After leaving the Camino, I had the opportunity to spend three days in Barcelona. Wow! There was so much to see in such a short amount of time. My main hope was to see as much Gaudi art/architecture as possible in those three days.
Day 1 -- Park Guell & Royal Palace Fountain
I arrived in Barcelona in the morning. I headed from the airport, directly to my hotel, dropped my bags in the luggage storage closet, and set out for Park Guell. As it turns out, Barcelona is a REALLY big city. I had a trusty map, and managed to decipher it fairly quickly. But even with my (self-proclaimed) superb map-reading skills, it still took almost 2 hours to walk to Park Guell. Now granted, I did make a few stops to oogle over other architecture and cool-Barcelona-stuff, but I don't necessarily walk slowly. hmmm...maybe the subway would have been the better option. :)
Park Guell is a fantastic oasis for Barcelonians. I suppose it could be compared to Central park in New York...a huge green space in the middle of a large metropolitan area. There, I met up with one of my Camino cycling buddies (Jeff), and the two of us spent the afternoon exploring the park, searching for the all of the mosaics and creatures created by Gaudi. It was a lovely way to spend the day!
Later that evening, Jeff and I went to the Royal Palace neighborhood to join in a community celebration there. In Spain, each neighborhood has its own week-long fiesta each year. That night happened to be the final night of the Royal Palace neighborhood's fiesta. We took a picnic of local breads, cheeses, and cured meats. We ate our picnic at the main park while we watched a HUGE fountain laser/light show. The flow of the fountain was choreographed with music and lights to create a spectacular celebration of music, water, light, and community. So very fun!
Day 2 -- Sagrada Familia
The next day was my Sagrada Familia day. I walked to the cathedral early in the morning (after enjoying some cafe con leche, of course), and stood in line for about an hour before I was able to enter the grounds of Sagrada Familia. . While waiting, I was standing beneath the enormous spires, which can be seen from any point in the city. The church was designed to be the center of the city, equi-distant from mountain and sea, and visible from the sea so that its towers could be beacons of hope for sailors and merchants.
After about 7 hours at Sagrada Familia, I took time to walk along the outside perimeter of the cathedral to take a last look at the architecture. I ended up in a park across the street from the church needing some more time for quiet reflection before heading back to my hotel. I walked in a relaxed manner through the park, enjoying some pensive meandering time in the park. Finally, I ended up sitting on a bench and spending a long time watching two groups of locals playing rollicking games of bocce. Delightful!
After walking back to my hotel, I stopped for dinner in my neighborhood and sat to reflect on the day. So much beauty!
Day 3 -- Palai Guell & St. Josef's Mercado
My last day in Barcelona was spent roaming the outdoor market in Barcelona (similar to our Pike place Market, but MUCH bigger...whoa!) and visiting Palai Guell (the Guell palace). Guell was a good friend and benefactor of Gaudi's work. He commissioned Gaudi to design and construct several buildings within Barcelona, including Guell Palace, and Guell Park. The Guell palace was one if Gaudi's first buildings and is most recognized for the whimsical chimneys on the top of the building. It was very fun to wander through the colorful and playful chimneytops that were positioned on a wavy rooftop (no flat surface on that roof).
Barcelona was remarkably different from the Galecian region of the Camino. While I fell in love with the Spanish countryside along the Camino, in Barcelona, I loved having the opportunity to stand in the places that we've been studying & learning about in the 2nd grade classroom. I'm excited to share the pictures and stories with OLG!
Well done, Spain! Well done!