Sunday, January 04, 2004

Barcelona - La pedrera and Sagrada climb

After Casa Battlo, we briefly look in on 'La Pedrera' (The Quarry) - same street, one tube stop away. The nickname suits it: apart from the patent curves and amazing ironwork on terrace balconies, it is quite unappealing from the street. The roof does have more Gaudi elements, but there was a queue... And a charge....
So off to the Sagrada - where we stand in a queue (no other way) to (it turns out) climb the eastern towers. The other queue was for the elevators (who knew?) but is cut off much earlier than the climbers one. So eventually climb we did. Round and round, up and up, with very little lighting or internal handrails (on the first part). The Spanish are very pragmatic about such things, no OSH police, clearly, and the next day we see steps in Park Guell fully 25 feet high, 1 m wide, no handrails whatsoever. Still, with all those saints (each with their own private collection box), they probably figure they are protected enough anyway.
The steps can only be climbed as fast as everyone in front moves, which suits, and it is dark once we get near the top - the floodlights come on while we are still going up. We can see the good progress made on construction - the nave is nearing completion, and we understand there's an NZ architect involved. Lots of scaffolding is up way past the existing height of walls, and that's an indication that much more wall is expected soon. On the back we can see reinforced concrete shell walls, faced with stone and decoration. Not as traditional but faster. One of the deadlines is 2026, the anniversary of Gaudi's death. He knew the cathedral was not 'his' (he had inherited an already built crypt) and perhaps purposefully left few detailed plans but a lot of impressions and sketches. In that way, the work was intended to evolve, and so it has.
We cross over between the two main towers and go down the other side. One photo - of the 'offerings' of fruit at the top of the second (down) tower stair. These upper stairs are between the outer and inner walls, so it is quite safe feeling going down. We really should have a T-shirt ('We climbed the Sagrada') but content ourselves with a tube ride down to the beach and a very Spanish dinner. I have bacalao (cod) which arrives in a black-ink octopus sauce, rather unexpected but very palatable. Of which more later.... I imagine there's a special chef out back with a specialty in annoying octopi till they squirt the aforesaid ink - a dangerous job, but somebody has to do it. OSH would have a fit. So would PETA.

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