We started our morning with a breakfast of fresh croissants, butter, strawberry jam, orange juice and the equivalent of honey smacks cereal. Kendra, Jenn and I also had café con leches to help get our gears moving.
Our first activity of the day was a bus tour of Barcelona, led by a local guide, Ellie. We drove by the stadium and other athletic buildings from the 1992 Olympics. It struck me that none of our students are old enough to remember those Olympics, and some of them weren’t even born at that time! We also took a quick stop to take some panoramic pictures of the city below. Sadly, the sky was grey and cloudy, hindering the visibility.
The next stop was Antoni Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia. Here we saw his modernista style in grand scale. The outside of the church was comprised of four different architectural styles – Neo-Gothic, Modernista, Cubism and Art Nouveau. Though the building was begun in 1882, it is still under construction and expected to be for at least another 16 years. The façade designed by Gaudi was incredible – the way he represented biblically stories was so beautifully done.
After Ellie gave us a history of the architectural components of the church, and explained the symbolism of Gaudi’s work, we climbed back on the bus and made our way to the Park Guell, Gaudi’s home and failed attempt at making a community in the Modernista style. Though not popular during his time, the park is now a huge attraction. The trees, flowers, and other vegetation planted during his time have flourished and grown, turning the area into a beautiful, peaceful natural hideaway overlooking the bustling city below.
We ended our tour in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. After Ellie departed, we had lunch together at a small café. The food was incredible – we chose from plates of a variety of skewered delights such as egg salad on crusty bread, topped with caviar; mozzarella, black olives and tomatoes; dumplings filled with potatoes, cheese and pork; and pork smothered with cheese atop baguettes. Needless to say, everyone was more than satisfied. I have been so impressed with everyone’s willingness to try new things – not a single kid has turned down the opportunity to at least try everything once. Much to their surprise, more often they find that they like it!
After lunch, we split up for a few hours. We’re still not quite sure what the boys did, but they came back with shopping bags with new clothing. Kendra and I visited the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, a massive gothic structure built on the ruins of the city’s Roman walls and aqueduct. The interior was beautiful and decorated in the typical intricate style of a gothic church. However, we were pleasantly surprised when we walked into the church’s outdoor garden. It was raining ever sol slightly, casting a peaceful air upon everything around us. There were geese walking and wading through the garden and stone pools. I was surprised, and thankful, at how few people were there.
While we were at the Cathedral, Jenn went with Kate, Sara and Liz to the Salvador Dali Museum. They reported that it was incredible – in fact, Sara said she liked this museum the best so far, especially because Dali got her brain really thinking. Afterwards, they went to the Cathedral as well. By that time, Kendra and I were wandering around the Gothic quarter. We eventually made our way to La Rambla, Barcelona’s main shopping thoroughfare. Along with the stores, street vendors lined the center pedestrian walkway, selling everything from souvenirs and trinkets to roosters, flowers and food. We eventually came upon St. Josep la Boqueria. I was reminded of Convent Garden in London – vendors sold fresh fruits, meat, fish, candy, and more! Every stall was a bit different. Kendra bought some kiwi, strawberries and kiwi from one merchant. Later on, we happened upon a woman selling truffles of all kinds – we couldn’t help ourselves from buying several. While we were picking them out, she let us taste-test – they were incredible! We even picked out a chocolate hedgehog for Jenn.
By this time, we were tired so we stopped at a local café and had more café con leches, and homemade chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Meanwhile, Jenn, Sara, Liz and Kate had started shopping! Aly, Bryanna and Jess went shopping during their free time – they were beyond excited for the three H&M’s less than four blocks from each other. All of the girls met back up with Jesus at 5:30 to go buy Spanish olive oil. We all were planning to purchase it in Italy, but Jesus told us how most Italian olive oil is actually made in Spain, and then relabeled by Italian companies. So off to the grocery store we went! While everyone else was learning about the varieties of oil, Sara and I decided to grab snacks and food for tomorrow’s lunch so we wouldn’t have to spend a lot of money while traveling. We bought nutella, peanut butter, bread, bananas, clementines, and kiwi. With our arms full, we checked out, spending just a Euro per person for all of that food!
After shopping, it was time to meet up with everyone for a walking tour of the Gothic quarter. Jesus led us back to the Cathedral, and we got to see the gardens once again, this time by moonlight. We walked down tiny alleys and through old, crumbling buildings as Jesus relayed to us the history of ancient Barcelona. Our last stop before dinner was Santa María del Pí. Though unassuming from the outside, the interior of this 14th century gothic church was impressive.
We had dinner at a small buffet on the shore of the Mediterranean. By this time, the rain was falling hard. The food was good, though similar to what we’ve been eating at other buffets. We took the Metro back to the hotel, and everyone settled in for some much needed rest.