Barcelona has a modern airport and a friendly employee at baggage claim to help us find the box we checked. Another very kind and helpful woman served us at Enterprise and before long we were on the highway headed north, to Jon and Kathy Haley's wonderful home in the foothills of the Pyrennes north of Barcelona. The views from their porch are beautiful and they have offered us great accommodations and hospitality from afar, as they are in Portland right now. We made it all the way with no problem and found their street just fine...then couldn't find the house number. We emailed their young friend David who came to meet us and show us The Way.
We got settled in with David's help and made our way to the local grocery store for some supplies - then Andy rested and Nancy took a long walk to explore the hills above and the town below. Great training as it is a long steep hill to their home from town. We made our own supper and took a hike to find an old church named Sant Nicolau that dates back to 1699! We were grateful for the friendly people we had to help us through the day, as well as the good night of sleep we enjoyed (9:00 pm to 7:45 am).
Friday morning we had been invited to David's home by his parents so we had to really hussle to get there in time. We had such good food and great conversation out on the patio overlooking not just their little town but all of Barcelona in the distance. Amazing! Paco is the Superintendent of all the Evangeical Free Church pastors in Spain. We had some wonderful connecting points and shared a love for caring for pastors, so it was a friendship in the making right from the start. Not only that but they shared some great tips for our day trip to Barcelona.
We were on the train to the city center by about 10:30. I had scoped out the top sights to see and with the help of a young bus tour employee, we got our bearings and started off from the Catelonya Square down Las Rambles, a grand boulevard with dozens of little kiosk type shops and lots of outdoor cafes...you could find just about anything you might need or desire...from plant seeds to souvenirs. The boulevard was bustling with locals and tourists. We stopped at one little church and at the HUGE indoor market called Le Boqueria with the best looking fruits, vegetables, plants, meats you could ever want....and that was just what we saw in the first aisle.
At the end Las Rambles you come to the tall and stately monument to Columbus and the marina/bay. It was beautiful. We walked along the water a little ways and then turned into the quaint shopping area of the city...narrow little streets...a shoppers delight. We made our way to the Cathedral of Barcelona and the old Gothic Quarter. I was hoping to take a walking tour there, but they only do it at 9:30 in the morning.
We had lunch on Las Rambles...I had pizza and Andy had a couple of tapas. From there we made our way north on Bus #24 near the city square called Plaza de Espana to the amazing Parc Guell - created by Antonio Gaudi, a famous artist from the 1800's. You could spend days there exploring, hiking, enjoying the 30 acres of Gardens. We had about one hour! We saw the highlights and were delighted. The views of the city were incredible! The artwork was varied and creative. I cannot even begin to describe it all!
Bus #92 too us to another Gaudi wonder...the Sagrada Familia...a church in the making since 1882. Gaudi designed it to be completed by the generations to come. We spent at least two hours there, enjoying the audio tour. It's a must in my book if you make it to Barcelona. We waited about 50 minutes to take the elevator to the top of one of the towers. It was well worth it. The views of the city were magnificent, and the views of the building itself were so impressive from that perspective. They are in the midst of a massive renovation of the exterior of the church, but it was still a sight to behold. We walked down the stairs to the main floor...the surprises along the way were great - views, windows, stair designs...I will leave the details for you to discover on your own visit!
We were ready to sit down and eat our bag lunch by 7:00 when we finished the tour. McDonalds across the street called out to us. It was chic and modern as McDonalds go. We got drinks and ate our sandwiches, carrots, and apples...then just had to have a sundae/flurry while Andy read the news on the iPad and I posted pictures on Facebook and wrote some texts on the iPhone.
Our last treat of the day was the light, sound and water show at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. Hundreds (maybe 10,000, Barb) gathered to see it from all angles. We could only stay for the first set (we were told they did four sets between 9:00and 11:00) because we had to catch the last train north at 10:05. But, it was fun to join the party and enjoy the show even for a short time.
We caught the right metro train going in the right direction and then made our way through the HUGE downtown train station and caught the Renfre back north. I only say that because an Englsih speaking gal got on our train at a stop way north of Barcelona and within minutes realized she was on the wrong train heading in the wrong direction - with no more trains running until morning...she got off at the next stop with a local woman promising to get her a taxi back to Barcelona. Yikes!!!
Well, that's it for tonight (make that morning). I had better get to bed. We're off to Montserrat and Zaragoza in a few hours. Stay tuned....the El Camino starts on Tuesday if all goes well.
Just one of the fun and interesting buildings at the Parc...