Hope this gets to yall in good spirits, as I know it's been quite a while since I have written a journal! It ain't easy writing journals as time flies by quickly when I am having so much fun! Dang! I know yall are worried by now whether I still had my wits or not after traveling with my mom and Jerry for more than a month. Truth be told...they are so easy to travel with and they are also fun to be with, too. I am so fortunate to have one cool lady as my mom and so grateful that she married a cool and easy-going guy, too! Whew!
Visiting Barcelona was a treat to my artistic palate as it's a city chock full of arts! We stayed in the La Rambla area with its wide pedestrian avenue extending from Placa de Catalunya to the Port Vell, where they hailed the world's first floating mall. There, the place was so full of life with human statues, flower, bird and small pet stalls, newsstands and cafes not to mention profusion of tourists streaming by, too!
There was an artist synonymous to Barcelona and that was Antoni Gaudi. A visionary artist who has left an indelible mark in Barcelona when he designed and commissioned several mansions, apartments, park (Park Guell) and especially the Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family Cathedral) from the late 1880's to early 1900's. Unfortunately his life was cut short when he was run over by a train. His work was definitely visionary and unique that I have never seen the likes of his work anywhere else. He defied the traditional style of straight lines and went for curves. Windows were shaped in strange designs. Broken tiles and plates were used to make beautiful patterns on contoured balconies, walls, benches, sculptures, and/or facades.
Walking inside the Sagrada Familia was like being in the storybook of Dr. Seuss with soaring columns that broke into several branches that acted as ribs to hold arches at the top. It was as if Gaudi was trying to bring the idea of forest into Cathedral and he succeeded in that, as it was a sight to behold. I can imagine it even more beautiful when it's completed, as it is still a long way to go perhaps another century. I wouldn't bet a dime that I will live to see that day but will hope that one day my nieces and nephew will witness such a marvel in its completion years later!
Had no time to visit the beach, as it was a bit chilly and cloudy the whole time we were there but I wasn't worried, as I knew I would be back after the trip around Italy and France. Will definitely hit the beach and swim out when I come back as I am not done with Barcelona just yet! So yall will hear more about this city later on! ;-)
The overnight train from Barcelona to Milan was quite an experience as it was out first time sleeping on what they call "Tren Hotel". It was a lot classier than regular train that we were accustomed to in the past, which was often plain and drab. This one was really world class with neat compartment of 4 beds (2 on each side of walls) with a sink in the middle. It was modern, new and clean! Jerry and I shared the same compartment with two younger guys from South Korea and New Zealand. Poor mom had to share hers with three other strangers as they would not let men and women share the same compartment. Dunno why but I kind have agreed with their policy for I am certain many women who traveled solo really felt safer that way.
Anyway, we had agreed to meet at the bar/cafeteria after putting our bags and settling down. We had bought deli meat, cheese, baguette and a bottle of wine for our dinner and ate them at the bar. The simple dinner was appetizing and the wine went up to our heads immediately! We were chatting and laughing before a guy next to us decided to put on a show by leaning his head backward toward the table with the other guy pouring beer down to his mouth. This was when I realized something familiar about that guy who poured the beer. I was staring at him wondering if I had known him from somewhere a long time ago. He froze when he saw me and gave me the same puzzled look. It took our brains, swilled with beer and wine, a while to register. We finally recognized and knew each other a while back when I was living in San Diego! Joe was a student at that time learning ASL and wanting to become a Sign Language Interpreter. Jeez...our mind was blown away as we never dreamt that we would meet again 9 years later thousands of miles away from America on a train going to Milan from Barcelona. His skills had improved immensely as he was able to converse fluently with my mom, Jerry and myself without asking us to repeat! He and his friend, Tim, were on their way to Rome as we were to Padova from Milan. We had a ball catching up drinking more beer and wine all night long. What a trip!
More about Padova in the next installment so keep your eyes peeled!