Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Last Morning in Barcelona


 This is the lovely church just across the street from our apartment.

You may recall that on our first full day in Barcelona, we walked over to the Sagrada Familia to see that the line stretched clear around to the opposite side of the church. We decided at that point to explore elsewhere and perhaps come back later that day. We never did make it back that afternoon, we were far too tired, and I kind of thought it might just be one of those things I missed on this trip. You can't see everything, right?
 
Alan and Erin had been there...they had arrived before it opened and got in line. Alan said it was amazing and really worth seeing, so Saturday morning Kym, Kyle, David, and I woke up and got there about a half-hour before it opened. There were already people in line, but we were very close to the front. Kym wandered off in search of coffee (I believe she came back with Starbucks) which the rest of us waited in line.

One of the many problems with ATMs is that you always get larger bills. In Spain, our euro always came out in 20 or 50 euro bill. Here at home, giving someone a $20 bill is not a big deal. But in Spain, quite often merchants did not have change for a 20 euro bill, let alone a 50. At one particular store, David got some coins and chocolates back because the merchant didn't have enough change for him.

Waiting in line. Sigh. Where is my cafe con leche?

I thought the Sagrada Familia would be a perfect place to get rid of one of my 50 euro bills. After all, this is a major tourist attraction. Surely, they are used to the larger bills and would be able to break my 50. It was 12.50 euro per person to get in so I thought I'd pay for David and I and get 25 euro back. When I handed my 50 to the cashier, she immediately asked me if I had anything smaller or a credit card. I lied and said no. I wanted to get rid of the 50 for crying out loud. NO ONE would take it anyplace else. She grudgingly took it, but told me I would get my change all in coins. So, off I went with 25 one-euro coins. Similar to carrying around a roll of quarters. I could have stuffed them in a sock and warded off any criminals.

Crucifixion scene.

 Detail of the Passion Facade.


 

I really liked these doors. See the first photo of these three for a description.

With a much heavier bag, we gazed for a bit at the Passion Facade and then headed to the right, under the little bridge, past the school, and into the museum to start. Alan had suggested this as a way to avoid some of the crowds. It also means you get to read all the history before you see the church, which makes sense.They have a rather informative video and all the exhibits were excellent. You can also look down on Gaudi's tomb - he was buried within the church (tragically, he was struck by a trolley and died before the church was finished. It still isn't finished, so he wouldn't have lived to see it completed anyway, but it is still sad).

Then you come outside again and you are on the side of the Nativity Facade. I think I mentioned once before that we called this the happy side and the Passion Facade is the sad side.The third side is the Glory Facade, which I don't think is finished yet. Or maybe it is and we just didn't have enough time.

The contrast between the Passion and the Nativity Facades is striking. Whereas the Passion has hard lines and is quite austere, the Nativity Facade is much more ornate and even has some color to it. There are happy angels, the shepherds,  everyone you would expect to see at the Nativity.

The Nativity Facade. You can see the shepherds and wise men at the bottom.


You can sort of see the Tree of Life in this photo - towards the top. It is green and looks like a Christmas tree. Gaudi originally wanted the entire Nativity Facade to be painted.

Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.

Next we headed inside, and the interior is simply amazing. Many cathedrals and churches are very ornate, with lots of gold and silver, intricate details, elaborate stain glass windows. The Sagrada Familia is not like this, but it is even more beautiful because of it. The columns are designed to give the feel of being in a forest, and the light that shines through the stained glass gives an airy feeling to the place. Many of the cathedrals we saw in Spain and Portugal were quite dark inside. The Sagrada Familia is bathed in light.




I found this photo (click link to see) on Wikipedia, and I think it just really captures the beauty of it. I really need a better camera. Regardless, here are some of the photos I took inside.


 More pretty stained glass.


The altar at the Sagrada Familia. 
 
There were four pillars that each had a visual representation of the four Gospels. 

 Close-up - I really liked these. I

 I just like this picture because it shows how beautiful yet simple the space was.

 OOH...the ceiling again.

Sadly, we didn't have as much time as I would have liked to wander around and I am sure we didn't see everything. We had to get back to head to the airport for Madrid. And first, I had to stop at the gift shop!

For such a major attraction in Barcelona, they have a gift shop the size of a postage stamp. You actually have to wait in line to get in. When people leave, they will let additional people in. When I got up to the front of the line, they didn't let me in right away, and the person behind me in line POKED me twice as if it say, "Hey, get in there!" Thank you very much, I think I will wait until they indicate I can enter. Impatient tourists.

Then, it was back to our apartment, some last minute packing and cleaning, and then off to the airport. Kelly, Kym, and I decided to take a cab. The rest of the group took public transport. Maybe I am a travel snob. Maybe not. But it sure was nice to not have to carry my backpack again. Our cab driver was the tiniest, cutest woman I've ever seen, yet she flung our bags around with ease. Wow.

We got to the airport and then had to wait around for the rest of the gang. As with many airports, there wasn't anyplace really to sit around the ticket counters, so we just sat on the floor near an escalator. We sat there for quite a while when a security guard came along and wagged his finger at us while speaking in Spanish (or maybe Catalan). He seemed to be indicating that we could not sit there. So, we stood instead.

The rest of the gang arrived, we got checked in, got our boarding passes, and then we had some time to kill. David, Kym, Kyle, and I settled on this cute little restaurant with tapas and beer. Really good Spanish Omelette! Some Iberian Ham. Very friendly waiter. Quite the pleasant airport eating experience. Much nicer than the lunch in the airport at Sevilla.

 Salut! A little relaxation before the plane ride.

Then, it was off to Madrid, where we had quite the Saturday night adventure. But, I'll get to that later.

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