August 15, 2005

August 4 -- Barcelona

We woke up this morning and a few of us walked up the Ramblas. The Ramblas is a boulevard that stretched from the harbor well into the city. While there is basically only one lane in each direction, the charm of las Rambla is the wide, tree-lined pedestrian mall down the center. Street artists of all sorts and abilities perform for passerbys; everything from musicians, jugglers, and "human statues" vie for your attention and an occasional euro.

Our destination was Sagrada Familia, the Antoni Gaudi designed church. After a bit of meandering we got there, just after the others arrived by cabs. The church has been under construction since 1882 and still has another 30 or so years until it is complete (Christopher announced that he wants to be there for the opening and will bring along Brian and Julie). There are two distinct facades to the Sagrada, the Nativity facade has fluid lines, almost like melted wax. The Glory facade is angular in its lines.

There are spires that rise up from the church and seeing that we had Christopher with us, "we went up". Tiny, crowded steps in the heat made it seem more like a mini-pilgrimage. (The Moreheads and Christine's mother waited and waited in the slow-moving elevator line to get to the same spots.) Being up among the spires was a real kick. Small windows allowed you to get glimpses of views, both near and far. At one point you walk along a bridge between two of the towers. All of it was definitely worthwhile.

From there our group, about 15 of us at the time, kind of took over the sidewalk tables at a nearby restaurant. For whatever reason the Moreheads ended up at the "kids table". So while CB, Damian, Suzanne and Julie were enjoying beers and sandwiches, the Moreheads were translating menus for kids. Oh well.....

We cabbed it up to another Gaudi project, Parc Guell. Built on a hillside, this park is quite unique. A fountain greets visitors and provides a great place for a group picture. At the top of the steps is a covered plaza with unique columns. On top of that is a large outdoor plaza with mosaic benches and stupendous views of Barcelona. When we to that level we caught the end of some jazz musicians showing off their stuff. It is a great place to spend some time.

From there we cabbed it down to the top of the Passeig de GrÃcia to walk past the various Gaudi designed buildings. The sidewalks of this street are covered with pavers that were designed by Gaudi. These same tiles cover much of the floors of Casa Battlo. This city oozes with Gaudi's influence in all sorts of ways. We walked down the avenue and stopped at Placa Catalunya for Pat to take pictures of the kids.

Dinner tonight was at an Italian restaurant at Placa del Pi in the Barrio Gottic. Good food reasonably priced. After dinner we left the kids at the apartments and walked the Ramplas. Pat listened practically alone to a duo playing flamenco guitar while a huge crowd surrounded some break dancers.

A little farther down we found a outdoor cafe for desert. Anna, Pat, and Suzanne drank champagne. They joined Brian smoking some Cuban cigars. Everyone else ordered deserts of one type or another. By midnight we were done and headed back to the apartments.


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