We camped at a campsite about 15 kilometers outside of the city center and our only option for transport was the frustrating 40 minute bus commute. Other than that the campsite was quiet and on the beach, but we were too busy (and the weather was too dreary) to take time to sun on the beach.
We had two full days to explore in Barcelona. The first day in the city we explored the main food market and replenished our snacks (we wouldn't be caught without them). We made our way down the the port, Port Vell, and explored some of the eccentric artwork there.
Then we made our way to the church of Santa Maria del Mar. It was plain stone with beautiful stained glass. There was visible mildew on its high ceilings, a mark of its age and authenticity.
Then we strolled through Bari Gothic, the gothic district known for its architecture. It's also the old part of the city so the streets are tight and it's a fun area to wander. The architecture is drastic and looming, but there is plenty of life in the little streets to brighten it up.
We took a water break at the Arc de Triumph. It was a nice square with plenty going on. Notably, there was a very competitive game of bocci ball going on.
We then headed to the close by Picasso museum.The museum was housed in four conjoined estates in the Bari Gothic, a beautiful space in itself. We both really enjoyed this museum and were surprised to find that Picasso didn't always paint in the fashion his art is often defined by. The geometric style that Picasso is best known for was a later phase for him as an artist. He was very talented as a young artist and studied at the Prado in Madrid copying the masters. Then he had a transitional phase where he colors outside of the lines a little. This is where we found our favorite paintings. Not overly realistic, but still not quite the geometric style Picasso is most well know for. It was an eye-opening experience for us as amateur art appreciators.
We went back to the food market for a quick bite to eat, and then we headed to Boadas, a bar that Hemmingway and the like we're said to have frequented back in the day. No menu, no prices posted, but we went for it anyway. The bartenders sport bow ties and perform slick tricks while mixing the drinks. There were lots of handwritten letters and black and white pictures of famous people in the bar back in the roaring twenties. A cool spot, it was worth the splurge. This concluded the excitement for the day and it was back to the tent for us.
The next day we started a little later than planned (we both thought the other had set an alarm). We got up and at 'em and made our commute into Barcelona.
Our first stop was the biggest flea market in Barcelona. It's housed in an open-air, covered, three-story terraced structure and the ceiling is a mirror. It's filled with junk, antiques, knicks and knacks, and clothing. Katie picked up some groovy pants.
Next we made our way to la Sagrada Familia, the famous church drawn up by Gaudi. I say drawn up because it's still under construction! This eccentric church, complete with a Christmas tree jutting from one it's sides is an aritectural wonder. It's eccentric, fierce and beautiful. It's truly one of a kind. Every unique feature was inspired by a simple structure found in nature. When creating the church Gaudi was very progressive with the architecture, decoration and logistics. The church isn't ornamented like your average church. So far we've seen a scale that ranges from gaudy to plain, this church adds a new dimension to that scale. La Sagrada Familia is decorated with concave and boxy human figures, not your chiseled and realistic statues. The pillars on the inside are decorated with lit up bulbs, decorated with different biblical creatures and lit up in different colors. There is a door that has part of the Lord's Prayer in 50 different languages representing unity and cross-culturalism. Gaudi even built a school on the grounds of the church so that the children of the construction crew could attend without undue stress. The church is one of a kind.
After our Gaudi site seeig splurge, the highlight of our evening was seeing live flamenco dancing! Quite the experience. It's an up-tempo tap dancing with flamboyant outfits, set to passionate Spanish music. We only got to see a 30-minute set, but man did we enjoy it!
We were sorry to only have two days budgeted to Barcelona, but nevertheless we caught another series of buses to Lisbon, Portugal the next morning (an 18-hour endeavor in total). We're happy to say we will not be spending anymore nights on buses. We've wracked up a weeks' worth of nights on buses! It's a savvy way to travel, saving money on paying for accommodation, but it is certainly not accommodating to sleep!
More soon from Lisboa!
Will and Katie