There were plenty of tourists, including many youngsters, milling around the Sagrada Familia with its tall towering spires. The church was nothing like what I had seen before: a peculiar mix of Gothic, modernism and naturalistic features. There were three façades, each with a different biblical theme: the Nativity, the Passion, and the Glory (representing the road to God). Building work is still ongoing and is expected to be complete only by 2026. We also visited the Arc de la Triomf and Parc de la Ciutadella. Walking along the streets, with its wide tree lined pavements and central pedestrian walkways, there was a relaxed, unhurried atmosphere which we liked.
Thursday 17 April 2014
|A view of the city with the Columbus Monument|
It was interesting to note that Freemasons had a role in the planning of the city with its equidistant blocks. Gaudi’s financial patron, Eusebi Güell, was also a Freemason and there were clearly Masonic symbolism in Park Guell. The death of the dictator Franco and the Olympic Games in 1992 are the two main events, said our tour guide, that transformed Barcelona to the vibrant, modern, outward looking city it is today. After checking out of our hotel and eating lunch in a local restaurant, we took the train to Monistrol de Montserrat, about an hour’s journey from Barcelona. In the background of our hotel, Hostal Guilleumes, was the famous mountain of Montserrat.
Friday 18 April 2014
We were now in the heart of Catalonia, where people speak Catalan rather than Spanish. Like Scotland in the UK, Catalonia is a region which is peacefully and determinedly asking for independence. After breakfast we walked to the train station and took the rack railway all the way up to Montserrat. We were joined on the train by many young families and their children. The journey uphill, meandering along the side of the mountain, was quite exciting.
Saturday 19 April 2014
After a filling breakfast, we checked of our hotel and made our way on foot to the train station. As we sat waiting for our train back to Barcelona, a young lady greeted us by saying “hola” (Spanish for “hello”). As a Londoner, I wasn’t expecting this. Spain is a very different country to Britain. Here people are less reserved and more family oriented. They work to live rather than live to work. Businesses are small to medium sized enterprises and work-life balance is important. The main meal is at lunch time, which is normally a three course meal, and that is accompanied by a siesta, after which people return to work and finish late.
Our hotel in Barcelona this time was Tres Torres Atiram, situated in a quiet residential area surrounded by posh apartments in the north east of the city, not far from Barcelona FC Stadium. I wanted to find the way to Maria Reina Church, close to the Monastery of Pedralbes, which offered an English mass on Sundays. As we walked along the salubrious surroundings we realised we were in an affluent area of the city. We found the church okay and then returned via a meandering route, stopping along the way at a restaurant to have some nice ice cream.
Sunday 20 April 2014
The hotel provided a good selection of continental style food for breakfast. We checked out and walked to Maria Reina Church for the 10.30am Easter Sunday mass. We had enjoyed nice sunny dry weather up to this point, but today the skies were overcast and rain threatened to be spoil sport. The church, situated on a slightly elevated level relative to the entrance gates, with verandas on both sides, reminded me of the tranquil grounds of Province College in Calicut.
|Maria Reina Church|
We thought we were going to be the only people at mass until the last fifteen minutes before it was due to start. The priest, who we met prior to the service, was an elderly Jesuit who had spent many years in Bombay but was born in Kilburn, London. After mass, we joined people for tea and cake. The majority of people were clearly Americans but there was also a family from Kerala, who we talked to.
Transportation and food costs are considerably cheaper in Spain than in UK. We took the train to Barcelona Airport and, after checking in, we enjoyed the final meal of our holiday in a tapas restaurant. It had been a most enjoyable Easter holiday and we had come to like Spain. The country, with its people, culture, and lifestyle had endeared us to it. I was keen to visit Spain again sometime in the future, and probably to a different part of the country.