So in this post, I'm so Hungree will transform briefly into a travel blog, as I marvel over one of the most amazing monuments in Barcelona, in so many ways, before returning to food halfway through.
Please don't leave me!
On our second night in Barcelona, after devouring our juicy juicy lobsters (which you can find in this post) at the apartment we stayed in, since it was still relatively early, we decided to take the metro down to the amazing Sagrada Familia. I had been reading somewhere that at night the church looked like it was made of bones, so we were curious to investigate.
Breath taking isn't it? We decided we had to visit the next day and as visiting hours started at 9am, we made our way over and got there at about 8:30am.
This was the queue already at 8:30am. It wrapped a lot further down the block by the time 9am struck. It's a little bit ridiculous and we felt lucky we managed to get in by 9:15am. I know, a 45 minute wait, reasonable? What is going on? I only loathe to think what it's like waiting outside Sagrada in peak travelling periods, the long line, the heat, the humidity....sounds kinda gross.
Before I continue, Sagrada Familia, what is it? Who made it? Why should I care?
I find when it comes to travelling, I always find, even if you see something in a photo and think 'oh yeah, that's pretty cool', it is always about 20 times more mind blowing to see it in person. I remember distinctly having this feeling seeing the Trevi fountain in Rome for the first time and when I saw the Dom in Cologne, in Germany. And I had it again here, in Barcelona.
I am also one of those people who don't usually care too much for tours, I mean, you're usually running around like a sheep herd, and when you're in a popular tourist place with twenty million other people running around, you usually can't hear your heavily accented tour guide anyway.
However, at the Sagrada, the audio guide is totally worth it. Commentary right into your ears, in perfectly spoken English. There is just SO much to learn at this amazing place.
The "Bascilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia" is a large Roman Catholic (why do they get all the pretty things?) designed by the incredibly famous (and amazing) Catalan architect, Gaudi. The church is actually also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Construction on the church started in 1852 and until today, is still uncompleted and although the current estimated completion year is 2030, it is actually projected it will take longer still! The church's location is the same distance to the ocean, and to the mountains. A cute small detail, in the 'Nativity Facade' there are two columns, both with turtles/tortoises at the bottom, which represent permanence. The column closer to the ocean has a turtle at the bottom, the one closer to the mountains has a tortoise. The things the audio guide will teach you....
Gaudi's inspiration was always taken from nature, in the church, there is a little exhibition on Gaudi's connection with nature and I remember one of his quips being along the lines of "...a standing man who is relaxed is never straight, so none of the columns are straight or it would be too tired..." (I know I'm terribly off, but it was something like that!) He also noted this observation in trees. So simple, yet so profound!
The first thing we did when we went into the church, was to line up to go up the elevators to the spires, before the queues built up.
It was glorious, being able to stand behind one of my favourite features of the Sagrada 'The Tree of Life' which was somehow this amazingly vibrant green! Mum and I kept scratching our heads over how they could have painted or what they would have painted it with.
Normally I don't have too much of an issue with heights, but let me tell you guys, we were high ups. My knees were doing the ol' jelly jelly on me.
There was a beautiful view of Barcelona though and it was an interesting walk back down the spire stairs which were quite narrow and steep. You have to wonder how people could really just hike up and down them back in the day!
Some photos of the interior of the church, it is so big. You feel so small and insignificant in it, even when there are thousands of tourists all around you. The feel as if you're in some magical forest, the ceiling mimicking the branches of trees and creating a canopy, the reflections from the many, massive, stained glass windows, gently filtering coloured light and creating ambience.
The audio guide had so much stuff to say about how the inside was designed, everything has been considered, it's quite amazing. And it's still quite not yet finished.
The main entrance, the exterior is to become the "Glory Facade", is actually totally incomplete! Inside it still looks very white, as they have yet to put in the stained glass windows on this side of the church, but there's still something very calming about the white minimalist look to it all. You would almost think it was intentional!
This is the side that you enter the church in first, it is called the 'Passion Facade' and the statues outside dictate the story of Jesus's resurrection. It is interesting how 'cold' the statues feel, hard and angular. But then you go to the other side of the church...
And you come across the the "Nativity Facade", when Gaudi died, he only really saw completion of about a quarter, or maybe even less, of the church completed, but he did manage to finish just about all of this facade. Personally, I am smitten with it.
The 'Nativity Facade' has statues dictating the story of Jesus's birth and childhood, you can almost feel the joy from the stone as it somehow comes to life. It's amazing, but the stone and rock almost look like it's organic, as if the forms, the leaves, the people, the animals are all actually growing out of it. Mum always marvelled at how lifelike and animated the animal statues were, they really looked like they were running. A little eerie in a way, but just so beautiful.
After many hours at the Sagrada, it was back to the La Boqueria for lunch (yes we were in love...)
We stopped by at a cute little seafood place Dad had seen previously, so blue and nautical!
I can't remember what these were.
Calamari rings, although the colour is beautiful, they were hardly as crunchy or crispy as they should have been really. And dad had been so enamoured by them....
Potato 'bravas', a tapas style dish that you could find all over the place. And my gosh, with good reason, simple but just so moorish. I remember ordering it at Entre Tapas Y Vino in Melbourne and being disappointed, but I could now see at least what they were trying to get at after having it in Barcelona. It wasn't super crunchy, but there was just the slightest crisp, and with some texture on the inside. Hard to explain. But delicious when you get it.
I'm not sure what you guys would all call this, but I usually call them 'bamboo clams' or mum sometimes say 'the royal scroll'. They were pretty tasty, but unfortunately quite sandy!
More amazing hot chocolate....the guy who runs the store is usually a bit stoic in the face, but smiled a little when he saw us again.
When we had been at the market the previous day, we had passed this stall, but the owner was still setting up, so we didn't pay him too much mind. Today, his store was surrounded with tourists as he happily sung to himself and made funny little whistling noises as he made his crepes. It was like watching a cartoon! He made sweet crepes and lots of savoury ones, which seemed to be selling especially well, mushroom, caprese...all sorts of interesting combinations I hadn't seen!
I couldn't help but watch as he made one after another with my camera, he noticed me as well, commented on my hair and asked where we were from. Totally charming!
So I naturally had to order something......covered in nutella with bananas.
So hot and fresh it was steaming up mum's glasses! It was absolutely chock-a-block full of nutella goodness. Hello waistline!
And we finished our last day in Barcelona with a paella. What could be better?