We Finally Made It To Starbucks

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Monday, May 23, 2011

Today we are going to the Sagrada Familia.  It is a church designed by Antonni Gaudi.  All of his buildings are very original and different and in the 1920's he devoted all of his energy into making a church.  It is unlike anything in the world.  When Gaudi died it wasn't even a quarter of the way done, and it still has a long way to go until it is completed, although the inside is done and it was consecrated by Pope Benedict last year as a minor basillica.  He refused to use any public money to build the church so it is funded completely by private donations, which is one reason it is taking so long to complete.  The scheduled finish date is around 2026-30.  We'll be going back when it's done.In the metro station on the way I found the biggest vending machine I've ever seen.  It lacked the technology of the Japanese vending machine, but it sold whole bags of popcorn and liter bottles of Sunny Delight so it made up for it.  We had bought our tickets for the Sagrada Familia (translated: Holy Family) last night so we didn't have to wait in the unbelievably long ticket line that wrapped around the church, but our tickets didn't let us in until 2pm so we had some time to wander around and marvel at the outside.  It really is unbelievable.  The only downside is that there are giant cranes everywhere.  Since the first sections built were put up almost 90 years ago there are parts of the outside that are grey and weather worn, while there are other parts that are perfectly white and new.  There are going to be four main facades of the church, each one in a different theme.  There are only two currently done, and they are amazing.  They are themes that are very popular, the nativity and the passion, but it is done in a completely new way with symbolism everywhere and abstract sculptures and carvings that you would never think would go with a church but fit right in.  There are 8 towers done, and they look huge, but they are the smallest of the 18 that will be total.  Twelve towers for the apostles, four for the evangelists and one each for Mary and Jesus.  Jesus' will be the biggest.  It really is unlike anything else.When 2:00 rolled around we finally got to go inside and inside is as amazing, if not more, than the outside.  It was sparkling with rows of unusual columns and ribs.  The ceiling was extremely tall and the light pored in from everywhere.  It was amazingly bright inside.  There were huge stained glass windows along with even bigger clear glass windows everywhere.  They say that he wanted the inside to feel like a forest, and it really does with the branched columns (which he invented) and the windows high up and the light coming in from directly above.  It was awe inspiring.  Unbelievable.  We spent about an hour inside and inspecting the outside closer, then we took the elevator up to the top of one of the bell towers.  From the top you can see the city through the cracks that are designed to direct the sounds of the bell out among the whole city.  To get down there is a long spiral staircase.  Occasionally you could go out to a balcony in the facade of the building and look down at sculptures and spires that look tiny from the ground.  We ended up taking over a hundred pictures of the church.  I would say that it is in the top three places we have been to as far as 'amazing' along with Saint Peter's and Angkor Wat (sorry pyramids you get close fourth, maybe fifth...)We were hungry after all the sightseeing so we went to a small cafe down the road.  After ordering we noticed a commotion over by the door.  The door was closed and a guy was pulling on it as hard as he could, flexing the long metal handle.  Apparently it was stuck and there was a guy trying to get in, and this other guy trying to get out.  He either had somewhere to be, or was clausterphobic because he was ripping at the door.  I thought he was going to break the glass.  There was only one worker and she went over with the key but was obviously no going to be any help.  People started lining up to get in.  A few other local guys tried to get it open with no luck, pulling on the hinges.  The first guy had given up trying to get in and left.  I realized that we weren't going to get our lunch until the door situation is resolved so I took the keys for the girl and went over to where the guy was still yanking on the door, figured out where it was jammed, and fixed it.  Luckily they guy didn't knock me out when he swung it open and sprinted out.  Then we finally got our lunch.  She still charged us too, but was appreciative. After lunch we went to Starbucks for the first time since Japan.  It was awesome.  We talked about home a lot.On the way back to the hotel we took a walk past a few other of Gaudi's houses.  They are all very unusual and different, but cool.  One was made to look like a dragon with shiny scales that they call the 'bone house.'Just north of the main metro station, where we normally catch the trains, was a big plaza that we though was a market.  Turns out that it was a giant protest that has been going on for a long time.  There were tents set up and banners and signs everywhere.  It seemed like they were protesting everything, not just one thing in particular.  While walking you would run into road blocks of people sitting in circles talking politics while passing a quiet megaphone to the speaker.  It was fun.  It was hot though, the sun here is brutal.  It is 6:00 in the afternoon and we were still getting scourched.That's about it.  It was a pretty low key night.  We are enjoying those.
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