Sagrada Familia was our first port of call on the second day in Barcelona. Sensibly, we had booked tickets for 9:30am to avoid the rush. The outside was impressive but inside it was astonishing. To say I had never seen anything like it would not be hyperbole. Whilst it resembled a traditional cathedral in its layout, the use of light through stain glass windows and the organic design of pillars lent a feeling of being under the canopy of a grand stone forest. The attention to detail was magnificent and the space felt ethereal, like David Tennant’s TARDIS.
We ascended the Nativity Fascade tower and were treated to gorgeous views over the city on a slightly hazy but already scorching morning. I had thought the Montjuic views were good but these were something else. As you would expect, Gaudí’s detailing of the stone columns was exquisite and the ultra-narrow staircases that wound their way down the towers felt like a mathematical spiral illusion. Gaudí begun building Sagrada Familia in the 1880s and due to money running out repeatedly, work is still ongoing and it has an estimated completion date of 2026.
We had coffee outside, in awe of the building and keen to soak up just how impressive a feat it was and still is. Afterwards, I bought a Barcelona shirt as I had on my visit as a boy in 2002 and we marched on to the Arc de Triomf. The sun was beating down on the parade flanked by palm trees as a man blew large bubbles across the street. From Passeig de Lluís Companys we wandered through the pretty Parc de la Ciutadella to La Ribera district which offered yet more delightful narrow laneways. In amongst these lay the Santa Maria del Mar cathedral, which of the three cathedrals we had visited was perhaps the most traditional and might even have been my favourite.
I could have strolled through those streets forever, I really could have. Banys Vilis, del Montcada, Barra de Ferro and Calle de l’Argenteria where we had lunch and watched street performers breakdance. Down Las Ramblas we reached the port again and went down Calle de Parallel to Career de la Blai where we had delicious salmon, brie and tuna pepper pinxhos. Tapas really is my favourite form of lunch, especially on a hot Spanish afternoon.
The rest of the day was spent writing postcards back at the apartment, failing to access La Font Magica because of an automotive show that prevented public entry, and having delicious Patatas Bravas and mussel linguini at Pura Brasa. That night from our balcony I co
uld see the magical lights of the fountains in the distance. I thought to myself that The Shadow of the Wind quote about Barcelona is true – the city is a sorceress, and gets under your skin and steals your should without you knowing it.