I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a terrible tourist.
I rarely read about a place before I go. I hardly ever travel with a map or a guide. And most of the time, I’m too impatient to queue for an hour to visit a local attraction.
During my 4 months in Barcelona, I genuinely skipped most of the city’s must see attractions, and instead chose to explore the city’s streets and neighbourhoods, its traditions and gastronomy as well as its gorgeous natural surroundings.
But a tiny part of me felt like my stay was incomplete. You see, it’s hardly impossible to talk about Barcelona without giving mention to its architectural masterpieces.
Every now and then, I came across one of Gaudi’s many creations. For those of you who may not have heard of him, Antoní Gaudí is one of the city’s most celebrated architects. His work was strongly influenced by his 3 passions: architecture, nature and religion. I loved examining his art from the outside, looking for evidence of his influence in its details.
I have always been most intrigued by Gaudí’s masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, not only because it’s Spain’s most visited monument (despite of it still being work in progress), but because he devoted more than 40 years of his life to this project. Just imagine the amount of thought and detail he put into it! But each time I attempted to join the queue at the temple, I grew impatient and eventually left to pursue something else (like, sipping fresh orange juice on my favourite roof top). After all, I wasn’t a tourist – I was an expat.
Returning to Barcelona as a tourist one year later has given me the chance to see the city differently. This time I had no commitments, no errands to run, no sunshine to catch up with.
This time, I queued.
Standing in the main chamber looking up to the ceiling transports you to a majestic forest, with its shades and occasional light pouring in through small holes. Gaudí created this forest by developing his columns into tree branches as they reach the ceiling.
Throughout the Church, you will also find turtles supporting the bases of these tree columns and spiral staircases recreating the shape of a snail’s shell.
But my favourite detail was the colourful reflections of the sun shining through the stained glass – absolutely gorgeous.
Visiting the Sagrada Familia was one of my favourite activities during our long weekend in Barcelona. Queuing, it turns out, was totally worth it!