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April 5th 2012
Published: April 10th 2012
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April  5, 2012- Our first day in Barcelona started with breakfast in the hotel. After some delicious pastries, we headed for the Barcelona Cathedral. The Cathedral was gorgeous. It was set up very different from a lot of other cathedrals we have seen in Europe. The Choir was smack dab in the middle of the church,  and there was a crypt with stairs under the main altar. This really limits the number of seats in this church. Off the church  was a cloister with a courtyard. The courtyard had geese, which Amy tried to make friends with. The geese did not want to be friends, and started a large vocal rebellion in this quiet sanctuary. After a trip to the roof with a view of the harbor, we headed back to the hotel to pick up another layer, since it was colder than we thought. A quick trip on the metro and we found the La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family) Church by Antoni Gaudi. This church is one of Barcelona's main attractions,it has been under construction for over 50 yrs.  It started to pour as we got in line. The line was around the block, but moved quickly. We were lucky to share Amy's umbrella. Once we purchased our ticket and got inside, we were happy we waited in line. This church is Gaudi's masterpiece, one of the finest examples of Modernism in the city, if not the World.  It was very funky and magical inside, very different  compared to the other churches we had seen to date. Gaudi was a revolutionary architect. His work is bright, colorful, full of curves and references to nature. When we were standing in the main part of the church and looked up, it felt like we were beneath a canopy of trees, deep in a forest somewhere instead of in the middle of a bustling city.  Gaudi's fingerprints can be seen all throughout the city in private houses and public parks.  He was so dedicated to his work that he often lived on the sites where his work was being done.  In fact, he died while the Sagrada Familia Church was being completed; he was struck by one of the city's trams and he was killed so he never saw the finished product.  He is buried in the crypt under altar. After a good gawk in the church, we headed for lunch around the corner. We should have known about the service when it took them so long to seat us. Once we finally sat down, we picked from the menu of the day. The food was nothing special and we ended up waiting for our dessert and check forever. We decided it was a result of sexism as we watched several male customers around us receive very prompt and courteous service. finally paid at the counter and left. We headed straight for Parc Guell, Gaudi's famous planned high-income housing project that was turned into a public park. After a slip in the street--that would have made the Three Stooges proud-- by me and a climb up a very steep hill, we made it. The park looked like something out of Hanzel and Gretel, with two guard houses that looked as though they were made of gingerbread, lots of pink tile work, stone arches, and beautiful palm trees. The park was very cool and we had a good time wandering around. The climb down the hill was significantly easier and we headed for the Picasso Museum. A few wrong turns and we finally made it. The museum was very interesting as it showed Picasso's early paintings which were very traditional and sedate. We were all amazed at how young he was when he started painting really large scale works of art. We wandered around the museum with our audio guides for about 2 hours. Towards the end, I was waiting in a courtyard and got yelled at by the orange- jacketed guard for sitting on a stone wall above a courtyard. He took his job very seriously!! By this point, we were hungry and found a great tapas restaurant right around the corner. We ordered a good amount of tapas to share, including paella. The food and wine were delicious!! After dinner, we checked another sight off our list.... the Maria del Mar church, which was open late since it was Holy Thursday. This church was very beautiful and traditional. I spent some time on the front steps people watching. The front steps led to a placa which had little restaurants with outdoor eating and children playing in the street.  A short walk to the subway and ride back to Plaza del Catalunya and we were back to the La Rambla, which was teeming with people out enjoying the spring evening--Spainards seem to love to stay out late and socialize! We had Gelato on our minds so once we got it, we went back to our hotel to rest our weary legs. 

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