Barcelona

From Alicante, we traveled to Barcelona, where we were able to spend almost a week exploring this amazing city. Out of the Spanish cities that I knew we would be visiting this trip, Barcelona was the one I was most excited about. Barcelona is a beautiful city on the coast with fascinating buildings and unique architecture. Its blue skies and sunshine are almost constant as it only rains about 20 days per year. The culture and food are amazing as well. It certainly lived up to all of its hype, and I think I would say that it is one of my favorite cities in the world.

Neither Perry nor I have really spent any time in Barcelona before. We briefly flew in and out of the city on our honeymoon where we took a Mediterranean Sea cruise that travelled in and out of its port, but sadly our only experience in the city was in the airport and on a bus to and from the port. We both remember thinking as we sailed away from the city five years ago that we definitely wanted to return one day and spend some time here. And I’m certainly glad that we could.

While Barcelona has so many things to see and explore, part of its charm is to spend time just wandering the streets and alleyways. From the beach to the parks to the architecture to the breath-taking Sagrada Familia church, there is so much going on. I think you could spend weeks in this city and still be surprised at the secrets it holds. It felt like we were constantly taking a picture of every street and building that we came across. We loved seeing the numerous plazas throughout the city and exploring La Rambla lined with cafes, street artists and vendors.
















One of the things that Barcelona is most known for and that we were most excited to see is the unique architectural design of Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi is a fascinating individual whose style and technique is unlike anything that I had ever really seen before. While in Barcelona, we took a tour focusing on modernism and Gaudi’s architectural contributions to the city. Overall Gaudi designed about 20 buildings throughout the city, each with their own peculiar and creative style. On our tour, we saw a couple of the homes that he designed and built in the early 1900s for wealthy families in the city such as Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. We also saw the homes designed by some of his colleagues like Casa Amatller and Casa Lleo Morera. The architecture of modernism is so unique and interesting!






Aside from the homes that we saw, two other “masterpieces” that Gaudi is known for in Barcelona is Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia. The plan for the Park Guell project was to build a community with about 60 townhomes and facilities such as a school, etc. As you can see, this plan was quite extravagant and as a result, it went bankrupt after finishing just a few of the buildings. Nevertheless, the buildings and structures that were finished are amazing. The rock cutouts and tile work on the buildings is so interesting and beautiful.


















The work that Antoni Gaudi is most known for is La Sagrada Familia, the cathedral that you see in almost every image of Barcelona. Construction began on the cathedral in 1874, and yes, it still continues to this day. Gaudi spent the last 40 years of his life on this project, and even lived in the basement of the cathedral towards the end of his life. Sadly construction halted to a stop when his workshop was bombed during the Spanish Civil War shortly after his death in 1926. Sadly, Gaudi only saw the crypt and Nativity Façade finished in this lifetime. The goal is to have the entire cathedral completed by 2026, the hundred year anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Whether it will be or not is yet to be determined. They still have A LOT to do, but it’s incredible to see the progress that they have made in the last thirty years.

To visit this cathedral and see it up close was probably our favorite experience in Barcelona. There are three facades on the cathedral: the Nativity Façade, the Passion Façade and the Glory Façade. They are all breathtaking. You could spend hours looking at each one taking in all the details. The interior is fascinating as well with its tall columns shaped like flowers, trees and the sky. We were able to go into the Passion Towers and look out onto the Old City, and that was amazing too. Everything about this cathedral is wonderful, and I highly recommend visiting it someday if you can.


















Barcelona also has a beautiful beach sitting on the Balearic Sea, lined with street vendors and cafes. While it was a little too chilly to layout or go for a swim, we spent a morning walking up and down the boardwalk and ate lunch in a café by the water.






One afternoon, we spent time walking around Parc de la Ciutadella. This Park was beautiful and had many unique statues, monuments and pathways throughout it. It even has it’s own Arc de Triomphe, similar to the one in Paris, but much smaller. The sun was out and blue skies abounded, showing off that perfect Barcelona weather that it’s known for.







This is quite silly, but since visiting Kuala Lumpur last summer and seeing the fountain and light show outside of the Petronas Towers, I absolutely must visit any water show that cities have. So of course, when I heard that Barcelona had one, it definitely went on the must-visit list. In our minds, this was not going to be anything too grand, just something to amuse my fountain-show-loving heart. Boy, were we wrong! Barcelona’s fountain show takes place in Placa d’Espana Thursday to Sunday nights each week. For a full hour, these remarkable fountains light up and fill the air while dancing to different songs. It was amazing, and I was quite happy, as were the hundreds of other people that stood around mesmerized by them with us.








As I’ve mentioned in our Madrid and Alicante blog posts, we have loved getting to experience the many flavors of Spanish food throughout our time here. Barcelona was no exception. We ate so much delicious food and made sure to have all of our favorites before we left. One day, we spent time walking through La Boqueria Food Market where you could taste and try almost any Spanish dish you can think of. Yum.





Aside from Sagrada Familia, one of the other things that Barcelona is probably most known for is FC Barcelona, their professional soccer team. When planning this trip, we had talked about how cool it would be to go to a professional soccer game in any of the Spanish cities that we visited. When we first looked at tickets and schedules in July, it appeared that none of the teams were playing at home when we were there. Thankfully, the schedules were updated and games had been added when we looked again in October….which meant that we definitely had to go to a FC Barcelona game at Camp Nou, their soccer stadium that holds 98,000 people. The game we attended was a Champion’s League game between Barcelona and Slavia Praha (Prague). Neither of us had ever attended a professional soccer game before and for our first one to be at Camp Nou with Barcelona was pretty incredible. While the game ended in a 0-0 draw, it was still so much fun and an experience of a lifetime.






Barcelona has such a unique culture and identity that is all its own. Yes, it’s Spanish, but if you were to ask any Barcelonan, I think they would say their true identity lies in their Catalan heritage. Their pride for Catalonia is unique and unlike most patriotism that we’ve seen other places. Based on what we learned while we were there, they have always had this strong sense of pride and a spirit that doesn’t seem to want to go away. Over and over again, they were conquered and yet almost like a phoenix from the ashes, they would rise again. Of course, the other side of this is that they also seem to have a little rebellion constantly running through their veins, meaning they don’t always fall into line like they’re expected to. For this reason, Catalonia has spent a lot of time in the news recently as its people have wrestled with a push for independence, similar to Hong Kong and other places around the world. I really don’t know enough about the politics of it all to know if Catalonia should be independent from Spain or not, but I respect their pride in maintaining their unique culture.

I think it is this sense of pride in their history and identity that strikes me the most. As we learned the history of Barcelona and Catalonia as a whole, time and again, they seemed to not do the popular or easy thing, they did what they felt was right for their communities and their people. And they never seemed to regret it, no matter the consequences. It never came across as selfish. It seems that they stick to their beliefs, and for that I have to respect them. 

In life, it’s so easy to fall in line with the status quo and what is expected of us. But I think that sometimes it’s not a bad thing to have a little streak of rebellion if we’re fighting for what is right.

So for today, I’m looking at the world around me, and I’m more closely examining those things that might need to change. I’m hoping for the courage to stand up for what is right. And I’m praying that I can be proud of who I am and what I believe in. May we all find our identities in making the world a better place.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

“Welcome home.”

You're doing what?!

Masai Mara