It's hard to believe it's Friday already! Another beautiful day in Barcelona. The time is passing quickly yet I feel like I've hardly seen what the city has to offer. I was torn between going to see my son's last practice with the Barcelona trainers or taking a few hours to see something else I'd not yet seen. Ultimately, I see enough soccer practices! I sent him off with his team and set out to take in a sight.
I wanted to see the inside of Sagrada Familia but I only had 3 hours and with the transit time and wait time, I'd not have made it back in time and we had plans to spend the afternoon together with some friends. Instead, I chose to take the Metro to Las Ramblas and go to the Cathedral of Barcelona. We'd seen the outside of it a few days prior on our rambling around the Ramblas but we did not go inside. On my way to the Cathedral, I did some window shopping. The streets were relatively quiet and it was nice to not have to fight the throngs of people that fill the streets by the middle of the day.
The Cathedral is stunning. The Gothic architecture is something to behold. Both outside and inside the Cathedral. It was busy inside, but not crazy crowded. Admission is free. Upon entering, there were large marble chalices with Holy Water. Around the outside walls of the entire Cathedral were shrines to different Saints, Jesus and Mother Mary. They were quite ornate and behind iron bars but you could take photos between bars. There was also a mass going on in a side chapel. As I wandered around admiring the stained glass and details of the architecture, I noticed a traditional confessional booth with a few people in line. No, I did not join the line! No one has that kind of time ;-)
The marble altar was quite a sight to behold. Beneath the altar is the tomb of a Saint. I'm forgetting who at the moment. I must've spent a good 40 minutes taking it all in. Then I found my way to the Cloister. A beautiful little peaceful haven that offered some views of the spires of the Cathedral and more shrines as well as a fountain to St. Jordi. The biggest 'attraction' here were the cloister geese. They roam the garden area freely. No doubt, they are blessed. Interestingly, there was also a small shop selling mostly religious gifts but also some generic and traditional Barcelona and Gaudi style gifts. I saw several nuns in a traditional habit, something we rarely see in the US anymore.
I wandered around the perimeter of the Cathedral, noting the gargoyles, details of the doors and corners of the buildings including several carved with angels. It's a wonder there are not more falls and twisted ankles in this city, with the tendency of the tourists to be looking up at the architectural details and not looking where there feet are going! Then again, I suspect many people missed some of the beauty in the details because they didn't look up nearly often enough!
I was mindful of the time although I could easily have spent more time with my camera. I headed back to the hotel and made it just before the boys did. I actually got some shots of them returning from practice from our window on the 2nd floor. After a quick shower and snack for the boy, we headed out with some of the other families in search of a Segway tour. We got of the Metro at Dressanes and got distracted by the street artists. They are quite amazing both in their costuming and in their ability to stay still for so long. They look like statues until you put some coins in their bin, then they come to life! Even the boys got a little spooked. They sacrificed Captain Manimal to an alien!
Then we saw the segways but could not figure out where the rentals originated. They boys were distracted by a bungee trampoline and go kart style cycles so we went there. The boys racing around the track on their little recumbent cycle karts reminded me of when they used to go to Farmland when they were young. They were enjoying being boys, not soccer players. They laughed and giggled and ate ice cream and chased pigeons. They did flips and tricks with the bungee trampoline and all got off walking gingerly due to tight pelvic harnesses. The parents lay in the sun and enjoyed the rest while they tormented their family jewels!
We then gave up on the segway tour and headed to the beach. Ah, the Mediterranean Sea! The boys wanted to go in the ocean so off they went. It was cold! It took a few of them some time to work up the courage to jump in, but they did. They did not stay in long! Then, they decided to bury the one friend who did not go in the water in the sand! I put my feet in the water. The only people in the water were young tourists. The water was in the 50's and the air temp about 70. We hung on the beach a bit then headed back. We stopped for gelato on the way. I am going to miss the coconut gelato! So yummy!
We had a little adventure on the way back. The Metro car we were riding in lost power one stop from our desired switching point. Thankfully, the door had not yet closed so we jumped off and ran to the next station. We were dangerously close to not making it back to the hotel in time to get the boys ready for their soccer game and the bus! We made it with time to spare! One dad took the boys to the hotel while another mom and I stopped for sandwiches for them.
Then, we were off to our last game. Soccer fields seem to be everywhere. This one, not unlike the one the second day, was in the shadow of apartment buildings. A nice field. just odd that it was where it was. The teams were well matched and our boys looked good! They were using the skills they had learned this week and it was working! They did not win, but they played the best they had all week! The coach rewarded them with soda and chips at the little field restaurant. Yes, there seems to be some sort of food and drink establishment at every soccer field and they serve beer and wine! I'm going to miss this aspect of soccer! America, take note! Cater to the parents as much as the kids! :-)
It was back to the hotel and dinner. Discussion was had about the plans for our last full day on Saturday. There was the possibility of travelling to see the Barcelona youth games but it would eat up much of the day. Most of the families opted to skip the games since even the kids were pretty much done with soccer, and instead, use the entire day to take in Barcelona. Then it was off to bed. I did some preliminary packing and planning for the next day. So hard to believe our trip was almost over!