Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Barcelona | Day Two & Three

Our second day in Barcelona was one of my favorite days from our whole trip. We saw a lot of fun stuff and we were able to do our own thing and figure everything out as we went. It was fun, exciting and exhausting all at once.

This was our first full day in Barcelona so we woke up and headed out to a local coffee chain, Costa Coffee, for breakfast and you guessed it, coffee. Richard got a flat white and I got hot chocolate.
We then started our day by doing one of the walks listed out in our guide book that took us through the Barri Gotic, or the Gothic quarter. We started out by walking down a major shopping area that had a bunch of high end stores, some that we even recognized. The book was great because we would take mini side tours off the main drag that we would not have known about had it not been for the book. One of those was the side street shown below where hidden in between building was the Church of Santa Anna and its courtyard. We continued along this walk stopping and reading about sights along the way.
^^The building on the left is a restaurant called Els Quatre Gats(The Four Cats) which is where Picasso used to hang out while he lived in Barcelona and he also designed the art featured on their menu.^^
^^On the right side is two ancient roman towers that used to guard the entrance to the city of Barcino. On the left side in the distance is the Cathedral of Barcelona.^^
^^Far left you can see an arch that used to be part of a Roman aqueduct that used to bring water into the city.^^

^^This is just across from the Roman towers. This building is part of an architecture school and was designed by Picasso.^^
^^Bronze letters that spell out the old city Barcino.^^
The next major thing we saw was the Cathedral of Barcelona. We went inside and toured the Cathedral and one thing we were told many times is that when you go into churches in this area, you need to make sure that your shoulders and knees were covered. Since we had planned on visiting this church on this day, we made sure our outfits were appropriate. We were lucky that it was not too hot and we did not overheat in our clothes. The church was so cool to look at and the inside was simply amazing.
In the area surrounding the Cathedral, we saw the above Monument to the Martyrs of Independence (left) and Placa Sant Felip Neri (right) which was bombed during the Spanish Civil war where the bomb was intended for a government building that is nearby.
^^ Carrer Del Bisbe Bridge. This bridge connects the government building on the right with the residence on the left.^^
^^This building and the one above it are government buildings, the top one being Barcelona City hall and the above one is where many political figures have offices.^^
^^Last remains of the Roman Temple of Augustus. These columns were a part of the temple that was built in the first century. These were crazy to see because they were tucked in between buildings that were built around the columns. There were even some pictures of a house that used to be here that had the columns running through its living room.^^
^^Mount Taber is the Barri Gotic's highest point of elevation and this is where the city of Barcino was founded.^^
^^The backside of the Cathedral! So amazing! We also saw someone creating giant bubbles right through here that were neat to see and we were able to watch while we stopped for lunch.^^
When we were done with our walk around the Barri Gotic, we happened upon a metro station and decided to ride the metro to go see Gaudi's famous church, Sagrada Familia. More on that in a bit. The metro was pretty easy to navigate and we were able to tuck away all of our valuables so they were out of reach of the thieves that usually target the metros as we had been told prior to arriving.
We knew that we wanted to visit Sagrada Familia, which is a church designed by Antoni Gaudi (a famous architect). This church has been under construction for over a hundred years already and is still 10 years away from being finished, hence the cranes. Gaudi had a vision for this church that he was not able to finish so parts of this church are not his designs, but the designs of someone else who is trying to stick to his guidelines. Gaudi passed away 43 years into the constructions and the construction is targeting a finish date of 100 years after his death. When we got to the basilica, we tried to get tickets to get in the door only to find out that the next time they had available for viewing was four hours later and would only allow for 45 minutes before the church closed. We knew that this was our only opportunity to see the place so we decided to hang out around the church for the next four hours. We wish we would have known to purchase the tickets in advance because that would have saved us some of the hassle, but it ended up working out.
The entrance to this church has not yet been built and requires am apartment building to be torn down before it can be built. There will be entrances to the church on three of the sides, and each of the sides represent different things. The glory facade, which will eventually be the main entrance, will have a theme surrounding what happens to the soul after death. The nativity facade, pictured below, is the only part of the church that Gaudi himself designed and was mostly finished in his lifetime. This facade's theme is the birth of Christ, with the nativity scene as the central sculptures.
The passion facade, shown below, represents the death of Jesus. The spires were designed by Gaudi, but the lower half of the design was inspired by Gaudi and were left up to the interpretations of a different architect.

^^What will be the back side of the church once it is completed.^^
^^While we waited four hours to see the inside of the church, we hung out around the grounds, found more coffee, got a few drinks and a snack to hold us over to get dinner late. We were able to finally rest and rejuvenate a bit and then we were able to enter the church.^^
The inside of this church took our breath away. There is so much detail and so much to see and appreciate, it was overwhelming. Everywhere we turned there was something different to examine and take in. The ceiling and the stained glass was my favorite part. The pictures do not even come close to showing how amazing the inside of this church was.

Once we were done taking in all that we could from Sagrada Familia, we took the metro back to our hotel so that we could switch out a few things we were carrying and find a place to eat. We ended up finding an Italian restaurant because pasta is a pretty safe choice for me since I am picky. By the time we were heading there it was dark outside and our directions told us to turn down this tiny street that looked sketch. We walked down the street and then in the middle of nowhere was this tiny restaurant that was adorable and completely packed. I was a little nervous and stressed while waiting in line trying to decipher a menu that was not in english until we got to the register and thankfully the cashier spoke english and explained the menu choices. My pasta was pretty good and Richard still talks about his food and our experience with this restaurant. I remember the bread being phenomenal and it was the first thing on our trip that I ate and wanted to keep eating more until I was full. So good. After dinner and dessert, we headed back to our hotel to sleep knowing we had a busy day the next day.

Day Three
Our next day in Barcelona was really only a few hours in the morning because we had to head to the cruise ship that afternoon. We headed out early to the Eixample area of the city. Here we were able to see some fun architecture, including more work by Gaudi and a few other famous architects.

^^The picture on the right shows Casa Batllo, another design by Gaudi and is completely different from the church. It was a fun and colorful house that stood next to another uniquely designed house.^^
^^Modern art museum with a fun sculpture on top.^^
^^Another Gaudi design on the left. These building definitely stuck out next to the modern day buildings surrounding them.^^
^^The lampposts could be found all over this street and were a fun design that was definitely unique.^^
Once we were done in the Eixample, we stopped in a Zara Home Store because we were curious, checked out of our hotel and went to find a quick bite to eat at a sandwich place that looked like a McDonalds. We then made a pitstop for coffee at the closest place we could find, which happened to be a Starbucks, grabbed our bags and hopped in a taxi that took us to our cruise port. We were able to check into the cruise, find our room, tour the ship, participate in a mock-emergency situation, sit on our balcony while we disembarked, and then enjoy our first dinner on the ship. We also watched a performance put on by the ship that included a very funny comedian and an introduction to the cruise.

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