Plans shifted yet again for my plans to visit Figureres…Seems that little jaunt will have to wait for another time. I woke up with a scratchy throat and feeling quite tired…Besides so many people smoking here, there seems to be little particles in the air that keep catching in my lungs causing coughing fits…It’s happened a few times…and I am told it is the smog…Well whatever it is, it is wearing me down…since I tend to wander and like to be outside…But that was OK because I had things I needed to get to before my departure to Iran…and Laundry was top of that list…but that turned out to be a bigger lift then expected…but was eventually worked out…As the guy at the front desk told me “many people here try to take advantage of foreigners…be careful” That seemed to be the case when I went to a Wash & Dry with a little bag and was told 30 euros..then he discounted to 25…hmmm…that seemed awfully high for what I had…I searched for others to no avail and then, dejected, I returned to my hotel and was asking the woman at the desk if she could help…one phone call and the same place was picking my laundry up and cleaning it and returning it for 12 euro….Much better.
I returned to my favorite lunch place at the Market and had another delicious crepe and enjoyed chatting with my Argentinean Chef and a new friend. They were helping me practice my Spanish and I was happily butchering it…to their delight, it seems.
I had made plans to meet, Stephanie, my neighbor who happens to be in Barcelona for these last 2 days of my stay, for dinner…neither of us have a phone that works without wifi…and that is something that is truly scarce here…They tell me there is free Wifi for people who live here…and in the Metro…but only a few places seem to offer it…Unlike Iceland, where it seemed everywhere, including the most remote places. Well, let’s just say fate had other plans for us and I sadly came up with a preposterous way to meet…to utter failure…so we each did our own thing and planned to meet in the AM at the Sagrada Familia. I ended up returning to the market for some fresh fruit drinks…at 7:30, they were practically giving them away…3 for 1 euro…then I found a little place and got a baguette and found a little Plaza to sit and take the world of Barcelona in…It wasn’t what I had planned but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
An early night of reading and relaxing was good…I need to finish studying my Iranian history…I must say, I have yet to have time to read for fun…I have such little knowledge of any of the 3 countries I am about to visit that I feel like I am cramming for a final exam…Iranian History is a tad long and complicated…How I thought I could learn a few thousand years of history in a few weeks is beyond reason. Now I have to learn a few phrases in Farsi…then Turkish…then Arabic…I think next trip, I will keep to one Country…just for linguistic sense….
The Sagrada Familia is wonderful…It is known as Gaudi’s “great unfinished work”. It’s quite spectacular…I saw some sketches in the museum and for some reason I see a bit of Dali in some of them. Crazy, I know but…
Stephanie & I met for a 9:30 appointment and they let us in early…The place was already jammed but nothing like it would be once we left. We meandered around listening to the audio tour and trying to navigate the numbers…The Sagrada was started in 1882 and was still in progress in 1926, the year Gaudi died from being hit by a street car. He is buried in the Crypt and Pope Benedict consecrated the church as a Basilica in 2010. It certainly is unique in it’s architecture…Neo Gothic…What I love is how he uses light. He uses his Stain Glass windows, designed by Joan Vila-Grau and sky lights as focal points to reflect lights in particular ways for each time of day.
Quiet, this Basilica is not…I am told you can hear beautiful organ music while the sound of drilling from the ceiling punctuates the organs notes. When we first arrived, I did not notice any construction noise but after we came down from our walk of the Nativity Tower, the construction noise was very present. But the Sagrada Familia is a sight that should not be missed, regardless of the construction…something tells me that this church will be in flux for many many years to come…but then it seems to be a fitting living tribute to a great architect
After a few hours of playing there, we decided to look at Stephanie’s Lonely Planet book for a referral for lunch…We picked a nice seafood restaurant and headed out…I will say that Stephanie is far better with a map then I am…and after only a couple of wrong turns and 45 minutes of walking and several stops for me to ask for directions in very butchered Spanish, we found our place…only to be shot down…seems we were in a very exclusive area of Barcelona(La Gracia), one where the average lunch was 30-60 euro…disappointed as we were, I insisted on, at the very least we take a selfie, just to remember the adventure…On the bright side, the area was wonderful…not a lot of people…less smoking…and really sweet shops…We eventually settled on an Italian Restaurant and shared a lovely pizza and salad…and I thought the food was really good…we parted ways so Stephanie could head off to Parc Guell and me back to the Gothic Quarter, with a planned meet for dinner.
It was a nice change of pace to have dinner with someone I know…especially the night before I left…seeing a friendly face was good.(-:
My final thoughts on Barcelona are that it is a lovely city filled with spectacular buildings and history but too many tourists and smoking for my taste. I think when I return, I will stay in the area we wandered yesterday that seem to be more local and a lot less tourists. I was well positioned for seeing the sites but then I like to wander and take in the local culture…it was hard to separate the locals with the throngs of other European tourists …I can’t imagine being here in the summer…. All in all I think it is absolutely a city worth visiting but I may prefer the outer areas in the future. I think that might answer questions about why I pick some of the off the beaten track kind of places I do…less people…and more local flavor
Well this is my last Blog before I leave for Iran today…and many people have asked am I nervous…to be honest I am a little petrified! (-: Not because of where I am traveling but just all the logistical unknowns… about being picked up at 5AM in a Country where I have little to no communication(no iphone, sketchy email etc) AND I am nervous about making sure I follow all the rules…which requires knowing all the rules (-;…and I am most nervous about what little I know about the history…I have read as much as I can in a short period and feel as if I have a much better understanding of the progression of the Persian Culture…and was shocked to learn some of what I did…on a very positive side…I will elaborate later once it applies to places I will be visiting. But I am so looking forward to seeing all these amazing places and meeting the people of Iran…I can tell you that a good adventure, for me, needs to start with some trepidation…or what kind of adventure would it be (-;
Feel free to comment on this blog with questions and I will do my very best to respond…For those if you on Facebook, I am not sure I will have access so if I don’t respond just know it’s lack of access.
a few Pix below
Your traveling friend
I apologize for these pics…I am having internet issues so these are all I could upload…I am many more of the Basilica and promise to post more later