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A Small Episode in the Morning – Jun 15, Mon
Woke up at 8.30am before the alarm rang. And we faced a beautiful cool day. Partially cloudy, but we welcome a change from yesterday‘s heat. Last evening, we have decided on how our itinerary in Spain would be like. So, time to do some online shopping for air tickets and etc at our hotel’s business center.
We wanted to experience what the Spaniards eat for breakfast. And at the train station, which was only a stone thrown away from our hotel, Cynthia ordered sandwiches and cups of coffee in Spanish while I was looking for a table to sit. I love the cold meat in Spain. It tastes refreshing in such a warm weather. Cynthia always has difficulties not to eat the fatty part of the ham. I said to her, “It’s good stuff, you have got to eat it.” As always, she would peel the fatty portion away, even if it means there was hardly anything left to eat. 10€ for a breakfast for two, I reckon it is a cheap yet tasty meal first thing in the morning. Cheap is relative of course. But we couldn’t find anything cheaper than that.
My wireless phone rang while I was having my breakfast. Oh crap. I had a missed call yesterday. Could it be …
“Good morning, this is calling from Standard Chartered Bank,” a friendly female voice I heard from the other side of the line. Uh-oh. No, no, no!
I can’t recall exactly what she said but I have encountered something like that with another bank during my trip to Melbourne before. Since my bank could not contact me yesterday and verify that I was indeed overseas responsible for the credit card transactions, a security alert was triggered and my second booking with the budget airline Spanair this morning was rejected by the system.
Right after I have the issue sorted and put down my phone, I have received a text message from Spanair informing me that one of my transaction has failed. Wow, technology has certainly matured. I called the number as stated in the text message.
“Hola, do you speak English,” I asked. “I’ll try,” a friendly female voice replied. I explained the situation and she asked for our booking number. I tried to tell her the number in English. It didn’t work. I passed the phone to Cynthia and she spelled out the booking number in Spanish. And it worked. Wonderful. The friendly Spanair officer did a check on her computer and told us that the transaction went through after second attempt. Nothing to worry about.
Awesome. Hands down to both the bank and the airline. A decade ago, thing would have been a lot different.
Sagrada Família (Holy Family)
I can’t even find the words to describe what I saw. In 1882, the foundation of stone of the crypt was laid. The famous architect Gaudí spent 43 years of his life to the building of this Church. Sagrada Família should be completed by 2030. We wish to be back one day to see this master piece of Gaudí. By then, the Church will be 150 years in the making. Cynthia thinks that 150 years is a long time. I reminded her that the Cathedral in Milan took 300 years to build, if my memory serves me right.
Sagrada Família is impressive in many ways (feel free to view more photos from the day 2 photo collection). The Passion facade in the front and the Nativity facade at the back are both impressive to look at, like reading a portion of the Bible in the form of sculptures. I could only imagine what the third facade – the Glory of Christ – is going to be like when the construction is completed.
Inside the Church, the pillars and windows and ceiling are designed in harmony with the nature. Standing inside the Church is like standing inside a forest, as intended by Gaudí. There is a lift taking us to the top of the Church where we were greeted by the breathtaking view of Barcelona. Looking at the exterior of the Church as we descended via the tiny spiral staircase, there are still much to be done. I often see monuments as something that were built long time ago. And I seldom see our modern world putting aside resources to build new monuments (shopping malls do not count!). Yet, I was right inside a piece of monument in the making. It is mind blowing just to think about it.
Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar
Traveling by metro in Barcelona is easy. Either spend a fixed price of 1€ per trip within the city area or spend 5€-ish for a day pass. We bought a pair of day passes.
After our visit to Sagrada Família, the sky turned blue and the weather became warm. We had lunch – sandwich and juice – nearby and ready for our next destination – the Picasso Museum.
Turns out that most museums in Spain are closed on Mondays. Lesson learned. And we visited the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Sea (?!) nearby. A Church built entirely in the Catalan Gothic style that took only 55 years to build. I took some pictures of the stained glass panels, which I thought they are beautiful. “It looks old,” said Cynthia as we paced around the Basilica. She said that often in Spain. It never ceases to amaze me looking at the world through Cynthia’s eyes. No, we hardly see something so ancient in our part of the world. That’s why Cynthia was awed. If monument has one purpose of existence, that would be to connect us to a time of the past.
Casa Milá “La Pedrera” – The House of Mr. Milá Nicknamed as “Stone Quarry”
We have made some decisions on where to go based on what we saw on top of the tour bus yesterday. We tried to head to the shore but we got lost, ended up in a garden. We saw the Bus Turistic and we hopped onto it without thinking much. Time to sit back and relax and enjoy the city scenery (again).
As our bus passed Casa Milá “La Pedrera”, Cynthia suddenly spoke up, “That is a tourist attraction. Wanna get off the bus now?!”
I looked at the building. Yes, must be another Gaudí’s work. I was tired (still jet lag!), it’s been a long day, and I was about to give it a pass. Half-heartedly I asked, “Is that any good?” “We’ll never know,” said Cynthia, “Let’s go!”.
I thought of day 2 of our trip. Except Sagrada Família, we have not scored much tourist points (a term we use to evaluate how action packed a day is). So, why not? We sprung out from our seats, dashed down the stairs, and got off the bus before it took off. Yes, Casa Milá was still open and we needed to pay to enter. No, I was not allowed to wear my backpack on my back but needed to wear it in front instead. And yes, I could take photos but no flash, no tripod.
Great! We entered into this very strange looking building. And by now we are both big fans of Gaudí.
Again, it is hard to describe what we saw (see photo album). To Gaudí, I observe that everything must have some sort of curvature. Much like how nature creates things. Casa Milá “La Pedrera” is a World Heritage site declared by UNESCO in 1984. What a surprise! One more check on the list of World Heritage sites I have visited thus far.
A Thought Came into My Mind During Dinner
Knowing that tomorrow we would spend a day at the outskirt of Barcelona and the day after, we would head for another city, I wish we could have toured the city more efficiently. But then again, I am glad to have visited Sagrada Família and later on, we jumped off the bus and pleasantly surprised by the Casa Milá “La Pedrera”. It is moments like these that makes the trip memorable. Something unplanned for, something that happens on the spot.
We had tapas for dinner at a restaurant we chanced upon and I started to wonder if our 1,000€ in cash would be enough to last us through the trip. Tomorrow we needed to wake up early. There would be a train to catch.
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PS. Thank your for reading our journal and feel free to drop a comment or two. You may wish to view our photo collection for day 2 too.