I went to Barcelona last weekend! It was sunny, but quite cold. We took a chilly walking tour around the old town and the medieval city.
There was a lot of interesting history about Catalonia I had no background in. We went through this beautiful square and saw the rather sad bomb damage from the Civil War.
Further back in history, we saw Roman ruins! We saw the old towers of the Roman wall and we went to the city museum which had a great excavation of the Roman town in the basement.
This is the official Cathedral of the city which supposedly has a dead 13 year old saint in it. It’s somehow less impressive that the other rather more famous church in town.
The mediterranean! I love visiting an ocean wherever I travel. It was great to feel the water and watch the surfers. Apparently the sand is from Egypt and they shipped in it when they renovated the city for the Olympics.
Palm trees in a dark garden. It feels weirdly tropical yet somehow still cold.
To my horror, the cathedral keeps 13 geese in the cloister to represent the age of the saint. Pure terror.
The next day we went to the Sagrada Familia! It’s insane! And beautiful! But insane! How the hell do they expect to finish it by 2030? It is really interesting to see one of the last major churches of the Western World still as a work in progress.
This side represents the Crucifixion. How is this art even real? It’s so bizarre yet it makes perfect sense when you learn the amazingly intricate physics of the structures and how they imitate the natural world.
The inside of the basilica. It feels like a forrest of religiousness. It also feels like drugs.
So weird… spinning…
The stained glass is really beautiful and vivid. It’s abstract yet clearly designed logically so that the colors flow.
The nativity entrance. The level of detail here is mind-boggling. Also I learned that this was the only door completed by Gaudi as he died suddenly by being hit by a streetcar! Woah!
I ate a lot of delicious tapas (mostly fried potatoes, let’s be real) and I had churros and hot chocolate and drank lots of Sangria. Overall it was a nice relaxing weekend and a fitting end to my international travel for the semester. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go be exhausted and try to squeeze a thousand London activities into one week.
I made a pilgrimage to Canterbury this weekend and saw the shrine of Thomas Beckett.
We first went to a Norman keep ruin. It was partially made from Roman materials. We went onto a really big hill called the Dane John where you could see the whole town.
It’s a pretty town, but very small and cute.
Here is a castle looking all ruined and mysterious.
We went inside the castle and talked about old books.
After the castle we went to a Roman museum and saw old baths and mosaics. Then of course, the cathedral!
The inside was very gothic and had a lot of little side chapels. We saw the spot where the poor martyr experienced some trouble with his skull and it felt very macabre.
Amusingly, I discovered that Edward the Black Prince and Henry IV are both buried in the cathedral, very near each other. I expect the ghosts keep having that awkward “so you killed and deposed my son” conversation.
Next we went to the ruins of St. Augustine’s abbey. We took a very interesting audio guide which was very helpful in identifying random bits of rock.
Selfie at the origin of British Christianity!
Then we went to the oldest Christian church in England where Queen Bertha apparently used to worship. There was both Holly and Ivy all over the graveyard and my resolve not to sing Christmas songs before December was compromised.
The next day I went to Hampton Court palace through a complex system of trains and buses. But I got there! We went to the maze first (it looked a lot like the 4th Harry Potter book) and solved it. By taking about every wrong turn possible.
The palace was grand and typically Tudor (dear lord I’ve reached that point where architectural styles start to seem typical of something).
Inside the palace I totally geeked out about Thomas Cromwell to the annoyance of my friend. But seriously guys, just read Wolf Hall. There was also a lot of William and Mary history. Plus, Christopher Wren fountain court!
We also saw some great formal gardens including these weird lumpy trees and the world’s largest vine.
It was very pleasant to stay in England and see a lot of history this weekend, although I’m sure my lecturing got tiresome. But now I am off to Ireland!