Saturday, August 6, 2011


The top tourist attraction in Barcelona is the Familia Sagrada, the famous Gaudi cathedral that is still unfiished to this day. The first stone was laid in 1882 and shortly thereafter Gaudi himself took over the project. He died in a streetcar accident in 1926 and the beautiful building was nowhere close to being finished. It was undone when I first visited it in 1972 and has come along by leaps and starts, but is not finished yet. Perhaps in 2030, they say. One thing that has changed are the crowds. It stands to reason, Barcelona being one of the top tourist attractions in the world, and Familia Sagrada the top attraction in town, that it would be crowded. The combination of the scaffolding, the tour busses, the lines, the construction fence, the traffic makes it a very unsatisfying experience. I am perplexed as how to make a decent photograph of the place, although I'm sure a great photographer would find a way. I didn't.

The line to visit the interior stretched around the block to the opposite side of the building and it was 9 :30 in the morning. I couldn't find a place to stand without a tour bus or a traffic light in the foregroound.

The older portions of the Familia Sagrada have a darker patina compared to the new stone and you can easily see the newer construction. In reality, it's unfair to compare my recent visit with the visit in 1972, it being enveloped in a cloud of haze, but I don't remember the crowds or the scaffolding as being objectionable.

We wandered along the Las Ramblas where performance art was going on. This lady I first mistook for a sculpture, but her blinking eyes gave her away. I took her picture just as some comedians were putting the devil's horns over her head. I missed the photo by barely a second.

The immense and bustling Mercat de la Boqueria along the Las Ramblas had a fish stall and a dish of fresh octopus was sitting on the counter. I took this photograph for Madeleine, who was squeamish about eating snails a few weeks ago. What about eating this, Mimi? Does it set your tastebuds on fire?

Speaking of seafood, last night at dinner we went to a nearby Neapolitan restaurant. I ordered "pasta with fruits of the sea". I was expecting a plate of pasta with some clams, mussels and a shrimp or two. I recieved this fabulous surprise; delicious pasta with a flavorful sauce, two of the largest shrimp I've ever seen, clams, mussels and a whole crab. I have to confess, being a boy from the landlocked Rocky Mountains, I never learned how to eat crab unless it comes in a plastic package. It was a struggle and I'm sure most of the delicacies were still on the plate when the waiter took it away, but "OH MY" was it good.

The "fruits of the sea" almost made me forget that I had been pickpocketed the day before on the Metro. We were aware it is a serious problem in Barcelona, and I unloaded almost everything I could from my wallet and left it in Leran. I lost two credit cards, ten euros, my driver's license and a filthy fifteen year old wallet. In what I thought was a smart move, I had shifted my wallet from my back pocket to front pocket. I guess they were smarter. It's a small price to pay for the freedom of being able to walk around Barcelona knowing that there is nothing further they can take from me. While filling out the police report later that day, we talked with some Brits who had also been victimized by thieves. On their first day in Barcelona on a three-week vacation, their motor home was broken into and driven off. They lost not only their money and credit cards but inside the vehicle was their precious dog. I felt lucky.


Peggy said...

Great post. The exterior of this cathedral looks very impressive. I agree with your sentiment about all the tourists and that is exactly how I felt in Rome last May. Maybe we should only travel in the winter. And as for those gifts from the sea...WOW. But bummer about your wallet. You must look like a rich guy if the crooks keep hitting you.

Anonymous said...

We too were robbed in Barcelona back in 1970. We had parked on the street next to the famous church. When we came out of the church we discovered that the brilliant thieves had broken into our VW bus. We had to get in line at American Express to report our robbery; there were so many reports of robbery. Everyone that we spoke to also had their VW broken into. The thieves took our return plane tickets, $2000 in travelers checks, a camera and our health cards saying that we had been vaccinated for small pox. It was a very traumatic day. That pretty much ended our exploring of Barcelona. Years later Maren was also robbed in Barcelona. Judy

Bill Minckler said...

That seafood platter looks terrific. Sorry about your wallet.We're now thinking of adding days in San Sabastien and deleting a few in Barcelona and Madrid (seen once church..seen 'em all). All we care about is the wine and the food.

Anonymous said...

Mimi says "that seafood platter sure looks terrific (NOT) and no thank you I would not like any octopus either. We are wondering how you will drive anywhere now that neither one of you has a license anymore. Barcelona sounds a little scary, I'm not sure if I want to go there."
Amy says "thank goodness you didn't have Fergus with you in your motor home that would be the saddest day ever. Speaking of Fergus he is eagerly awaiting your return from France, he is counting the minutes on his paws."