Sunday, September 1, 2013

Noordam 2013 - Day 2: Our second day in Barcelona

Sunday morning, 10 am and we were in church. Not that unusual, but this time we were in the most beautiful church we ever visited: Sagrada Familia. And this church designed by Gaudi is not even finished…

Sagrada Familia facade
We had arranged for tickets on the website of Sagrada Familia. There was just a very short line to enter. The outside is already very impressive with lots of statues. Even more impressive is the entrance door. All biblical words with the name Jesus emphasized in bright gold .

Sagrada Familia door
However impressive on the outside, the true wow-moment is when you step inside. The serene silence and grandeur are overwhelming. So many colors created by the sunlight through the stained glass windows. They create a pallet of colors on the pillars that go all the way up like sequoia trees.

Sagrada Familia windows
The ceiling seems to be made up of dozens of flowers. Organic forms make the balconies very special. Every part of the design adds to the sacredness of the place. In the middle of it all is the crucifix: all alone in the middle, tight under the oculus of the dome and above the altar. The central pillars that carry the church bear the names of the four evangelists. So impressive, pictures can’t capture it. Even though it has become more crowded since we first came in, there is still a nice tranquility.

Sagrada Familia interior
Our reserved tickets also gave access to the Naixament tower. You go up by elevator. From the tower, you look down on Barcelona through little windows. It is also a great place to see the Sagrada Familia as a work in progress. We will definitely return here.

From the church designed by Gaudi we walked on the Gaudi-street to the Hospital de Sant Pau. A hospital that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Gaudi died here in 1926 after he was hit by a tram a few days before. Indeed, a beautiful building but we kept looking back to Sagrada Familia. Strange, the further away you get the bigger the building seems to be.

Hospital de Sant Pau
Just a short metro-ride away was our next destination. Not the Starbucks where we had some refreshments, but even more buildings designed by Gaudi or by people influenced by Gaudi. We saw La Pedrera (aka Casa Mila), Casa Batllo, Casa Ametller, Casa Lleo Morera, Casa Comalat and
Casa de les Punxes. 

La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
Casa Batllo
All buildings are on or around Passeig de Gracia, one of the most deluxe streets of Barcelona, running parallel to Rambla de Catalunya. We had a nice lunch in one of the restaurants on Passeig de Gracia, just around the corner of our hotel.

The locals take their siesta around this time. We decided to get some relaxation as well. The kids went swimming in the hotel pool.

Around 4 pm we took the metro to Placa Espanya. Bus 150 took us all the way up to Castell de Montjuic. A great scenic drive and also a great alternative to the funicular and cable car that also go up to the castle.

The view on top of the Castell de Montjuic made us look forward to cruising, because we looked down on the port of Barcelona. The Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas was already sailing and Norwegian Epic was just leaving port. She sounded her horns, that strangely enough more resembled a whistle then the usual robust sound.

From the castle and the rest of Montjuic we also had great views on Barcelona, the harbor and the airport. A nice breeze and a coke helped cool down, just a little bit.

View from Montjuic

Castell de Montjuic

Statue at Castell de Montjuic
We took the public bus (nr 150 again) back down. We planned to get out at the stop close to the Palau Nacional. That didn’t work. Muntjuic is also home to some of the nicest sports accommodations in Europe. Especially the Sant Jordi swimming pool is very popular these days because the world championship had just started. A giant group of German swimmers also took the public bus. I should say buses (plural); besides filling our bus they probable filled two more. Not a good time to try to get off the bus, so we continued to the end at Placa Espanya. No problem, from there it is just a short walk on a partly elevated walkway to the Palau Nacional.

Palau Nacional
We had a drink and a bite to eat at the terraces surrounding Font Magica. At 9 pm the fountains there were the place-to-be as they performed a great sound and light spectacle. The darker it became, the more beautiful it was. Fairytale-style definitely.

Font Magica
Just the place to watch out for pickpockets. The person standing next to Kim lost her wallet. We always carry our valuables in a money belt under our pants. Not always very comfortable, but safer.

Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina to Placa Espanya

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