Hasta Luego, España!

By: Chenyu

Apr 27 2011

Category: Uncategorized

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Can’t believe my 3-week Spain trip is coming to an end. April 25th, Monday, is an official Holiday in Cataluyna for Semana Santa(Holy Week). During Holy Week, most European countries are also having a spring vacation for Easter.
Therefore, Barcelona, this most visited European city, is ever more packed with tourists. On the street, according to my host mom, 8 out of 10 people are foreigners. Because of tourism boom, there has been long lines everywhere.
Sagrada Familia, the grand legacy of Gaudí who spent 43 years on this church(the last 12 years working on nothing else but Sagrada Familia) is no exception. Sagrada Familia is walking distance from the family that I am staying at. Every few days I go check out the marvelous church, but always were turned off by the long line. Today is my last day in Barcelona for this trip and I have determined that I must visit Sagrada Familia regardless of the long line.
As one of the fellow tourist pointed out, “The line starts where it ends”. I can’t think of a more precise description of how long the line was. However, surprisingly, because Sagrada Familia has 6 ticket booth going through at the same time, the line actually moves quite fast. It took about 35 min for me to wait in the seemingly “impossible line”. Finally, I am inside Sagrada Familia and I bought the audio guide because I want to understand all the details and symbolism in it. Gaudí is famous for his attention to detail, his singular, naturalistic style. Sagrada Familia is a good example. Sagrada Familia is expected to finish in 2030 – a good 20 years more to finish the main tower and the Gloria facade. Currently, visitors are able to view Passion ( the death of Jesus) and Navity( the birth of Jesus) facades. The two are quite different. We start with the passion facade – there are 3 rows of sculpture featuring stories in the Bible (such as Last Supper with the 12 apostles, Jesus carrying the cross etc). and in the middle was the crucification of Jesus when he was 33. The details are amazing. Sagrada Familia is at a flat terran of Barcelona and is at equal distance to the ocean and the mountain. Gaudí designed the main tower to be 173 m tall, which is the same height of the tallest mountain of Barcelona, Montjuic. Gaudí said the top of Sagrada Familia is a symbol of the welcoming of Barcelona (where it reaches the heaven) as it will be the first thing that sailors will see when they sail in to Barcelona. The structure of Sagrada Familia is architecturally speaking very stable as Gaudí use the arch(which is inspired by the stability when holding the necklace).
The church itself is well balanced with natural light and a feeling a forest. Gaudí designed +50 columns of different colors and materials, which are like tree trunks extending into the sky. The big stained glass window are designed from left to right, red, yellow, blue/green color scheme to represent warm and ocean. Compared to the sad sentiment exemplified in the Passion Facade, the navity facade is full of joyment – the announcement of the birth of Jesus, the angel choir playing music etc, baskets of fruits etc. Also there are Gothic-like animals(reptiles etc) fleeting from the top. You have to see Sagrada Familia – it is the most beautiful church I have ever seen and it is a work that Gaudí spent so much time and efforts on. It exemplifies what a genius Gaudí is. I was completely in awe as the amount of details and meanings in this church is so rich and incredible.

After spending 2 hours in Sagrada Familia, I left for Sant Station to catch the renfe to Tarragona – a Medieval city 1 hour south of Barcelona. I have never seen Roman ruins in my life, but I guess if you have been to Rome, Tarragona would not be as impressive to you as it was to me. The interesting thing was the railrack was right next to the ocean. While on the train, I was amazed by how close the ocean waves were. Monday is a sunny day – although I had a late start at Tarragona( about 5pm). it was still so sunny that it was a perfect weather to visit. I walked up the seashore and da-dang, the 14th century amphitheater was right in front of my eyes. I was very excited to see it. Roman style buildings are light yellow and pink color, often with a lot of use of blocks and wall-shape. (from my observation). I walked pass by Arc Roman, but due to holiday, it was closed. I passed by different Roman ruins, the gorgeous Cathedral, the narrow streets with delicate plants/cactus hanging below the windows. I love the narrow streets with buildings of different colors. I also saw the roman wall (murella). When I passed by a store, I flipped through a book introducing Tarragona – it seems that Tarragona is famous for the human pyramid and its province is very pro independence. I see Catalunya flags hanging around in apartments and in the book, there is a page of a huge congregation holding a sign ” Catalonia is not Spain” . At 8am, I boarded the train back to Barcelona, bought a chicken-tomota-lettuce sandwich near Tetuan, and picked up my luggage. I am on the way to airport again- luckily i got on the last train to Airport ( not Madrid all over again). It was lucky because i would not have made it if the train was not delayed.

The past 3 weeks in Spain has been a wonderful journey – as i started this series of blogs. Coming to Spain to study Spanish and travel is a dream that i always had since I started to study Spanish. Now, I completed this dream and I can tell you how grateful I am that I did it. I have been exposed to sooo much about Spain- its wonderful weather, its cultural/historical relics, its warm/chill people. Moreover, Spain is a paradise for art-lovers. I was able to go to Reina Sofia, Thyssen, El Prado, Picasso Museum, Joan Miró foundation and saw the breath-taking works by Gaudí. My hearts started to beat when I stood in front of the famous Guernica or Las Meninas( the maids) by Velazques and Picasso(he spent 1957 reproducing cubism works of Las Meninas). I saw more than 10 cathedrals, climbed Montserrat (with the help of cable car first) and prayed in front of the famous Black Virgin, took a boat ride on the Mediterranean and walked around the deck. I walked on the narrow( and somewhat confusing) streets near La Rambla and Barrio Gotîc with Melinda and had the most famous churros and chocalate in Prelinox street. I had real tapas with Cristina(sausage and patatas and fried calamari) when we ordered drinks at a popular local Cevezaria in the chicky Tribunal area in Madrid. I also tasted tapas in Lonja Tapas restaurants with my new German friends in El Born area in Barcelona. I explored famous/historical cities/pueblos outside Madrid and Barcelona – Toledo, Segovia, El Escorial, Tarragona. I tasted Sangria in Pueblo España and stood in front of where 1992 Barcelona Olympics was held. I explored the night scene in Kaptial Madrid and Opium Barcelona and was in Santiago Bernabeü stadium on the day of Madrid- Barca match and experienced the warmth of Spainsh football fans. I was on La Rambla/plaza cataluyna when Barca lost to Madrid and saw how sad the fans were. I met friends from Brazil, Holland, Germany, Italy, France, England, Taiwan etc and this diversity is unprecedented in my life.

I love you Spain – as I shouted out on top of Montserrat. I drank the fountain water on La Rambla, and its meaning is that i will come back to Barcelona, to Spain again in the future.


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