Let me start with the language: in Barcelona, they speak Catalan, one of 4 official languages in Spain. The other main language is Castillian, spoken by 74% of the population (versus 17% who speak Catalan).
I had no clue that these two languages were so different! I learned Castillian Spanish in high school (and I also took some courses in university), and although my Spanish is now very rusty due to lack of practice, I still understand most of it and can put a sentence together (albeit very slowly!). But even my limited knowledge of Spanish was pretty much useless in Barcelona.
Anyway, after disembarking from the ship, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and took one of those touristic hop-on/hop-off buses that take you to the city's important sites. We started off at the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic), next to the Plaça Catalunya. We visited the impressive Barcelona Cathedral, which started being built in 1298 and was completed in 1459.
After a brief stop at Plaça Catalunya, we headed off to the Sagrada Familia, while enjoying some Gaudi architecture along the way. Here's a picture of La Pedrera (Casa Milà), built between 1906 and 1910. The building (which has no straight walls or corners) is simply stunning.
We then stopped to visit the Sagrada Familia Basilica. Impressive does not beging to qualify this basilica, which, believe it or not, is still under construction. Gaudi began work on the basilica in the 1880's. He worked on the project for 40 years, and after he passed away in 1926, work on the Basilica continued with new architects taking over Gaudi's labor of love. The intricate carvings and the massive scope of the project are breathtaking.
The Sagrada Familia is expected to be finished by 2026, which also coincides with the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.
We then headed off to a part of Barcelona called Gracia, and decided to stop for some lunch. We had a few tapas, and as we walked out of the restaurant, my father got pickpocketed. We had been warned about pickpocketers in Barcelona, and we really felt that we had taken all our precautions, but these thieves have mastered the art of fooling unsuspecting tourists...and we fell for it!
Needless to say, this put a damper on our day, as we spent the next couple of hours calling credit card companies, and trying to find a police station to report the theft. We finally found one and managed to file a report.
By that point, I was exhausted and upset, so we decided to take the tour bus again to head back to the hotel. I had every intention of visiting Las Ramblas, the famous street at the heart of Barcelona, but all I wanted was to get back to the hotel and relax, which is what we ended up doing.
Despite all that happened, I still loved Barcelona. It's a gorgeous city and I could definitely see myself living there someday! One thing's for sure, I will make it a point to visit again to check out the places we didn't get to see this time around.