Sleeping over with everyone at Gatwick
It was the 6th of January and its all SNOW, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW!!! Gatwick Airport was buggered and all the hotels are packed to the rims! We were supposed to be flying out to Barcelona the next dat at 10am, but didnt see that happening. I going with my Brother, his girlfriend and my Mum, bit of a post Christmas treat if you like. We decided to sleep at Gatwick Airport in the terminal, thinking this was the only way to A) get to Gatwick if they plane did take off and B) If it didn’t, at least we would get a refund.
Anywho, I got the train to Gatwick and met my family at the airport; they hadn’t been there but an hour when the concept of actually sleeping in the airport all night dawned on them all. Plus now boredom was setting in and it was just the beginning. Noticing the shear dread in my mother’s eyes I instantly cheered her up by revealing that I had, regardless of my brother insisting repeatedly to pack LIGHT! Had brought her a blanket for the night, I mean some on she is 61, I bloody legend for kipping in an airport overnight like the rest of us scallywag travellers, but least I could do was make sure she was warm.
A sigh of relief was expressed as I relayed the news! I also had had the foresight to bring, UNO and a pack of cards, which trust me came in handy! In fact TOP TIP: ALWAYS TAKE UNO AND A PACK OF NORMAL PLAYING CARDS WHEN TRAVELING!! You just don’t know when you might need some welcome distraction.
Taking off in the snow from Gatwick
After only a few hours sleep in the packed terminal of Gatwick, our Eastjet flight pinged up on the board, having suffered for hour watching all EasyJet flight switch to cancelled, we hadn’t got our hopes up! When shock horror!!!! They called us for boarding, I was so shocked, but admittedly a bit smug about it too.
Two hours later, after having missed the entire flight due to falling asleep prior to asleep prior to take off, I was woken by my brother prodding my forehead, shouting quietly we’re HERE! I opened my eyes and yawed, then felt happy that we had made it. My poor Bro had been ill in the night at Gatwick, a bit sick too, but having slept a few hours also he was feeling much brighter. We stepped off the planed and were greeted with sharp wind and what felt like sub zero temperatures. We left the airport and grabbed the shuttle bus to Las Ramblas, interestingly meaning Riverbed in Arabic, Las Ramblas was originally just a path beside a stream that was running through the centre of the old city.
At the heart of the city Las Rambles bustling with all kinds of activities. Although it being winter, it was still packed with street theatre and a market which ran the length of the street, selling, flowers, rabbits, topical birds, souvenirs and food. You can find almost anything here, Las Ramblas runs from Placa de Catalunya, a main square full of shops, restaurants, and banks, located at the centre of the city, down to the monument of Columbus on the waterfront. La Rambla can be considered a series of shorter streets, each differently named, hence the plural forms Les Rambles. From the Plaça de Catalunya toward the harbor, the street is successively the Rambla de Canaletes, the Rambla dels Estudis, the Rambla de Sant Josep, the Rambla dels Caputxins, and the Rambla de Santa Monica. Construction of the Maremàgnum in the early 1990s resulted in a continuation of La Rambla on a wooden walkway into the harbor, the Rambla de Mar. La Rambla can be crowded, especially during prime time tourist season. Most of the time, there are many more tourists than locals occupying the Rambla, which has changed the shopping selection, as well as the character of the street in general.
Landing in Barcelona Airport
For this reason also, it has become a prime target for pick pocketing
We headed through the side streets towards the hotel we would be staying at. Usually a hostel would be my usual haunt, however with mum in toe a 4 star hotel will do just nicely. As all 4 star hotels are, hard bedded, but clean, happy to help staff and looked very plush! We walked through the crooked streets and winding roads and regaled in the beautiful buildings that surrounded us. We indulged in the hot chocolates and various delightful pastries that were offered and welcomed the Spanish culture in its entirety. I being a complete foreign language NUN, tried my hardest to speak the lingo, although I was obviously awful at it, I think the local people appreciated my efforts. I think it’s important to embrace very aspect of a country when you visit it and you should make an effort when you’re faced with a language barrier.
Enticed by the cranny shops that engulfed the small winding backstreets streets, I wandered into a bohemian type shopping, selling hand made, purses, wallets, bags, candles and such like.
Being aware that Barcelona has an extremely high crime rate and having been warned by various other travellers prior to the trip, I thought it a good idea to invest in a money belt/bum bag to keep my money, camera and phone safe. Although not a savvy choice I decided to opt for the brightly collared bum bag. Considering it was cold, I was wearing loads of layers and it was hidden under my long coat, I thought it would be safe as houses. I also purchased the standard magnet as a keepsake for my trip.
Las Ramblas street theatre
Mum being a bit of a travel novice, left her camera and bum bag on view. We headed down to the tube to travel to see the infamous Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, ie Considered the master-work of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the project's vast scale and idiosyncratic design have made it one of Barcelona's top tourist attractions for many years. This Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain since 1882 and is not expected to be complete until at least 2026.
A portion of the building’s interior is open for public worship and tours, but costs 10Euros each to get in. Unfortunately when we visited the lifts to the towers were closed which was so annoying as I would think this would have been quite a special experience had they been open.
Las Rambles street theatre
Walking through the construction site inside the church was a serial experience; it made me feel part of the process, and gave me a sense of nostalgia in telling my grand children about being there in the final years of completion. The stain glass windows beamed with light through the grand hallways. The integrate design of the pillars, ceilings and stairwells were a wondrous sight to see. Taking inspiration from nature Gaudi was able to incorporate some truly magnificent architectural wonders within both the interior and exterior of the building. Although a quick tour through the church itself, the 10Euros did stretch getting your monies worth as it also included entrance into the onsite gift shop, lift to the towers and the museum which spans the dimensions of church below ground. I won’t give away too much, but you shouldn’t miss this, if visiting Barcelona!!!
So some history for you about Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
The Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudí (1852 to 1926), who worked on the project from 1883 and devoted the last fifteen years of his life entirely to the endeavor.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2026. On the subject of the extremely long construction period, Gaudí is said to have remarked, "My client is not in a hurry." After Gaudí's death in 1926, work continued under the direction of Domènech Sugranyes until interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Parts of the unfinished barn and Gaudí's models and workshop were destroyed during the war by Catalan anarchists. The present design is based on reconstructed versions of the lost plans as well as on modern adaptations.
Las Ramblas stalls and market
Since 1940 architects have carried on the work and in the 1980’s computerized technology was introduced into the design and construction process. Local newspapers report that over, 2.26 million people visited the partially built church in 2004, making it one of the most popular attractions in Spain.
The building works are expected to be completed around 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudí's death, although the likelihood of meeting this date is disputed. As mentioned above the aid of computers in the design, has been used to speed up the construction of the building; initially, the construction work was expected to last for several hundred years, based on building techniques available in the early 1900s. This technology allows each block of stone to be shaped off-site by a CNC milling machine, whereas in the 1900s, the stone was carved by hand. The church is scheduled to open for worship by September 2010
Some facts about the church that you might find interesting
Every part of the design of La Sagrada Família is replete with Christian symbolism, as Gaudí intended the church to be the "last great sanctuary of Christendom".
Its most striking aspect is its spindle-shaped towers. A total of eighteen tall towers are called for, representing in ascending order of height the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and, tallest of all, Jesus Christ. (According to the 2005 "Works Report" of the temple's official website, drawings signed by Gaudí found recently in the Municipal Archives indicate that the tower of the Virgin was in fact intended by Gaudí to be shorter than those of the evangelists, and this is the design ��" which the Works Report states is more compatible with the existing foundations ��" that will be followed. The same source explains the symbolism in terms of Christ being known through the Evangelists.) The Evangelists' towers will be surmounted by sculptures of their traditional symbols: a bull (St Luke), a winged man (St Matthew), an eagle (St John), and a lion (St Mark).
The central tower of Jesus Christ is to be surmounted by a giant cross; the tower's total height (170 m) will be one metre less than that of Montjuïc (a hill in Barcelona), as Gaudí believed that his work should not surpass that of God. Lower towers are surmounted by communion hosts with sheaves of wheat and chalices with bunches of grapes, representing the Eucharist.
The Church will have three grand façades: the Nativity façade to the East, the Glory façade to the South (yet to be completed) and the Passion façade to the West.
The Nativity facade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and bears the most direct Gaudí influence. The Passion façade is especially striking for its spare, gaunt, tormented characters, including emaciated figures of Christ being flogged and on the crucifix. These controversial designs are the work of Josep Maria Subirachs.
The church plan is that of a Latin cross with five aisles. The central nave vaults reach forty-five metres while the side nave vaults reach thirty metres. The transept has three aisles. The columns are on a 7.5 metre grid. However, the columns of the apse, resting on del Villar's foundation, do not adhere to the grid, requiring a section of columns of the ambulatory to transition to the grid thus creating a horseshoe pattern to the layout of those columns. The crossing rests on the four central columns of porphyry supporting a great hyperboloid surrounded by two rings of twelve hyperboloids (currently under construction).
The central vault reaches sixty metres. The apse will be capped by a hyperboloid vault reaching seventy-five metres. Gaudí intended that a visitor standing at the main entrance be able to see the vaults of the nave, crossing, and apse, thus the graduated increase in vault loftiness.
Me at Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
The columns of the interior are a unique Gaudí design. Besides branching to support their load, their ever-changing surfaces are the result of the intersection of various geometric forms. The simplest example is that of a square base evolving into an octagon as the column rises, then a sixteen-sided form, and eventually to a circle. This effect is the result of a three-dimensional intersection of helicoidal columns (for example a square cross-section column twisting clockwise and a similar one twisting counter-clockwise).
The towers on the Nativity façade are crowned with geometrically shaped tops that are reminiscent of Cubism (they were finished around 1930), and the intricate decoration is contemporary to the style of Art Nouveau, but Gaudí's unique style drew primarily from nature, not other artists or architects, and resists categorization.
Gaudí used hyperboloid structures in later designs of the Sagrada Família (more obviously after 1914), however there are a few places on the nativity façade a design not equated with Gaudí's ruled-surface design, where the hyperboloid crops up. For example, all around the scene with the pelican there are numerous examples (including the basket held by one of the figures). There is a hyperboloid adding structural stability to the cypress tree (by connecting it to the bridge). And finally, the "bishop's mitre" spires are capped with hyperboloid structures. In his later designs, ruled surfaces are prominent in the nave's vaults and windows and the surfaces of the Passion facade.
Themes throughout the decoration include words from the liturgy.
The towers are decorated with words such as "Hosanna", "Excelsis", and "Sanctus"; the great doors of the Passion façade reproduce words from the Bible in various languages including Catalan; and the Glory façade is to be decorated with the words from the Apostles' Creed. Areas of the sanctuary will be designated to represent various concepts, such as saints, virtues and sins, and secular concepts such as regions, presumably with decoration to match.
Me My Bro and Mum at the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
This is a amazing building that was restored by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol, built in the year 1877 and remodeled in the years 1904��"1906; located at 43, Passeig de Gràcia (passeig is Catalan for promenade or avenue), part of the Illa de la Discòrdia in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Spain.
The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), and indeed it does have a visceral, skeletal organic quality. It was originally designed for a middle-class family and situated in a prosperous district of Barcelona. The building looks very remarkable ��" like everything Gaudí designed, only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. It seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís) that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues.
Me My Bro and Mum at the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the sword of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.
Sagrada Família towers
The La Boqueria Market in Barcelona
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often simply referred to as La Boqueria, is a large public market in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and one of the city's foremost tourist landmarks, with an entrance from La Rambla, not far from the Liceu, Barcelona's opera house.
The market has a very diverse selection of goods. The first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates from 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. From December 1470 onwards, a pig market was held at this site; at this time it was known as Mercat Bornet. Later, until 1794, it was known simply as Mercat de la Palla, or straw market. In the beginning, the market was not enclosed and had no official status, being regarded simply as an extension of the Plaça Nova market, which extended to the Plaça del Pi. Later, the authorities decided to construct a separate market on La Rambla, housing mainly fishmongers and butchers.
It was not until 1826 that the market was legally recognized, and a convention held in 1835 decided to build an official structure. Construction began on March 19, 1840 under the direction of the architect Mas Vilà. The market officially opened in the same year, but the plans for the building were modified many times. The inauguration of the structure finally took place in 1853. A new fish market opened in 1911, and the metal roof that still exists today was constructed in 1914.
inside Sagrada Família - the ceiling