If you didn’t start reading on Day 1, you might want to start from the beginning…
We walked all over Barcelona today. I started a little earlier than Aubs because she wasn’t ready to wake up when I did. I got ready and went out looking for somewhere I could some breakfast to bring back but at 7am on a Sunday morning there wasn’t a whole lot open. I bought some snacks and on my way back to the room, checked with the front desk at the hotel to find out how the metro system worked. After the long walk we took last night I knew hoofing it around all day wouldn’t get us to all the places we wanted to see.
The subways in Barcelona are excellent. Clean, easy, and they have AC! You can get anywhere and the various passes they offer make it extremely affordable. We could have stayed further out at a nicer place, which would have saved a few bucks and it wouldn’t have been less inconvenient. Aubs got ready and we took the subway down to the waterfront and decided to go see the castle on the top of Montjuic hill. My buddy Greg had told me to go see the monestary called Montserrat, but I messed up and we went to Montjuic instead, DOH! Another to do when I come back with Sandi.
There are gondolas rides up the hill (actually it was more than a hill but not quite a mountain…a hilltain), which sounded fun, so we started walking through town trying to find a place we could get on them. We ended up walking a good 2 miles, and most of it was up. The route we’d taken took us to the second stop, almost near the top, so we missed out on riding up the worst part of the hike. It actually wouldn’t have been a bad walk at all if not for the heat and humidity. Even though it wasn’t quite as hot as it had been in Italy, my back was still soaked when I took off my backpack to sit down and grossed Aubree out.
Up on top of the castle we had a great view of the city and harbor. There were huge cannons around the outside of the castle walls to protect the city (but from what I understand, they were used more times on the city than against enemies). It was pretty cool but I’m not sure if it was worth a half day and the 2 pints of sweat it took to get there. But, like I said, I had intended to go to Montserrat, which would have taken a full day as I understand.
We took a bus back down into town and Aubree got some directions to the mall, which was down by the waterfront. Another bus and more walking. We trekked another two miles looking for the mall. At one point Aubree gave up and said to forget it. We had lunch, cooled off a bit, and then she figured it out. We had to walk over by the Imax theater instead of being by the beaches. Aubs wasn’t to keen on going to the beaches, I tried unsuccessfully to talk her in to it but her mind was set on the mall. We walked around the jetty to the other jetty and were both a little cranky by the time we finally made it. But then Aubree was at the mall, where life is always good for a teenage girl, and I was able to sit in a shady air conditioned building. I was just happy to sit for however long she wanted to look around and did some journaling.
Somewhere around us was a monument where Columbus set sail nearly 500 years ago. I couldn’t find it though. Plus the sun did a good job of convincing me that I’d be okay if I missed this one and we went back into town where we could walk in the shade of the tall buildings.
We walked through some of the same places we’d seen the night before, primarily through the gothic section. I loved the old stone buildings and narrow streets. Some of the alleys were only four feet wide and looking up, the buildings rose many stories and leaned in and out from being hundreds of years old (from medieval and roman eras). It was almost like they were slowly swallowing up the alleys between them.
People vanished into doorways that were hidden in the shadows of what felt more like a hallway to me than a road. Along one such tight cramped walkway I noticed two large doors open to our left. We poked our head in and it opened up into a fairly large cathedral. It seemed strange that such a huge church could be located in the middle of such dense ancient city. We walked through it, looking at the various statues and displays that had been created in honor of Christian historical figures (Christ, apostles, Mary…).
We walked, turning where it looked interesting and weaved our way through town. Then we took the metro across town to the Sagrade Familia. This was amazing. A massive church that has been under construction since 1882 and not expected to be completed until 2026 (they are trying to finish it by the 100th anniversary of the death of it’s architect, Antoni Gaudi). I didn’t know much about it before we saw and and at first thought that it was being restored (because of all the scaffolding and work going on in the area). It blows me away to think that Gaudi worked on this project for 40 years and completely devoted the final 15 years of his life to it..and even then it was still a hundred years away from being finished. The new parts of the building are bright, almost colorful because of the fresh rock placed in recent years which provides a stark contrast to the gray, aged rock next to it. Amazing! Imagine a massive cathedral built by hand where ornate sculpture adorns every spire, doorway, window, and wall. It was amazing. Unfortunately, you have to book in advance to see the interior…another to do for my next visit.
It was early evening, but it had been a long day. Plus, Aubree had to use the ladies room reeally bad and we couldn’t find one (she prob won’t want me to mention that, so…ignore that last sentence). Plus she had bought some hair dye so she could have a new look when we stepped off the plane back home and wanted to get that project finished up (she had to get one of the maids to help her read the directions). We went back to the Hotel and Aubs snapped a picture of us in the mirror on the elevator (another of the few shots of us together on the trip). We started getting stuff ready for the trip home, did some journal writing, and Aubree went through all the memoirs and presents she’d purchased on the trip.
I still wanted to go to the beach but it wasn’t high on Aubree’s list. Suddenly, it came to me. I casually mentioned that she’d prob get quite a nice tan if we went to the beach, and it worked. The beach became our top destination for tomorrow. We logged at least 10 miles of walking today and wanted to rent bicycles tomorrow but didn’t know where. We’d asked earlier in the day and found out the ones we saw all around town were only for citizens of Barcelona, not tourists. So we planned out our last day in Europe: the beach, an attempt at bicycles, one last jaunt down Las Ramblas, and a nice dinner to finish it off. It’s hard to believe our trip is almost over and we only have one more day.