Sunday, July 10, 2016

Spain, Day 2

Our day here started with a reasonably comfortable 8 o'clock wake up, and a very reasonable breakfast here at the hotel.  It wasn't the most amazing hotel breakfast we've ever had, but it was included with the room and the croissants were excellent.  

We met Aleksandra, our guide for the day, in the lobby at 9:30 and walked over to Old Town to begin our tour of the Gothic Quarter.  We saw the Cathedral of Saint Eulalia.  As near as I can tell, Saint Eulalia was a thirteen year old girl sacrificed for being a mouthy brat who deliberately ignored her parents.  So pretty much, patron saint of all thirteen year old girls.  My favorite part was the cloister with the thirteen white geese (one for each year of bratty Saint Eulalia's life).  

We checked out several small squares, including one that had the mayor of Barcelona giving a speech welcoming refugees, while protesters did there thing, in front of a collection of antique cars.  Surprising no one, Lyle knew more about them than our tour guide did.

What remains of the Jewish Quarter is within the Gothic Quarter, and Aleksandra shared some information about that, including that the fact the Christian population blamed the Jews for poisoning the water and causing the Black Death led to them quarantining the Jewish Quarter and thus far fewer Jews died of the Black Death than Christians.

At some point we found ourselves in a small museum containing a collection of "giants" - paper mache  figures 10 or 12 feet tall that are worn on the shoulders of performers during big festivals here.  Rob was not a fan of my impromptu performance of "These Are The People in Your Neighborhood".

We had lunch at a tapas place Aleksandra recommended, and the boys had beer.  We were all very happy to take a break from the heat and get off our feet for a while.  

After lunch, Aleksandra picked us up and we met our driver who took us to see the Gaudi masterpiece Sagrada Familia.  Rebecca had told me that she thought it looked like something from a Dr. Seuss book, and I certainly can see that on the Nativity Facade.  We all agreed that the interior was even more amazing than the exterior.  Gaudi was famous for his use of light, and that was incredibly apparent here.

When we'd finished the tour there, we got back in the (Mercedes) van and rode over to the Park Guell. The mosaic work here was amazing.

Our Gaudi education continued with exterior visits to La Pedrera and Casa Batllo.  Both of these were designed as private homes and continued with his Modernist style.

Aleksandra took us from here up to Tibidabo for a quick view of the Sagrat Cor church and amazing panoramic views of the city.

We thought we were about done, but we made another stop at Montjuic.  Unfortunately, we were too late for the Palau Nacional museum and too early for the Magic Fountain, but we enjoyed excellent views of the city, and particularly of the old bullring that is now a shopping mall.  Bullfights have been banned in all of Catalonia since 2012.

We finally got back to the hotel about 8:30, pretty wiped out, but definitely feeling like we'd made the most of our day and accomplished the "must see" list.  

The Euro Cup final was tonight, and we went out to watch the game over a late (by American standards, quite normal by Spanish standards) dinner at an English Pub.  Rob said we were quite the global crowd tonight:  in Spain, watching France and Portugal compete, while at an English pub drinking Irish, Scottish, and German beer.  

We're now back in the hotel for a short night before we catch the train to Pamplona tomorrow.

MartyandLyle (and Rebecca and Rob)

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