We came full circle on Day 9, driving in the morning from Zaragoza to Barcelona. This was also our last day with our tour group, although not our last day in Spain. We’d have to say bye to convenient transportation, a likeable tour guide, and well-planned bathroom breaks but hello to complete reign over our itinerary. But before then, we started our last day with the group with a much-anticipated visit to La Sagrada Familia. We had previously only admired the towering church from a great ways away (on top of the Castell de Montjuic to be exact), but today we finally experienced its sheer immensity from below and within. The monumental and final project of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia is still incomplete today more than 30 years later, but just as imaginative and whimsical as it is large and domineering, it is my favorite of all the churches I have ever visited. From the fruit-topped spires outside to the forest-inspired columns and ceiling inside, this church is really like none other, so boldly and colorfully drawing from nature’s beauty.
After a quick fast food lunch, our second stop of the day was the arguably equally iconic Camp Nou, home of Futbol Club Barcelona. Futbol/soccer is a big deal in Europe, but a HUGE deal in Spain, which explains why this 99,000+ seater is the largest stadium in Europe by capacity. Not yet an FC Barcelona fan (I would be converted after tonight’s Champions League match), we didn’t buy tickets to enter the stadium itself so spent our allotted time here browsing FC Barcelona merchandise, relaxing in the outdoor eating area, and copying statues’ poses for a few action-y photos.
Next we were off to Montjuic for a panoramic view of Barcelona. We had already visited this area thoroughly on Day 2 of our trip, however, so this re-visit was slightly less exciting, but at least I finally quenched my Magnum craving here! Magnum ice cream bars are sold at practically every corner shop or snack kiosk in Spain, and although I really wanted to try the Marc De Champagne flavor I had passed up a few times before, I settled for Black Espresso instead.
We split ways with our tour group at the next and last stop of the day, Plaça de Catalunya. From here it was a brisk 15-minute walk up the Passeig de Gràcia to our hotel for the next three nights. We finished the day strolling and shopping along the Passeig de Gràcia and watching as FC Barcelona beat its Italian rival to win the Champions League Cup. Just like that I joined the throngs of others as an FCB fan, and we wrapped up a great week touring all over Spain (and Portugal!) and Day 9 of our trip.