But would that I had another week here, or a few days even. I've barely scratched the surface of this infrastructure.
Today, on our last day in Barcelona, we went to see the famed Sagrada Familia (the unfinished church, active construction of which has continued for more than 100 years). Let me assure you, it was as much a hardhat zone as a place of worship. Really, for its masterful architecture (and it has outlasted, one can argue, the religion it serves) its current format disrespects - dare I go there - its religious proposition.
In full disclosure, there are few peeps who have been raised more Catholically than me (especially in this day and age). I respect the Church enough not to go there, most of the time, because my beliefs do not align.
However, in this instance (and because I did not see it when I was in Barcelona last) I went for the architecture but I was astounded by the faith that fuels the engines. I was also astounded by the general lack of respect I observed. Where I come from, you don't take selfies directly in front of an Icelandic choir (the most beautifully composed, might I add). Moreover, you don't clap when it completes its choral exercise, but that's a whole different story... You do not wear club clothing (especially as the church rules stipulate modest dress). You do not speak in the central zone, demarcated from the rest as the meditative, prayer space. I could go on.
Um, let's interrupt this rant with some photos of the neo-Gothic (and seriously modern) marvel that is this place, shall we?
|This sculpture, associated with the Passion of Christ, was beyond moving. The engraved doors, behind, were like nothing I've ever seen before.|
|That light is entirely created by the chromatic (and I do use this as a means by which to relate colour to music) stained glass.|
|There's something so Hannah Barbera about this exterior when you see it in photos. In real life, it's stunning.|
|Have you ever seen stained glass like this? It's designed to be neither too dark nor too light because either extreme inhibits sight. This is a place of clear observation.|
It appears we return to the theme of Kristin's vacation: expectation.
My resilience was undermined by my kryptonite: terrible crowds, bright light and noise. Put these together and it's a recipe for my undoing. Thank God we had the foresight to book the tickets online. That meant we bypassed much of the queuing, though by no means all of it. We did have to wait in the unremitting sunlight for 15 minutes. (I forced Scott to leave our apartment with plenty of time to spare.) And then, the "pilgrim" hum, amplified by the acoustics - and at odds with audible construction - followed me ominously like a hive.
Scott swears he didn't know that a trip to the Bell Tower would be a claustrophobic horror - a descent even as an elevator drew us into the air and left us (unceremoniously) to make our way down an endless, dangerous stone staircase replete with constant opportunities to kill oneself by accident, by falling from unthinkable heights. Am I the only one who feels inclined to jump when confronted by heights? Am I the only one whose field of vision narrows (a propos of which, Lord, I was sorry to be wearing those progressives)?
I cannot begin to tell you of my thoughts during that part of the visit though a very nice Chinese woman, who walked in front of me, was kind enough to reassure me (in English) at regular intervals, saying such things as: This part is safe. Look, there's even a railing here. Yeah, to keep you from certain death.
On the way up, the elevator guide had a lively, foreign-language conversation with some other Catalan speakers. I could only pick out the words "claustrophobic", "scary" and some anecdote about people losing their shit half way through. I should have said no then and there, but Scott got all: It's going to be fine. They wouldn't let us do it if it were dangerous. Never listen to people who aren't afraid of heights.
I think it's safe to say I had a complex experience of the Sagrada Familia. And really, you must visit (despite the challenges) because it is a marvel in the truest sense of the word. Just don't go up the Bell Tower.
I drank my face off at lunch.