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A pause for breath…

And at this point I descend into a list of things to remind me of what we did. Photos will, in time, show up: I am writing this on an iPad and so far have not found a convenient way of selecting certain photos for publication and excluding others. Also, some are on here, some on my phone, and some on my camera.

So! Sunday we went to the Picasso Museum, which took some finding because its tucked in the Barri Gòtic, and our maps (including the iOS 6 apple maps) are not much use in there. We continued wandering the Gòtic – something we have gotten in the habit of already – and found a nice little square (Fossar de les Moreres) with a great café and a nice monument to the defenders of the city in 1714. It turns out to be pretty well ground zero for the nationalist movement, and the plaza is built over the resting place of the defenders.

It’s well worth seeking out Bastaix – it’s not on the tourist road map, and the food is superb.

Monday we figured out the Metro. The system is clean, efficient, fast and most of all sane and reasonable. The tickets are simple to get from the ticket machines, and the best bet for a few days stay is the T-10 – for about 10€ you get 10 trips. That might be 10 trips for one person, 5 for two, or 1 for a group of 10 – they don’t care. While it’s only a half hour walk from Casa de Billy and the Gòtic, we’ve tended to take the metro back in the evening when we are … Tired…

Emerging from the Metro to La Sagrada Familia was jaw dropping. We spent a few hours in the church just enjoying the light, although the attached museum is good, and a trip up the towers worth while for a close up view of some of the decorative detail on the exterior. Don’t attempt that though if you are bad with heights or stairs, as it is very high up and feels precarious, followed by long very tight spiral stair cases down.

I am hoping that the photos and videos will give some approximate idea of the place, because words are insufficient. Inside is like being an ant in a late afternoon forest of plane trees, with the light filtering through the leaves. The Nativity facade is a right of laughter and song, and the Passion facade is bleak and austere and extraordinarily moving.

If you do just one thing on a Europe trip, go to La Sagrada Familia.

We needed a stiff drink after our visit, and finally made it to Ciudad Condal. This tapas place is firmly on the tourist map, but deservedly so. It’s got an up-market feel, rather than being a real tapas place (ie a pub with food), but the service, tapas and cava-based sangria is amazing. Our experience with the waiter we had is typical of the experience we’ve had so far: by trying to use what piddling bit of Spanish we have, begging forgiveness for our crap Spanish, and welcoming their advice and suggestions, we have found waiters and so forth very willing to help out explaining the food and custom, and steering us to what they think is good rather than what the tourists are looking for. I’m hoping that the smiles we have gotten have been of relief at finding us not to be more arrogant pain in the arse tourists.

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