Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More Barcelona - Montjuic, Park Guell & Tibidabo

On Sunday we woke up and went to my parents’ home ward for church. It’s located inside of a bit of office space the church leases, only a metro stop or two away from my parent’s home. We drove their car and parked in their favorite parking garage, not because it was the cheapest or easiest or greenest way to get to church, but because they wanted to check up on the parking attendant whom they’ve given a pass along card to recently. “I think he’s ready for a Book of Mormon,” my dad says excitedly.

We walk into the one-story church building where the AP’s are standing by a table filled with books of Mormon, greeting members and trying to get them excited about sharing the gospel with their friends. We turn a corner and walk down a long hallway to the chapel. It’s a modest space with simple walls and tile flooring, but there’s a stage and a pulpit and the chairs are set up the way they would be back home. The meeting is full and we get to hear Elder Reina speak again. I don’t understand most of what he says (he speaks SO fast), but he has a great sense of humor and elicits quite a few laughs from the congregation. My mom whispers a translation of the speakers in my ear and my dad does the same for Chris. I realize it’s the first time in probably 15 years that I’ve been able to sit on a bench by my dad during sacrament meeting!

After the meeting is over we mingle with many members who are eager to meet my parents’ visitors. As usual, it takes us about 30 minutes to make our way out of the building completely. It has started to rain so we jog to the parking garage and head home.

We ate some lunch and waited for the sun to come out, then headed towards Montjuic, which is a hill near the port with a fortress near the top. In 1929 they hosted the international fair, and it was a center of attraction during the 1992 Olympics.

It has a great view of the Mediterranean Sea from the top, with all of the cruise ships lined up at port.

My parents bring all of their missionaries here on their first day in the mission because you can get a great view of the whole city from up here. Plus it's just plain cool.

Because my parents come here so often, I think my dad feels like he's allowed to just park anywhere he wants? See that car way down there in the shade, no where near any other cars or the big parking lot where everyone else parked? Yep, that would be our car. I'm surprised he hasn't been towed for parking there! Apparently he does it all the time.
Great view of the city from the top of the tower.
It started to get really windy.

This city is ginormous!

Do they look great or what? So apparently a few months ago as spring was starting to bloom, my parents brought a group of new missionaries here one day as they were cutting the grass you can see in this picture. My mom got a whiff of the fresh cut grass and it hit her with a giant pang of homesickness -- the first real one since they'd gotten there.
After visiting Montjuic we wound our way through the city towards Park Guell. We passed lots of buildings sporting not the Spanish flag, but the Catalunya flag. Barcelonians consider themselves to be a different culture and heritage than the rest of Spain. They often say, "no esta espana, esta catalunya!" (Or something close to that.) It basically means, you're not in Spain, you're in Catalunya!
We saw this cool Go Car and decided next time we visit we want to cruise around in one of these!
On our way we passed the Arc de Triomphe of Spain.
At last we made it to Park Guell, which is a famous park designed by Antoni Gaudi. It was designed as the gardens of a private residence in the early 20th century, but has since been donated to the city as a public park. It was hopping on a Sunday evening.
Some cool stone chairs built into his columns.

Stone archways.

We had a fantastic view of the city from up here, reaching all the way out to the Mediterranean Sea.
There were illegal "vendors" who sell trinkets & souvenirs on the ground but pack up & disappear as soon as they get a whiff of the po-po. It was pretty funny.
More amazing views. (The clouds!)
A view of the retaining wall from up on the terrace.
A close up view of the retaining wall. So beautiful.
The colorful, ergonomic bench up on the terrace was built using bits of glass and tile found at the dump. Gaudi was "green" way before it was cool.
Another view from the bench.
There are two "gingerbread" houses on the premesis near the front gate. One houses a bookstore and one is a small museum, but we didn't go inside.

All the water from the terrace above drains strategically through these columns and into the fountains of the park. This area was designed to house a market for the wealthy homes in the area.
A look up at the ceiling in between two columns. Again made with recycled tile and glass. Just beautiful.
The column area dumps you out at the top of a grand staircase, with the famous mosaic lizard and fountains cascading down it.

We headed back toward the car on a path near the edge of the park. Even the curbing and wall were whimsical and cute. Then we headed back home to make some dinner.
Instead of responding to one of his 100+ emails he gets every week from missionaries (he was notably behind the week we visited, due in part to our presence), he turned on youtube and watched clips of Disney movies like old times. (This one was Hercules.) Some things never change!
This is a picture of my mom's set of keys. Aren't they cool? One is the car, one is the house and one is the gate to the pool I think. They told us they supposedly had a pool somewhere but they'd never seen it, ha ha. So Chris and I decided to go exploring while dinner cooked.
Thar she be. She was actually easy to find, just behind the building nestled between some other condos. Of course, they'll never use it but their guests sure could! It looked quite delightful.
I didn't want to forget to take a picture of the front of the building, so I took a few on our way back upstairs. This is the lobby of the building, which is quite nice. It's on the same floor as the mission office, which is just around the corner.
You walk up one flight of stairs (or take the elevator) and you'll arrive at their house (condo). There are two homes on each level, so they share with another man they've hardly ever seen, but they know his maid is an amazing cook because there are always fantastic smells coming from his apartment.

This picture is of Chris walking in the front door. Just to the left behind that small wall is the "back" door, which leads into the kitchen. There is also the proper elevator to the right of where I'm standing in the picture, and the grocery elevator just around the bend to the left in this picture. I found it hilarious that the "front" and "back" doors were literally four feet apart! Urban living.
We ate some dinner and then made a batch of brownies to take down to the office elders while we waited for the week's stats to come in. It was all so exciting.

Here is the supply closet in the mission office. They've got Books of Mormon in many languages, along with every other supply you could think of.

I told my dad we needed a picture of us in front of the flag, just like the missionaries get.
Here is the stat board for the week. I found this stuff FASCINATING. So at the top you have the name of each zone in dark blue, and then going down the columns in light blue you have areas within that zone. The number on the left in each column was the number of baptisms there last week. The number on the right in each column was the number of baptisms there last month...I think? Anyway, I thought it was very cool. My dad could tell me lots of things just by looking at this board -- such as which pairs of missionaries weren't getting along/being obedient (because it showed in their numbers), which wards/areas had had a stake conference recently (because it leaves a dip in numbers because investigators can't come to church two consecutive weeks as stake conference does not count), etc. Fascinating.
And here is the transfer board in my dad's office. It's got a giant pull down shade at the top so he can come work on it and stare at it a few days or weeks before transfers without it being seen. It shows all the zones at the top in orange, and all the areas in red with pictures of missionaries paired up. Along the bottom in green were all the missionaries they were due to receive in their next transfer. Holy smokes! It was a lot of missionaries. The office elders were working feverishly to find them piso's while we were there.
Looking past the transfer board out of my dad's office.
El Presidente lounging in his chair and talking to the AP's. I'm standing behind his desk.
Here's the map of the mission on the wall.
After the numbers came in and we'd eaten our weight in brownies, we headed up to Mount Tibidabo. It's a cathedral atop the highest peak in Barcelona. To entice more visitors, they've now built a theme park up there, ha ha! Can you imagine building a theme park next to the Salt Lake Temple to entice more visitors? Hilarious. But it had a great view of the city, all the way down to the Catalan Museum with the lights shooting into the sky and the Mediterranean Sea beyond.
The cathedral itself is lovely from the outside, but it was closed when we were there.

After winding down the hill back to the city we headed home to crash before our last day in Barcelona. (Tears of sadness.) To be continued in More Barcelona - Las Ramblas, Guitar Concert & Saying Goodbye.

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