Monday, July 23, 2012

Barcelona Day 2

Today has been quite a full and good day of vacaciones!  Although I had a little trouble waking up (I still don't think I'm fully over the jet lag from the first change of countries), Andy and I were soon on our way to explore more of Barcelona.  Our goal: the City History Museum.  We didn't get nearly as lost looking for Metro stops this time, but we found ourselves wandering and not finding what we were looking for.  We found plenty of ancient-looking buildings--including fourth century Roman towers--but nothing that said "City History Museum." It turns out it's hard to find a place when it's closed.  (We would have known this place was closed on Mondays if our hotel had free internet.) We did find the Catedral de Barcelona, a Gothic masterpiece and my first European cathedral experience.  I don't think my mouth closed for the entire hour and a half we were inside.  It was amazing! All around the perimeter of the sanctuary were alcoves with old altarpieces.  Some of them were twice as old as our country--or more (think 1300s here).  There was also a nice drinking font, which Andy says is the first he's ever seen in Europe.  There was also a pool in an interior courtyard complete with white geese.

After we found out that the City Museum was closed, we had a snack and decided to head for the Plaza Real.  Now, the map we were using had several flaws:

1. It's in Catalan, which we don't speak.
2. We couldn't distinguish street names, monument names, and Metro stops from each other.
3. Not really a flaw of the map, but the streets were designed by drunken cows and named by drunken conquistadors.
4. Andy's pet peeve: north was at an approximate 40 degree angle from the vertical.

Finally, we found a tourist info place and asked them how to get there. They gave us great directions in English and a much better map. At least we saw some other interesting places along our way.  The Plaza Real was very cool!  Not as intimidating or chaotic as the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.  We found an outdoor cafe and enjoyed a delicious almuerzo (lunch) al fresco (outside).  Andy had to try the paella, because how could we not in a seaside Spanish city?  The Plaza is kind of like a smaller, more tropical version of Rynek Glowny, with no churches. Puffer also enjoyed taking some photos in the Plaza next to the fountain.

After studying the map, we decided to stop by the Bouqeria, the giant marketplace.  I have never seen so many fresh food in one place!  Meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, candy, eggs, wine--and freshly blended fruit smoothies. Mmmmmmmmm!

Our next goal was the Sagrada Familia.  We were skeptical at first of the price and the long line, but it was definitely worth it!  I don't even know where to begin. The inside is like a mix of Gothic cathedral, Lothlorien, and some alien culture.  (Andy hijacking commentary: I've seen old cathedrals and I've seen new churches, but this new cathedral was something else!)  There is also a museum under the cathedral, telling all about its history and construction.  The most stunning thing about this building is that its construction has been going on for 130 years--and it's still going!!!  The inside is finished, but the outside, we learned, is only 60% done, with scheduled completion by 2030!  The Pope came to dedicate the inside in 2010.

Words cannot describe the feeling I had when I was gazing up at the naves 45 meters above me.  Pictures probably do better. (Note: due to internet access issues, pictures for here are not shown.  We'll post more when we have reliable internet.)  Andy was surprised to learn the important role that geometry played in the building's design.  Hyperboloids were present in much of the ceiling and ellipsoids in many of the enormous columns.  There was also unconstructed numerical symbology in the as of yet unfinished towers.  We were so awe-inspired, we didn't want to leave, even after two and a half hours.  Eventually, my hunger kicked in, and we had to go.  Unfortunately, this led to the purchase of severely over-priced chicken nuggets.  Nothing like topping off your awe-inspiring religious experience with fried breaded chunks of chicken.

Because we were disappointed at this, we stopped by the grocery store a block from our hotel, and fixed this problem going forward.  I'm anticipating more great adventures tomorrow.


Amanda said...

Corrections: You ate "cena" (almuerzo is not a real thing), you two speak Mexican, not castellano, and I'm sorry about the museum. It's really awesome, I swear!! You were correct about the feel of Barcelona, though. It's so much more relaxed than frantic Madrid. And how good does the Bouqueria smell?? Well, except for the fish market. That part smells fishy.

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