Prior to booking our trip to Barcelona, we had planned to spend three days there. So many people had told us how beautiful Barcelona is and how much we should definitely visit it. So we did. And here’s my version of it.
We arrived in Barcelona with an invalid, who was in so much pain because Carmelo had broken his arm only 48 hours before. Fortunately we were able to book a disabled-pick-up from the plane gate to baggage claim. When we got off the plane, I was expecting a wheel chair but instead it was a golf cart. At 2am, it was a welcome sight for the whole family. We all jumped onto the cart and were wheeled to baggage claim. The Barcelona airport is huge and it would’ve been tiring for Ajay and I to carry the babies (ie Kenzo and Lui) that whole distance.
The service was amazing! They took us to baggage claim then changed Carmelo to a wheel chair. There was no Customs process because we came from an internal EU flight, so we headed to the taxis. We soon had two people helping us, one with our luggage, because they saw us carrying little ones, and one pushing Carmelo.
We loved being in Spain and being able practice our Spanish again. “Gracias!” we kept saying because we were so grateful for how easy they had made getting off the plane. In spite of all that, Carmelo was not comfortable. The panadol had warn off, plus he needed to lie down and rest.
We decided that instead of spending three days in Barcelona, we would chill in our hostel and only on our last day there we would venture out, if Carmelo was feeling up to it.
While the kids waited in the Airbnb hostel we’d booked, Ajay and I foraged for food. We found Indian food right on the corner so we brought the kids chicken tikka masala. They were thrilled. It had been half a year since they had had a chicken curry (ie since we left New Zealand for our family sabbatical).
Already I was feeling a change in the air. Perhaps it was being back in a warmer climate, after the icy spring of London and Germany and the cool air of Vannes and Lyon. But I sensed it was a bit more than just weather. While the French and Germans are friendly, they generally don’t smile at you unless you begin the conversation or you initiate with a smile. But in Barcelona (it could’ve been all my head) I found more people smiled at each other, the vibe was lighter, perhaps I’d call it, more fun. I don’t know what defines that but I could feel it in they way people spoke to each other on the street and the way people interacted in shops. I was enjoying the change. It felt more New Zealand-esque (if I were to make up a random new word).
Fortunately, Carmelo was feeling better on our last day. We decided not to stress his healing process. Because too much movement was putting him in a lot of pain, we opted for the Hop On Hop Off bus. We had used it in London and loved it! Although it served other purposes there like catching up on naps.
It’s always great being centrally located in the big cities because public transport is easily accessible. Even our tour bus stop was only a few hundred metres from where we stayed. We hopped on and it took us all over Barcelona. There were three different buses and we used two of them. The buildings in the central area were very pretty. They have a different style to the pretty buildings in Lyon or Paris but I wouldn’t be able to tell you why.
One thing I noticed was that there were many playgrounds all over the city that little ones would enjoy but not the type that are inviting for parents.
The most prominent thing I learnt was that a famous Spanish architect called Antoni Gaudi designed many of the buildings including the Sagrada Familia which is the most famous church in Spain. We didn’t stop there to look inside, which I’ve heard is worth marvelling at, because we didn’t want to exhaust Carmelo but from what I saw outside it was impressive.
The church is very high and, the most unique church / basilica / cathedral I have ever seen. It is colourful and playful and symbolic and meaningful. It has fruit of the eucharist portrayed in rich colours of mosaic tiles. It has spires representing the twelve apostles. But most impressive of all is the unique and modern cuts, shapes and designs that are so modern.
In Europe, the religious and royal buildings generally are the most beautiful because so much money was poured into these organisations (even though the money probably should’ve gone to the starving townspeople). That meant they also had the most modern version of art combined with construction for that era. But in our recent years, our churches have become very simple, less ornate, largely due to the cost that such a masterpiece would cost. It’s an inspiring concept. This Sagrada Familia basilica once again reunites modern art with religion and it is funded privately by tourists and donors.