May 10.... woke up to a spectacular morning! Another view of the Barceloneta beach and the Mediterranean sea from our room below....
After paying an atrocious price of €22 for a glass of milk and some miniature chocolate croissants at our hotel, we headed out to get coffee at our favorite Genis cafe (had to take a pic today!). Debating between taking the metro to see sights of the city vs. Going on the Barcelona city tour bus, we opted for the latter. Turned out to be the best decision of the day! We paid €30 pp for a two day pass (DS got in free) and the tour bus has two routes through the city covering every major attraction. We went past the beaches of Barcelona which looked beautiful but appear quite neglected by locals and tourists alike, past the Forum, the Glories building shaped like a cylinder. Its a hop on, hop off tour and our first stop was La Sagrada Familia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia) - Antonio Gaudi's signature masterpiece in Barcelona which is yet to to be fully completed. He spent 40 years of his life till he died consumed by the building and its construction. Hard to fathom such passion and obsession for ones work, ones art but that's what seperates the mediocre from the greats! :-) The building itself looks eccentric...partly Gothic, partly Moorish....that's what's called modernista architecture for which Gaudi was known. We went through the museum which houses models, design and pictures of the building through various states of construction. Walking into the church was my highlight of the day. Its magnificent beyond words....while not as grand or awe-inspiring as St. Peters Basilica in The Vatican, this is still beautiful and truly feels like a temple where one would go to find peace. Although literally run over by thousands of tourists the place still inspires something larger than life, something beyond the daily mundane troubles one ponders over. Unfortunately we had to skip the elevator trip to the top due to a 2 hour wait...apparently its completely worth the wait but not with a cranky kid on your hands.
Before we boarded the tour bus again we had a quick stop at Starbucks (of all the places!!!) for a bite. One cannot underestimate the value of having access to restrooms when u have a 4 year old with you! ;-)
We then headed onto Parc Guell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_G%C3%BCell) , another one of Gaudi's work. This required quite a bit of walking over steep hills and uneven surfaces. Poor DS trudged along and was quite a sport but we truly tested his patience. It was hot and the park is not really meant for 4 year olds! Ample opportunity to flex ones photography skills but for a 4 year old all excited about getting to a 'park' it was a huge disappointment! :( we gave up after walking through part of the park and headed back. The tour bus took us through some grand places in Barcelona, all of which was enjoyable. We saw other Gaudi buildings: Casa Milo La Padera where I paid €14 just to take a tour and Casa Battlo where I refused to shell out €18,15 for a tour of the house! La Padrera was actually fantastic...more eccentric architecture with wave like front facade, weird looking chimney pots on the roof terrace, an attic dedicated to other works of Gaudi and an apartment on the top floor fully furnished in the style of the nouveau rich of the early 20th century Barcelona. Too bad I chose not to go into Casa Battlo....I am sure its equally fantastic.
We cut short our trip at this point because DS was extremely exhausted. After enjoying some amazing Baguettes at La Baguette Catalana next to La Padrera (again for an atrocious price!) we headed back to our hotel.
Dinner was at this amazing place called Santa Maria, recommended by our hotel concierge. Its in the El Born area next to La Rambla and serves Asian fusion Tapas. We had some really good red wine, quite a few delectable tapas (Indian chicken curry with jeera rice, frog legs (yikes! Of course I didn't have this), chick peas seaweed salad, tomato goat cheese salad) followed by a brownie pina colada cream dessert...the meal was very good and inspired some truly heart to heart conversation over dinner!
Thoughts for the day: Barcelona is a beautiful city....in another lifetime, if I ever learn Spanish or Catalan I would love living here....people here seem laid back and I even wondered if anyone works here at all (other than those who serve the tourism industry of course)....I didn't notice the usual office hustle-bustle or stress of everyday life....but then maybe I just didn't notice!
Am truly exhausted today! :-)