What I really want to know is how come English males eat pizza with a knife and fork? Even when their partner is sitting opposite eating hers properly ie with her fingers. This is one of those odd, unfathomable things that will ever haunt me. I’ve asked Nicktor in the past but his answers never satisfy me.
Satisfaction was seriously on the cards today. There was satisfaction at eating some tapas, satisfaction at getting to wander around an amazing city park and the greatest satisfaction of seeing inside and all around the most brilliant building ever. Though, really, I should start with breakfast…which wasn’t exactly satisfying.
To be fair, I found it fairly filling and to my satisfaction but, I’m afraid, an omelette sandwich is not exactly what mum considers food. The problem was that the place we visited yesterday wasn’t quite open this morning so we decided to walk around the block to waste a few minutes. We then spotted another place and stupid Gaz suggested we eat there.
We thought that an omelette with ham would be nice with a coffee/tea. When it arrived in a baguette, I was a little surprised. Mum was shocked though she ate most of it. I think it was the weirdness rather than the fact that we were eating an omelette with a baguette, like we did in Budapest only it was all together. We vowed though that tomorrow we’d go back to our favourite cafe.
And, in fact, we did pop into our favourite cafe for a tea/coffee and a couple of cakes at about 12 after dumping some tourist purchases at the hotel. Mum told them we’d DEFINITELY be there for breakfast tomorrow.
The tourist purchases were from the Sagrada Familia, which we visited first thing…well after breakfast and our first trip on the Metro that is. And I have to say that the Metro is very good. A lot of it is very new (some of the trains have the light thing that makes the Beijing system so easy to navigate) and it isn’t very deep. And it’s reasonably priced as well.
But let’s forget the Metro for the moment, today was really about the most amazing building I think I’ve ever seen. The fluidity of it’s structure gives it life, the glory of it’s symbolism is extraordinary. Okay, I’ll stop the lyrical waxing and just say it is amazingly amazing.
I’m not going to go on too much about this incredible place except to say that everyone should see it at least once in their life. It is what spirituality should be rather than the fear entrenched old school of cathedral building (which we also saw today). The columns are trees and the ceiling appears to be a forest canopy. There are animals everywhere and joy and colour and majesty. It makes you swell with pride that a human being could imagine then create such perfection. It doesn’t matter that it’s not finished, it doesn’t matter that it honours a mythology, it just matters that it exists.
Mum was blown away by it as well. You can’t help but be humbled by the magnificence and sheer joy it all exudes.
Of course, she was also blown away by the gift shop(s). It’s dangerous enough when there’s one but the Sagradas Familia has two! Double Danger. Though I’m not sure about buying Tracey a nun’s habit. That might be carrying it a bit far. Though I reckon Denise might like the communion wine…if mum doesn’t drink it first.
It was a direct contrast when we visited the Barcelona cathedral very much later in the day. Started in about 1298 and added to throughout the centuries (the front was added in the 19th century) it’s Gothic nature is dark and oppressive in the way that all good Christian cathedrals should be. The trouble is, you don’t feel uplifted or joyful when you leave. If you’re a Catholic you feel guilt and if you’re not you wonder why the church is so rich and yet there’s a line of beggars on the steps outside.
But…as a mere observer and someone who enjoys the more extreme iconography of fear and self loathing, the whole place was excellent. I’d never heard of the 13 or 14 year old St Eulalia before visiting and now feel like I know her. She refused to denounce Christianity when Diocletian’s hordes descended on Barcelona sometime in the 300’s AD. So she was tortured for it. A lot. And, eventually, she was canonised.
In between the two churches, we popped over to the Arc de Triomf to wander along the processional avenue and through half of the Parc de la Ciutadella, a wonderful space in an equally wonderful city.
The ‘Arc’ and the avenue were built for the 1888 Universal Exhibition and remain today as an emblem of greatness and somewhere for crazy Japanese tourists to wear unlikely photographing footwear.
The ‘Parc’ is a fabulous space fully utilised today in the sun and lack of wind. In fact, today, weather-wise, was perfect. Sun, occasional clouds, no wind, about 15 degrees, NO RAIN…perfect.
I think the crowning glory of the ‘Parc’ would have to be the big fountain featuring (I think) the birth of Venus to the accompaniment of Pan and his pipes. It actually looks (and sounds) better with the water burbling and the children playing.
And then lunch. After a not very successful start when we went into a bar/restaurant that advertised serving one thing but then only served something else and then you had to have two courses, which we didn’t want, we ended up getting the Metro up to our favourite plaza, Catalunya. It was here that I ended up having tapas and mum devoured her mixed grill with even greater mixed emotions. I should add that my tapas were lovely (though there was too much food in each one to truly be called tapas) as was my espresso while mum is still trying to chew through some of hers.
That was about it for the day, really. Well if you ignore the rather desperate search for a toilet as we wove our way through the medieval streets of Olde Barcelona. I dropped mum off at her room, utterly exhausted and I went out and hit a few bars, long into the night and halfway through the wee small hours.
Okay, okay, that last bit might not be exactly true.