The Streets of Barcelona

We arrived in Barcelona on the evening of Saturday, June the 13th. Dan had been in the city a few years earlier and knew what to see. We began by searching for a hilltop park where dan remembered we could see the city spread beneath us. Barcelona’s back streets are an adventure; winding and narrow, with stop lights where you least expect them, abrupt dead ends and even more abrupt transitions from two way to one way streets, they make it a nightmare to find your way, especially if you don’t know where you are going. We finally found the park after a dead end at the top of a very steep hill and several excursions in the wrong direction down one way roads. By then it was dark and we hiked to the hilltop to see the city at night, which was quite spectacular. We stayed up very late that evening, posting blogs and searching for directions to Barcelona’s mennonite church.

The next day we managed to find our way to the church using three different maps, only one of which (Googlemaps) had the church on it. The congregation was very welcoming of the foreigners in their midst, even providing an interpreter for the sermon, which was about Christian relationships. Sunday afternoon we dedicated to exploring Barcelona on foot. We began with Güell Park, designed by the famous Antoni Gaudi. It was teeming with people and offered an excellent combination of nature and Gaudi’s nature-inspired structures. We then walked through Barcelona’s brick Arc de Triumph into the city park which had a magnificent fountain and sprawling lawns, which were shaded by trees and filled with people relaxing on the hot Sunday afternoon.

Next we walked to the port where countless mored sailboats gave the illusion of a towering wheat field. We picked out the type of yacht we will use for our next trip; sailing around the world with our wives. From the port we walked to the cathedral that is the seat of the bishop of Barcelona. A crowd packed the courtyard, at the end of which a stage with many very important catholics on it had been erected. The day was fading fast, however, and we hurried to see the centerpiece of our little tour; Le Sangrada Familia.

Sangrada Familia is one of the world’s most magnificent construction zones. Gaudi designed the partially complete building, but died before it was complete. I may do the same because the massive cathedral’s construction is funded only by tours of its already impressive structure. Sangrada Familia combines the classical cathedral motif with Gaudi’s modernist, new age design. The statues and sculptures are stylized, almost cartoonish, yet uniquely touching in their portrayal of christian stories and themes. The architecture is in keeping with Gaudi’s trademark organic designs, yet soars to the sky like a traditional cathedral. Eighteen spires are planned (Only eight have been completed thus far) and a massive tower will be built at the junction of the cross-shaped (Also traditional) floor plan. If it is finished before I die it would be worth returning to Spain just to see it. It is already worth seeing if you are anywhere near the area. The projected completion is in 2025.

By the time we found our car again we were sore, sweaty, and tired. We drove to the home stadium of Barcelona’s soccer team which won the 2009 Champion’s League final, a fact which several huge posters hung from the stadium walls made sure we remembered. As dusk fell around us we made our way out of the city to find a place to sleep before our drive to Granada the next day. We took a detour to watch and record a magnificent water show taking place in front of the palace. It was a spellbinding spectacle of splashing space utilizing spiced-up spotlights and spontaneous spouts of sprinkling spray to speculatively spell the spectacular spiel of spiffy speakers. In other words, a variable jet fountain and colored lights were programed in time to classical music. It was a fitting conclusion to our stay in a lively city of so much colorful and varying culture. Next up was Granada and people who once lived only a few minutes away from home.

Daniel Shenk

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One Response to “The Streets of Barcelona”

  1. Elizabeth Ziegler says:

    Barcelona was one of the most alive cities I’ve ever visited. You’re spot on, Dan, describing how natural design is integrated into the man-made archetecture.

    If I’m correct, on that very lookout spot, about a year and a half ago, we were slurping up (with our fingers) a breakfast of cold cereal out of an odd assortment of mugs and cardboard bowls. It was a beautiful Sunday morning when we were there. I’m so jealous that Daniel is able to go back to the same place only a year and a half later!

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