Now once again in charge of our own itinerary, today was jam-packed with sight-seeing on foot. We started our morning at the Casa Batlló, one of my overall favorite activities in Barcelona. Like La Sagrada Familia, this former private residence was designed by Antoni Gaudí and thus is wildly imaginative. The skeletal yet colorfully mosaic facade is topped by a scaly, sinuous, and multi-colored roof that resembles the back of a fantastic dragon. To bring the unfurnished interior to life, each visitor is given a “free” interactive video guide to show each room as it appeared when the home was occupied and to illustrate the shapes in the home that were inspired by the likes of sea turtles, fish, mushrooms, and mollusks. From these organic shapes to the dominant hues of blues and greens, the entire inside is permeated by an enchanting marine atmosphere.
This visit to Casa Batlló was one of three highlights for today, but the other two we wouldn’t experience till the very end of the day. In between we wandered to the Arc de Triomf where we stopped nearby for lunch. (This area was also great for people watching!) Refueled, we continued along to the Parc de la Ciutadella where the city seemed to be hosting a children’s festival. So many families were out and about on this otherwise usual hot summer day. There were games, a rock climbing wall, painting stations, even a live band and dance floor. Heading further south, we eventually made it to the La Barceloneta. Unlike the quiet, roomy beaches back home in Palm Beach, this tiny strip of sand along the Mediterranean shoreline was densely matted with sun bathers.
Here we turned around and headed to the Picasso Museum, since it was free today (Sunday) after 3pm. When we got there though just a few minutes before 3pm, we were surprised by a seemingly endless line down the narrow street outside the museum. Turns out the museum was free the entire day since it was actually the first Sunday of the month. 45 minutes later, we reached the front of the line for our free tickets, but then had to wait another half hour to go inside at our designated time. But hey admission was free!
While in the area, we also took a quick look inside the ancient civilizations museum next door (it too was free today) before heading back towards our hotel, stopping to enjoy a fancy dinner at one of the restaurants along the Passeig de Gràcia. Here we crossed seafood paella off our Spain bucket list, and a highly valued bonus, the paella was cooked and served in a massive family-sized pan.
After finishing dinner and continuing back towards our hotel, we noticed a steady stream of people in FC Barcelona jerseys hustling in the other direction. Our hotel’s receptionist later informed us that the FCB players were going to parade through the city to celebrate last night’s Champions League victory. Not wanting to miss out on seeing these famous soccer players in person, Crystal and I headed back out to the streets while our parents opted to watch the parade on TV.
This was the second highlight of our day, and our third we experienced right after at the Magic Fountain. With a show playing every half hour, we watched two of them back-to-back. While the first show was paired with a mix of American pop songs, the second was accompanied by a medley of classical songs. I could have stayed to watch a third as the combination of colors, movement, and music was so captivating, but it had been a long day so we ultimately decided not to make it any longer.