Day 13: Barcelona

day-city-header13
31 August 2014
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I got up at 8am and was in line for La Sagrada Familia by 8:45am. My ticket to La Sagrada Familia was for 9:15am, the earliest start time. Probably the most famous icon of Barcelona and easily one of the highlights of my entire trip. This enormous basilica has been in construction since 1866 by Antonio Gaudí and is still only just over 60% complete!

I had paid €20.80 for a student ticket with entrance to the basilica, an audioguide, and entrance up one of the towers (I chose the Nativity facade; the Passion facade being the other one). Since I was one of the first people in, it wasn’t very crowded and I got to enjoy the place a little more than usual for its cloistered character.

Highlights for me were definitely the beautiful stained glass windows and the columns that were meant to resemble trees in a forest. Absolutely gorgeous. A surprising feature for me was to find holy water fonts in the shape of giant clam shells which had been donated by Filipinos. The text is too small in the photo I’ve posted, but the text engraved above it reads, “Alay ng Sambayanang Filipino”.

I hadn’t done any research before deciding to go up one of the towers and just picking the Nativity one. I justified the extra cost with the discount I was already getting from being a student. A fair amount is still under construction, but I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure! We were a small group of five and were taken up the tower on an elevator and shown a map on how to navigate ourselves back to the bottom into the basilica. They are super narrow passageways, some graffitied, with a small walkway outside and some tiny balconies to stand outside and enjoy the view of the basilica and the city below. The last staircase all the way to the bottom was particularly long and winding, and pictured below.

The last stops of the audio guide were the schools outside the basilica and museum underneath the basilica.

I think I spent almost three hours wandering around La Sagrada Familia! I left feeling really pleased with the experience and inspired by its artistry.

I went back to the apartment to change clothes and rest my legs a bit before heading out for lunch. Having really loved the pintxos from a couple of nights ago, I ventured to Blai Tonight, a small restaurant frequented by locals and travelers and recommended by Hostel One Paralelo. It’s €1 per dish, and you put your toothpick into a plastic cup and pay the number of toothpicks at the end. One of the dishes I took had a big sushi-shaped thing topped with a piece of red pepper; it was an incredibly messy eat for me, haha.

I thoroughly enjoyed this place and only wish I had a bigger stomach to eat more than the four I ate! But I knew I also wanted dessert, namely in the form of chocolate churros. >:) I walked past Boqueria Market which was closed (I think because it was Sunday) and around the corner in pursuit of my holy grail was chök, where I was recommended to go just a couple nights before! Read more about this delectable experience here.

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Blissfully satisfied, I then engaged in another hunt for Gato de Botero (or El Gato del Raval) to complete another photo challenge:

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My next plan wasn’t until 3pm, so I then walked up to Plaza Catalunya just to see if anything was there. I didn’t see much except for a lot of pigeons and this fountain.

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I then made my way through through the Gothic Quarter towards the Picasso Museum. The walk was a little lengthier than I imagined it would be, probably because I made a few pictorial detours / got lost a few times.

The Picasso Museum, among other places such as the Montjuïc Castle I visited the day before, is free to the public on Sundays after 3pm. I got into the very long line that had already formed all along the alley. A staff member showed up and let us know it was about an hour and a half wait from our position in line. It would have been too late for me at this point to make it to the photography walk at Travel Bar and a lot of other places seemed closed for Sunday, so I decided to stick it out. I got all day for you, Picasso. All day.

I passed the time by writing on the cork postcards from Sintra that I had kept with me and watching a pair of elderly Asian ladies get completely enthralled by these one-handed clappers that vendors were selling on the street. They weren’t very good, lol, but they bought one each and continued to practice. It was so adorable, haha.

When I got to the entrance, I noticed small print on the television screens saying university students were FREE. What! How did I miss that piece of information on the website? In any case, I was already there and the actual wait time ended up being only about 30 minutes. I got an audio guide for €5 which was definitely worth it. The museum is way more massive than I was expecting it to be and the audio guide went through how his different surroundings would influence his work during certain periods in his life. The museum has a great layout and its clear to see the evolution of his artistic style and interests.

I was pretty astonished to see the diversity of his work as I had only really seen a little bit of his blue and rose period and Las Meninas days before. Standouts to me were “Science and Charity”, his work during his stay in Paris focused on the artistic motif of the embrace, “Mother and Child by the Sea”, “Woman with Mantilla”, “Blanquita Suarez”, and “The Studio at La Californie” series. He also had some ceramic designs.

Very sadly (though understandably), there is a strict ‘no photography’ rule inside the museum. There were a couple of times I noticed others discreetly nabbing quick photos, and they were approached by a worker every time.

I spent almost two and a half hours in the museum, taking frequent sitting breaks towards the end. I then made my way to Park Ciutadella for a re-visit, but sadly found that the large central fountain for my photo quest was under renovations. :( Instead, I explored the park a little more properly than last time and found myself in a large square with nappers, picnickers, drummers, hula hoopers, bubble makers, doggies, jugglers, and a tap dance dance off. I also found a statue with a heart-shape drawn on its butt! Scandal~

I also had a work task assigned to me for the Columbus project that included a short elevator ride up the Columbus monument for €4.50. It’s actually a little pricey for the limited sights and short stay up there. Here are some of the sights:

I couldn’t believe how early it still was, lol. I rested on one of the steps at the foot of the Columbus monument before deciding to check out Marina Port Vell and walk over Rambla del Mar to the other side.

As the sun started to set, I then decided it was time for dinner and settled for a restaurant on Parallel. I ordered the Galician octopus with smoked paprika and virgin oil. It was no longer warm and pretty salty. :/ It was so salty that I decided to have the bread the server gave me to go with, and luckily he didn’t charge me extra for it. Service also took a while so I was out here for a little bit longer than I wanted to be. Man, I really make inconsistent choices when it comes to eating out while traveling, lol.

On my way back to the apartment, I saw a man bathing himself at a water fountain that I didn’t notice before on the street. This would actually become important the next day.

portugal&spain

Portugal: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
Spain: Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16

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