27th December 2005 - Spain Day 3
Our last day in Barcelona began with the same answering machine message from Air France. Breakfast was accompanied by American songs this morning. This day is to be spent chasing after all the works of Gaudi, a famous architect/artist of late 19th, early 20th century fame. He was convinced that things needed to look like nature, but still be built from concrete and iron.
The first stop was the Sagrada Familia, a massive church still being built. The church has spires some 100m high and a central nave 170m tall. The outside has two artists styles on it, one Gaudi and another a guy commissioned to oversee the finishing of the building. The building is covered in scaffolding, not for repairs but for construction. You feel you should be wearing a hard-hat when walking around the ground floor. The roof (where complete) is huge and vanishes out of sight. The pillars are comprised of all sorts of geometric shapes, having circles, squares, rectangles, diamonds and ellipses as their shape till they sprout into tree like branches at the top. We climbed some stairs up to the top of the tower. These were very circular and narrow and being inspired by a snail meant there was no central pillar in the stair well. Instead there was this drop down to the ground floor that kept me glued to the side with the handrail (and I'm not normally concerned with heights). I felt safer when the stairs turned into claustrophobic passages ways. At the tops were rooms where so much graffiti was scratched into the stone the walls will have to be sandblasted clean when the rest of the church is complete.
Back on the ground our legs were shaking from the walk. We went into some of the parks either side to get a long distance vantage. We had to wait as crowds of Asians pushed into the spot we wanted to stand. When they went off to photograph men playing boules we got our photos. We then rode the Metro over to the park that Gaudi developed on top of a mountain. The walk up to the park was so steep that Barcelona has installed escalators for the tourists to use. In the park we wandered around many bizarre structures built by Gaudi. His style works much better with nature around it, unlike his buildings that seem to stick out because they are so unusual. After having our fun clambering around the park we walked back through some more 'derelict' suburbs to the Metro stop. It amazes me what some people will live in, and then I have to remember that conditions here are so much better than many other places in the world that people want to live in them. I think Europe has taught me that I enjoy space around my single story, free standing home (actually I already knew that - Europe has just confirmed it for me).
Ginger bread house land
The afternoon involved stopping at a hotel built by Gaudi we'd visited the night before. It was too late to enter as we had to leave for the airport soon, and the outside didn't look as good in day as it had during the night. We went shopping for some supplies (shampoo, deodorant, etc.) in the Spanish super markets. The one store we ended up in didn't have price labels. With the help of another tourist as confused as us at first we discovered a price scanning machine. Then I was taking handfuls of stuff Edyta had picked to find the cheapest. With some supplies to cover the remaining trip we took the Metro out to the airport. We could go direct to the 'no luggage' check-in isle of the airline. Luckily our tickets worked too, because I'd discovered the night before we flew to Spain that I'd booked for the wrong day and had to go outside in the dark to change the booking time. At this time I was glad for lost luggage, it meant less that I had to haul around between hotels and airports. Before we flew out we went to the lost luggage desk to see if anything had happened. The guy there spoke less English than the first lady we saw and could only take all the rest of our trip details and tell us that the luggage hadn't been found. I'm a bit confused about how a suitcase with a barcode can just disappear, but Air France seems to be able to find a way to do it.
The well cleaned out fountain
Our flight to Madrid wasn't the best. Edyta fell asleep (nothing unusual there), but when she woke she desperately wanted water and was disoriented. She wasn't well and suddenly the staff spring into life, bringing water and fumbling around to find a sick bag somewhere. A bag emerged in time and Edyta ended up filling it. The staff then brought out sugar for her water, the lady next to us offered some perfume or something for Edyta to smell and we got all sorts of attention you would normally have to pay for (we flew Vueling, an airline as nasty as flying Virgin). I wanted to take a taxi at Madrid so Edyta didn't have to walk between stations but she wasn't feeling well enough for a jerky car ride. Instead we took the Metro after getting some excellent help from an English speaking help desk person. Edyta needed to eat (partly to put food in her stomach, partly to remove the taste in her mouth). We broke the no McDonald's rule as she wanted something she knew her stomach could handle. We got a Happy Meal, but Edyta only ate the meat in the cheese burger. Although 10pm at night the restaurant was still full of kids out with families. They keep weird hours in Spain.
We checked into our four star hotel. We had to get a room change as for some reason the room booked for us was set up for a baby. The room we got had a bed bigger than Edyta's in Adelaide, we were both on the bed and didn't notice the other. The room was hot though, instead of a cool 8 degrees as it was outside it must have been 25 degrees or something inside. Most uncomfortable.