During my stay in Barcelona, my bestie Michelle joined me for 10 lovely days, and we surely made every moment count. We ambled along La Rambla, drank cervezas and enjoyed tapas at many tapas bars, and giggled endlessly as we "learned to navigate" the Barcelona Metro (that's my nice way of saying we got on the wrong train more than once!).
But we took that Metro all over and saw some amazing sights. Our first big adventure was La Sagrada Familia. This is an absolutely, must-see, no question about it. As I think about all the different personalities of people I know, I can't imagine any of them not fully enjoying what might be considered Gaudi's most significant work. As with everything Gaudi, it's over-the-top, beyond strangely weird, brilliant, and this one includes the whole religious bent. The detail of the carvings, and the amount of work it took just to get people in place to carve them, is staggering.
Cathedrals and churches played a big role in this trip. I was, for unknown reasons, continually, consistently drawn to them. I think part of the reason is that Catholicism is as much a part of the culture, and way of life in Spain, as it is a religion. It is, by far, the predominant religion in Spain, and it seeps gracefully and beautifully into everything. Mother Mary, Christ, crosses, are everywhere. Delicately adorning every building, fountain, bench, street sign… Rather than feeling oppressive, it just feels natural somehow. Perhaps because it's such an ingrained way of life. The Spanish people are devoted, perhaps more to the history, and long standing traditions, than the actual practice of the religion. And that's not true for everyone. Whenever I wandered into a church, on any given day of the week, there were always at least a handful of locals there praying, paying respects, or simply seeking some peace and solace. I paid attention and noticed that every man wears a necklace or rosary with a crucifix or cross. They tuck them under their business suits throughout the week, but they fly freely on the weekends. This is also true in California, where there is also a heavy Catholic influence, devotion and tradition among the hispanic cultures.