Countryside as seen from Old Sherborne Castle, Sherborne, Dorset, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Keinton Mandeville, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Pogradec, Albania on October 2nd.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mystery solved!

Yesterday, we hopped on the train to downtown Barcelona. It's only about 20 minutes from where we are staying here at Badalona. We only have to take the one train from Badalona station to the Clot-Arago station at a cost of 1 euro ($1.45 CAD, $1.10 USD) each and then we could walk from there.

And walk we did! Whether it be London, New York, or Cape Town, we've learned that the only way to see a city is to walk it.

Our first destination was the famous Sagrada Familia Basilica.

For those who don't know, this church was designed by the Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudi. He spent over 40 years working on the plans. Construction began in 1888...and continues today! In fact, they are hoping that it will be finished in 2026...which would be the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

When we got to the site, we spent a few minutes just taking in the crowds of people, and the structure itself.

But we were on a mission. Remember I told you a week or so ago that my father had been to Spain in 1954? And that he had taken a lot of photos and we wanted to try to replicate them 63 years later? Well the Sagrada Familia was our first effort at this.

For some reason, my dad only took one single photo. In fact, there aren't any other photos of Barcelona at all...just this one photo. Perhaps he was only in town long enough to make a connection...we'll never know.

Sagrada Familia in 1954.

Of course it's now entirely different. Those four original spires were easy to spot though, so we went to the front of the church and tried to line up the photo. And here's what we got for that effort...

Sagrada Familia.

But it didn't take us long to realize that there was something wrong. I had the original pic on the iPhone and I kept comparing it to what we were looking at. Things didn't add up. Notice that the vertical columns are falling in the original photo, and yet are rising in my photo. Hmmm.

We walked around to the other side of the building. We can't really figure out which is the front and which is the rear. Anyhow, on the other side are also four spires, but they are newer, only built around 1975. So this didn't add up either.

We spent a lot of time thinking about this, and couldn't figure it out. It only came to us when we looked at some older photos found online when we got home yesterday evening.

The photo my dad took was actually taken from the back of the building where the new spires are now. But because none of the back of the building was completed in the original photo, it gives the appearance that you're looking at it head on, whereas it's actually from the back. So to replicate the photo from the same spot that my dad might have been standing would look something like this...

Same photo 63 years later.

But those spires in my photos are not the same spires as in my dad's. Those original spires are on the other side of the building, but can't be seen in my photo, even though it's taken from the same spot.

Despite being open to visitors, the church is still a major construction site. Of course you can see all of the cranes. They are building a 500 ft high steeple in the middle of the church. 

Of course since Gaudi's death there have been five generations of different architects assigned to the project. The original plans were burned by anarchists in 1936, so they are just going by some rough drawings still in existence. 

Now the big question we go inside?

Well, we've been in a lot of magnificent churches. We've never paid to go in a church. Especially not for 15 euros ($21.50 CAD, $16.00 USD) per person.

Now, we realize that this is a little bit different because your donation actually goes towards finishing the construction of the building.

But we weren't about to drop forty bucks for a forty five minute walk around an unfinished church. Especially when we also would have had to stand in line and fight the crowds. No thanks. We both felt the same way, so we did not go inside. In fact, even if it was free, I would not have been inclined to stand in line and fight the crowds.

Crowds of tourists outside Sagrada Familia.

Besides, we had lots of other things to see and do for free. Maybe we'll go back in nine years and see it when it's finished!

We walked over to one of Gaudi's finished buildings...the Casa Batlló which was the restoration of a house in 1904.

While walking over there, we saw this magnificent church. 
Shame that it gets no attention because everybody wants to see the other one.

Gaudi's Casa Batlló is temporarily decorated with thousands of white globes.
Must be a Christmas thing?

Another lineup to go inside.

We thought the building next door was interesting too.

The main pedestrian plaza downtown.

Several people had warned us to be careful with pickpockets and that there were a lot of examples on the internet related to muggings and other things to be careful of in Barcelona. But while we were cautious, we saw absolutely zero indication of any problems. We thought it seemed as safe as any large city. Totally unlike what we felt in Bogota, Colombia, the street crime capital of the world.

Hmmm. Okay then.

Interesting market building.

Near the waterfront.

The Christopher Columbus monument. 
Built in 1888 for the Barcelona World's Fair.

On the waterfront boardwalk downtown Barcelona.

There are a lot of parakeets in Barcelona!

We walked over to Ciutadella Park, which was built for the 1888 World's Fair. For decades after that, Ciutadella Park was the only green space in Barcelona. The most famous thing in the park is a magnificent fountain partially designed by Gaudi, who was an unknown student of architecture at the time.

La Cascada.

The kids loved playing with the bubbles.

The Arch de Triomf in Barcelona.

From there, we decided to walk back to our original train station at Clot-Araga about 3 kms (1.8 miles) away. We had probably done about 15 kms (9.3 miles). 

We must be the world's cheapest tourists. We spent all day seeing the city and spent a total of 4.40 euros ($6.50 CAD, $4.75 USD). One euro per person each way on the train, and two bottles of drinking water. We had packed a lunch to bring with us. What a good day in Barcelona!

Very laid back city. Nobody seems in much of a rush, and the shops are mostly closed between 2-5pm. Could easily spend a longer time here.

We got back to Badalona and had to pick up some groceries. Any grocery store we've been in has free lockers to use, and also a free section to lock up your shopping buggy. Parking is at a premium here, so most people walk when they can.

Ruth, locking up our bags. The lower locks are for shopping buggies like the green one.

Today? More walking...there is a lot to see in Barcelona!

Collapsible measuring cups...great for the RV...


  1. Very interesting! A couple questions. The buildings look like they have some color on them. The white bubble one for example, is that in the stone or brick or is that painted on? Also the guy making the beautiful bubbles, is it a wood thing he is using? Does it have holes drilled in it? I would like to know how he gets such nice bubbles! It is a beautiful city! Looking forward to where we go today!

    1. The buildings are all so different! Some have the design stenciled onto the building with paint, others have a lifted effect and the lifted part is painted a different colour and some are tiled. The Gaudi one, "Casa Batlló" is a ceramic tile mosaic, really beautifully done. Normally the white balls aren't on the balconies. If you google "Casa Batlló" and then look at some of the other images you will have a better idea of what it should look like.

      As for the bubble guy, he had two wooden sticks, I didn't notice how the "rope" in this case it was a beaded design, sort or like a big necklace, was attached. If it were me I would probably drill holes through the wood and attach it somehow. If you google "big bubble making wand" you will find some suggestions.

  2. Another good sightseeing day, thanks for the tour.

  3. Do you think there are more crowds than usual because of the Xmas holidays?

    I saw Rick Steves video of Spain and everywhere looked very clean.

    1. Yes, I am sure some of it was due to the Christmas holidays but I just think in generally that Barcelona is a very busy tourist city no matter what time of year. The summer would obviously be totally nuts!

      Overall, that is what we are seeing. It will be interesting to see what it is like out in the countryside.

  4. What a marvelous city! We enjoyed tapas on a floating pub in the marina... Have fun!

    1. It definitely is a wonderful city and deserves way more time than just 3 days. We could easily see ourselves returning here in the future for a longer stay.

  5. What a great tour you two gave us. Those globes crack me up. I don't think they are really that pretty.
    Now the lady with the flowers is something you would see in San

    1. I am assuming that you are talking about the white snowballs on the balconies of the building. These are just temporary for the Christmas season and then they will be removed. Personally, I don't like them either because you don't get to see how crazy, weird the design of the balconies really are. Try googling "Casa Batlló" and look at the google images.

      That lady was wanting people to stand next to her for photos and then she would receive a tips from them.

  6. Check out the Travel Bar, Carrer de la Boqueria, 27, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
    They offer free walking tours. It's near the Boqueria Market off Las Ramblas

    1. Too late, we are leaving tomorrow! We have heard about these free walking tours but normally we don't like doing many of these group tour things. We would rather walk around on our own and just explore. I know that we don't get as much of the history and I am sure that we would miss some of the hidden gems by not doing it but we just like doing things at our own pace. Thanks for the suggestion though and feel free to throw out any other suggestions that you may know about, we just might want to do some of them. :-)

  7. Looks like a great city to visit one day! Interesting architecture!

    1. It is another beautiful city and it really helps that the weather has been fantastic! Love the architecture here. :-)

  8. I agree, we felt perfectly safe in Madrid even at the El Rastro Flea market, where pickpockets flourish. I bet they choose those who are obviously not paying attention. I always grip my purse like mad in any city so even if they cut the strings they would not get the bag. We always leave most of our money and passports back at the hotel locked in the safe and each carry money separately in case one lost the money. Long lineups. I wonder if later in January it quiets down as likely a lot of Spanish people are still on holiday this week.

    1. We tend to agree with you Cheapchick! I also think they look for people who might be a little flashy and as you said not paying attention. We are also like you, we only carry around enough cash that we think we will use for the day and little else other than the camera and even that depends on the place. When we were in Bogota Kevin rarely carried the big camera around with him, only our small little pocket one.

      Somehow I don't think Barcelona ever really quietens down. I do think that there may have been more people due to the Christmas holidays but it seems to me that it is just a popular city with nice weather and that attracts lots of tourists, still it would be much better now than in the summer.

  9. When we were in Barcelona, we too had no desire to pay to go into a church. Plus, the line up was absurd. I guess I just don't get it. There are lots of churches to visit if that's your thing.

    1. Yep, that is just how we felt! We know that you can buy your tickets online and cut down a bit on the line up but you are still going to wait and then when you do get inside it will just be another big crowd, it just didn't seem enjoyable to us. We have seen so many beautiful churches all over that I don't think we missed too much by not going in.

  10. For sure, the best way to see ANYTHING is to get out of the vehicle and on your feet. Barcelona looks like a beautiful city (my niece has spent a lot of time there), and maybe someday Jimmy and I will visit, too. Think we can manage without knowing much Spanish? (glad you guys solved the mystery!)

    1. We definitely prefer to use our feet more than any other mode of transportation because we can see so much more this way at least in detail not in time. ;-)

      We highly recommend a visit here, we have already said to each other than we have to return for a longer visit. Yes, you can manage without Spanish but we do recommend that you try to learn a little before you come and also have a dictionary or google translate to help you out when you do need it.


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