Barcelona, Spain – August 25, 2010
This is another of my visits to check on the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona. This time I was able to fit in some sightseeing after work.
I traveled to Barcelona from Madrid on the AVE (bullet train). The best thing about the AVE is that it is absolutely on time. If one’s ticket states the train departs at 06:30, it departs at 06:30! The seats onboard are roomy and comfortable. There are some significant differences between train travel and air travel, such as no metal detectors. All they have is an x-ray machine. There are no luggage weight restrictions. Boarding is a breeze. Prior to departing the station, free headsets and newspapers are distributed. In the Preferente class, they even distribute a meal. This is by far the best way to travel.
Once in Barcelona, I checked into the Hotel Claris. When I had some free time, I decided to walk to the Sagrada Família church. It is not a long-distance, only about 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) roundtrip. One of the famous sons of Barcelona is the architect, Antoni Gaudí. He had a very different and unique style. Possibly the crowning jewel of his career is the Sagrada Família. It was begun in 1882 and is not yet complete.
Before arriving at the church, I had seen photographs of it; however, nothing prepared me for the massive scale and unusual look of the church. It is an assault on the senses, but not in a bad way. Because it is so unusual, there are many, many things vying for one’s attention. I do not believe there is another structure like it anywhere on the earth. I imagine that is part of why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entry for the self-guided tour is 11€ (US$13.42). One of the unique adornments on the church is the square plaque of 16 numbers. The sum of the numbers in each row, column, and diagonal is 33; the number of years Jesus Christ was on earth.
It was a very hot day, so after I toured the church, I stopped at a nearby sidewalk café for a cold beer and water.
On the other afternoon I had available, I went down to the port area after work. Near the port is a very prominent monument to Christopher Columbus. IT is directly across from the Port of Barcelona building. While I was there, I saw a ferry coming in from the Balearic islands. I enjoyed watching the ferry maneuver to the dock. As I continued along the port area, I came across a large sculpture done by Joan Miro. It was a very colorful piece.
From the port area, I walked into the Gothic Quarter. One of the first things I came across was the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica. According to what I have read, this church is actually mentioned in city documents dating back to the 900’s. Apparently, what one sees today was begun in about 1329. The ages of some of the sights in Europe just amaze me.
I ended my afternoon in the plaza, just in front of the Cathedral. I did not have time to go into the Cathedral, but I did go into the side-chapel dedicated to St. Luke. In there was a crypt of a Bishop of Barcelona dated 1238! I will save the Cathedral for a future visit.