Barcelona was the first stop on my trip with Mary Polly to Europe in September. We spent two nights exploring this beautiful city before boarding the Carnival Breeze for a 12 Night Mediterranean Cruise.
Mary Polly and I arrived at the closed metal doors of Santa Maria Del Pi Cathedral in Barcelona in a state of complete delirium. We were, in fact, looking for the Barcelona Cathedral, a 14th century Gothic church just a few blocks away from this one.
However, after flying all night and wandering the city with our luggage, we actually could have left Barcelona thinking we’d seen its main Gothic cathedral upon finding Santa Maria Del Pi, which is another Gothic church from the 14th century. Very confusing. Del Pi actually means of the pine, because this particular church used to be in a pine forest. Today it is just a few steps off Las Ramblas, the main drag of old Barcelona which we walked up and down multiple times on our visit.
One of the most stunning things about plucking oneself from the great state of Arkansas and landing less than 24 hours later in Europe is this overwhelming sense of having somehow gone back in time. Even though we studied our street maps, we got lost thinking that every grand old building was the one we were looking for. And even when we figured out that something wasn’t our particular landmark, we still had to stop and take pictures because it was just so beautiful.
So after a few pictures and a rest on the steps of Santa Maria Del Pi, we continued on to Barcelona Cathedral, and we were so happy we found it.
The Cathedral actually takes up several blocks with the Royal Palace and the City Museum next door. There has been a cathedral on this spot since 343 AD. The buildings have just become bigger and better over the last 2000 years. The current cathedral dates from the 14th century but the facade and Gothic spires were added later.
We walked slowly through the inside of the cathedral in our sleepy state.
We took the side tour to the top of the cathedral that looks out over the city and I was a little worried I might fall over the side of the railing if I blinked my eyes too hard. But from the top, you could see everything. So we sat down for a bit to take in the 360 degrees of Barcelona from the top of the world.
Here’s the tippy top of the cathedral.
And a couple of the views.
In the distance, Mary Polly was delighted to spot La Sagrada Familia which was on the top of her Barcelona list of sights to see.
Next we went to the outdoor cloister of the cathedral, which was this serene sculpture garden that I would like to visit daily. Or even live in.
There’s a fountain in the middle and 13 white geese wander this little garden in honor of St Eulalia’s 13 tortures. The entire cathedral is dedicated to her, and her tomb is beneath the altar. I read that there have been geese in this courtyard for 500 years.
There are smaller cloisters all around the courtyard and my favorite was this one with a Pieta sculpture. It was behind some bars, which kept me from getting closer to whisper into Mary Magdelene’s ear that all would be well after all. Her despair was so real to me. Her head bowed at the feet of Jesus. Can’t you feel it? I said to Mary Polly.
We left the Cathedral full of all we’d seen and hungry for both food and sleep. We stopped into a lovely place for tapas. The streets of the city are practically lined with tables and chairs, so we walked until we couldn’t hold our heads up another minute. When we knew we were close to our hotel, we fell into some chairs and ordered by pointing at a chalkboard menu. Seafood paella, prawns, little fried bites of cheese and crabmeat, plus a delish creamy dessert.
Everything was so good.
Then it was up and up the stairs to our little room to rest our weary heads.
We needed to get some sleep before we tackled what we’d really come to Barcelona to see. All things Antoni Gaudi.