After so many hiccups that arose during the planning stage, having overcome them and finally being there at the airport waiting for our flight seems so surreal. And the thought that we will be visiting the places that we've read about during our research through travel books and the internet, we're bursting with so much excitement and joy....just like these flowers at Changi Airport.
|Sunflower Garden in Terminal 2, Changi Airport|
It was a fantastic start to our journey....with a night flight that's not full (no time adjustment, no jet lag)....so we were able to sleep throughout the flight and arrive fresh in the morning in Barcelona. See....the first ray of sunlight of Barcelona! We were finally touching down Barcelona's international airport.
We were so overwhelmed with our new environment that while other passengers were rushing to the conveyor belt to wait for their luggage, we went "touring" of the airport instead. (Of course, we keep track of our time....wouldn't want to lose our luggage and spoils the holiday.)
Hey, we were so lucky! We reached the conveyor belt just in time for it to start working and our luggage were the first few pieces to start the conveyor rolling.
The customer service staffs at the airport wasn't very helpful but the abundance of information from the internet were. We took a free airport shuttle bus from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 to catch a Renfe train to Badalona, a seaside town where our hotel was located.
|We are the 'seagulls'|
Being our first time travelling on Spain's comprehensive train system, it took us longer than the expected time to reach our hotel from the airport. We didn't understand the purpose of the hotel staff and train station officer giving us a list of the stations leading up to our final stop, Badalona when we asked for direction. So, the moment we saw a train pulling up at the deck that we were supposed to board, we happily jumped onto the train! It was after 10 minutes when our surrounding started to get remote that we figured out why the list of stations that we were told to look out for. Each boarding deck serves a number of trains heading towards different cities outside of Barcelona! How could we make such a mistake! We were at the inter-state train station and not the train station that serves Barcelona city.
Phew! It was a tiring journey....walking up and down the train stations with our luggage. But, no venture no gain right?
Despite the tiring train ride, the fantastic weather...sunshine accompanied by cold breeze, and the breathtaking coastline of Badalona immediately set us back into our holiday mood. Walking along the coastline towards our hotel made our luggage seem lighter and the many food outlets lining along the coast made our stomach groan. Badalona is a beautiful town to rest, relax and recharge.
|Food outlets along the beach of Badalona|
Immediately after checking-in, we headed back to Barcelona to visit the world famous La Sagrada Familia (Church of Holy Family).
|View of the La Sagrada Familia from Hospital de la Santa Creu. La Sagrada Familia really lives up to its reputation.....it is always under construction!|
We knew it was going to be rush given that we were only 2 hours away from sunset (and possibly the closing time of the church). But, we weren't going to take any chance not being able to visit it at all. It will be a great pity not visiting this icon of Barcelona while in Barcelona! Puzzled over our hurry? Well.....Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to consecrate La Sagrada Familia on 7 Nov 2010, just 3.5 days away from us!
|Setting up of the altar for the consecration of La Sagrada Familia. The Altar Canopy has been empty since Gaudi's time.|
When we stepped out of the La Sagrada metro station, the surrounding streets of the church was like a war-zone with workers busy setting up stages, railings, chairs, banners, lighting, sound system etc; and all except one of the entrances of the church were closed to public with policemen heavily guarding them.
Amid the chaos and crowd, we barely make it in time to purchase our tickets before the last ticket-booth closes for the day, and we were the last few to join the queue to take the elevator to the top of the church.
After the rush, everything else was magical......
|Passion Facade of La Sagrada Familia|
Upon entering the church, we were immediately "wow" by its complex architecture....it is an art that plays with columns and sunlight.
Despite having to queue for half an hour (it would have been longer had it not because it was closing soon) for the elevator to bring us to the top of the church, the wait was worthwhile.
|4 of the 8 Bell Towers that were built. 4 more to go before completion. Each bell tower is dedicated to an Apostle.|
The breathtaking view and the ability to come so close to the 'characters' that adorns the facade of the La Sagrada Familia was an experience. Reluctantly, we made our way down (we chose to walk) to slowly savor all that it has to offer.
|At "ceiling height" of the church|
|Looking down one of the Bell Tower from the top|
|Spiral staircase. Steep stone steps, 400 in each, leading from the top of the Bell Tower to the lower galleries. Very narrow and steeply curved. Need extra caution especially with the little light that manages to get through, it is treacherous.|
The other important highlight of the church is the Crypt, where Gaudi is buried. Unfortunately, it was already closed for the day when we visited. What a waste!
Nevertheless, we managed to visit the museum before it too closes on us.
|Candle holders used during Gaudi's time|
To us, the highlight of the museum will have to be the section that explains the architecture concept of Gaudi.
|Architecture concept of Colonia Guell Church by Gaudi|
|Hanging model of Gaudi.|
We next hurried to the other facade of the La Sagrada, the Nativity Facade. Unfortunately, with the low natural light and the constant nagging of the policemen for all tourist to leave the compound (it is actually closed for the preparation of the consecration), we were unable to admire its beauty least take good photos.
|Nativity Facade of La Sagrada Familia|
Very reluctantly we left the church and roamed its vicinity, but not for long before we gave in to our tired body and made our way back to our hotel. Back at Badalona, we were delighted to find a lively shopping street full of interesting shops near our hotel. We simply couldn't resist the temptation and ended up shopping before our body made the final call.
We bought a delicious (and cheap) pizza from a petrol kiosk near our hotel. We have had pizzas back in our country and in other countries but this one tasted the best. Not sure was it because we were hungry (we didn't have any decent food since breakfast) or was it because of the friendliness of the shop assistants at the petrol kiosk. Despite our lack of basic conversational Spanish, the shop assistants were extremely helpful, patience and emphatic. All in all, we were very satisfied. It was a wonderful day full of blessings.
This post first appeared on Carefree And Off-the-beaten Tracks Travels Around The World, please read the originial post: here