Hard to imagine that it’s October 1 and has been snowing in Anchorage when we are wandering along sunny streets with breezes in the palm trees. We did a fair amount of that today, Peg and Tom’s first full day in Barcelona. Breakfast from the market was high on the list — croissants from the pastry shop, grapes from a fruit stand, figs and dates from another vendor, and chocolate from a bon-bon booth. Then we spent an hour or so taking photos, ate some pizza at a street cafe in the sun, and set out to walk to La Sagrada Familia, about three miles away.
Along the way we stopped at the Starbucks on Las Ramblas, and witnessed the aftermath of a sad story. I was at the counter and overheard one of the baristas telling a young woman that she had to report the theft of her bag to the police; that Starbucks could do nothing about it. “Be sure to tell them that you had at least 500 euros in cash in there, or nothing will happen,” she said. “You must always keep your bags on your lap and never let go. They come and snatch the bag and hand it to an accomplice. Maybe the police will get the bag back.” After the woman left, I asked the barista if this was common, and she assured me that it happened every day in Starbucks.
La Sagrada was the highlight of the day — it’s Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece, started by someone else in the late 1800s, worked on by Gaudi until his death in 1926, and being finished by others in the following years. Gaudi himself loved organic forms; and left instructions and plans for the whole cathedral. But while his work is lush and curving, full of symbols and whimsy, and while the people who have worked on the church since have followed his concepts, the new work is angular and modern without the intricacy and joy that Gaudi expressed. Taken all together, it is breathtaking inside and out, especially the play of light from the stained glass windows on the light-colored stone of the interior.
Dinner was paella and beer for Tom and Anthea, salad for Peg, and ravioli for me. Anthea made the owner of the establishment an origami crane from one of his placemats, and will be welcome there forevermore. Gelato finished off the evening — rich, creamy stuff in cups, eaten with tiny little spades while strolling along Las Ramblas making plans for tomorrow. Altogether we walked about 12 1/2 miles today; nearly 11 yesterday — still in Camino mode.
Spanish kids on their way to school this morning.
My favorite pastry shop, at the St. Josep Market off Las Ramblas.
Zucchini blossoms ready to be battered and deep-fried.
Candy roses at the bon-bon booth.
Looking along the main nave of La Sagrada. Gaudi said that he wanted the interior of the cathedral to be sheltering, like being under trees. The light from the stained glass windows shows up particularly well on the light stone pillars; as Anthea said, we probably couldn’t have chosen a better day, or better time of day, to get the best effects.
Some of the stained glass. Many of the windows are clear glass still; people hope to finish all of the work on the church by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Inside the church, one hears construction — drills, saws, pounding; recorded music in the background; and the echoes and voices of all of the visitors. But every half hour, the real organ plays briefly (“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” once) and all of the sound stops for that time.
[Many more photos, but the Internet is turning fitful, so I’ll send this as is.]
Finishing off the evening with gelato.