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Unread 25 Jan 18, 05:38 PM  
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geoffa
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Hola! or Ohla! A Barcelona experience. Day 2

Day 2 – 19/1/18 – Thatsa familiar Sagrada Familia!

So we wake to a gorgeous blue sky. The forecast for today is 18C but that will be exceeded. It’s annoying that the only channel we can get on the TV in English is CNBC which, of course, tends to report on American news. None of the BBC channels are available. Ah! Well. Darrin will just have to get by without the ramblings about May, Boris and Corbyn. He sits in bed enjoying his coffee and I write a postcard too an aunt whilst I enjoy my Earl Grey tea. There is a Nespresso machine but I asked if they had a kettle and surely enough, one was provided. Those who know our trips will know I gather sachets of milk from McDonalds in the two weeks before we travel. It’s UHT treated but tastes like fresh milk.




Washed and dressed we head to the restaurant for breakfast. This is a fee in addition to the room but it’s reasonable enough for what is on offer. There are continental offerings but there is also yoghurt, cereals, pastries, toast and an offer of two eggs cooked however you like them. They even have Eggs Benedict should you prefer. You can add bacon, and hash brown but we didn’t find any sausages. Darrin had Huevos Poches (Poached) and I went with huevos fritos (fried eggs).

Once we are full it’s time to set off for this morning’s experience. We have “Fast Track” tickets for the Sagrada Familia. If you don’t book this in advance you could be looking at 3 hour plus lines! We have to meet with our guide at Julia Travel which is located almost opposite the Basilica across the square. Bus 19 runs from right outside our hotel to the Basilica.





The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Catalan pronunciation). In Spanish: Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia; English: Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family is the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church in the world and was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Gaudí's work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral, which must be the seat of a bishop.

In 1882, construction of Sagrada Família started under architect Francisco Paula de Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Now when I was in Barcelona 51 years ago it would have looked something like this:



Today this is the sight that greets us:



It is oriented to the North-West, so the main entrance will be at South-East. That has yet to be totally completed. It will involve the demolition of a block of apartments so that a bridge can built over the road. (I assume the residents will be re-housed).The tour entrance though is the Nativity Façade. This is so cleverly done showing the angel visiting Mary, Mary & Joseph’s journey with the donkey right through to the actual nativity. 3 Kings wait in the distance and shepherds are with their sheep.









The bronze gates are inspired by nature and are full of metal leaves, flowers and insects. It is located in the ‘Portal of Charity,’ and are the creation of Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, a passionate follower of Gaudí’s career who has been collaborating in the construction of the church since 1978. At 7 metres tall by 3 metres wide, each ornate door is glorious.





In the centre of the doors is a column known as the “Jesus Tree”. The bottom of the column is encased with an iron fence. Look carefully inside and you will see a serpent with an apple in its mouth. This represents evil contained. It is very difficult to see and many visitors miss it.



It’s when we step inside. Disney fans will know how trees form the columns of Sleeping Beauty castle upper terrace at Paris. We have stepped into a in door forest of soaring tree trunks. I am so taken away by the sight that I have tears in my eyes. It is just compelling architecture.



Our guide, Sonia, says how it never fails to impress her. Light pours in from windows and electric lights positioned at the very top, giving the impression of the sun's rays poking through a forest canopy.

The Evangelists – Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are featured at the top of the four columns immediately in front of the altar. I didn’t like these. I thought they could have been so better done. Each to their own I suppose.



The High Altar is quite spectacular with its block of porphyry from Iran. Above it is the Expressionist “Crucifixion of Christ”, suspended above the altar. It is a bronze version of a work by Carlos Maní. The sculpture hangs from a replica of the canopy made for the Cathedral in Mallorca.



High above this area is a gold canopy which diffuses light down onto the area below. This represents the Creator.



All around the top is the choir loft – it is capable of holding 1,000 choristers. You can see a section of it on the upper section of this photo.



Then there is the stained glass. All windows that face towards the Mediterranean sea are blue.



On the other side reds, yellows, oranges – this is where the sun sets.




Closer detail of the windows:



This is a representation of how the doors will look at the south entrance once they are installed. This is currently a very clever – almost 3D canvas. It fooled me from the distance.



Completion date for the Basilica is said to be around 2026.



Considering it started in 1882 that’s 144 years!

And so we pass outside to the Passion Façade. The Passion façade was finished in 2016. It is located in the street Sardenya and oriented to west.

This façade represents the passion and the death of Jesus. It has an austere and extraordinarily naked appearance, with geometric edged forms. It is composed by a six columns portico, with three doors, of which the central one is divided into two by a mullion with the Alpha and Omega signs among the four bell towers. The sobriety of the façade is maintained by the presence of bone shaped columns and the sculptures carried out by Josep Maria Subirachs adding drama to the already deliberately sad Gaudí design.
It is beautifully executed.

Before you actually step outside you walk over a depiction (on the floor) of Palm Sunday.

The sculptures show the Last Supper, Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial and the crucifixion.



There is a strange square of numbers on the left wall. The Sagrada Familia Magic Square. In squares of order 4 where the numbers run sequentially from 1-16 the magic constant (the sum of a single line, row or diagonal) is 34, but Subirachs' square does not contain the numbers 12 or 16. It is a magic square with all rows and columns adding to 33 - the age that Jesus died on the cross.



There is a strange wavy roofed building down below this frontage to the right. It was a school for the children of the construction workers at the Basilica but local children also attended.



Our guide, Sonia, leaves us at this point but advises that we should visit the museum which lies beneath the Basilica. I’m glad we did as you see that actual models that Gaudi made so he could see how his designs worked. Even today there is a model workshop which you can see into. These days the models are produced by computers and model printers.



The last thing to see is Gaudi’s tomb. 3 special windows allow you to look into the crypt and see his tombstone some 30 feet below the undercroft and thus some 50 feet below ground level.



And just to clear something up - a common claim that the word "gaudy" derives from Antoni Gaudí, designer of Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica, is incorrect: the word was in use centuries before Gaudí was born.

The whole experience took around 2 hours and was booked with Viator and we thought it was excellent value.

Darrin decides to get some more Euros from a Santander ATM. For the privilege he is obliged to pay €5. That’s considerably more than the $2 you get charged in the US.

We now take Bus 33 to L’illa (pronounced Leeya) which is the largest shopping mall in Barcelona.



The bus that takes us there has USB chargers built into the hand rails!




In the mall there are all the usual suspects including Desigal. There is also a Disney store. I find it quite comical that in Spanish “Tangled” becomes “Enredadao”.



We have a sandwich at a café – a croissant with ham and cheese in it. They call them “bikinis”.



Darrin treats himself to shower gel and moisturiser from a shop called “Sablon”. I have to say they had some lovely products with natural ingredients and aromas. I buy a tea spike. It’s a device where you scoop loose leaf tea into it and then pop it into a mug and add boiling water. It saves getting tea leaves into your drink.



Barcelona has another shopping centre, Las Arenas which was originally the bull fighting ring. The Catalonians voted to ban bull fighting in 2010. The roof is now a terrace which gives some amazing views over the city. Unfortunately we don’t have time to visit but get a great photo whilst the bus is stationary.



We head back to Plaza Urquinoana and our hotel. Time to rest our feet. Darrin picks up a couple of slices of the most fabulous lemon cake from Kairos – a coffee shop across from our hotel. We create afternoon tea on our private balcony!



Tonight we are being taken around Tapas bars with a local. Again, this was booked through Viator.

We have to make our way to the Sant Antoni area of the city and meet Moises ouside Els Tres Tombs (The 3 tombs – a charming name for a bar). Sure enough, on the dot, he turns up.



It turns out that he isn’t Spanish. He’s Venezuelan. His brother lives in Bournemouth!

Our first port of call is Bar Calders.



Here we get to taste tomato which spread on bread. Doesn’t sound too exciting but it’s the way they do it. Mixed with olive oil and garlic it’s really tasty.



This bar saved a local red wine – Sant Antoni Glorios. The vineyard was stopping production but the bar owners stepped in, funded it and here we are drinking the results!



We move on to the second bar. Here we have avocado bowl with tuna.



A Catalonian Cava made from Xarello grapes if poured into rather large brandy shaped glass from a great height! It goes with the tapa (singular) so well.

Third stop and Moseis gets us to choose what we would like. We both opt for salted cod. If you have never tried it, do so. It is so delicious. They are served with an aioli (garlic) dip.



These are accompanied with a glass of white Rioja.

Our final and fourth stop is what Darrin described as the Ollivanders of wine shops.





This place sold everything as you can see in the photos. Tinned sardines, tinned hams and pates…….and, of course, the wines. Our tapa here is smoked salmon and cream cheese with a miso / honey drizzle. Moises insists that a red Rioja is best with this and he’s right!



Moises hasn’t drunk all night and goes to get himself a beer. Naturally we get it for him. We sit and chat for a half hour or so about all sorts. We order two more glasses of the Rioja and another beer for Moises.
How we found our way back to our hotel is a miracle. I should mention that we had arrived early at the meeting point and whilst waiting for Moises we had both had two cocktails each –Caipirinha for Darrin and Negroni for me.

Boy! We slept well tonight.

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Edited at 05:41 PM.
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Unread 25 Jan 18, 05:56 PM  
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Mr Tom Morrow
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Geoff. What a nice day. I'm not into religion at all but certainly would have visited the Church. Are you sure that's not the same crane from when you visited as a schoolboy! Looks awfully similar

However what stunning architecture and craftsmanship. Beautiful.

Well you live and learn. I've never heard of or seen a tea spike. Sounds very handy.

All rounded off with a nice evening. That's salted cod sounds different, I would have opted for that as well. Excellent report.
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Unread 25 Jan 18, 06:11 PM  
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An other great day .First tasted salted cod years ago when we were invited to dinner by a Spanish orl mate of Ian loved it
Glad you both arrived back at the hotel safely
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Unread 25 Jan 18, 06:28 PM  
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Originally Posted by Mr Tom Morrow View Post
Geoff. What a nice day. I'm not into religion at all but certainly would have visited the Church. Are you sure that's not the same crane from when you visited as a schoolboy! Looks awfully similar

However what stunning architecture and craftsmanship. Beautiful.

Well you live and learn. I've never heard of or seen a tea spike. Sounds very handy.

All rounded off with a nice evening. That's salted cod sounds different, I would have opted for that as well. Excellent report.
It looks like the crane goes through the middle...so it’s never going anywhere!

Great day, I got a postcard years ago with the Church on it...so nice to see the finer details on it.

Glad you got back to your hotel ok.

Thanks for sharing.
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Unread 25 Jan 18, 07:12 PM  
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geoffa
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Thanks folks. I'd certainly recommend anyone to see the Sagrada Familia whether they are religious or not. The architecture just takes your breath away.
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Unread 25 Jan 18, 07:42 PM  
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Definitely top of our list is La Sagreda Familia, it looks beautiful. Thanks for the tip to pre-book. Did you have to book a guided tour or can you book admission tickets without a guide? We tend to like to just wander around ourselves.

You seem to have had a lovely evening, very relaxing. Glad you found your way back to the hotel 😀
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Unread 25 Jan 18, 08:59 PM  
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geoffa
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Originally Posted by DisneyDaffodil View Post
Definitely top of our list is La Sagreda Familia, it looks beautiful. Thanks for the tip to pre-book. Did you have to book a guided tour or can you book admission tickets without a guide? We tend to like to just wander around ourselves.

You seem to have had a lovely evening, very relaxing. Glad you found your way back to the hotel 😀
We booked a Fast track tour with guide.

The official ticket site is here:

sagradafamilia/eng/tickets/index.html
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Unread 25 Jan 18, 09:32 PM  
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A great detailed report. Are you reading Dan Brown's latest book, set in Spain? Much of the action takes place in Barcelona.
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