Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Barcelona - Las Ramblas, Guitar Concert & Saying Goodbye

MONDAY, MAY 27, 2013

On Monday morning my dad needed to do some office work so Chris and my mom and I decided to bop around town. My mom had never done one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours that one of the senior couples in the mission raved about, so we decided to give it a try.

We took the subway downtown to a central square and hopped on top. It kept threatening to rain but luckily never did. It was actually a great tour, with audio headphones that explained everything we passed. And it hit all the major sites. I think it would be a fantastic way to see the city if you didn't have a car.
I couldn't get enough of the beautiful architecture.

Obligatory Tiffany & Co photo.
Hello, moto. (Cue motorola ringtone, here.)
We passed the Gaudi House in the daytime, which is just not nearly as cool! Definitely go at night, too.

Passing through a giant roundabout. They still terrify me.
Beautiful boulevards.
The fountain down town near the bull ring and magic fountains.
The boulevard leading up to the magic fountains and Catalan Art Museum.
The bullring in the daytime. (Again, so much cooler at night! My parents are so seasoned they already know all these things. How lucky were we to have them as hosts.)
Magic Fountains and Catalan Art Museum. What a lovely building and amazing architecture.
We drove past the Caixa Forum up to the top of Montjuic again.
Funny story - there is a giant statue of Christopher Columbus near the harbor. He's supposedly pointing towards the New World, but he's actually pointing in the wrong direction (but that's beside the point...). Anyhow, a few weeks before we got there, someone climbed up the statue (in the middle of the night perhaps?) and fitted him with a Barca soccer jersey, ha ha! What's even funnier is that everyone kept talking in the news about how terrible it was...but no one ever took it down. They just kept him there like that, ha ha. So funny.

Christopher Columbus's statue is at the very end of the Las Ramblas, near the harbor. (We get to Las Ramblas in a bit.)
We hopped off the bus tour at the beach to go take a peek and a dip. We veered over to an empty section because the other side of the beach appeared to be clothing optional. (Yikes.) And that is why the missionaries aren't allowed to go there!

Putting his feet in the Mediterranean Sea was the ONE request Chris made on this trip -- he let me plan every other single aspect. So we had to get a picture of him getting in.

Looking out into the harbor was a set of exercise equipment, just cemented to the ground. How cool is that? Can you imagine doing an "elliptical" overlooking the ocean every morning? What a rough life.
They also had some cool concrete lounge chairs just pointed out to sea. So we took a load off for a while.

The harbor was lovely. We ate some lunch at a pizza joint nearby and then hopped back on the bus.
We got off again down town near Las Ramblas in the Barri Gotic.

While we wandered, we just happened to stumble upon the Cathedral of Barcelona. My mom has tried to find it numerous times but the streets are so winding that if they saw it from a distance and then tried to head toward it, they'd often end up somewhere completely different. (Sounds ridiculous, but it's true. The streets are skinny and tall and all run at angles!) Needless to say, she was thrilled when we found it.

The Cathedral of Barcelona was built on top of a Roman structure, the Temple of Jupiter, that was built in 200 AD. Can you imagine? 200 A.D! In the 11th century a Romaneque style church was built on top of it, and in the 14th century a Gothic cathedral was built on top of that (which is what stands today). In the 19th century local bourgeoisie spruced up the facade to make it a little more ornate, and voila. Here she is.
It happened to be closed the day we were there, but if I ever go to Barcelona again, I would love to go inside this one! Apparently it's ringed with 28 side chapels (most Cathedrals just have a few). Sounds amazing.
Here's a great view of the different layers of stone over time.
A Roman-corner.
Another piece of Roman corner.
The front of the Cathedral.
It's really quite large!

A roman corner. We're standing by an arch built in 200AD! Wowsers.
After seeing the church, we headed towards Las Ramblas.
The streets were so skinny and winding that I kid you not, we had to turn on Chris's GPS to find it.
Here we are on Las Ramblas, a big walking street that runs through much of the city, all the way down to the harbor. It's filled with trees and vendors selling flowers and chocolates, etc. It was lovely.
Halfway down Las Ramblas towards the harbor is La Boqueria ("the market"). It doesn't look like much from the outside but don't be fooled -- it's huge inside! There are vendors selling fish, fruit, chocolate, candy, and everything else edible you can think of. Barcelonians have been buying their meat here since 1200 A.D.
Colorful fruit with fresh made smoothies. (It was hard to get pictures because it was VERY crowded and bustling.)

Candies, candies and more candies!
I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
Spices and nuts.
More candies.
Every part of the goat you could possibly want (and more...). And yes, in the bottom center there is exactly what you think it is. Yum.
We finally broke down and each got a fresh made smoothie. They were so amazing! I think mine was mango coconut, and I can't remember what they other two were but they were fresh and delicious.
Then we headed back out to the street and walked up Las Ramblas back to the subway and headed home, where we met up with my dad.

That evening we came back down town for dinner and a guitar concert. We ate at a cute little restaurant inside a plaza that reminded me of Madrid. It was very cute.
A fountain in the center and restaurants with umbrella'd tables lining the edges.

The food was so good I felt I had to document it all. This might have been my most favorite gazpacho of the trip. It came with croutons and peppers/onions you could add in as desired. Yum.
We also had some amazing hummus and patatas bravas as appetizers.
And then of course, my salmon.

After dinner we walked through the city on our way to the church for the guitar concert.
This church is over 1000 years old. So pretty!

Look how skinny the streets are nearby! I'm fairly certain you could only get a golf cart down this street, but not a bonafide car.

"Esta Catalunya."
Once it was time for the concert, we were ushered inside to a side chapel of the Cathedral.
Our excited, pre-concert faces.
The name of the performer was Pedro Javier Gonzales. He is a flamenco guitarist with a few CD's out. I've never seen anyone's fingers move so fast. It was incredible, and the acoustics were amazing.
After the concert he was signing CD's. My dad and I both bought one.
I got a little star-struck as he signed mine.
Funny story: as he was signing my dad's CD they were conversing (in Spanish) and my dad explained that I was his child who came to visit, etc. Mr. Gonzales asked how many children they had and when my mom said seven, he stopped writing, looked up and with enthusiastic conviction said, "well congratulations!" Ha ha ha, it was so funny. And about 19 years too late, ha ha. Oh my, good times.

That night on the subway home both of my parents got calls from missionaries at the same time, and I felt the need to document. It's not all fun and games over there! My mom is the resident nurse slash doctor slash physical therapist (I kid you not, I heard her giving muscle stretching/strengthening exercises over the phone to a missionary while we were there, ha ha). My dad is the problem solver slash final approval giver slash recipient of all complaints (mostly about companions). And their phones never stop ringing! It's almost comical. But they are doing a fantastic job.
TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2013

This was a sad, sad, sad day. We woke up early to head to the airport with my parents. Our flight to Paris was at about noon, and my parents had a flight to Mallorca at 3:00 PM, but we needed to pick up a senior couple who was supposed to be arriving around 9:00 AM. So we loaded our gear into the combi and took one final picture in front of the mission home.

Okay, maybe two.
On the way there I got to drive up front with my mom and my dad, amigo style. Just seems fitting, doesn't it? No but really, I think I cried the whole way to the airport. Chris sat in the back with the AP's and another senior couple who came with us to welcome the new senior couple.

The Barcelona airport was every bit as lovely and modern as the rest of the city.

We ate an early lunch (even though no es la hora) and my mom and I shopped around a little bit while the boys sat and visited. The tax-free shopping at the airport is pretty sweet. It's the same stores and brands as in the city but like 20% less!

Finally, it was time for Chris and I to say goodbye and get on our plane. I didn't want to do it. I wanted to stay forever, but I knew I couldn't. It felt just as bad as it did the day we said goodbye to them almost a year ago. Agh, it was bad. But we gave hugs and kisses and thanked them for such an AMAZING trip with them, and then we walked down the gangway.
And every single Air France attendant I came in contact with kept asking me if I was okay, ha ha. (I'm an ugly crier, okay!) Chris held my hand and let me cry as we watched Barcelona disappear into the distance and we made our way to Paris.
This trip was wonderful on a thousand levels, but the most wonderful part of all was seeing how well my parents are doing in Barcelona. They're not just merely keeping up with the bustle of the mission, they are leading and directing it, and pulling it along. They're immersed in the culture and the language and the work and are thriving. It gave me such peace of mind to know that they are doing so well and are so happy. The church is true! Miracles are happening in Barcelona every day! It was a thrill to get to be a part of it for a short while.
To be Paris!

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