Being El Touristo in Barcelona !

Trip Start Sep 22, 2009
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hallo!  Getting a good nights sleep felt like a million bucks!  Or in Europe, a half million Euro's!   Upon leaving our hotel for another Barcelona excursion, we went in search for a cup of coffee.  With no Starbucks in sight or any Tim Hortons, we zoned in on a McDonald's.  I mean, McDonald's is a global restaurant.  They're usually good for good ole cup of cafe Americano!  So, as I picked up our order at the McDonalds counter, we were slightly surprised to receive a small cup (slightly larger than a cup of cough syrup) of espresso coffee (slightly stronger than Buckley's cough syrup).  Without wanting to show any embarassment or make a scene, we took it and drank it like that's exactly what we wanted.  Instantly, we felt our pupils dilate!  Our world became brighter!  It almost seemed like we began viewing the world before us in wide angle.  If we were tired before, we weren't tired now!  And for this experience, there was no charge!  We happened to be in a promotional period where these small espresso's were free.  Wow!  I think we'll be back tomorrow?  Perhaps not!

By 12:30pm, we were at the Placa de Catalunya to catch a Barcelona Bus Turistic (a sightseeing Hop On Hop Off) tour bus!  For 19 euro's, we felt this was a great way to see the city of Barcelona in a short period of time.  With two routes available, we chose the red bus line as it would be going right by the Sagrada Familia, a large Catholic Church designed by Antoni Gaudi which is widely known to be the symbolic landmark of Barcelona!  

The entry fee into the Sagrada Familia was 10 euro's.  Apparently, these fee's go directly to the construction of the Sagrada Familia which had as many cranes as towers.  Given the number of visitors every day, that's a lot of euro's.  By 1:15pm, we entered the Sagrada Familia.  Without too much delay, we walked into the church under the passion facade and began reading the postings that provided information about the church.  Even with a lot of construction materials present inside the church, the sheer magnitude of the size and architecture of this church was impressive!  On the opposite side of the church was the nativity facade.  It was this side of the church where we paid another 2,50 euro's to take a lift up one of the towers.  Being up in the tower offered different views of the mosaic facades as well as a panoramic view of the City of Barcelona.  However, the walk down the tower took some time as it was dark and narrow and only allowed for single file.  Thus, one needed to be careful so that one didn't end up in a Barcelona emergency room!    

We learned that work began on the church in 1882 and 127 years later, it seems like they're still building it!  The building of the church has followed GaudÝ's original idea and, just as he himself did, the best techniques are applied to make the building work safer, more comfortable and faster. It is some time now since the old wagons gave way to powerful cranes, the old manual tools have been replaced by precise electric machines and the materials have been improved to ensure excellent quality in the building process and the final result.

The present Church Technical Office and the management are charged with studying the complexity of GaudÝ's original project, doing the calculations and the building plans and directing the works as a whole. 

Christian symbology is to be found in all GaudÝ's work, but the most evident example of its application is the church, which tells the life of Jesus and the history of the faith.

To that end the church has been built over the years, expressing the Catholic faith in the architecture: Jesus and the faithful, represented by Mary, the apostles and the saints. That can be seen in the eighteen bell towers, which symbolise Jesus, the Virgin, the four evangelists and the twelve apostles; on the three facades, which represent the human life of Jesus (from birth to death), and in the interior, which suggests the celestial Jerusalem, where a set of columns, dedicated to Christian cities and continents, represent the apostles

The church will have eighteen bell towers, or belfries, some with bells inside. The bell towers on the fašades represent the twelve apostles and measure 112 m (central ones) and 98 m (the side ones). From the top the inscriptions ‘Hosanna’ and ‘Excelsis’ in coloured ceramics descend. The bell towers have terminations rising 25 m high adorned with polychrome mosaics. In those elements with their surprising colours and shapes, technically called geometrical macles, GaudÝ brought together the episcopal symbols: the mitre, the crozier, the ring and the cross, to indicate that it was the bishops who had replaced the apostles in the task of proclaiming the faith. 

The purpose of the powerful verticality of the bell towers is the union of earth and heaven, as when we read the ascending Sanctus (Holy or Sacred) that leads our gaze upwards. The crossing and the apse are crowned with six other belfries that will spring from the towers. 

After about two hours, we left the Sagrada Familia to catch a light lunch across the street.  The Sightseeing bus came quite regularly so it wasn't long before we were back on the tour of Barcelona heading for Parc Guell in the Gracia district of Barcelona.  Parc Guell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel.  It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni GaudÝ and built in the years 1900 to 1914. 

Next on the tour bus route was the Parc de la Tamarita stop.  This is the stop to take the Tramvia Blau up to Tibidabo.  The Tramvia Blau was part of the original Barcelona tram system, which continued running after the rest of the system was closed, using the original blue 2-axle trams.

As we remained on the top deck of the double decker bus, we were kept informed of the various points of interest along the route.  Information was coming at us pretty quick!  Soon we were at the University of Barcelona, Av Diagonal Campus which is near the Palau Reial (Royal Palace).  Then, we were at one of Barcelona's most popular locations, the football stadium of F.C. Barcelona.  Last years Champions League Champions!  Needless to say, F.C. Barcelona rules this city!   Unfortunately, they weren't scheduled to play while we were in town!  

We decided to disembark our red tour bus for the blue bus at the next stop as both were meeting at the Francesc Macia-Diagonal stop.  This blue bus would take us South and East through the Sants-Montjuic district of Barcelona which included the Parc de Montjuic and the Olympic site, site of the 1992 Olympic Summer Games.  As we passed the Olympic Stadium, I recalled watching the Olympic events on television from this stadium.  

It wasn't long after leaving this area that we were going past the Port of Barcelona and World Trade Center before we disembarked the blue bus at the Monument of Christopher Columbus at the foot of Las Ramblas.  Here, we watched some Merce 09 activities along the Moll de la Fusta.  From here we followed a stream of people walking along a boardwalk type walkway and discovered Port Vell.  A very popular meeting place that included a shopping mall, imax theatre and aquarium.  Inside the mall, we watched a few hundred people participate, quite enthusiastically, in a lindy hop demonstration.  By now, it was getting later in the day so we got on our blue bus at the Port Vell stop, which coincidentally, was waiting there for us!  

Thinking we wouldn't get off the bus again, we chose to get off the bus at the Barcelona Casino!  Tell me, is there a casino that isn't worth a wager? Fortunately, the stop at the casino was short and we got another blue bus for our final leg of the tour, through the Barri Gotic quarter and back to the Placa de Catalunya, our starting point about eight hours earlier!  

This day seemed long but on the other hand, it seemed like it was just getting started.  La Merce festival only occurs once a year and to Barcelonians, it doesn't end until September 27th!  For us, we needed to get back to our hotel and freshen up before heading out for dinner and watching more festivites!

Buenas noches!  Rick & Elsie!



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bibi on

I am glad that you discovered a real coffee and not coloured water of
'famous' Starbucks.

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