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October 18-20, 2022
Barcelona does not disappoint and our third time here since retirement was a charm. The Standly’s and Krahn’s were able to stand in amazement at the unique beauty of the Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece basilica of Antoni Gaudi. The unusual melted wax appearance of the interior and flower and nature embellishments bathed in light streaming through the translucent solid color-themed stained glass are mesmerizing. Gaudi was a master architect who micromanaged every aspect of his buildings—he designed everything! His unfortunate death before completion of the Sagrada Familia has not stopped the work towards completion since he left behind very detailed plans.
Kathy and I went to Montserrat, the mountains and monastery by that name outside of Barcelona. What a surprise as we were enthralled by what we saw. The mountains gave Gaudi his inspiration for his building designs. The mountains have pillars of stone that give the same melted wax appearance as his columns and the plants and vegetation of the mountains find their way into his nature designs. The views from the heights overlooking the hills and valleys beyond were amazing. However, it was the monastery that drew our undivided attention. We were pleased to experience the monastery boys’ choir, the most celebrated choir in Spain. The chapel is a jewel box of beauty as it is one of the most important sites in the nation. The chapel houses the famous “Black Madonna”—Mary and Baby Jesus. The vision of the madonna in the mountains drew visitors for centuries with Queen Isabella of Spain and St. Francis of Assisi being among them. Eventually the image of the Madonna was copied and carved from marble and the marble was black in color. Now pilgrims worldwide come to see the statue. We joined the throng. As we walked upward in long corridors leading to the statue not a sound could be heard. People moved forward in hushed silence. Even the walking was soft and quiet. Each room on the way was more exquisite than the one before. Craftmanship in wood, mosaics, marble, ceramics and paint was superb. The room housing the Madonna was gold and silver. Protectively housed in a glass enclosure, the Madonna holds an orb in her hand with Baby Jesus in her lap. A small portion of the orb is exposed so one can touch it. Behind the statue is a large beautiful chapel so that the Madonna can be viewed from behind. Outside the room are 1000’s of lit candles. We were thankful for the experience.
Back in Barcelona, all of us enjoyed Las Ramblas, the main shopping and strolling venue in the city. It is tree-lined all the way to the ocean. Along the way is the St. Josep la Boqueria market, a colorful and fun experience of every food imaginable. We didn’t think we could pry Allen away. We did, finally! As always, we found wonderful restaurants in which to eat and we discovered fried olives—muy bien! Visiting the Gothic Quarter led us up very small alleyways and into hidden squares in this medieval part of the city! We had some of the most unusual gelato ever with very dark chocolate being a favorite. Barcelona is an easy city in which to ramble on and on and never get tired of the sensory overload.