Yesterday, we had our final day in Morocco. We slept in and enjoyed our breakfast/lunch at the Riad. That place has truly spoiled us. We then decided to venture out into the souqs to spent the last of our Dirhams. I tried my first bargaining venture (in French!) and proudly got the guy down to half of his original asking price. We then grabbed one of those yummy 2 euro sandwiches and then prepared for our departure.
In the early evening, we then proceeded to the Marrakech airport for our flight. There was literally only 1 flight (our’s) leaving at one time, yet somehow we managed to wait an hour in line for check-in. It was crazy. Then, it was onto the jetway for boarding the plane. We then said good-bye to Marrakech and its craziness.
Early morning, (ie. 12:30am) we arrived at our next stop: Barcelona. We checked into our nice hotel right across the street from the beach. After a good night’s sleep, we woke up ready to explore the city. Since we only have 2 days in this city, we decided to try the hop-on hop-off buses for the first time. Although I felt like a uber-tourist, it was a pretty nice way of getting around, with an audio-tour mid-transit. Our first stop was one of the landmarks of Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia. I’m almost ashamed to say, before we started our tour, we made a stop at Starbucks for a light lunch/brunch with coffee.
After our Starbucks refreshments, now we were ready to proceed to the Sagrada Familia, or the Sacred Family in Spanish. This Catholic church started construction in 1882, designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. The first thing I thought when I saw this church was, “Oh too bad it’s under renovation. The cranes spoil the view.” I soon learned that the church is not under renovation, it’s still under CONSTRUCTION. It’s literally been a work in progress since 1882, and is not scheduled for completion (if that ever happens) in 2026, 100 years after Gaudi’s death! Crazy, right? So basically, these cranes are just as iconic to the city as the church itself…
I’m definitely not one for visiting a lot of churches, and I didn’t know much about Gaudi prior to this visit, but this church left me quite impressed. Gaudi was a very unique architect, utilizing his love and knowledge of nature and incorporating this into his architecture. Unfortunately, he tragically died in a tram accident and never got to see it completed. He’s actually buried here.
The Cubist “Passion” facade on one side of the building, recently completed in 1998 by sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs, very different from Gaudi’s facade on the other side of the building (as you will see)
Gaudi designed this more traditional Nativity Facade on the other side of the building. Believe it or not, neither of the 2 facades is to be the main entrance. That will be the Glory Facade, which has not even been built yet.
After spending quite a bit of time touring the Sagrada Familia, we went to Parc Guell, designed by… yup, you guessed it, Gaudi. A very rich man commissioned Gaudi in 1900 to build this park to be an exclusive home for the upper class of Barcelona. Fortunately, the upper class didn’t want to buy into this and refused. The government bought it and turned it into a public park in 1923. It’s a nice mix of nature and Gaudi’s funky architecture…
We then proceeded to jump back onto the hop on/hop off bus where we briefly saw some more sights.
As night fell upon us, we needed to grab dinner. Thanks to Yelp (yes, it’s even here in Barcelona!), we found a restaurant called Catalana relatively nearby. The place was packed with an hour wait, but thankfully we found a spot at the bar. This was even better because we could see all the tapas and basically point to what we wanted (kinda like the Spanish version of dim sum). It was delicious!
On a sad note, I received some bad news from my mom this morning. My dad received an infection in his finger (probably from somewhere in France) that didn’t get better. So they cut their Italy trip short to go to a hospital in Nimes where a doctor performed surgery to clean the wound. My dad is still in the hospital now. So please pray for him and if you want to send encouraging words to my mom, you can do so at email@example.com. I may need to cut my Spain/Portugal trip short to join them in Nimes, depending on how he responds to the treatment. But here’s hoping he improves…