Day Seventy Nine (septuagesimo nono dia)
Maybe it was the beers, or the time change, but we didn’t wake up until noon. Lucky for us, this hotel had a “Do Not Disturb” sign we could hang outside our door. A small detail, I know, but our last hotel lacked this. Two of the three days we were there, housekeepers came in while we (tried to) sleep only to hear us cry “Hello! NO! Thank you!”.
This time La Sagrada Familia was on our agenda. We didn’t hit the lobby of the hotel until about 1:00pm and it took about thirty minutes for the concierge to help me buy tickets so we wouldn’t have to wait in line. We chose 2:30pm for our entrance time; we just wanted to stop and get some grub on the way. We walked past a lot of great looking restaurants the day before, on the way to Montjuic. We walked the same way and eventually stopped in a cute little diner. It was a one-man-show. One guy was cooking, waiting and bussing tables, as well as ringing people up. I had sausage and eggs with french fries, and John had beefsteak and fries that came with a salad that had crabsitck and baby shrimp on it. At this point, it was probably about 2:20pm. We still had to walk to the Metro and take it the five stops to Sagrada Familia. I wasn’t too worried about the time.
We arrived at the correct entrance at 2:48pm. “You’re late” the ticketmaster said to my presented-ticket. It flashed red and beeped an unwelcoming sound for the first scanner she tried. She tried another which seemed to allow our late arrival. In addition to the Basilica, I had paid extra to tour one of the towers. Big mistake.
The church itself is just stunning, while also completely overwhelming. While we were in the museum located in the basement (near Gaudi’s tomb) we watched a movie that informed us only just over 60% of the structure is complete. Coincidentally, that night on National Geographic in our hotel room, there was a segment on La Sagrada Familia which explained they were shooting to have it complete by 2026, 100 years since Gaudi’s untimely death (he was runover by a tram!).
We took an elevator up 50 meters, then walked up another 10 (just like the elevator operator instructed us to). We walked over a bridge and then began to descend. There were three balconies we could “rest” at along the way down. It was somewhere after the bridge that I remembered my absolute and completely all-consuming fear of heights. I started to sweat. I managed to snag a few pictures while simultaneously trying to suction-cup myself to the wall behind us.
At one of the “rest” points when John was enjoying the view (as I was hugging the wall saying “yep. Just take a picture! JUST TAKE A PICTURE AND SHOW ME AFTER”) a sweet little Chinese girl looked at me and said “Oh, are you scared?” YES. THAT IS THE WORD. John traveled up another staircase… “THE MAN SAID TO GO DOWN AFTER THE BRIDGE. I WANT TO GO DOWN NOW”. He felt badly that I was missing out on some of the views—I didn’t feel like I was missing out, I felt like I was barely escaping death! So, at the next balcony he said, “It’s OK, I’ll hold your hand. What are you scared of?” And that’s when the tears came. Big, streaming, rivers down my face. Even if I had braved the balcony, I wouldn’t have been able to see anything anyway. Somehow, we finally made it down the spiral staircases. Pfew.
Thank you for sparing my life, Jesus.
After we went through the basement museum we headed out. There is a park across the street loaded with vendors. We saw a man blowing giant bubbles:
I was seriously appreciating his West Coast Chopper sweatshirt.
Nativity scene creatures pooping:
And bought a nutella crepe (crack):
We made our way back to our hotel and went into a store called Futbol Mania that we had seen on the way to La Sagrada Familia earlier. I had been worried about being late for our 2:30pm reservation, so I told John we’d come back later. After we spent an inexplicable amount of time in this store, we left with three pairs of shorts and four pairs of socks (one for me, even). John found the Mira Mar socks with a better top band so they wouldn’t fall during game. We stopped at the cafe next to our hotel for cappuccinos and a(nother) snack. This cafe sells Fartons, 5 for one euro.
John had a fashion show with his new socks and cleats back at the hotel while I looked for a place to have dinner.
Sushi-Yah was the choice for the evening filling both our requirements for sushi and for location (just off Las Ramblas). We walked from our hotel to the end of Av. Paral-lel and saw the statue of Christopher Columbus.
Since 2013 was the year of Selfies, we recognized and honored it with the Vacation of Selfies.
Since we were at the Port de Barcelona, we decided to walk down and see the water.
There was a long boardwalk and eventually a mall (complete with Starbucks and Dunkin’ Coffee, of course).
Las Ramblas is a crazy busy street with a quadruple-wide sidewalk down the middle. On both sides there are tiny little alleyways, markets, shops, and restaurants.
We found Sushi-Yah down one of these tiny little alleyways.
It was packed, but there was one half-empty table. We sat down at the other end of it, sharing the space with three Spanish people just finishing up.
We had tuna, salmon, and squid rolls, a shrimp tempura with spicy sauce (crack), a tuna/salmon/AVOCADO roll (no ripe avocados in Povoacao!), edamame, miso soup, and udon noodles. It was all incredible.
Everything came out within minutes of ordering it, and soon our seat-mates were replaced by four Spanish women enjoying a girls’ night out. We walked up Las Ramblas after dinner to see more. We found a “Cheers” that had chalkboards outside saying which games they were showing the following day and we decided to return.
When I read reviews about Las Ramblas I saw a lot of comments about the pick-pocketing (so far, so good!) and also about the Africans selling pocketbooks and ripping people off. Not long after we left Sushi-Yah, we saw a group of Africans selling handbags near the Liceu Metro station. They had their goods laid out on white sheets with rope attached to each corner. When a lookout would see a cop, they would pull on the rope, securing their stash inside the newly created white pouch, and then they would book it down the steps and into the Metro station. John and I watched for a moment until someone saw a cruiser coming and they cleared out. We moved on.
We got Kinder Bueno flavored gelato from a street vendor and walked home.