Might as well kick it off with the crowning moment of my trip to Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia. The only possible way I can describe it is to try to convey how profoundly I can’t. The single most impressive thing–natural or manmade—I have ever seen, La Sagrada Familia makes you sit back and ponder how incapable you are of comprehending it, let alone describing it. It was truly one of those moments that puts you face to face with the limitations of language. Pure and simple, it can’t be done.
Gaudi’s masterwork, La Sagrada Familia was begun in 1882…and it is not close to completion. Gaudi devoted the last 43 years of his life to the gargantuan undertaking. And by gargantuan I mean: after those 43 years less than a quarter of it was finished.
The pictures don’t come close, but they’re all I’ve got. If you find yourself thinking they’re cool, just remember how pitifully insufficient they are. I will absolutely return when it’s closer to completion, or (hope against all hopes) completed.
On to the second most important element of our weekend in Barcelona: the food. I still don’t know if I’m emotionally prepared to put it at the top, but it was absolutely in the top three food weekends of these four months (which are, frightening, coming to an end in just four days). The food was so good that I would be genuinely upset if I forgot any of it. So I wrote it all down, naturally. Highlights:
La Boqueria Market: Just being there was a highlight of the trip in itself. La Boqueria, the history of which dates back to 1217, was a chaotic conglomeration of juice, so-fresh-they’re-still-moving fish, olives, chocolate, cheese, and some rather grotesque seemingly barely dead animals. And in the midst of it all, I was gifted with two personal food bests. First, the best oyster of my life. Chris and I had the brilliant notion to buy an oyster and eat it on the spot. They were enormous, took the girl a solid five minutes just to break open, and with a little bit of lemon and vinegar….MAN were they worth it. As Chris said, the only way you can describe the taste of oysters is that they taste like the sea, but not in a gross way. And these were unbelievable. I thought it was gonna be good, and then it was so much better. Second, the single best olive of my life. Green olives (possibly Seville but I’m not positive) in a mix with spicy red peppers, but they had this incredible smoky flavor that immediately made all other olives pale in comparison. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t craved them several times since…
In El Born, probably my favorite neighborhood in the city, Lily and Let’s Go took us for a hipsterific lunch with wine bottle menus. Sea bass ceviche with avocado—yum! For dinner, we broke a four-in-a-row Mexican food losing streak (i.e. From Rome to Barcelona, we went to four Mexican restaurants—whose websites said they were open—only to find them closed). But never doubt four college kids with a craving for Mexican food. Los Chiles saved us, with mountains of guacamole and gringas (chicken pineapple tacos).
In between all the eating, we saw some stuff. And by some, I mean a lot. With the luxury of two full weeks to plan out the weekend, I took full advantage, making an itinerary (with the help of Rick) that as been lauded as the best damn four-day trip itinerary Europe has ever seen. Cosi, we did Barcelona right. Touring through Eixample gave us the Block of Discord, and most importantly, Casa Batlló. A house designed entirely by the man himself (that’s Gaudi, catch on) in 1904, it too deserves its own mini gallery.
Day 2 was Barri Gotic, La Boqueria, the rest of the Ramblas, and the cherry: Parc Guell. More Gaudi. Sorry not sorry. Honestly, by this point in the semester I had been so overloaded with Renaissance and Baroque, I didn’t think I could look at another fresco of the Annunciation or classicizing facade. Then Barcelona stepped in with its Modernism, Art Noveau, and other modern art terms that I don’t quite understand, and it was such a breath of fresh air. The city was like nothing I had ever seen, and that did not go unappreciated. Such is why we couldn’t possibly have gotten sick of Gaudi that weekend. As you can see.
Parc Guell, inexplicably pronounced “parkway,” was intended to be a complex of outrageous mansions. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to live there, but somehow it didn’t quite catch on. So now it’s just a sweet park you can run around and take pictures in. This is the mosaic-ed “el drac,” who greets you at the park’s entrance. And this is what drac gets to look out at every day.
Our last day in Barcelona began with churros and chocolate and ended with one of the best meals of my young life. In the middle was the beach, which was great, but…food. Lunch was insane, with bombas from La Bombetta, along with patatas bravas and octopus that was so mindblowingly tender I don’t know how it could’ve been octopus. And then dinner. Rick Steves won again by pointing us toward the den of flavor that was Tapas 24. Here comes the list:
- That Spanish tomato toast
- Cava sangria
- Iberico ham, cheese, and truffle sandwich
- Foie gras burger
- More bombas
- Paella with mushrooms and ham and other delicious things
- Lamb skewers
- Rabbit ribs
My mouth actually just started watering. Barcelona, you were unique, delicious, and at times, truly remarkable, and I am so glad we got to meet this semester.