Today we arrange a half day tour of Barcelona with Jordi, a friendly local who speaks at least ten languages. Having him use only English seems like a waste of his many talents but we’re still lucky to get him. Although going around Barcelona with a guide speaking Japanese to an American tour group would be strangely interesting to me. Onward with the tour…
First we walk the historic streets of old Barcelona where history literally surrounds you.
The old streets form rigid square blocks, no doubt a Roman design dating back from the days of when Barcelona was the Roman city of Barcino. In fact, the city is excavating under these old streets to preserve the Roman settlement that lays under it. One museum gives you access to these Roman ruins deep beneath the city. Sorry, they don”t allow you to take pictures. One building they found was a place that dyed fabric. One flat stone was turned bright blue from all the thousands of fabrics that were dyed at the facility. One piece of Roman history that was above ground was this…
The apartments here were built around the ruins of this Roman temple. For years the owners of the building took care of the ruins before the city of Barcelona stepped in to protect them. People still live in the apartments surrounding this amazing piece of history.
Next we visit the square where Christopher Columbus returned from the New World, very anxious to tell his backers, the King and Queen of Spain, that he hit the mother lode for Spain. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella went down these steps to greet Columbus. This was the first step in Spain becoming a world power for hundreds of years. Jordi tells us some experts now think Columbus was actually Spanish not Italian. If Jordi ever conducts a tour with some Italian Americans from Jersey…I would skip this little piece of trivia.
By the way, the Roman ruins that we saw being excavated, are located a few feet below this historic square. History literally on top of history. Cool.
The breathtaking Barcelona Cathedral, the major Catholic church of the city, is our next stop. And what a stop it is. The ceilings have a golden brown color with intricate markings all over them. The glass windows at the top do not dominate but compliment the large dome. Inside the church, each Catholic Saint has their own gated area decorated in striking gold that pops your eyes. In the center of the cathedral are two rows of wooden chairs with tall backs facing opposite another pair of rows. Jordi says this area was used in a recent conference of world leaders.
We take a bus to the top of a hill overlooking the city of Barcelona. There we see the stadium used in the 1992 Summer Olympics which put the city of Barcelona on the world map. If you remember, it was the Olympics that had the guy who shot a flaming arrow upward to light the olympic torch. Which we found out, was actually the top of an upside down whale.
Jordi then takes us to the most interesting looking church ever, La Sagrada Familia. The designer was named Antoni Gaudi and his name gave birth to the term gaudy looking. The building was unfinished but Gaudi’s descendants are completing the rest of the church with private funds. They hope to be done by the next decade.
After the tour, we decide to sit outdoors and have a nice last meal. We find a an outdoor restaurant where I order chicken paetta. I’m starting to love Spanish paetta and can not get enough of this stuff. Delicious sautéed rice with chicken, vegetables with delicious saffron, a wonderful combination inside a giant skillet that’s delivered right to your table. Tonight, we enjoy dinner with an order of sweet and tangy Sangria as the street comes alive again with people.
We board the ship tomorrow, leaving this wonderful and friendly city behind us. A part of me doesn’t want to leave. Yet I suspect that Barcelona is a mistress that always leaves her visitors wanting more just so they will never forget her.
If you would like to see all the pictures from Barcelona..GO HERE.
Next time: A quick blog about the sea then we arrive in Italia!