a de Universitat, the area where the University of Barcelona is housed. We ate dinner at a cafe on Barcelona's Gran Via (main street) and then walked around Passeig de Grà
cia, the most expensive street in Spain.
After a few hours in Barcelona, Adam and I discussed how similar the city was to Madrid. From what we had seen so far, they were almost identical. We returned to our hostel and made our Sunday plans before going to bed.
Early Sunday morning, we left our hostel and headed to La Sagrada Familía, the masterpiece of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí
. The church has been under construction since 1882 and is not expected to be finished before 2026. Pope Benedict XVI will consecrate and declare the church a Basilica in just about a month (November 7, 2010) during his visit to Barcelona. The building's decorations are super complex and symbolize the entire life of Christ. Eighteen spires are in the design plans, representing the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and, tallest of all, Jesus. When completed, La Sagrada Familía will be the tallest church in the world and will be the church with the highest spire in the world. The church will have three grand façades: the Nativity façade, the Passion façade, and the Glory façade. We could have stared at the church for hours. The detail was overwhelming. We didn't wait in the huge line to go inside the church, but the interior is supposed to be just as awesome as the outside.
Next, we moved on to Plaç
a de Universitat and then to Plaç
a de Catalunya, the city's center and main plaza. From the plaza, we walked down La Rambla, a street lined with merchant stands and street performers. At the end of La Rambla, we came to the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Vell. We walked along the boardwalk to the beach at La Barceloneta. We had tapas on the beach and then strolled along the Mediterranean coast for a few miles.
After our pants were caked with wet sand, we got back on the Metro and headed to Plaç
. At the plaza, we saw Barcelona's sports arena, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and the Venetian Towers. We could see almost all of Barcelona from the steps to the art museum. Our next stop was the Arc de Triomf, the main entrance for the 1888 Universal Exposition. We took one last Metro ride back down to the beach and had dinner on the harbor. We met two students at dinner who were living in Italy and studying monasterial living as it relates to the arts. They were very entertaining to say the least. Finally, we headed back to the airport and flew home to Madrid.
On the flight, Adam and I discussed how different the two Spanish cities really are. Madrid is bigger, more historical, and definitely more culturally Spanish. The biggest difference between the two cities (besides the beach) is the language. Everything in Barcelona is written in Catalan, the traditional language of the Catalonia region of Spain, but almost everybody speaks English or Spanish. Everywhere we went in Barcelona was crowded with tourists and very worldly - menus were often in a dozen languages. Madrid, on the other hand, seems almost completely Spanish is much more traditional than Barcelona. The cities are as different as night and day once you really get a feel for them. It's impossible to pick a favorite.
This past weekend, Adam and I took a mini-trip to Barcelona, the most visited city in Spain. After only a 30 minute flight delay, we landed in sunny Barcelona. We took a bus from the airport to the city center and then navigated our way through the underground subway network to our hostel. We checked in, chatted with the hostel owner, and headed out for the night. There was a street fair going on right outside our hostel so we strolled around our Sant Andreu neighborhood for a while and chatted with locals. We then hopped on the Metro and arrived at Pla