There are reasons I prefer traveling without a group, but one thing I like about being on a tour is that everything is very well organized and there’s no time spent standing in line for tickets or time lost making decisions. Figuring out where to eat and what to do next gets exhausting, and it’s so much less stressful to just go where you’re told and enjoy the wonderful experience they organized for you to do. Today the coach picked us up from the hotel and a wonderful guide entertained us as he showed us his beloved city, Barcelona.
The greatest influence on the city was, without a doubt, Antonio Gaudí. With his beautiful, strange, and mathematical architecture, this artist changed the city by not only leaving his design stamp on Barcelona, but also by drawing other artists who added to the visual appeal. Every building, every bench, every street light is beautifully designed. Gaudí used recycled materials like broken pottery and integrated his deep Christian faith and his love of nature into all his works. He was always pushing the edge of what was possible, (from an engineering standpoint), to create his art.
This is Casa Batlló. The roof is supposed to represent dragon skin because St. George (who killed the dragon) is Barcelona’s patron saint. The balconies are carnival masks, and the exterior walls are covered with colorful broken glass.
We went to the highest point in the city, Parc de Montjuïc, and gazed on panoramic views of the city.
Recently UNESCO made Park Güell severely limit the number of people in the park at a time. This has made seeing Gaudi’s unusual and whimsical garden vastly improved, because before the garden was a swarming mass of people, and now, one can take a leisurely picture without jockeying for position.
We also toured the spectacular cathedral, the Sagrada Familia. What an opportunity to see a cathedral that is IN PROCESS of being built. Gaudi left drawings and models so the work could continue after he died, but these were all burned in the Spanish Civil War. Groups of artists, engineers, and architects have continued his work, and as it gets nearer completion, so many people have caught the vision and now money is no problem. It will be finished by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. The kids looked up in wonder as they entered the colorful forest-like space. It’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before, and even the cynical father of one of my students was deeply moved.
Later, the Newfoundlanders we’ve been traveling with, had a special initiation ceremony for the adults in our group, making us honorary Newfoundlanders. We had to pass certain challenges which involved, (among other things), answering questions in their dialect, some drinking, saying the name of their province correctly, and kissing the Newfoundland flag. It was hilarious and moving. I’ll surely sleep on the plane home because we didn’t get to bed until after midnight, and had to leave at 3 a.m. for the airport.
These were our judges. They gave us thumbs up if we accomplished the challenge or thumbs down if we didn’t.