For whatever reason, I did not expect to enjoy Barcelona. Maybe this was because almost every one of my friends had visited it over the years and loved it. I had unconsciously determined that because every British friend of mine loved it, I would hate it for all of the cliché, touristy reasons they enjoyed it. How wrong I was.
Barcelona felt a bit like what I imagine Paris would be if you picked it up and dropped it in Spain. It has the same wide boulevards many of which are lined with beautiful buildings that seem to be no more than six floors high. They even have the same French balconies – completely impractical, but one of the beauties of Parisian architecture. Safe to say, it is a beautiful city and absolutely magnificent in the sun. I spent the entire day walking around the city taking it all in. The city really does have the best of everything. It is a large cosmopolitan metropolis with every modern comfort, but still has managed to preserve its traditional and historic beauty and has not been overwhelmed by skyscrapers ... yet. It also has the benefit of being right on the ocean, so there are beaches as well as a very pretty boardwalk.
Dotted here and there are buildings designed by Guadí. They are completely unique – buildings straight out of a fairy tale. I imagine they would fit perfectly in a sort of elaborate candy land. But side by side with the rest of Barcelona’s architecture they stick out like little gems all over the city.
Guadí’s collection includes the Sagrada Família, an enormous cathedral still not completed after a hundred and thirty-five years of construction. It is perhaps the most famous and certainly the most distinctive building in the city. Looking at it, one wonders if they will ever finish it. It is the most uniquely designed cathedral I have ever seen. I am not even sure how to describe it. I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it is unquestionably striking. The construction of the cathedral has continued in Guadí’s style but the fact that it has taken over a hundred years to build and is still yet to be completed makes it a bit of an unusual looking structure. The east side, or the older side, could easily be mistaken for the entrance of a cathedral in terms of grandeur but it also already has the appearance of an older church beginning to wear away. The west façade, the main entrance, while following a similar design, looks completely modern.
I unfortunately did not have time to explore the interior, but I guess you should always leave something to come back to. And I will definitely be visiting Barcelona again. Were it not for the fact that they speak Catalan instead of Spanish, I would maybe even be tempted to move there at some point. But Spanish is already difficult enough for me; I think Catalan might just confuse me completely.
Photography by Savannah and Alexandra Hayes