“You’re telling me you went to Barcelona and didn’t get a tour of the Sagrada Di Familia? Are you crazy?!” This is all I heard from my coworkers after I got back from my first trip to Barcelona just under a year ago.
My question: What’s the big deal? There are churches EVERYWHERE in Europe. Every town has one. Some were built centuries ago, some more modern than others, hundreds of churches and I can’t lie, after touring through 23 of them during my first few months living in Europe, they’ve lost some appeal to me.
Yes, they are all different, yes they look bomb from the outside and I’ll happily walk through one if I can walk right up and inside, but I’m not waiting half a day just to tour every church in Europe.
Which is why, when I rolled up to the Sagrada Di Familia on a double decker bus and laid eyes on her, I was very impressed, but not impressed enough to get off the bus and jump into a 7 hour long line that was wrapped twice around the building and down the street. Not even if it’s 113 years in the making and still progressing. Call me cynical but “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Deep down, I was a bit disappointed I had missed my golden opportunity.With only 2 years in Europe there wouldn’t be a lot of country repeats and I didn’t plan to come back to Barcelona any time soon. Until TBEX announced they were holding their next European conference in Costa Brava that is.
Wouldn’t you know, that golden opportunity hadn’t been squandered after all and I was given a second chance, which rolled around on April 29th. When TBEX posted their list of tours for the conference I didn’t see Sagrada Di Familia on that list and decided to go ahead and book my own tour, because this wasn’t going to be a second missed opportunity. I used Viator. I always use viator. I like them and I think they have a good set up.
Flying straight from Amsterdam and King’s Day, I was seriously hurting. So tired, stressed out. I almost missed my flight and had to run to the gate (this seems to be a common occurrence these days), there were just too many people trying to fly out that morning. I couldn’t have predicted the line at security, especially from such a strict airport. Far from the free for alls of Itlay.
Arriving in Barcelona, I had to wait for the next bus to Llorent Del Mar which took the better part of the morning. I would be staying in an apartment with 4 other travel bloggers for the week for only $70 / person.
All thanks to Adrian from Adrian’s Travel Tales. This girl is AWESOME and we met in TBEX Athens last October. More about TBEX later, but for now let’s focus on ol’ Sagrada Di Famila, Gaudi’s Masterpiece.
As I said, I’m a bit over the whole touring every church in Europe extravaganza. There are just too many. If I could recommend any one church to you, this would be the one. When your eyes first take in the structure, it is simply mesmerizing. Completely take your breath away mesmerizing. And just wait till you see the inside!
The church itself has only passed the being built midpoint in 2010. The whole project began in 1882. That’s over an entire century! Here you can only see 4 steeples rising up from the church, and the finished project has 16. Many more years of work to go before the scale of this project will be realized and the final masterpiece is revealed.
There are always moments in life where things just happen to work out and come together in a way I can’t explain. In fact this happens to me all the time.
The stars aligned and I found out via FB that one of my friends and coworkers was also visiting Barcelona during the week while he was off work for a couple of days. I called him, gave him the coordinates and a cryptic message and told him to meet me in 40 minutes at the park across from the Sagrada Di Familia so we could go in and get him a ticket for the same tour group I had booked.
With a bad connection and my terrible phone, he wrote down my instructions and we hung up. Arriving in the city I caught the metro to the Sagrada and when I walked over to the park, there he was! He had run for almost 40 minutes to make it. It was awesome! We got him a ticket for the same tour I was going on and in minutes we were walking over to the church, skipping the line and entering (You can thank me later, Scott!).
The 3 wise men bringing their gifts to baby Jesus in the manger
Inside this church you must take it all in, the walls, the ceiling, the floors, the stained glass windows. It gives a true meaning to the term “head on a swivel”.
The church is made to be fluid. At least that’s the way I see it. All curves and soft corners, not the normal angles you see in most churches. Here, the pillars are designed to look like trees and branch off as they go up to touch the ceiling.
These stain glass windows. Mercy me, they cast the most lovely light inside the church. A light that cannot be replicated. I wonder and bet that they took into consideration the sunrise and sunset for the building of the windows and where the front of the church would be.
All of this is natural lighting coming from the sun through the stained glass windows. On the other side it is red and orange. One of my favorite pictures by far to capture some of the magnificence made by the light.
Imagine this church as your life’s work. I can’t help but be reminded of the book “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follet in which one man tirelessly works to build a cathedral during the middle ages. The dedication to a project at such a high scale is admirable.
Gaudi barely got the plans off the ground before passing away and you always have to wonder what he would think if he could see the project. Would it have been what he wanted? Would he have changed a few other things? I suppose we will never truly know. Maybe that’s what give the church such a mysterious effect?
Originally this school house was built by Gaudi in 1902 for the children of the construction worker’s families. Since then, the school has been moved, but there is an exhibition inside you can walk through to gain more insight into the project.
Learning about the 1936 Spanish Civil War that deeply effected the building of the church. Anarchists did what they could to destroy the blue prints of Gaudi’s original ideas. Their success saw these blueprints go up in flames and new blueprints as true to originals as possible, are now in place.
There’s not many people so passionate about something that it consumes their life. It’s obvious that Gaudi’s legacy and art will withstand time.
After the tour, we ended up on a side road drinking sangria and ordering snacks. We lost track of time. I had to catch a bus back to Llorent Del Mar for the Travel Massive opening party for TBEX. This ended in an almost 1.5 mile dead sprint to the bus station where I was able to hail down the bus as it was backing out of the station.
I waved frantically to Scott as I jumped on the bus and we laughed as it zipped off down the road. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. When I sat down I could barely breathe and was sweating profusely. There’s always excitement when you’re on the traveling road, trust me on that!
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.