Thursday, August 28, 2014

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5

Today we headed to the famous Sagrada Familia church that has been under construction since 1882. I won't go into the banal details of the church's history as there are much more credible sources than myself, but as a tourist, I was enthralled.  Mouth hanging open, oohs and ahhs, the works.  Gaudi was very forward thinking and perceptive for his time.  The pillars were all made at an angle for more structural support like how one uses a walking cane (guide's observation, not mine). The tour guide pointed out that there aren't any straight lines within the structural makeup of the building.   

There is normally a two hour line, which we saw, but luckily I read online that you can purchase tickets through a touring agency and skip the lines.  The extra cost was definitely worth the money and the tour itself was really informative.  The walking tour was an hour and a half, which was faster than the wait time around the building.  It's a big building and the line was worse than Disneyland's Space Mountain.  In the shade it is pretty nice and breezy, but in the sun I could feel my skin scorching.  The sun is much more intense here even though we spend a lot of time in the hot California heat.  

Since we were getting a fairly early start to get to our Sagrada Familia tour on time, we had a duo of sausages, melon and bread for breakfast. 

Clearly the building is under construction, but Catalonians hope for the project to be done to be in the year 2026 at the centennial of Gaudi's death.  Gaudi had developed the structure of the church before he died, but during the Spanish Civil War a lot of his plans were burned.  Project teams have been trying to keep the continuity of Gauid's original plans, but use their own ideas for what they think he would have wanted for the missing plans. 

At the end of the project there will be three entrances.  This is the Eastern entrance where Gaudi was still alive to work on on the structure being built.

The angels in the lower potion of the picture were badly damaged during the Spanish Civil War.  A Japanese artist came to repair them twenty years after the war and used his creative license and gave the angels angled eyes. 

Small bronze structure of what the church will look like in completion. 

This entryway was finished three weeks ago by the same artist who retouched the angels. 

You would think that these colors are made by electrical lights, but this is the reflection of the stained glass.  Gaudi designed the ceiling specifically to reflect the colored glass and maximize to its fullest.  On the other side of the room facing the west are red and orange toned glass to symbolize the blood of Christ at the end of the day. 

The roof was just put on in 2010.

The tour guide told us a nice story about the soldiers to the left of the face of Christ.  Gaudi designed the helmets of the soldiers originally for the house Guell's chimney.  He had passed before this potion of the church was erected so the project team took inspiration from the chimney tops and made them the soldier's helmets.  Many years ago George Lucas came to visit the church and took the idea for himself and so came along the Storm Troopers.  Whether or not this is actually true, we all got a good chuckle. 

Gaudi knew that people from all different walks of life would be coming to see his church so he specifically noted that he wanted 50 different languages on the main door of the church. The embolden font is in Catalonian, but all the wording in the background are different languages. 

Since Gaudi didn't have computers to test if his structures would hold the weight of the stone, he created a system of hanging sacks of sand to equal weight with a mirror on top to see what the structure looked like.  This replica was actually made for the construction of the Guell house in the Park Guell that we visited a couple of days ago. 

Here is a better look of the mirrored version of the sandbag structure.
The church is still being constructed and as part of the museum they had on display small replicas of the church.  This replica is actually taller than I am and if you look closely they had to fold over one of the spire crosses to make it fit within the room.  Gaudi actually preferred to model his structures out of concrete rather than just drawing blue prints. 

Part of the construction lab. 

Larger work room. 

During the month of August most of Europe is on vacation so we didn't get to see anyone working on the models, but it was pretty cool seeing the works in progress. 

None of us are soccer fans, but they got matching hats to make us look even more like tourists. 
After visiting the church, we went to local restaurant near our apartment and ordered some late lunch tapas.  We tried not to order too much since it was already around 4pm, but that is a little difficult with the group size that we have.  What's great about having a large group though is that you can try a lot of different tapas.  If it was just Nick and myself we would have to have much more constraint and be choosey.  This way we can order half the menu and finish it easily.

This lobster was quite interested in our Dad. 

He was just as interested, but more so because he wanted to eat it. 

Fois and broken eggs over fries.  We've learned that "broken eggs" are fried eggs.  
Garlic shrimp in butter sauce.

Spicy bravas potatas.

Mussels in wine sauce.

Fried calamari

Octopus over potatoes.

We ordered the baby eel, but Nick quickly realized that they are imitation because there were no eyes or spine.  The centers were completely soft and noodle-like.  We deduced that it is similar to imitation crab and after some research found that they are made of the same type of white fish as fish sticks.  

Fried Dogfish.  At first I was under the impression that dogfish is like catfish, but it turns out that it's a small shark.  I'm okay with this if we eat the whole fish.  Although it is now outlawed in California, I still refuse to eat shark fin soup because of the way that they harvest the fins

A mixture of foie blended with corn and frozen.  It was quite rich and they didn't give us nearly enough bread to go with the giant pile of foie. 

Sister has been talking about the roof top bar a the Hotel Majestic since we got to Barcelona.  Being that it is my 30th birthday, we decided to go there for drinks after picking up our Louis Vuitton wallets.  It was sweltering in the sun, but the view was really nice.  We asked the waiter to sit under the awning and he probably thought that we were a bunch of picky sissies because his uniform consisted of black slacks and a long sleeved black button up and he was running around everywhere.  

The rest of the group was back in the apartment resting. 

I got the Majestic Lady. 

I've crossed over to the Dark Side.  This is the first item from LV that I've picked out myself.  Nick had gotten me a wristlet a few years back, but since I don't use wristlets much, it hasn't really seen the light of day.  This is the Epi leather style since I don't care for the classic prints that much and I can use this daily. 

We got it hot stamped with my new initials. 

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Cerveseria on the recommendation of one of Sister's friends.  After waiting for 45 minutes, we finally sat down to look at the menu.  We later found out from the waiter that it is the same place as the dinner restaurant we went to from the Day 2 post. We knew previously from looking at the menu online that they were pretty similar, but didn't know that they were owned by the same people.  No matter, the menu was large enough that we ordered different dishes and it was just as good.

Tomato bread

Trumpet mushrooms with asparagus and bacon.

Fried hot peppers

Steamed cockles.  We originally had two orders of the cockles, but they were so good that we ordered a third.  They had a wonderful briny flavor like they were caught fresh from the ocean right before cooking. 

Beef tenderloin on toast with a hot pepper. 

Wine sauce calms

Fried baby squid

Fried squid tentacles (different from the baby squid).  These actually had a more mild sea flavor to me. 

Sweet pepper stuffed with cod. 

Razor clams

Cuddle fish.  We also ordered two of these and then asked for a third. So cute and tasty.

Fried Camember coated with nuts and jam.  Sister got these for the two of us since no one else can handle white cheese.  It was SO good.  I love brie and camember is really similar. 

Sautéed mushrooms

Grilled prawns

Fried small fish. 

Anchovies, tuna, red pepper and olives.
Tomorrow we are off to the Marriott Vacation Club in Marbella, Spain.   We are all really looking forward to this since we've been doing a lot of touring.  More eating of course and I've been told that we get free wifi so I will be able to continue updating the blog.  We'll wake up at 6am so that we can catch at 9am flight and then hang out at the pool until we can check in at 4pm.  It's nice because the resort will check our luggage in for us and we can use the amenities until our room is ready. All of this food has not made for a good swimsuit body, but no matter.  Nick is stuck with me.  He's really committed.  He bought me a Louis.  Until then: take some antacids, we're in for another week of good eats.

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