Monday, March 23, 2009

A weekend in beautiful Barcelona!

This past weekend was a holiday in Spain, so we had a four-day weekend and what better way to spend it than to go to Barcelona?! We went in the AVE (alta velocidad española) train, which was SO nice! It was just like a plane, but bigger and I didn't have to bring travel-size shampoo!

The train travels at speeds up to 300 km/hour (186 mph), so it was a nice three and a half hour trip from Madrid to Barcelona. We got there Thursday afternoon around 5:30. We checked into our hostel (the RamCat) and then walked around a bit by the mediterranean and saw the big shopping center, then went for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was an early night because we were all tired and we knew we had a big weekend ahead of us!

Friday we started the day out at the Catedral de Barcelona, which was beautiful with each of the 28 chapels was ornately decorated. After the Catedral, we went to the Museo de Picasso, which was huge and very impressive. I never realized what a range he had, and I have such a greater appreciation for his work now. The next stop was the Chocolate Museum (Xocolate Museo in Catalan) had sculptures made of chocolate, history of chocolate, and of course included a free bar of chocolate! It was very interesting and very tasty! Then we took the metro up to Montjuic, "Jewish Mountain", to take in a great view of the city. The gondola was closed by time we got there, but we did see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, a display of color, light, music, motion, and water acrobatics. It was really neat!

Saturday we began our day early, at the Sagrada Familia, one of the most recognized symbols of Barcelona. It was designed by architect Antoni Gaudí, who devoted his last forty years of his life to the project. Construction began in 1882 and is still going on today...scheduled completion date: 2020! So that tells you just how elaborate it is! Gaudí was inspired tremendously by nature and you can see that in the design of the cathedral. It was beautiful and I cannot wait to return and see the completed project! After the Sagrada Familia, we went to the Park Güell, another of Gaudí's masterpieces. At the entrance to the park are two buildings that look like something out of the boardgame "Candyland." It was very whimsical and there were mosaics everywhere...there was a large salamander and a large wavy bench with mosiac designs, so beautiful! After the Park, we went to another work by Gaudí, Casa Mila, an apartment building built in 1912. So basically, I am now a big fan of Gaudí and if you haven't heard of him you should definitely check him out!

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