Barcelona – just scratching the surface

After a 7 hour layover in Dubai we arrived in Barcelona just over 33 hours after we left Canberra. Jumping in a taxi at Barcelona airport the cabbie quickly got us to the wrong hotel.  After a number of apologies we got to the right one after an impromptu tour of the city. Not to worry we had a good chat.

After just a quick walk around my initial impression of Barcelona is that it seems amazing – so many people moving around, and little interesting shops and restaurants down ever little crazy narrow alley way. Just amazing.

Deb booked a night tour on the day we arrived which was clearly a recipe for disaster after such a long trip. The tour started a 8pm and took in a number of lookouts and sights around Barcelona, including the magic fountain. This was a great way to start our trip, however by the time the tour had finished we were really struggling to stay awake.

With so many people around we were warned of pickpocketers and sure enough one of our party was targeted.  Be warned.

On Sunday we did a walking tour – which was excellent. The tour took us around the original gothic quarter of Barcelona area and we looked in a number of catherdrals, and were told of the history of many of the old buildings and the changes they have undergone since the 13th century.  And the recent damage to buildings from World War 2. Essentially we were just wandering around getting a history lesson really.  Fascinating.

So many things that we just don’t think of – like a standard measure. These corner bricks were the official standard measure in the 13th century in Barcelona.

Then following the tour we just wandered down and around the many back alleys, finding interesting little shops selling all sorts of thing.  When I mentioned that the chain mail may put my carry on over my limit the suggestion was to wear it. That would produce some interesting looks at the airport screening areas.!

Chris pointing the way

No trip to Barclona is complete without a Guadi tour.  Guadi was an architect in the late 1800’s who’s style was heavily influenced by nature.  I think it is also fair to say that the style is polarising but whether you love it or hate it is certainly interesting.  Here is an early facade of a building Guadi did that shows the organic nature of his style with no straight lines.

The most famous Guadi design is the Basilica De La Sagrada Familia (the family church). This church had the first stone laid in 1882 and is still under construction today – a long way from completion.  The church has been built funded by donations and due to level of tourist interest the operating budget for the project is around €50million a year.  With that budget and new construction materials and technics the end is in sight.  Around 10 years. 

The size and design of the church is just staggering. To date there are only 4 towers constructed of the total 18 that are planned for. Another 8 towers similar to those already constructed (representing the 12 apostles). The remaining 6 towers will be higher with the main tower representing Jesus being over 500 feet tall (approximately 300 feet taller than the current towers).  I must say I’m not really a fan of the external structure but it sure is an impressive building.  The level of detail is staggering.

However when you move inside it is truely a work of wonder! The place is simply amazing. Words and pictures do not really suffice. The sense of grandeur is immense. It is just breath taking. The columns are like giant trees reaching up to the heavens with branches spread out to support the weight of the roof and giant towers that are being constructed above it.  I was chatting to a fellow Australian who was a civil engineer who just wanted to get his hands on some of the drawings so he could wrap his head around what he just saw.

It will be interesting to come back and see it when it is completed.

Our final excursion in Barcelona was a trip out to the Monistry of Montserrat. With such ordinary weather over the last couple of days we arrived at the Monistry in full fog with very little visibility. And then the sun came out and the fog lifted revealing the mountains just behind the complex.

The Monistry of Montsarrat is also the home of one of the Black Madonna’s. This one in particular is supposed to bless the person who touches it with fertility. We admired this one at a distance. No touchie!

And finally I must include a picture of one of the many statues around of St George – who is Catalunya’s patron saint. I really like this blocky (sorry I can’t remember it’s name) form of sculpture.

From Barcelona we now head for Valancia.
We used the Barcelona Guide Bureau for all our tours and they were excellent.  Highly recommended.

11 thoughts on “Barcelona – just scratching the surface

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your blog. You’ve seen some incredible architecture and sights already. I can’t believe that mountain was so close to the monastery. The black Madonna is incredible work of art whatever you believe. Amazing stuff!


  2. My sister Cherrie recommend I read your blog as we plan to go later in the year. You have just made me even more excited to go. It sounds amazing. How many days did you have in Barcelona?


    • Hi Kay. We only had three days in Barcelona and we were only scratching the surface. I would recommend checking out the website at the bottom of the post as they were very good.


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