July 27, 2004

Cathedral etc.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a power plug adapter in this city. And yet, the hostels seem to have these dual US/Europe plugs (UK must feel left out). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday morning I got up and packed up my stuff; I had thought I'd go get breakfast and then come back to check out, but it got to be about 9 and I decided I'd just check out then. A good choice, as it turns out, because nothing was open yet. Seriously. A bunch of places had their security doors half open to let workers in, as they prepared to open, but they really weren't open yet. So I wandered over to the cathedral.

The cathedral is gorgeous, as most are, and put together in a mishmash of styles reflecting its multi-stage construction. (·) The main part of the church is dominated by the choir, this vast expanse of woodwork right in the middle of the sanctuary that seems to be present in a lot of European churches---it has seats two deep on either side of the main aisle, and the whole thing is enclosed with walls on three sides (it is open to the altar). (·) In front of this are some pews, (·) then a broad staircase down to the tomb of Santa Eulàlia, which is beneath the major altar. (·) (·) Ringing the altar are a series of small chapels to a great variety of saints, each with its own little altar and about four chairs. (·) (·) I suppose that priests can say their daily masses in these, or perhaps they are just for the feast days. On the side of the sanctuary, then, is the cloister, (·) (·) (·) an open courtyard itself ringed by small chapels to various things. (·) (·) In the corner of this is a different sort of chapel, actually in its own room, to Santa Llúcia, patron saint of the blind, in which (reportedly) a huge number of blind people show up every year on her feast day, to attend mass. (·) The walls of the chapels, the cloister, and the sanctuary itself are fairly littered with dead people. Well, they're put away in little boxes (called "sepulchres"), but still. There are an awful lot of them. (·) (·) (·) (·)

Having finished my circuit of the cathedral, I had killed enough time that cafés were open, so I got a desayuno continental on a little terrace about a half-block from the church. (·) I still needed to kill some time before going to meet Sharon, so I went to the Palau de la Música Catalana.

This place was completely amazing. It's practically a shrine to the modernista movement, built right at its peak to house the Orfeó Català, a major symphony orchestra based here in Barcelona. (·) (·) (·) (·) I took a picture in the lobby (·), but apparently they don't want me to advertise for them, and they wouldn't let me take any pictures inside. (Trust me, if I posted pictures, it'd be an advertisement for them!)

My tour ended just before 1:00, so I needed to hustle to meet Sharon a few stops away at 1:15. Fortunately, it was on the same subway line as the stop near the Palau, so I wasn't too late. The place appears to be a dorm during the schoolyear, which they run as a hostel during the summer. It has laundry and a computer room with internet, and each room has a bathroom, a small kitchenette, a TV, A/C (well, some of the rooms did; ours, for instance), and a telephone. All of which basically means that we paid about half as much for our room as a lot of the hotel-residing attendees, and we got a lot better accommodations.

It's in the middle of a residential neighborhood, like and yet unlike those of the Barri Gòtic. Like, because the streets are somewhat narrow, often pedestrian-only, and have four- and five-storey walk-ups on either side with stuff hanging off the balconies. Unlike, because this area was highly planned, and the streets are all on a perfect grid, with each building being not much wider than the street, such that each building is only about one apartment wide, giving all the living spaces windows on two or three sides.

Being residential, it had a "supermarket", by which they mean something only slightly smaller than the Thayer Street Store 24, although considerably better-stocked. Since we had a fridge, we went out and got things for breakfast, like cereal, milk, orange juice, and bananas. We also got some snacks, namely yogurt and flan-in-a-cup. Despite the poor exchange rate, food was very inexpensive here. One purchase, of laundry detergent and bananas, was just €3, and the other, of all the rest of the stuff, rang in at only €5. Not bad, for breakfast and snacks for a week.

Eventually, we got ready to head in for the opening reception, and the Fórum.

Other pix: Of the Cathedral: (·) (·) Others: (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·) (·)

Posted by blahedo at 12:15pm on 27 Jul 2004
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