Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 5: Barcelona Tours

Today we explored Barcelona.  The rain gods smiled on us today and cut us a little slack.  We had some sprinkles early on, but it cleared off in the afternoon and the sun even came out for a while.  What a lovely city – home to about 4 million people and the pick-pocket capital of the world.  We noticed that not very many people here speak English like they did in Mallorca.  We actually had to speak Spanish.  Only it’s not really Spanish either.  It’s a blend of Spanish and French that is a local dialect unique to this area.  And to make it even harder – there are 4 sub-dialects of that.  No wonder we’ve been a little confused by the signs and such. 

We wanted to see 2 things today – Sagrada Familia and Las Ramblas.  The lady at the desk in the hotel told us how to get there.  She did a great job.  We took the hotel’s shuttle to Plaza Espana.  Then we were to get on the subway to Sagrada Familia.  Now that was a challenge.  There were lots of different kinds of tickets and we couldn’t figure out which one to get.  We went to the information window and had to ask the questions in Spanish (before we knew the thing about the dialects).  It was a comical dialog to say the least.  Bruce let me do the talking and he was kinda laughing on the sideline.  But – I did it!  We got the ticket and found the right train.  It was like 2 country bumpkins in the big city the first time, but by the end of the day we were hopping on and off the subway like pros. 

We emerged from the bowels of the underworld and looked around to see which way to go.  All of a sudden, I turned around and there was this MASSIVE building that is so beautiful it literally takes your breath.  OMG – words just can’t even describe it.  My jaw dropped.  It’s so huge that you have to take about 6 pictures because it doesn’t even begin to fit in the camera’s scope.  It’s by far the most amazing structure I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know which is more impressive – the inside or the outside.  Gaudi was a genius.  Period!! 

The construction began in 1882 and has been ongoing ever since, with the exception of a few stoppages during war times.  They have about 300 people working on it.  It’s estimated to be finished somewhere between 2026 and 2041.  The interior was only opened to the public in Nov last year when it was consecrated by the Pope.  There is so much symbolism to things in nature on the inside.  The columns represent trees and the ceiling has the leaves of the tree.  The level of detail and the intricacy of the objects is unbelievable.  Only some of the stained glass is in, other windows have temporary plain glass.  If you’re interested in all the details, Google it.  It’s fascinating.  I’ll just put in a few pix for now, but I’ll upload all of them to Snapfish when we get home.  Trust me – photos don’t do it justice at all.  It’s the size of a football field, and 558’ tall.

This was Gaudi's office.

After spending several hours at Sagrada, we hopped on the subway and went to Las Ramblas.  It’s a street about a mile long with shopping and the center is lined with kiosks.  Pickpocket Heaven, for sure!  It’s bustling and crowded.  The buildings along there are really cool, too. 

At the end of the street is a statue of Christopher Columbus pointing to the Mediterranean Sea.  Across the street from that is where we will board the ship tomorrow.  There are lots of cool buildings around that area.

We walked back into Las Ramblas to have some tapas (appetizers) and drinks.  Suddenly 2 young men walked in front of us and stopped, blocking our path.  Bruce noticed one had his jacket slung over his arm and from under it he was reaching with his other hand to try to either unzip his fanny pack, or take the whole thing.  As the guy’s hand came toward him, Bruce instinctively pushed it away and in the process he accidentally lightly punched him in the stomach.  The guy quickly walked away – he knew he’d been made.  Boy was I glad I did the research, knew that this was a problem, and took action to prevent getting robbed blind!  All our money and credit cards were in our money belts that I made.  All they would have gotten had they been successful were just a few personal items.  We were super careful and aware in that area of town.  We tasted the local drink called Cava.  It's like a very dry champagne.

We headed back to the hotel via city bus.  We were happy to learn that our subway pass worked on the bus, too.  We met a young man from Atlanta who has lived here for 2 years.  He told us all about the language dialects and cleared up that confusion for us.  He was a wealth of information.  He also helped us get off at the right stop.  I think we would have missed it if we had been on our own.

We went back to the store next door to get some dinner.  Wow – were we shocked to find half of Barcelona’s population in there shopping!  That place was a ZOO.  Last night there were only a few people picking up a few items.  Tonight they all had heaping baskets of stuff and the lines were so long.  I don’t know if it was because it’s Friday, near the end of the month, or what.  The hot food in the deli was all gone.  So we ended up eating in the hotel restaurant.  Wanna guess what we had?  Pizza, of course.  What else but a bocadillo could it have been?

We’ve enjoyed Mallorca and Barcelona immensely, each for their own reasons.  But now we’re excited to be getting on the ship tomorrow and settling into our ship routine.  We’re ready to start writing our new screenplay, too.  And I’m sure we’ll be making lots of new friends over the next 2 weeks at sea.  The sail-away party should get things kicked off nicely.  It's time to pack up everything.  Those wet clothes are about 1/2 dry.  We'll slosh a little bit getting on the ship.  Hopefully they'll dry by the end of the trip.

1 comment:

  1. Yay Bruce!!! Sounds like you are enjoying your trip regardless of one yucky dude.