Monday, August 1, 2011

I Love Those Gaudi Things!

( I wrote this blog in early July before we joined the RSVP Cruise. I neglected to post it! So, here it is - out of sequence.)

Doc & I spent three short nights in Barcelona. Most of that time was spent at tapas bars and, well, bars. In addition to traveling with Ronny & Hernan, we met up with friends from Cleveland; friends we’ve known for 20+ years. At the hotel we stayed at, we ran into even more people we know. And then we met more guys from the States.

Seems the Axel Hotel was/is a popular hotel stay to adjust to the time change (8 hours later than SoCal) and a great staging area for the RSVP cruises. Most of the guests staying at the Axel Hotel were booked on the RSVP cruise! In one evening, I met no less than 6 guys from Palm Springs!

With all the Yanks, it did not feel like Europe on the 8th floor rooftop sun deck, bar and pool. If you looked through the glass railings, you would certainly know you were not in the USA. Only Europe has spectacular rooftops like these. English was the predominate language at the hotel: American English. There is a difference. It doesn’t often translate.

Yo no hablo Espanole, especially bar Spanish. Try ordering a dirty martini; up with extra olives and see what you end up with. Martini is a brand of vermouth and evidentially people DO order a glass of vermouth straight up or on the rocks with an olive or twist of lemon. The bartender thought I was an idiot. I SHOULD have ordered a DRY Gin Martini, dirty with extra olives. I sent it back and was duly chastised. It still came with a twist. I drank it anyway.

The highlight of our stay in Barcelona, for me, was our visit to Gaudi’s Sangrada Familia Church. I don’t know if it is considered a cathedral or just a church. Doesn’t the church need to be the seat of a Bishop in order to be called a cathedral? It’s been too many years. The building is absolutely stunning, none-the-less. And it’s not finished! Estimated completion date is about 2030.

Friends told me that the stained glass windows are being built and installed. For that alone, I wanted to see the church. I last saw the “work in progress” in 1987 or 88. Most of the roof was missing; everything was covered with dust. Although impressive, it was hard to get your head around Gaudi’s concept. There were all those marvelous towers with no point of reference. Only one of the fa├žade’s was completed, but it was still jaw dropping stunning.

They’ve made great strides in the past 20+ years. The building is even more awe inspiring: the stained glass windows are spectacular. I’m guessing that only 25% of the windows are completed. Even so, they dramatically change the “feel” of the interior of the church. It is difficult to describe.

Check out the photograph above. Don’t the windows to the right of the pier give a warmth to the space and feel like a church? Where as the windows to the left of the pier feel stark and cold.

Even Doc was impressed with the space. He was impressed enough to say, “I’m going to sit over there with the other penitents and contemplate. Come get me when you’re done gawking.” I spent another 45 minutes taking it all in before collecting my contemplating penitent & dragging him down the crypt.

The crypt is currently a “museum” dedicated to the history of the building of the church. Lots of interesting history there and Doc was loving it, especially the films. That made me happy. And the crypt is huge! To date, there’s just one body in the crypt: Gaudi. I thought it interesting that he is interred directly behind a closed circuit TV monitor. What is the unintended message here? Is he watching us?

After 3 ½ to 4 hours wandering through Gaudi’s masterpiece, we headed back to the hotel & a bite to eat. Doc & I found a great tapas bar where we whiled away an hour outside on the sidewalk with our beers and assorted tapas thingies. We somehow manage to find these incredible tapas bars where we eat & drink our fill for the cost of one mixed drink at whatever hotel we happen to be staying at.

So, of course, we headed back up to the rooftop bar, sun deck and pool for an expensive cocktail before dinner. Hernan and Ronny were heading back to Ghent the next morning. Doc and I were joining up with the cruise the next morning. We planned an early dinner. An early evening in Spain means: before midnight.

Thank God for alarm clocks and wake up calls!

Thank you for listening

Jerry L. Hanson