Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is a work in progress that was taken over by Antoni Gaudi in 1882.  The design resembles Gaudi’s other work, seen in Park Guell.   The work has taken so long to complete due to the Spanish Civil war and internal conflict over whether or not the work was too substantial when compared to other important buildings in the city, such as Barcelona’s Cathedral (seen as Tuesdays’s photo, February 19).  It’s intended date of completion is in 2026, which is the centennial of Gaudi’s death.  This side of the building was the first side to be completed.  The other sides (showing construction) will be posted Monday, February 18th.


The St. Christopher’s Hostel is directly attached to a chain restaurant that is all over Europe.  Due to this, we were given a complementary breakfast of orange slices, toast, ham and cheese, and coffee/orange juice.  Can’t complain about a free breakfast!

Today, we intended to head over to La Sagrada Familia (as explained above).  We winded our way through the city and found it relatively easily.  It’s one of the tallest  structures in the city, so it was easily spotted once we were a few blocks away.  The structure itself is very different from a lot of architecture you’d see elsewhere.  Antoni Gaudi’s work seems much more abstract and ‘rough’ around the edges compared to most work we’ve seen from others like Michelangelo.  His work is mainly routed in Mid-Eastern styles ranging from Egypt to Japan, and is influenced by the Gothic Revival style.  The Gothic Style is known for being imperfect and incomplete feeling, which attests to my observations of Gaudi’s work.

After we stood around staring at the architecture for awhile, we wandered around the city and wound up in a random cafe to enjoy an afternoon snack.

We headed back to the hostel to meet up with Will, who took us to Plaça d’Espanya.  This is one of Will’s favorites, so there was no reason why we wouldn’t make the 2-3ish km walk over.  The Plaça is home to the Venetian Towers, which are the entrance to the climb up to the National Art Museum of Catalonia.  The Plaça was built for the 1929 International Exhibition. This spot offers a pretty amazing view of the city (see tomorrow’s photo).

After an amazing day of seeing the city, we headed back to Belushi’s for some dinner.  As I sat around the table with Grant, KC, Will, and another friend from Westborough (Sam) talking after our meal, the day took a turn south.

**I’m still very frustrated by the following event, so my apologies if any of this might seem a little offensive**

Throughout most major cities in Europe (as in the US, but not as much so) there are people who beg.  Most of the time they will pester you with shaking a cup in your face, while some beg in the correct, more traditional way by bowing their heads to the ground with a cup in front of them.  I’ve seen it all over Rome, Florence, and especially in Barcelona too.  While I know I am far more privileged and lucky than these poor people, many of them don’t help their case for a few reasons.  1.) Numerous times I have heard them mumble “F*** you” as they turn and walk away. 2.) Many cities do a lot to try and help homeless people (i.e. when I helped serve homeless people food last Wednesday night).  Will even said Barcelona has some of the best programs to help feed and support the homeless immigrants.  There’s really only so much a college student can do for these people besides offering their time volunteering, like I have done.

Back to the dinner table – a shorter man walks over to the table.  Navy winter coat, dark pants, black shoes.  Pulls a piece of paper out from his coat and starts waving it in front of me at the table (all I could read was gracias).  I had just paid for my dinner, so I had about 4 euro worth of coins sitting in front of me.  While he is making weird mumbling noises to us, we all nod our heads and try to make him go away.  Moments later, he points to some left over onion rings and gestures to his mouth.  He then finally walks away, and I watch him walk towards the exit of the restaurant.  We all talk about how weird that was and decide it was time to try to and head out for the night.  I stand up, and low and behold, my phone is gone.  I had my iPhone sitting in front of me at the table because we had WiFi in the restaurant, and I was making sure Will was on his way to meet us.  I quickly exclaimed feeling useless that the beggar had stolen my phone.  We booked it for the door and went both directions out of the restaurant.

At this point I was more or less looking for the man’s shoes because I oddly memorized those more than anything else.  Knowing my phone was already probably a good distance away, it was a lost cause.  I ran back to the restaurant and spoke to the receptionist telling her I just had my phone stolen moments ago.  She walked around the restaurant with me briefly to compile some stuff for the police report, and told me I had to go back to Plaça d’Espanya to file a report.  Will had his phone stolen two weeks prior and agreed that this was virtually useless at the time (while the Spanish police force makes its presence known, they are very inefficient).  The receptionist agreed and (hesitantly) showed Grant the security footage so we could walk around a little more.

While the event itself is clearly something I was able to learn from, I am frustrated in the way it was done.  Out of any ways to be stolen from, my phone was inches from my hand!  As we all talked about how obvious the who event was, it’s also easy to understand that everything is very obvious as an afterthought.  I still can’t get over the event playing back over in my head, except these times I realized he stole it, and I got to form tackle him on his way out..  Live and you learn.  My iPhone 5 is now enjoying the depths of Barcelona’s black market…. RIP

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