Beautiful Barcelona

Trip Start Mar 01, 2005
Trip End Jan 01, 2006

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Barcelona Day 2:
Never knowing what to do with myself each morning, yesterday I decided to use my wildcard and go and visit the Sagrada Familia. An obvious choice when in Barcelona, and therefore did not require too much effort on my part to come up with. Not sure what time I finally left the hostel, but I decided it didnīt look too far away on the map, so I walked there. I walked down La Ramblas to Plaza Catalunya and then came across the...Arc de Triomf?? Ok...! Quite grand, and apparently not exclusively french anymore.

A few blocks up Passage Sant Joan, I stopped in at a bank to change some travellerīs cheques. Wow! I am never traveling with those again. It took almost 20 minutes to change 3 travelers cheques! The woman at the bank talked to her boss for a few minutes deciding whether it was possible to change them there, and then she had to call Iīm assuming Visa in Canada or the US to authorize it, and then had to wait until she could get someone that spoke Spanish. Are you kidding me? During which time she had a cigarette right at the counter, and took a phone call on her mobile. I was shocked to say the least. I wondered what would have happened if she had burnt the travelerīs chq lol. Finally she got someone on the phone who I donīt think spoke full Spanish and she then took another 10 minutes reading every number and piece of fine print on both sides of the chq. and held them up to the light for at least a few minutes to find any...I donīt know whats? Finally after writing the passport# on the 3 chqīs and me signing them, it was all good. Oh, and she says to me you know for so and so countries in Africa travelerīs chqīs are good to have, but Europe...No. Alrighty then! So just a tip to anyone traveling to Europe, if youīre bank card has the write pin number length and you have a credit card, DO NOT TAKE TRAVELERS CHEQUES. Tourist information doesnīt even change them regardless of what the guidebook said, restuarants donīt want them, and hardly any shops take them or hostels. So there is no point. I am NOT going through that again.

So where was I, yes on Passage Sant Joan. It may not seem like that far, but I was wearing flip flops and my feet were starting to get sore. Missed the right turn, but eventually made it to the Sagrada Familia. Only took me an hour and a half. But it was a nice walk. Everywhere along the way was great to look at, so it didnīt seem like such a hike.

The Sagrada Familia was also not what I thought it would be. Fair enough as I didnīt even know what it was before I got there, just that I had to visit it. It is a temple, designed by Gaudi, whose construction started back in 1882 and is still going on today. Construction is funded through private donation and visitors. It looks like a huge construction zone. 4 Massive towers on the main side, with great intricate designs and colours, and sculptures. Quite a sight. Swarming with tourists. I went in and walked up the over 300 steps (I didnīt count, they had markers!) of the tower to the top, with some great views of the city along the way. Wow, Barcelona is HUGE! (Upon seeing the view....OMG, I have to walk that far to get back?...Oh look the Metro!!) I have to admit that there isnīt a lot to look at once youīre there and have seen the outside and climbed the tower. So much is under construction that itīs hard to really see the whole picture and appreciate it for what there is of it. But it is definetely worth a visit to see the work in progress. There is also a museum dedicated to Gaudi inside as well. I just have to correct my description from yesterday about his building designs looking like foam and so on. Well, a better description would be to say that he uses a lot of things found in nature as well as Catholic symbols in his designs. Seashells, mushrooms, sting rays when they are swimming and look like waves, animals, and so on. Interesting objects to take inspiration from, but it works well for him!

Then I decided to take the subway back from the Sagrada Familia. Wasnīt late enough to go back to the hostel or eat, so I decided I would try and find a few shops that I knew were nearby, but had yet to come across on my walks. Plus I was in need of a new pair of jeans, and for some reason, in Portugal, all the jeans sold anywhere were about 6 inches too long in the legs. Could not figure that one out since Portugese women are small anyways. So I checked a few shops but couldnīt find anything. Then I checked out the huge Spanish mall called El Corte Ingles across from Plaza Catalunya. Itīs like our Sears or Eatons dept stores. Six stories, menīs, womenīs, food, home, and everything in between. Eventually found a pair of pants. Hars work, glad thatīs over with. It is hard though to not go shopping. Than I just remind myself that I am going to be way over my luggage weight limit in a few days. Then Iīll be sorry. Then it was back down La Ramblas, and back to the hostel to make some supper. Pasta from the grocery store and some cheap wine. Another quiet night in reading my books. Might get to check out the famous nightlife before I leave. Weīll see I guess. Night!
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