Barcelona is different from Valencia or Alicante. Life in Barcelona is fast. It’s at times reckless on its streets, namely cyclists and scooters who dash through the pedestrian zones, with one competence only, right of way. It’s notable mentioning tourists, who focus on themselves and ignore passing by pedestrians widely, as I had some body-checks with such folks. It’s the service provided by those working in restaurants or cafes who spread the aura of bad-tempered here and then. It’s the brusque attempt of typing in a higher amount in the card reader, as shown on the bill. The traffic noise is deafening at times. We had already thought about how to become locals without a car. Finally, an idea hit us. We should download the sound of a honking horn on the phone, put a loudspeaker in the backpack, and start the recording when it seems appropriate, as a rule, every 30 seconds. No one knows who is honking, but everyone thinks must be one of us.
Speaking for a sailor, it’s the strange attitude of the marina Port Olimpíc not accepting packages. The latter is a pain in the neck, as one must sit on the boat all day long and hopefully get the parcel delivered to the boat directly. We did and waited. Six hours later, I got a text message, wrong address. I asked in the marina office, and they said the guy entered and asked where to go. They told him, just one hundred meters opposite the office, but we never got the package. Both are annoying, the office that declined the small carton and the poor service of delivery. The lady in the office said the guy had no intention to walk that distance. It happens from time to time.
My writing rule says that when I need to mention one negative aspect, make sure to fix it with at least five positive viewpoints, as the negative outweighs the others by that ratio. The first paragraph needs to be balanced by about twenty positive impressions. And that’s the good part about Barcelona; there is no shortage at all. The first I love to mention is the famous person Gaudi. For me, a German, the name comes with a smile, as it stands for a Bavarian dialect, meaning jamboree or fun. Antonio Gaudi, a Spanish architect, whose childhood was everything but fun, prevented him from playing with other children because of a rheumatic disease. Instead, he observed nature and got his inspiration from there. Just to put him in place, he was born in 1852 and died 74 years later. I think him remarkable because of his unique style and his modern approach to copying nature. Today, nature-related technology comes with a more fancy name, the obligatory Bio in front, like Bionic architecture or BioNtec for vaccines.
At the age of thirty, Gaudi took charge of the construction of the Sagrada Família, the outstanding Basilica, and the Temple of Atonement of the Holy Family. Construction began in 1882 and was scheduled for completion in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. I assure you that I read this sentence twice. One hundred forty-four years of construction isn’t exactly fast and beats Germany easily. A country known for its bureaucracy, endless planning, counting insects, ongoing delays on the construction site, and the usual subsequent works.
Gaudi got the right attitude. He used to say my customer, God, isn’t in a hurry. And here is something else startling. One hundred thirty-four years after turning the first sod, it became apparent that there was no building permit – an illegal construction.
The fate of Antonio Gaudi was as strange as the eternal building. On June 7, 1926, a streetcar hit him on the way back from a chapel to the Cathedral. Poor Antonio remained unconscious. People thought he was a beggar, given his bedraggled appearance, and didn’t help him at all. After several hours lying on the ground, a policeman took pity on him and got Gaudi taken to the hospital for the poor. Three days later, a friend and the chaplain recognized him. They transferred Gaudi to a private room, where he died the same day.
Of course, we had to see the Basilica. Approaching the colossal building, I did what I was supposed to do with many churches in Spain; I was impressed by its sheer size and its tall high bell towers scraping the clouds. We got closer and spotted cranes and scaffolding. I don’t want to be picky. However, I asked myself if a single building of importance in Barcelona isn’t under construction or renovation. Eventually, we stood next to what felt like a thousand visitors, put the heads in the neck alike, and looked at the 180 m tall towers. The Basilica is laden with motives that I thought for a moment Walt Disney had his hands in it too.
The queue at the entrance was promising short. A quick look at the rates for visiting, and we learned that big cities come with hefty price tags. And big churches with even bigger ones. Two people get in for fifty-eight euros seeing the basics. Want to see the towers? They charge a leg and arm, well above a hundred. More than two million visitors explore the building year by year, making at least 58.000.000 Euros a year.
There are moments like this that make me think I should start a company called ‘The Heaven Line’ with a call center and cold calls by my skilled staff: May we know who is your religion provider? Rome! Gosh! Way too expensive. Our basic package for ten euros a month includes a weekly prayer in your name. We strongly recommend the premium offer of fifteen Euros. It contains a daily confession app. Easy for you, as we read all data on your phone and assess your wrongdoings. Unbeatable? You got it! We’ll send you the contract right away.
Admittedly, I have become a bit old-fashioned, and my knowledge lags behind current developments. Google, Facebook, and Co stand for today’s confessions and censorship.