Monday, March 17, 2014

Final destination: Barcelona

Hostel in Barcelona
We left Paris at four in the morning.  We took a taxi to the airport only to find out that RyanAir insisted that we should have printed out our boarding passes prior to coming to the airport.  We didn't do this so had to pay TWICE for our tickets.  The trick is they only send you the boarding pass twenty-four hours prior to your boarding and even though we had a computer we didn't have a printer.  Also, Lisa's carry-on bag that had been passed on every other airline we took, was deemed too big by RyanAir's standards.  She got to pay an extra $100.00 for that.  The moral of the story is: yes RyanAir is much cheaper than the other airlines but you better make sure you follow their guidelines or it will not be cheaper.

Lisa and the boys graciously let me sleep on the full bed (in the first photo) while they slept on the bunks.  I think Lisa was trying to make it up to me after persuading me to take a taxi to our hostel.  I showed my dark side when I found out that not only could we have taken a train for a fraction of the cost, but that, according to the pretty young Czech girl who welcomed us to the hostel, the taxi driver over charged us by a good twenty Euros.

The following photos are the view outside our hostel in downtown Barcelona

By the time we reached Barcelona we were little more than slugs.  It had been a phenomenal trip, but everyone has their saturation point. We'd see a Cathedral and shrug our shoulders.  Eh, they're all alike.  This isn't true, but being travel weary we had very little ability to appreciate much else.

I can now see the beauty in this Spanish style church which, as with all the other churches, has its own unique beauty in design.  At the time I was at the tail end of my traveling endurance.

Close up of one of the many churches in Barcelona

The famous Sagrada del Familia  by Antoni Gaudi

I had seen photos of Gaudi's Basilica de la Sagrada Familia.  It reminded me of mud castles on the beach.  When I saw it in person my eyes popped out and my jaw dropped, like a Warner Brothers cartoon.  Instantly, I became a disciple of the art of Gaudi.  This was the last European cathedral we saw and I must say it was different than any of the others.  That's saying a lot because each cathedral was unique in its grandeur, awesome architecture and breath taking beauty. 

Even though we tend to call the gigantic church structures across Europe cathedrals, the term applies only to churches that are the seat of a Bishop.  La Sagrada Familia is not, strictly speaking, a Cathedral.  In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it and made it a minor basilica.  For those of you wondering, basilica is a Catholic church that a Pope has accorded special privileges.  There are only four major, or papal, Basilicas in the world.  Sagrada Familia is one of the many minor basilicas.   However, for convenience sake, I'm going to continue calling Sagrada Familia a cathedral since that is how it is commonly known.

While most cathedrals were built during the middle ages, Sagrada Familia was started in 1882.  The architect, Antoni Gaudi, began work on it in 1883.  His work is classified as a part of the Art Deco period, although he combined Art Deco with Gothic design.  This makes the design of Sagrada Familia unique from the other cathedrals. 

What overwhelmed me was the seemingly infinitessimal detail in the decoration of the outside of the church.  As a devout Christian, it was Gaudi's intent to illustrate the entire gospel on all the outside walls of the church.  He arrived at the building site every morning and led the workers in prayer before they began construction.

This part of Sagrada was built by Gaudi's successor, Josep Maria Subirachs.  His modernist approach sharply differs from Gaudi and it is easy to discern which sculptures were created by Gaudi and which by Subirachs.

Subirachs sculpted the passion of Christ on the front side of the church.

The photos below are Gaudi's designs.

Gaudi sculpted the nativity on the side of the cathedral opposite to Subirachs' Crucifixion of Christ

The best way in the world to end a long day is to relax in front of La Sagrada Familia with a glass of Sangria.  Lisa and I did this every evening we were in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia at night.

Park near La Sagrada Familia

Thus endeth our first day in Barcelona.  Tomorrow: the beach.


Brian Joseph said...

Wow. This looks to be the end of such an awesome trip.

The Gaudi sculptures are magnificent!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Thanks, Brian. I hope you get to see them in person one day. Take care!