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July 08, 2011

Barcelona Day 2 & 3

Our adventure continues!

Day 2 started bright and early with tours of both La Pedrera (Casa Mila) and La Sagrada Familia. Both are works of the genius Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi.

Gaudi often found his inspiration in organic items and in nature. In the museum, you can see this is true. Arches similar to the spine of a python, spirals like shells, pinecone like structures. He designed his structures like a tree, with solid simple foundation (often a few columns) and branched out from there, much like branches on a tree.

La Pedrera is one of his most famous structures and it's the building many people have seen in tourist photos of Barcelona. Its curved and wavy facade was, again, designed with nature in mind. Gaudi specifically paid attention to the amount of windows and light that were allowed into the building.

La Sagrada Familia is a basilica Gaudi designed nearly a century ago. He knew he would never live to see the church's completion. In 2010 the inside was completed and blessed by Pope Benedict. Construction remains on the exterior of the building. The detail in the stone, stained glass, wrought iron is incredible in this church; it's ornate and elaborate on the exterior, yet vast and calming inside. A side note: when we arrived at La Sagrada Familia, the line was wrapped around the church, easily a 2-3 hour wait. Luckily, we went to the front of the line where an employee told us we could buy tickets at the ATM across the street and bypass the line. Nice hidden secret about this tourist hot spot.

Dinner on Day 2 was a 10 course meal at Cinc Sentits, but it deserves its own post with all our photos, so I'll add that later on.

Day 3 saw us travelling from Barcelona to Montserrat, a village in the mountains where the Virgin Mary appeared to shepherds. I was especially excited to visit as Mary of Montserrat is actually the patron saint of Vallelonga, where my grandparents are from in Italy. We call her Maria di Monserrato. The train ride from Barcelona (1 hour) was nothing too scenic, but the cable car ride into the mountain (5 minutes) was spectacular with lush, panoramic views. Millions of people from around the world pilgrimmage to Montserrat each year. There, there's not much to do but pay homage. We went to the basilica, saw the statue, checked out the museum and audiovisual guide.

Dinner on Day 3: Can Majo in the beachy area of Barceloneta. After insisting with the maitre'd that yes, we did have reservations, and yes, I can pull them up in my cell phone, we were seated on the terrace overlooking the sea. The owner, Enric, who was a very nice man, also came out to check on us, and to verify that yes, I had sent in a confirmation email (which apparently he did not receive). Can Majo is a reasonably priced spot with decent food and environment.

We had the Lobster Paella, which had rave reviews, and aside from being a bit salty, was fresh and good.

We started our meal with complimentary olives and tomato rubbed bread - a nice touch! - followed by garlic parsley clams.

These clams were probably the smallest little clams I had ever seen! They were tasty enough, but definitely left a bit of grit in your teeth. I would recommend this restaurant to others; good service, excellent view, tasty food and the price was right. Just make sure they have your reservation.

~ J

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