Mondays are for...sightseeing with the one you love! So we set off from our piso and decided to wander whichever way the Spanish road took us. We planned to either finally "subir" (climb) the mountain to Brian's church up in Tibidabo or go visit Sagrada Familia, the famous yet-to-be-finished church designed by Gaudi himself. It was a little cool when we started out so we decided that the top of the mountain might be a little bit frio (cold) for our taste. Sagrada Familia it was then!
One of my favorite things about living in the city is all the walking. There is plenty of public transportation to take, but I so enjoy strolling through the streets and seeing neighborhoods we might not have visited otherwise. The Sagrada Familia is about 1.5 miles from our little flat in Sant Pere, so we decided to take the walk up through the Eixample and along Diagonal. The above statue was in the middle of a roundabout - can't for the life of me remember the intersection. I love the juxtaposition of the old statue against the more modern building in the background.
We also passed this beautiful church along the way. Brian has been really overcome by all the amazing old buildings since we've been here. I'm impressed too, but I think having lived here before and having been taken on about a million guided tours of old churches through our study abroad program in 2002, I'm just a tiny bit more blase. But not much!
Classic long-arm shot in front of the church. This church looks TINY compared to the Sagrada Familia.
Ta-da! And here she is in all her grandeur and glory. There are so many intricate details that just drip from the architecture. Inside there was an exhibit outlining each of Gaudi's inspirations for the many architectural details of the church, much of which is from nature.
The interior takes your breath away. It was alive with tourists speaking as many languages as you can imagine. And while it was nice to see the space so appreciated and absorbed by the many flashing cameras, I almost felt like it was a shame that they don't actually hold mass in here. There is certainly an other-worldly magic about the place.
There are a few rows of pew situated directly in front of the altar. It was nice to take a seat and lean back to view the splendor above. You simply can't take it all in in one glance. It's like looking into the sky with a million twinkling stars and not knowing where to fix your gaze.
The altar. The organs, the suspended depiction of Christ, the glowing stained glass; it was picturesque.
Brian loved how the columns had the large knots on them about three quarters of the way up. Gaudi designed them to look like tree knots. Mission accomplished.
View from the rear facade. Details, details, details. I don't think you can see it here, but my favorite was a large turtle situated at the base of the back entrance. Depictions of wildlife abounded amongst the saints and religious figures. Such a bizarre yet somehow apropos mixture of images.
For an extra 2.50 euro each, you could ride the elevator to 65 meters up into one of the spires. At that point you took the narrow winding staircase up to 100 meters where you crossed an open-air walkway from one spire to another. The views from the top were enchanting...all of Barcelona within the capture of a lens...all the hustle and bustle against the calm of the Mediterranean. If I hadn't been so terrified of the height, I think I would have absolutely loved it up there.
Gaudi died in 1926 from injuries suffered after being hit by a street car. He saw only a fraction of the construction complete, and work is still being done to this day. From the very beginning the church has been completely funded on donations from the public. On our lift tickets was a note that the purchase went toward the further construction of the church. There is no estimated completion date aside from the "first third of the 21st century". Love it. Very Spanish of them.
This is the view from the open-air walkway I mentioned from one spire to the other. At this point I was smashed to the back of Brian holding on desperately to the back of his jacket and to my camera. My legs would not stop shaking! There is zero protection from falling. Granted, the walls of the walkway are fairly high...probably just below the chest...but there's nothing from keeping anyone from giving you a good push right over the edge. Brian was energized and exhilarated. I was pukey and light-headed.
Down, down, down the little narrow staircase. You had the option of taking the elevator down, but even amidst my mild panic attack I didn't want to miss the great views. Ha! That's Brian's amused-with-Kayla face. He was super sweet; he kept telling me take deep breaths, look straight ahead and take it easy. I kept muttering things that he wasn't too happy about me saying in a church.
Another cool view from on high. These "buds" were taken straight from nature...looks like the top of wheat or some other plant, right? It was so incredible to view them at eye-level instead of peering up into the sun from the ground.
Down, down, down. Looks like a seashell, doesn't it? Again, it didn't feel like the safest, but I guess we survived. The only hand rail was the one you see on the left against the wall. Otherwise you could peer straight down that hole all the way to the bottom. My stomach just turned thinking about it again.
View of the walkway from one tower to the other. Click into the photo and zoom and you can see the tourist out there taking photos. Just got the chills. Again.
See it now? Pretty flipping high!
Hasta luego Sagrada Familia! Probably some of the best 28 euros we've spent yet.
On the walk back home, we passed this barber shop. My dad is a barber so I always love taking photos of barber shops for him. I have a cool photo of an Italian barber shop when I traveled to Italy in 2002. I loved that the barber was inside mid-haircut and caught me taking his photo. :)
My friend Alicia and her husband Tim did the same exchange program for his MBA a few years back, and they have been telling us about their favorite wine bar for some time now. We thought we found it the other day only to realize it was the wrong place. Alas, success!!! There are two little tables upstairs that overlook a plaza with a church. Very intimate. Very cozy. Very cool.
Our beautiful spread of pan con tomate, Spanish cheeses, and a bottle of vino to end a great day of sightseeing. Brian and I have the absolute best time together, and we loved reflecting on our day over a bottle of vino at this little gem of a spot. We'll definitely be returning!
I also got news yesterday that a good friend is coming to visit mid-February. I'm so excited!! I have absolutely been enjoying my alone time while los estudiantes are at ESADE but it will be a welcome break to have a familiar face around to explore and laugh with. I'm still on a yet-fruitless hunt for Spanish friends, so the thought of having a real-live-sure-to-be-fun friend in town is intoxicating!
This weekend we're headed to the south of France for a little road trip adventure. In the meantime, it's been yoga and wandering for me. I had the best day of writing, hanging by the beach, sipping cava at the W Hotel on the water and capping off the evening with yoga and a home-cooked meal with Brian. Stopping into the fruit and veggie stands each day to buy our food for the night has been one of my favorite rituals. It makes me really dread "grocery store life" in the states. But no time to worry about that....I'm here!