Whew! 21,000 steps later, we are in our cabin and resting up for the night. This was the one city along our journey I had visited before, so it was the one I was mentally prepared to stroll through. After running through options last night with Kiley about the best way to see the city and not die of exhaustion, we decided to just suck it up and walk anyway. I’m glad we did.
The highlights of the day for Declan were simple: he liked the gelato we stopped to get and he also liked shooing pigeons. That’s it. He wasn’t really a huge fan of the things that enticed us, but that’s to be expected. After all, he’s still four, world explorer status or not.
The walk was arduous, over an hour from the World Trade Center where our cruise bus dropped us off to our furthest destination for the day, and the one that has the most special place in my heart – the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia – one of the true wonders of modern Europe.
Barcelona is the cleanest city we have visited on this trip by a long shot. Sure, there’s still a sewer system and rubbish bins and the ever-present pee smell on the walls of all small European alleyways, but that’s unavoidable if you’re in Europe. Believe me when I say it’s been the cleanest one on our trip.
Not only was it the cleanest, it was the one with the least amount of people on the streets trying to solicit us for money as well. There were a few literal clowns trying to sell us balloon animals, but that was it.
We got a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant on La Rambla, the famous street, that didn’t really impress us. It just looked good, but ended up being not so much. And there was a guy in the men’s bathroom that didn’t lock the door, so I slammed the door into him while he was pooping. Serves him right.
Our first stop after that was the Christmas market that’s apparently been around for a while, located just outside the Cathedral of Barcelona (not to be confused with the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia). It was neat, there were a lot of vendors there selling various Christmas ornaments, decorations, toys and other items. We found a few small knickknacks and then were on our way.
We also passed the Arc de Triomf as they spell it, which was in a picture I posted above. Really cool area there, definitely check that out if you go.
We arrived at Sagrada Familia at last, about a half hour before our entrance time, but that was no problem. We were able to get in about fifteen minutes early.
I distinctly remember the first time I had gone in, and how transformative it was in my life. It was April of 2015, and I had come to the city on a whim as I invited myself on a friend’s trip because I wanted to get out and finally explore. I was also a bit lost at that point in my life. At the point in the trip when I went in the first time, I had spent the first week on a binge of drinking every night and going out to bars and clubs and just doing everything I could to party. I was hungover from the night before, and I was really feeling the tax that it had taken on my body to drink so much. When I walked through the threshold and looked up, I almost cried.
I felt so incredibly small at that instant. I felt shame just being there. I was living my life in the wrong way and I had given up on God and religion for various reasons. When I looked up and saw the lights pouring through the intricately designed stained glass windows, I felt the presence of God there with me. In that instant, I knew that that lifestyle was no longer going to be the road I would travel.
I found God again, and a month after I re-accepted Him into my life, He sent Jodie to my house where I fell in love at first sight. I guess what I’m saying is, any of you single heathens reading this need to get to this church as soon as possible so that you, too, can experience the exact life-changing series of events that I underwent in 2015. This is guaranteed.
Anyway, this time coming in wasn’t as transformative but it was just as pretty, and this time camera technology has improved enough where I can show a little better how pretty the lights are. Still go there, though, it’s neat.
We took the elevator up to the Nativity facade tower and had to walk down the stairs. Declan wasn’t allowed to go up despite me telling them that he had done St. Peter’s Basilica like a champion. He told me to just take pictures for him while he played with Ava and Rob. I am ultimately glad he didn’t go, however, because part of the climb down was a small spiral staircase with no inner wall to protect us from falling. You can look straight down. I did, and I thought I was going to faint. Not a fun feeling. We made it down no problem, 400 stairs later.
We passed by an amazing looking doner kebab restaurant on our way back, and I’m really sad I didn’t stop. We ended up going to a bakery which was good, but it wasn’t a doner kebab. I now have one quest left on this trip and it’s getting a dang doner kebab. Gyros in America just aren’t close enough to the glory of these beautiful meat stacks.
Two or three cities left to complete my quest, but tomorrow is an “at sea” day. That will be a test, as it will give us a good sample of what our six final days will be like as we cross the Atlantic. I know Jodie’s not really looking forward to those days, but I hope they go by with plenty of events to keep us entertained. Declan will be just fine as he has his kids club to keep him entertained for big parts of each day. Us, on the other hand, with no comforts of home at night, will have a harder time not getting stir-crazy.
Anyway, Barcelona was awesome. Go visit.