construction wires in some spots, but so grand that you don’t even really notice all that stuff. The talk is that it will be finished by 2026 for the centenary of Gaudi’s death, but given the pace and how much is left to complete, it’s gonna be tough. Not to mention the neighbor situation whereby at least one, possibly two city blocks worth of buildings (businesses, homes, people’s lives and livelihoods) needs to come down in order to accommodate the final stages. It’s not like it’s a surprise to anyone, but maybe after 135-some odd years of construction, people were lulled into thinking it was never going to happen. It will definitely be interesting to see how it all unfolds.


We had some time before the tour to walk around and gawk and snap some photos of the outside. The Nativity and Passion facades are done, with what will be the main entrance, Glory, not even started yet. Everything was planned out and has some sort of meaning. From the 12 towers for the 12 apostles to the land and sea turtles holding up the columns to Gaudí himself being represented admiring his work, it’s crazy to even comprehend. Once the final spire goes up, the building will top out at an incredible 172.5 meters high. Of course that is no random number but just slightly shorter than the top of Montjuic (sitting at 173 meters) as in Gaudi’s mind, no man made structure should surpass God’s creation.


And if the outside doesn’t suit your fancy, perhaps the inside will. It’s actually fairly plain and subdued inside considering how busy the outside is. But what it lacks in ornamentation it more than makes up for with stunning stain glass and all the light and color that creates. Always looking to unite his favorite topics, nature and religion, Gaudí worked to create a forest-like feel to the place. The giant “tree” columns shoot toward the sky with the warm and cool colored stain glass surrounding them.


I audibly gasped when we turned the corner and caught the first glimpse. This being a crystal clear, sun shiny morning all the colors were on full display. The range of colors represented and the use of lighter color on smaller windows is just magical. As is the way he has flat surfaces to project that light onto and create a whole nother beautiful work of art prism. But really, how do you even conceive of this and go about beginning construction way back in 1883?!


Our tour finished up out by the little school Gaudí constructed for all the workers’ sons to be able to attend. From there we were free to go back inside and get a closer look on our own...which is exactly what we did. I would love to see it at different times of day as the angle of the sunlight is supposed to affect the look of the stain glass and colors. As Georgina said, it’s not a bad place to have to come to work every day.


Next stop was Anne’s stuffed churros recommendation. Oh man, they look even better than I imagined...and taste even better than that!! We went with a plain Nutella filled one and a chocolate coated, almond covered, cream filled number for the other. Absolutely heavenly!!!


From there I was actually able to read the map and take us on a tour of the other important squares and monuments that were highlighted. I don’t know if I’m happier about seeing all the things or actually being able to read the map (we’ll call it a draw). Parks, gardens, squares, monuments, statues, dogs chasing balls and dogs climbing in the fountains...we saw it all.


Finally we grabbed a quick lunch to fuel up before our next big endeavor. We split an arrancini (fried risotto ball) and calzone before coming across this great square...which just so happens to be where our free walking tour leaves from shortly.


That is the Gaudí tour with Runnerbean and guided by Lisa, the Irish lass and yet another amazing tour guide. This tour takes you on two separate metro rides as you traverse the city admiring Gaudi’s most famous buildings from the outside. A few you can actually pay to go into, but sadly there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit that in (my list for my return trip seems to be growing!).


Yet again we heard about the madness versus genius of this architect. The most famous of his buildings were generally private commissions for homes by people that just had far too much money and just wanted to show off. Years ago when one of the families finally decided to sell the one of the buildings, some American tried buying it to have it dismantled and rebuilt somewhere in the States. That’s when the Barcelona Counsel stepped in, declaring them all protected and ensuring that could never happen. The final stop of our tour was actually back to Sagrada Família for a full circle day. It was actually great cause Lisa covered some new things and also gave us the scoop on where to get the best photo of it. Plus with the lighting different, you could definitely see and notice different things.


It was an easy enough shot from there back to Catalunya on the metro. I needed a Barcelona Hard Rock pin and we needed to find a proper meal for the day. I was so hungry at that point I was ready to grab the burger off the plate as a server walked by me. I did not do that, but I was minutes away from dashing back to Hard Rock after our aimless wandering was coming up empty. But then at thee very last moment Cindy pointed out one more place to look at. That’s when I spotted albondigas on the menu and said get me a seat!! They are Spanish meatballs in this perfectly seasoned sauce, and these ones had veggies in the sauce too. Yummy!!! I also saw a giant plate of goodness on the table next to us, so potatoes with cheese sauce it is! Definitely one of the highlight meals for me. We even used some of Cindy’s margarita pizza to dunk in that sauce (no need to waste it!!).


Now fully dark, we got to see the Plaza Catalunya and it’s fountains illuminated before we started the journey back to the hotel. So yeah, that’s what you can do with 14 hours worth of time in Barcelona ;)


Posted by JackiesJourneys 19:17 Archived in Spain Tagged sagrada_familia barcelona gaudi catalunya free_walking_tours

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