The frickity frackin bells start ringing around here at 6 bloody AM! While I do realize this place used to be a seminary, key word is USED to, so must they really keep up with ringing the damn bells? Reluctantly, I admit that this little annoyance is a bit of a blessing in disguise though. Since I am only spending a few days in Barcelona, I need to take advantage of as many hours of daylight as I can. Thus, I got my whiny butt up, dressed myself enough to stumble down to the cafeteria and have breakfast (and no, I didn’t brush my teeth yet either). To further prove that I am staying in jail, I arrived at the cafeteria, stood in line to my plastic tray, silverware and napkin (jail, or sort of like we used to do for school lunches). I sidestepped through the line to receive each item of food they had ready for us.
While the atmosphere of the cafeteria was bleak and sorrowful, the food (most especially the coffee) was quite delicious. Now with a full belly I am ready to tackle Parc Gruell and Sagrada Familia today. Before heading out on the town, I decided to take some pictures of the grounds of the hostal because they really are quite lovely, despite the dismal rooms. They also have a pond FULL of little, baby turtles who poke their heads out of their shells when you stand near the pond (just in case you want to feed them, they are ready). I am pretty sure the turtles are staged so that you will forgive them for there not being any hot water for a shower last night (DUH – you don’t get luxuries like hot water in jail, ding dong). Of course, I was too effing hot and way too dirty after travelling every which way but loose from Lisbon to care last night what temp of the water was anyway.
It is amazing what one can see in a day when you have had breakfast and are on the subway heading towards downtown by 10am! Upon my arrival at Parc Guell at around 10:30am, I was met by a mob of tourists who must have also been staying in a jail similar to mine, but their bells went off at 5am – jerks. I truly appreciate that Cataluyans, or rather Antoni Gaudi, know how to do parcs right! The city of Barcelona may look like somebody tried to shove 10-pounds of poo into a 5-pound sack, but they have at least made space for some spectacular parcs. (That must be why they needed the extra 5 pounds of poo….) Needless to say, I wondered around gazing at the creative architecture and perfectly pruned grounds until about 1:30pm. (The newly found picture taking whore in me has posted these pictures as well to enjoy at your leisure.)
After hiking around and enjoying the music of Michael Franti’s Pops, I was famished and thought it best to find some lunch before attempting to tackle Sagrada Familia.
I walked down a ridiculous hill, which I am still thanking GAWD I did not have to hike up, but was lucky enough to find the easy access entrance to the Parc, and jumped on the Metro to the stop for Sagrada Familia. As face hit the sunlight, I noticed the rather long line of people also waiting to view the ginormous church that has been under construction since 1866 (and still has an estimated 100 years more of work to do before completion). The view looking upwards was so tremendous that I completely forgot about my hunger and wandered to the end of the line – smacking into at least 8 people on the way because there was no way I was going to watch where I was going when I had such spectacular views to see by getting a massive kink in my neck. Fortunately, the line moved quickly and it did not take long to get to the entrance. Just as I was going to buy my tickets – a man came up and asked the couple behind me if they wanted to use their tickets because they had run out of time and needed to catch their flight.
It remains to be determined if the couple didn’t speak English or if they thought that the man offering the tickets was a serial killer, but I piped up and said I would be more than happy to use one of them and it worked! Me likey when me no pay – so glad to be rid of the Catholic guilt around money they need to build giant churches. (Hey, I worked at CorePower, I did my penance for this lifetime, your lifetime and several more of our lifetimes – dummy mud faces). The pictures that I took can in no way do the structure justice. There is so much elaborate stone work, stained glass and sheer genius in design that I don’t think any words I try to use would ever do justice to the beauty, dedication, or passion for one man’s vision representing in one brilliant building. The best I can hope for is to imagine how beautiful it would be to hear the sounds of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Vienna Boys Choir, or the Abyssinian Baptist Choir fill all that glorious space. To top things off, I went up the spiral staircase to the top of one of the four steeples you can also see from the pictures, and was able to marvel at the massive size as I gazed upon the sun setting over the city.
The sun setting over the city…..CRAP! I needed food – it was 5pm and I hadn’t eaten since 9. I hightailed it down the spiral staircase and gave myself a nice little case of the spins to dance my way down the street with and land in a chair at the nearest sidewalk café where I finally had some traditional Spanish food for the first time since I arrived a week ago. Not only did I eat some yummy paella, but I had a big glass of wine while the owner talked my ear off (again thinking I could speak Catalonian). When a Russian family sat down to have lunch, he opted to get back to work. As they looked over the menus, two of the women from their party got up to use el bano. When they got back to the table, the whole family – all 8 or 12 of them – got up and left. While I may not speak Catalonian, I definitely understood the owner’s use of sign language to express his disgruntlement over their lack of respect for using his facilities without paying.
I am proud to say I learned a new word today….”gilipolles”, translating to one of my favorites in the English language……ASSHOLES! YAY!