Larry and I ran over to the Santa Caterina market early for more breakfast food. After feeding and caffeinating everyone, we took the subway up to La Sagrada Familia. You can read more about Gaudi's work-in-progress here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia
We had bought our tickets online a few days before, including audioguide and admission to one of the towers, timed for 11:30. No lines, had said the website. Right.
The lines snaked around the building, some for those with tickets, some for those without. Young uniformed people were attempting to keep order, but each time someone told their sad, sad story, they were permitted to jump the line. And then another uniformed person would shoo them back. It was very amusing chaos. We flashed our 11:30 tickets at a young woman who ushered us into a line, and then her supervisor told everyone to go elsewhere. She shrugged, and said to us "my boss." Heh. Eventually, we got through the turnstiles, raced down to the kiosk for our audioguides, gawked at the very Deco-like Passion facade for a few minutes, and entered. Larry and the boys went to the elevator for the tower, I started the audioguide tour.
I really hadn;t known what to expect from the interior of the basilica. I was familiar with photos of the Nativity facade, with its crowded, textured layering of organic forms and Christian motifs. The interior was striking for it's elegance and restraint--pale stone, curving shapes, "tree"-like columns, beautifully-designed stained glass windows of carefully chosen tonal shades. The Glory facade and that portion of the interior are still unfinished. Near the Nativity facadde exit is an interesting exhibit on how natural forms were used in Gaudi's plan--trees, spirals, honeycombs, crystals.
Afterward, we wandered through the crowds and shops selling Made-in-China "Spanish" junk to find a cafe I'd seen mentioned on Chowhound.It looked like a typical cafe in a tourist area (photos of foods on sidewalk signs, greeting waiter at the door), but there were old men eating at the bar, one of my good signs. The day had turned warm, so the boys wanted to eat at a sidewalk table. There was a 10.50 euro Menu de Dia, which three of us chose, Dan wanted a meat paella. I started with an obviously homemade vegetable soup, which tasted like something my grandmother might have made. Larry had mussels in a tasty sauce; and Evan had rice topped with an egg and a light tomato sauce. My main course was a delicious veal and potato stew, Evan had chicken croquettes, and Larry had the best, tender quail in an onion and olive sauce. Definitely a good place to remember--Gaudi Xamfra, Carrer de València, 443 (near c/Marina) http://www.xamfragaudi.com/
Larry, Dan and I wanted to do the Modernista Route walk through the tourist office, Evan chose to rest at the apartment. After braving the crowds and traffic in Plaza Catalunia we met the guide and got the radio headphones which let us hear her. She led us on a long walk beginning on Las Ramblas (ugh, what a zoo), where we often had to push through the crowded streets to keep up with her while listening to her somewhat scattered commentary. The Eixaimple (Expansion) district has huge blocks, heavy traffic, lots of shops and restaurants--feels somewhat like parts of the 6th in Paris.
The guide didn't offer much detail of explanation of what we were seeing, though did give some basic background on the cultural and artistic times. Still, it was worth having someone else look at the map for a change, and we probably would not have found these buildings on our own or known which lobbies we could access.
Back home, wine, and an easy repeat dinner at Origens down the street.More cannelones, yum.