Discovering the Beauty of Barcelona

The other day ’60 Minutes’ ran a feature on the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. I didn’t see the show, but I did read several posts on Facebook by people who were fascinated by the story, and who had never heard of the Sagrada Família before.

Never heard of it.

I gasped (for real) because I didn’t realize people were kicking around with their lives, being totally unaware that this church exists. And then I wondered – If I had never traveled to Barcelona, would I know about this church? It’s hard to say.

Before going to Barcelona, all I really knew is that it had a beach and hosted the 1992 Olympics. I was vaguely aware of Las Ramblas and of a great big church that was perpetually under construction.

So, the first thing my roommate and I did in Barcelona (waaaay back in 2004) was to check into our crummy hostel and hit the beach. It was, quite possibly, the worst hostel I’ve ever stayed in.

That night, we went straight to Las Ramblas, a touristy pedestrian street, for tapas and sangria.

Dinner on Las Ramblas
When the entire menu is in English, you totally know it’s authentic.

We’d talked to some other travelers about Gaudí park (real name: Parc Güell) and the Sagrada Família, so it wasn’t until the next day that we visited what was the highlight of my time in Barcelona.

The architect Antoni Gaudí was somewhat of a workaholic. I can only assume he was also a perfectionist, because that would explain why several of his projects were never completed. (That, and the fact that he was hit by a tram and essentially left for dead because people thought he was a homeless guy and clearly didn’t believe in karma.)

The Sagrada Família is a prime example of his unfinished business:

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
This was in 2004. Construction began in 1882. Predicted completion date: 2027.

It’s been under construction for 130 years. But the thing is, it’s still beautiful. I’m not an architecture buff, but I call Gaudí one of my favorite architects. Let’s go ahead and call him my favorite, because he’s one of the few I can name.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Not your average church.

Paige and I made the long hike to Parc Güell that afternoon. If you ever find yourself in Barcelona, please, please do this. It is completely worth it for the gardens, the architecture, and the views.

Parc Guell, Barcelona
Puts every gingerbread house in the world to shame. TO SHAME.

The space was originally intended as a housing complex, but after the first two houses were built, nobody wanted to buy in. Eventually, Gaudí bought one of the houses and lived there for 20 years.

He didn’t design those houses, but he was responsible for the rest of the park. His touch can be seen everywhere, from planters to staircases.

Parc Guell, Barcelona
Please try to ignore the awkward tourists and focus on the staircase.

The park is free, so there is no excuse for missing it. And if that isn’t enough, how about this view of the city:

Views of Barcelona
Reckless behavior. You’d never catch me doing that now.

Barcelona reminds me of being young and free, when beauty was everywhere and the world never failed to astonish me. It cheers me to know that it’s still out there, being awesome, and I just wanted to make sure you knew about it.

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  1. This just brought back such great memories! Gaudi’s park was also the highlight of Barcelona for me. And I did the same reckless picture pose and EVERYTHING there fascinated me.

  2. I still haven’t made it to Barcelona, but I’d love to see this. It’s crazy that it’s taken so long to construct. Maybe I’ll wait till 2027 and head there for the grand opening…

    1. Good idea! Hopefully it will still be on schedule by then. I have no idea why it is taking this long! Looked pretty close to finished when I was there.

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