Our recent days in Barcelona have been full of sights and spectacle!
Last Tuesday we made it to the Sagrada de la Familia. I spent two hours walking around slack-jawed. The best way I can describe the inside is Alice in Wonderland meets the Christian Church. They've been building the church for over 100 years and the plan is to finish in 2026. There are debates among locals if it will actually happen.
The construction is supported by donations and the fees that people pay to visit. We watched parts of it being built while we were there. A huge stone hung over our heads, held by a crane, on the way to the spire of the Virgin Mary. Crazy town.
We also made it to a soccer game where Barcelona closed out the other team. I think the final score was 4-0. The first goal was made just as we took our seats which was perfect. Everyone went wild! The stadium was pretty similar to a football stadium in the states, but the crowd was way more energetic. Similar to the energy of a hockey game. There was an entire section of fans across from us that jumped and chanted—waving flags for the ENTIRE GAME. The entire game, you guys. I was tired for them. But, loved their enthusiasm.
We felt pretty stupid when, during half-time (is that what you call it at a soccer game?) we went to get our hot dogs and beers—like you do at a sportsball game—and after ordering and paying, Jonathan looked at the beer can and noticed that it said 0% ABV. First time in my life that I've bought a non-alcoholic beer. 🤦🏻♀️Unsurprisingly, I didn't drink much of it :) The hot dog (or Frankfurter, rather) was delicious, though!
On Saturday we made our way to an area of the city that's full of museums and we visited the Caixa Forum—a museum and community center that hosts multiple exhibitions. We checked out a Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit. It featured a bunch of drawings, music, and paintings from the late 1800s / early 1900s from France and the culture of the Moulin Rouge. We heard the can-can song a dozen times. The other exhibit that we checked out was by a Sevillian artist, Velasquez. He was the artist for the royal family in the 1600s. Art related to royalty during this time period is never very interesting to me—royal portraits, war!, death!, crucifixion, manliness, blah, blah, blah. Jonathan enjoyed it.
I signed up for a 10K race that happened on Sunday. So, Saturday I took a walk through the city to visit the expo and pick up my bib. There was a stage at the expo where dozens of people were line dancing to American country music. What?! Why?! The electric slide to Garth Brooks in Barcelona. Amazing. During my walk, I also came across a parade. Just a random parade of men on horseback, carriages, and ponies. NBD. I also encountered an open wine-tasting market—30 or so booths set up, serving wine and people walking up and down the street with full glasses of wine. The city is so alive all the time.
Ultimately, I didn't end up doing the race. It was pouring rain when I woke up on Sunday morning and I don't have the proper gear for that kind of shitty weather, so instead, we walked a few blocks to check out El Born CCM—a museum/community. The space holds ruins of the streets and buildings of Born from the 1700s. Apparently, the structure that it's in was built as a market, hundreds of years ago and was in disrepair. There was a bunch of debate about what to do with it and in 2002 they decided to renovate. But! During the renovations they uncovered an archeological site and decided to turn the space into an exhibition and community building.
Since it was raining, I was excited about the opportunity to cozy up and make some chili for dinner and stay in. But somehow I keep forgetting that all of the grocery stores are closed on Sundays. So, after I pouted a bit and overcame my disappointment of not getting to do what I wanted to do, we decided to use the opportunity to check out a speakeasy bar/restaurant in our neighborhood, called Paradiso. You enter into what seems like a small bar but are ushered into the restaurant through a refrigerator door. They have ridiculously elaborate cocktails and pastrami sandwiches. Jonathan's cocktail was served in a wooden Trojan Horse that nearly covered the entire table. It was delightfully ridiculous.
As I shared with Jonathan this week, I'm starting to get my Barcelona-legs. I'm starting to get a sense for the rituals of the day. For instance, not only do people in Barcelona stay up late, but they get up early! We expected the city to be a ghost-town at 7 am when we walk to the gym and it's not. It seems—after talking to a few people—that everyone here goes all day. They just take a lot of long breaks. According to a Belgian who has lived here for a couple of years, the people of Barcelona start work when everyone else does, around 9 am, but then they take a break from 11 to noon. And then take a long lunch from 2 - 4. Once they close out their work at 6 or 7, they head to dinner from 8 - 10. I love the fluidity of it. I have a habit of working in long blocks, no breaks longer than fifteen minutes and unsurprisingly by the end of each day I'm exhausted. I'm going to try to adopt the Barcelona approach to the day, but maybe with fewer drinks during working hours 😂.