La Sagrada Familia
The highlight of the trip so far-a tour of La Sagrada Familia. There is hardly a need for words, the pictures tell most of the story (and there are more on Instagram).
The tour guide was excellent, so much symbolism it would take hours to find it all on your own. And there is a completion date – 2026!!
After the tour we took the subway back down to Barri Gotic, recovered J’s drivers license at Enie Tattoo and went back to the tattoo supply store to get more film. The tattoo supply store had the longest lines of any place we’ve been to so far.
RIP Park Guell
This was the low point of the trip so far. An obvious victim of over-tourism, this park is no more. We took a few pictures from the top at Tres Cruces and then wandered down to find all the beautiful stuff we saw in the pictures in the guidebooks. What we found instead was paths lined with vendors selling cheap stuff from blankets on the ground, haranguing you as you went by; it felt like I was back in India. We presented our tickets at one place, he said, “No” these are for the other house and the bathrooms are up the stairs. We went up, found no bathrooms, came down again, and presented our tickets at the other house. This guy said “No” these tickets are for the other house over there. We said we had just come from there. He said “We are competing ticket agencies, you must go back there and be forceful.”
The tickets to the mosaic area were sold out, but they were covered on one side by a tarp and surrounded by scaffolding on the other, so we just left and took the subway home.
Buy a subway pass. You can get unlimited one, two or day passes and the subways are well marked and signed.
If you only have a few days, don’t waste time gong to Park Guell. It’s a long uphill walk to get there after the subway, the signage is terrible, the crowds immense, ticket scams to deal with and the park is a shadow of its former glory.
La Sagrada Familia – absolutely worth the visit. But it is super crowded. Get tickets ahead of time, try and get a group tour, they have special access points to get in quicker. There is high security, as bad as the airports, they will search your backpack
On Sunday we took the Metro to Montjuic, a hill on the south side of Barcelona. From the second we got off at Placa d’espanya, our jaws remained ajar. The immensely wide Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina leads directly to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) and is lined on both sides with huge exhibition halls. It seemed like the whole city of Boston could fit into this one area of Montjuic. The museum is set high up from the road; a series of fountains and waterfalls with steps on either side lead up it. Having limited time, we skipped it and headed straight for the Miro Museum, which was fantastic.
Then took the cable car up to Castell de Montjuic. This was J’s pick; I wasn’t too excited – a fort is a fort. Until I got there. It was immense, the formal flower gardens were spectacular and the views of the city and ocean front could not be beat. We walked back down toward MNAC, intending to check out the other gardens, but the Jardins de Jaon Brasso seemed to have been turned into some sort of Public Works storage area and the Jardins de Laribal were still there but unmaintained. The idea was to stop at MNAC to have a beer and people watch, but the museum was closed, all the crowds were gone and the fountains were shut off. Also, as usual, there were no public bathrooms. The sights we missed were much greater than the sights we saw. You could easily spend several days in Montjuic and we only had several hours.
We had reservations for Gaudi’s Casa Batlo at 9:15. Got there early and the lines were already immense. The house is impressive, but the crowds too much. You just follow the line, upstairs, downstairs and out through the gift shop with no time to linger and admire anything. Lunch was at a Japanese- Peruvian fusion restaurant named Nikkei 103 that had been recommended and it was great. Went to the Harley Davidson dealer to get some T shirts, but it was closed for siesta, so we sat on a bench and read until it opened at 4:00. Stopped at a coffee shop to use the bathroom and saw them tow a BMW 1200 that was illegally parked on the sidewalk by lifting it over the parked cars. Thus ended Barcelona; we headed back to pack for the next day’s trip to Torla.
- Barcelona is definitely over-touristed, even in the off season
- Its worth going there, but stay away from the main attractions (e.g. Gaudi and Picasso) unless you really love crowds
- We got a taste of the city in 4 days, but to really get to know it would take a lot longer