Spain and Portugal travel blog

Started the day at the local police station to file a police report in case my insurance will cover my phones. They had forms in English so obviously I'm not the only one who has had this happen. They stamped and logged the report and sent me on my way. Next stop was to a shop on the corner where they had purses and wallets on sale so I got a good bargain there. And finally we went to the Orange cell phone store to get a sim card. Judi and I had brought our old phones to use while in Spain and Portugal which is why I had 2 phones in my purse. The sim card changes your phone number to a local number but all our reservations had our US numbers so we didn't want to change those. Fortunately all of these places were in our neighborhood.

By now it is 1:00 p.m. and we have tickets for the Sagrada Familia for 2:45. We found our metro stop after having to ask the locals a few times. Interestingly enough, most of the locals don't seem to be familiar with the metro and the maps we have aren't the best. We found a cute little place by the metro station for lunch as we didn't have a lot of time to eat. It had all sorts of prepared meals in plastic containers plus salads, fruits, and desserts and a bank of microwaves to heat the meals. We shared meatballs and potatoes in a tomato vegetable sauce, a potato quiche and a piece of chocolate cake. The food was pretty good and cost us less than 10 Euros. Prices seem to be pretty good in Barcelona especially for wine and beer.

We arrived at Gaudi's grand unfinished masterpiece in plenty of time to make our 2:45 entrance time. In fact they let us in even though it wasn't 2:45 yet. The operative word is "unfinished" as there were cranes, scaffolding, and construction materials everywhere. Gaudi worked on this for 43 years until he died in 1926. Others have continued his work and completion is scheduled for 2026. The church is made up of 3 facades. The Nativity facade where we entered is extremely ornate with many carvings and statues to represent the birth of Christ and Gaudi's love of nature. The Passion facade has a radically different style of scuplture representing the death of Christ. The style is severe and unadorned. The Glory facade is not done yet and is to represent the life of Christ. The mayor of Barcelona in the 1950's sold the land destined for this and now the city must buy it back for the grand esplanade that will lead to the main entry. The bronze door is there and it is emblazoned with the Lord's Prayer in Catalan surrounded by "Give us this day our daily bread" in 50 languages.

The inside is amazing with the light coming thru all the stained glass windows. It is quite spectacular. Judi and I also purchased tickets for the Passion Tower. An elevator takes you to the top and then you walk down 400 steps. It was a little disappointing. You had a great view of the city from a little bridgeway and a view of all the current construction going on at that level. Then you walk down 400 steps. At first in a narrow spiral staircase with walls on both sides that is wide enough for one person with occasional barred windows and then the inside wall goes away and it is open to the bottom. There is a railing on the outside wall. OMG. I was hanging on for dear life and very glad to get to the bottom.

After spending more time just enjoying the interior of the church and the Passion Facade, we made our way to the Block of Discord in the Eixample neighborhood. Eixample is known for its Modernista architecture with wide sidewalks and beautiful shade trees. The Block of Discord is at the center of this neighborhood where three colorful Modernista facades, all built by well-known Modernista architects, compete for attention. Because the mansions look as though they are trying to outdo each other in creative twists, locals nicknamed the noisy block the "Block of Discord".

Back to the apartment for a short rest and a glass on wine before heading out to find a Mexican restaurant since it was Friday night. We found one with the help of Google, now that we had a phone with data, in a big shopping center not too far from us. It was in their food court, but it was not like any food court at home. Upscale food shops and restaurants with table service. Judi C had spicy chicken quesidillas and a beer and I had chicken enchiladas and wine. On the way home we stopped at the local bakery just as she was ready to close to pick up a little treat. A busy, busy day. JB

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