European Vacation: March-April, 2010

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Friday, April 2 - Second Day in Barcelona

We overslept! Arrgh. We got out of bed after 10:30, and finally made it out of the hotel about 11:15; since we missed the included breakfast, we stopped at a pastry shop to grab some croissants. We headed over to perhaps the most famous landmark in Barcelona: the Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, a privately-funded in-progress church construction site (commonly, it is mistakenly referred to as a cathedral, but it's not). It was famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí's project, but he died before it was finished -- understandably so, because when construction began in the late 1800s, it was expected to last several hundred years due to the immense scale and intricacy. Since Gaudí's death, a long line of architects, currently Jordi Bonet, have stepped in to carry on the work, and the plan is to complete it in 2026 on the 100th anniversary of Gaudí's death. We decided to only walk around the outside and not pay for an inside tour, since 1.) there is no inside yet really, 2.) it would cost 20€, and 3.) the line was ridiculously long.

View Photos from the morning of April 2 (14 images) View Photos from Sagrada Familia (42 images)

Then we headed down the very, very long Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes with its shops, restaurants, and other things. Neil bought a less-than official Andrés Iniesta FC Barcelona jersey: original price: 30€, negotiated price: 20€. It's a cheap knockoff, but adequate since the official FC Barcelona store sells them for 85,90&euro (about $120 US). We stopped back at the hotel and found out the breakfast room door was open so Neil snagged some snacks.

View Photos from afternoon of April 2 (34 images)

We walked down to Plaça d'Espanya, a square that joins several major intersections. After stopping at a bench for a rest and some lunch, we ascended the hill past La Font Màgica and up to the Palau Nacional -- as Neil took the 227 steps up, Ginger took a combo of steps and escalators. We took in the architecture and got some great views across the city, then wandered around, seemingly aimlessly for a while, in search of the road to the Castell de Montjuïc -- we knew it was at the top of the hill, and we saw signs, then no signs, on roads that took us down instead of up, and seemingly the wrong direction. After backtracking and asking a Palau guard, we made our way up again, past the Anella Olímpica (Olympic Park including the Olympic Stadium) and finally up more to the foot of the Telefèric de Montjuïc that led (up still more) to the top. Finally, with the Castell in sight, Ginger rested at the bottom of the steep incline while Neil charged ahead to scout out the path to make sure we were going to the right place (and took the opportunity to take some photos).

View Photos from Montjuic (19 images) View Photos from Castell Montjuic (40 images)

While there's no King of Spain anymore, the castle is still quite a site. There was no tour of the interior rooms but the massive structure is at the top of a high hill, overlooking the city to the northwest and the Mediterranean Sea to the nouth and east, providing great views of both. We then took the long descent down past the Palau Nacional to watch the Magic Fountain, a huge circular fountain where the waterworks are set to music on Friday and Saturday nights in 10 minute shows every half hour. Dinner was a quick sandwich on the way back to the hotel for the night.

View Photos of the walk down to the Magic Fountain (24 images) View Photos of the evening of April 2 (12 images)