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Today we’ve been at Barcelona. It was cloudy early on and didn’t feel warm, but by lunchtime the skies were clearing and it felt warmer. There’s still quite a breeze, however, and out of sun that can make it feel a bit chilly – right now we’re on the balcony in the shade and Val has put on a cardigan. [We later had a couple of hours in the sun on the Terrace where it was sunny and hot.]

La Sagrada Familia 20Jun2013_960_1509We’ve developed a philosophy for DiY visits to foreign ports whereby we aim to do just one thing but do it well, rather than rush around trying to do as much as possible during the day. On our last visit here, for example, we visited Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and Parc Guell – OK that’s two things, but we planned them in advance, we started early and we did them both well! In Dubrovnik we just did the walls, but took our time over it. For today we decided to go to La Sagrada Familia again. We visited it in 2005 on our very first cruise and were very impressed, but it was still very much a building site at that time – the interiors weren’t finished, there were bits of columns lying on the floor which itself was just rough concrete, and you had to stick to wooden walkways in a crocodile. I’d been aware that Pope Benedict had consecrated it a couple of years or so ago, so I reckoned it would be worth re-visiting. It certainly was.

I’d booked two tickets on-line for an English-language guided tour a month or so ago. These were €19.30 each, which was only €7 or so more than the standard entrance fee. I had some difficulty printing out the tickets which I’ll detail when I get home, but in the event we had them with with us. This was handy because when we arrived at 10:30 the queue to get in was already very long, but we found the ‘On-line ticket holders’ entrance and were able to walk straight in. (This entrance is to the right of the normal entrance as you face them from the outside.) We had a bit of a wait before the tour was due to start but we were able to find, first, the toilets, and secondly a bench where we could sit, so the time wasn’t wasted.

The tour started at 11 o’clock and a few minutes before that radio receivers and headphones were handed out and our guide introduced herself. Then we were straight into it. It was very good – informative and well-structured. We started at the normal entrance where the guide explained the figures and symbology of the facade we were looking at, the Passion facade. Then we went into the basilica and various things explained to us. It was hard to concentrate on what she was saying, however, because the interior is simply stupendous – awe-inspiringly big, extraordinarily beautiful; there aren’t sufficient superlatives. The tour continued when we exited the basilica on the oth side to look at the Nativity facade. Then finally we visited the museum, where there are collections of Gaudi’s drawings, the architectural models that he made (or copies of them – many were destroyed during the civil war period) to help him plan the building. In all the tour lasted 50 minutes and was, as I said, informative and interesting.

After it was over we went walked back round it all again – Passion facade, basilica interior, Nativity facade, and museum. By the time we left it was about one o’clock, so we spent two and a half hours there altogether.

After that we simply went back to the bottom of La Rambla and strolled round the Port Vell developments. Then it was back to the World Trade Centre for the shuttle bus, back on board by two o’clock, and a poolside pizza for (late) lunch.

Practical details: we used the metro to get to and from La Sagrada Familia. On the way there we walked up La Rambla and got the metro from Plaça Catalunya, changing at Diagonal. On the return journey we stayed on the metro (after changing) all the way to Drassanes, the metro station at the bottom of La Rambla. Metro tickets were €2 each, per journey. We couldn’t see any ‘tourist one-day tickets’, although there were two-, three-, and I think five-day tickets available. As on previous visits we used the ticket machines that have an English-language option, and we found that these gave change.

2 Responses to “Ventura 2013 – Barcelona”

  1. Mrs S Fenney says:

    Hi am loving your blog just for information I have just returned from Barcelona after a city break. Good tip get a T10 metro ticket cost less than ten euros and it can be used for several people just swipe it and pass it to the person behind you. It clearly states on the ticket this information and also prints out the journeys so you can keep track of how many you have used. Keep posting and enjoy your trip.

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