Most of our trips last 5 days. Two days of travel, three days to pack in as much as we can or want. The second full day in Spain, we took off early in the morning from Tossa de Mar and drove back south down to Barcelona.
I don’t know when it was that I first saw an image of La Sagrada Familia, but I do remember thinking 1) What the hell is that building?! I had never seen anything like it before, and 2) It’s in SPAIN?! For some reason it didn’t strike me as a “Spanish” building…but I’ll admit that I had no clue and no references to go off anyway. When presented with the opportunity to actually see this cathedral in person, I knew we had to do our best to make it happen. I would regret it otherwise.
In addition to La Sagrada Familia, Matt really wanted to check out the Picasso museum. We figured we could fit both in one good day in Barcelona.
Our first stop was at Gaudi’s magnificent work of art. We found parking a few blocks away, but it was a nice warm day so walking was no problem. What struck me was how beautiful this part of Barcelona is – the buildings are like out of a dream! To me, they looked ornate, grand, and very European with balconies and large windows.
We also liked how at every intersection, the block’s corners are angled and the space is for parking.
When we arrived at La Sagrada Familia, the line was around the block but it moved pretty quickly.
You must buy tickets to walk around inside, and we added on the option of going up one of the towers. I think it was called the “ascension” tour, or something…and I don’t think we really had any idea what it was about (you’ll notice this is a theme for us in Barcelona – we planned virtually nothing and were winging it around the city all day). Luckily, it provided some awesome views of Barcelona, as well as quite the experience walking down from the top of the spiral staircases inside those tall towers.
Walking around the basilica with a million other tourists, we were in complete awe. It is so beautiful, and big, and bright, and absolutely amazing.
Cathedrals are special to Matt and I since our families are/were Catholic – notably, our grandmothers who mean a lot to us. I have a small locket on a necklace that holds some of my Grandma’s ashes and I made sure to wear that on the day we went. In some way, I feel like I get to show my Grandma something she would have really enjoyed, give back to her in a small way.
After we got our fill of La Sagrada Familia, we grabbed a quick paella lunch from a place about a block away. Cold beer in the shade outside was just what we needed by this point.
Now, the Picasso Museum was another story. In short – a disaster. After some hectic driving from one part of the city to the other, to include wrong-way street driving, driving in pedestrian-only areas, and possibly breaking a few parking laws, we managed to find the neighborhood that the Picasso Museum is in. It’s the old part of Barcelona, and I think it’s considered El Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter).
Definitely a must visit part of the city! However, we got incredibly turned around and lost just trying to find the museum. Once we did find it…I swear to you, we walked about a mile from where the front door was to the end of the line waiting to go inside. SO LONG. After a long, silent, ten minutes or so, feeling like a salmon swimming upstream (against the flow of the line), Matt finally said, “I don’t think we’re going to see this today.” Which was probably a good call because it was already getting later in the afternoon, and I wasn’t about to stand in any line for that long.
So, we weaved our way around the narrow streets on our way back to the car, got some gelato for the road, and headed home. Er, home after we got lost trying to get out of Barcelona and on to the freeway. Poor Matt, he’s the driver wherever we go, and our GPS failed miserably at helping us out in any positive way.
All in all, Barcelona is not exactly checked off our list of places to visit. There is so much more we want to see and experience there! And in the rest of Spain in general – if we should get so lucky.
I will say all this for remembrances sake: driving around the city sort of made me feel like I was in South America…not that I’ve ever been, but Matt has and he actually agreed with me. The buildings and layout of the land, as seen from the freeways, reminded me of Brazil for some strange reason. It was hot and sticky in the city, and though it wasn’t my favorite weather to be in, it was so awesome compared to the cooler Swedish summer. We saw Starbucks for the first time outside of the USA, and it was way different. The old town area kind of smelled really bad. But that’s OK because I never thought I’d ever get to visit anyway, and having been there (only to get lost, find a massive line, then get gelato) was way better than never getting to go at all.
*my apologies for any bad photos. i was a newbie with the new camera at the time, and as always, am continuing to fine tune my skills. if you’re a photo snob, thanks for understanding. if you’re not, you’re welcome for the visuals.