Barcelona

We bought tickets for the Bus Touristic, open-topped double-decker buses that run fixed tourist routes around Barcelona. Most shops were closed as it was a Sunday, so it was good to spend a day sightseeing. The buses are a good way to explore the city as many of the thoroughfares are full of modernista buildings and other interesting buildings that would have been missed had we taken the metro. In the end it was practically a tour of Antoni Gaudi's works for us. We stopped first at La Pedrera, an apartment block designed by Gaudi. The excellent attic museum and audio guide give a great appreciation of Gaudi's genius and attention to detail. Gaudi's use of natural forms and his dislike of straight lines, his work in using natural light and airflow created a building this is impossible to describe and different to anything else. The next stop was Gaudi's most famous buildin g, the Sagrada Familia. This cathedral is unfinished, but is already the most stunning piece of architecture I have ever seen. The structure can only be described as organic, the facade is detailed as if it is a forest of life, the internal columns rising high to form a canopy of trees. No words can do it justice. The lift and narrow stairs up to the tops of the spires are not for those unable to handle heights. The views are unbelievable, but vertigo inducing. Well worth the queue and the 2 Euros to see Gaudi's work up close. We ended our Gaudi tour at Park Guell. Two gingerbread houses greet visitors to Gaudi's unfinished worker's park. They walk up the stairs, past a mosiac lizard statue and under the market forum, between the skewed columns. Then they make their way up to roof of the forum to sit on the comfortable mosaic benches, gazing out at the views across the city. Rested, they wander through and walk atop of tunnels like a cross between a rib cage and stalactites. You could spend hours in the park, but we decided to continue on with our bus journey. Past the second largets football (soccer) stadium in the world, the bus started along Avenue Diagonal. Here we left the tour and went to look for food. Spaniards eat late and there was little open at 7pm. B desired paella and we wandered for a more than a kilometre until we found ourselves almost at Plaza Catalunya again. This close to tourist central there were more restaurants open and we sat down to eat at Happy, a chain restaurant. The food was okay without being great, but at least it took away the hunger. We then wandered down Las Ramblas, at a delicious 'Creme Meringue' flavoured ice cream and headed back to the hotel. Madrid tomorrow.