We had hardly entered the sumptuous Barcelona cathedral when Lori realized her iPhone was gone. At that point, we had to miss the rest of the cathedral (though we had seen it when we visited in 2008) in favor of a relatively pointless effort of calling AT&T to report the phone stolen, suspend service, and all that stuff. The real use of that time was simply calming down and realizing the world wouldn’t end without an iPhone 6+ in Lori’s hand. Still, we lost a few hours in the process, but on the bright side we got to see the outside of the cathedral as it was meant to be seen (in 2008, the facade was completely covered with scaffolding).
The rest of that first day (Thursday), we “took it easy”. It was a great way to come down off the aggravation of the lost phone. We moseyed through markets and smaller churches in the Gothic Quarter, we bought tickets to a Spanish guitar concert, and we picked up a bottle of wine. That night we enjoyed a nice little picnic with our wine and an even more splendid guitar concert.
|Spanish Guitar Concert in Barcelona|
We had been told that it was a long weekend–the next day, Friday, was the Spanish Labor Day–and the city was busy. Which is one reason the thieves were out in force. It might have been a bit of paranoia on our part, but that evening, on the walk back from the concert, it seemed we headed off another attempt to steal from us: just as a shady character ducked behind me as we crossed heading opposite directions, I turned around quickly. He abruptly stopped following me, stepped into the store we were passing, and regarded me in the mirror as he combed his hair. If it wasn’t me being paranoid, his behavior was incredibly suspicious.
That night we made plans to meet for dinner Friday night with friends we had met on the boat. Refreshed from a good night’s sleep, we headed out Friday morning for a visit to the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s modern church dedicated to the Holy Family–some describe it as “dripping wax”, others just call it weird, everyone admits it is fascinating–has been under construction for a century. We toured and climbed the towers with Susan and Randy back in 2008, and since then it’s been consecrated, though it’s still not finished. We wanted to see how progress was coming along, except that when we arrived that morning, tickets were being given our for entry late that evening. The holiday crowds were simply overwhelming. Not wanting to come back that evening and skip dinner (we’re not ones to miss meals, especially with friends), we just admired the church’s progress from the outside and had a leisurely brunch.
|Sagrada Familia, Coming Along Nicely|
A note to followers of the construction process of this landmark church: they’ve begun work on the massive middle column, and many colorful adornments have been added to the outside of the church. Don’t ask us how it looks on the inside nowadays.
Undaunted (nearly so, anyway) we headed back to the Parc de la Ciutadella, a park (“of the Citadel”) to the northeast of the Gothic Quarter. When we visited in 2008, we stayed across the street from this park. Back then all of Spain was in the midst of a serious drought, and all the splendid fountains that Barcelona is known for were turned off. We wanted to see what those dry-bed fountains might look like now, and the high point of our visit was seeing the fountain in the park in full splendor. We sat at the outdoor café for an hour or so, enjoying drinks, people watching, and admiring that fountain.
|The Fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella|
|The Fountain in 2008|
|Same Vantage Point, 2015
(Please forgive the cerveza-induced and tight-gripped crookedness of the photo)
From the park we walked back to Las Ramblas, the long street that serves as the center line of Barcelona, and enjoyed an afternoon paseo up toward the Plaza Catalunya. There, the fountains in 2008 had been turned off, so now we expected to find water-spewing splendor, but we were…underwhelmed. The fountains had water in them, and in some places the water flowed from the mouths of gargoyles and such, but none of the water jets were working. Bummer.
Regardless, Barcelona remains one of our favorite European cities. We likely won’t return anytime soon, unless of course good travel options bring us through there. When we’re ready to go back, we’ll go in off season, and we’ll make sure we aren’t there during any major holidays. Plus we’ll keep a tight grip on our stuff.