Barcelona; La Sagrada Familia; Parc Güell; Moving hostels

Morning saw us sick of the hostel we had originally been impressed with and wanting to move on to a place with a kitchen. We found a place about a kilometre away, which suited us because it was in the direction of our first destination of the day - Gaudí’s Church of the Sagrada Familia. Checking in and dropping our bags, we walked north and east.

The church is very impressive, but I wish I’d waited until it was finished to see it. Maybe that sounds like sour-grapes, given that it’s been under construction for a century and that it’s probably the world’s most famous building project, but I just found that the cranes spoiled it all for me. I hate them anyway, I think they’re ugly and unaesthetic, and I exclude them from my shots wherever possible. This forced me into some acrobatics at Sagrada Familia, they’re almost unavoidable. But I did like all the details in the carvings. You could lose yourself for days in them. We could have paid a moderate admission charge to get in and see the interior, but it’s mostly an empty shell of a building so we declined. I’ll come back and see it when it’s completed, which is scheduled for five or ten years from now. Although if the work proceeds at the glacial pace we observed, it may well take another hundred years. I’ve learned since that this is more or less usual for Spanish construction workers.

Leaving the Cathedral, we walked north for a few kilometres to see more Gaudí goodness at Parc Güell. The park was originally conceived as a self-contained community in the Gaudí style but the project fell through. Gaudí himself lived on the grounds there for years, and his house is now a museum. There are a handful of other Gaudí buildings, an elevated promenade with organic, melted-looking pillars, a mosaic-tiled bench undulating around a vast terrace, a huge vaulted, pillared amphitheatre, and of course the famous salamander. We made sure to take a picture of our mascot Spidey in the salamander’s mouth. Güell Park was another exercise in photographic frustration - this time because of the huge crowds of tourists everywhere, but it was still fun to see and walk through. We walked the four kilometres or so to the nearest subway station and took the train back, feeling a bit footsore.

There was a supermarket across the street from the hostel and we did a lot of shopping, looking forward to a properly-cooked meal. Alas, when we returned to the hostel, we found that the advertised kitchen consisted of a refrigerator and a hotplate. Also the place was completely full of some sort of meeting - all Spanish people, none of them guests at the hostel. Someone told me later that it was a Rotary club meeting. Whoever they were, they were incredibly loud and filled the common room from wall to wall, and no one actually staying at the hostel could use the room. I’m just happy that our room connected via a balcony to the computer room, so I was able to put my earphones in and do some work on the sites. Sheryl passed the time playing with Facebook, and we both got drunk on cheap sangria in self-defence. After the Rotary club finally left - at midnight! - their place was taken by a handful of screaming, belching Spanish teenagers. They were staying at the hostel, but at least went out eventually and stayed out. Needless to say it was not a particularly good night, and served as a showcase for all the negative points of hostels.


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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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