Saturday, July 29 –
This next morning we awoke to the sounds of handsaws and hammers, but we slept okay. We ate our free breakfast before grabbing our bags and checking out. We had already booked our other hotel for the next two nights
We left our bags at the Sants train station, before deciding to go on a tourist bus circuit around the city. The hop-on and hop-off bus cost 2,000 pesetas, but it was highly worth it since we had limited time in the city. We saw most of the highlights of the city, before deciding to disembark at the Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia, 80 plus years later, is an icon of the city and one of the most famous churches in the world. Master post-modern architect Antoni Gaudi began the cathedral to be his signature work, but his life was cut short in the 1930s when he was struck down by a trolley car. Gaudi lived in the structure and worked on it night and day with a small budget and work crew. Eventually after his death, the Spanish Civil War and World War II dried up funding and resources. Today, a non-profit continues to raise funds to finish it. We took a freight elevator that was part of the tour for a great view of the city from one of the 4 spires. The natural design incorporated natural scenes, wildlife, birds and greenery sculpted into the design. We were blown away by the cathedral. It was certainly the most interesting church I have ever seen. We also toured Gaudi’s Casa Milà (La Pedrera), his last civil work finished in 1910. It was one of the most bizarre buildings I have ever visited!
Afterwards, we boarded our bus and rode to La Salut, a neighborhood in the Gràcia district. There we toured the beautiful Parque Güell – also designed by Gaudi. The eccentric park contains beautiful landscaping surround by unusual surrealistic style sculptures and architecture crafted by Gaudi. The public art is unlike any park you will ever experience.
After finishing a loop tour of the city, we went back to the Plaça de España area to watch one of the great spectacles in Barcelona at the Magic Fountain. Every night in the summertime, the fountain puts on a show of dancing water and light, all choreographed to Spanish-themed compositions like Manuel de Falla’s Pano Murano and La Habañera from Georges Bizet’s Carmen Suite.
After late dinner and some ice cream, we took the metro to Sants Station where we collected our bags and check into our hotel, the Barcelo Hotel Sants. We had AC for the first time this trip, which was a luxury. It is one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in while traveling in Europe. The great thing is it’s centrally located and part of the train stration!