I booked us both massages this morning at Kirosaje, somewhere in the alleyways of the Gothic Quarter. Ian, a Scottish guy in a bright green shirt greeted us and unlocked a small wooden door into the studio, which was the source of the tranquil music we could hear. Marina, an early 30’s-ish native Spanish speaker greeted us with hugs and kisses on the cheek and invited us to sit and choose a massage oil. The place felt like a well loved cave, somewhere close to the heart of a mountain, the heart being what was keeping us warm. The walls were old, white washed and of solid stone, there were no windows. It was a cozy little hole, one that a charming, hospitable creature might call home. The space was safely lit with Christmas lights.
I’ve come to realize that for a massage to be relaxing for me, someone must be forcibly pressing through layers of muscle, no need for any polite skin rubbing. Next time, I know to ask for deep tissue. Rachel had Marina (who is Argentinean) and said it was the best massage that she has ever had, which made me really happy. She gave them a 50 euro tip, so 25 euros each. For a 38 euro massage, I thought it was a bit outrageous (the Scottish guy even said that it was very generous) especially considering I was not all too impressed with mine. I almost wished Rachel had given it all to Marina in private. But ah well, it was a good day for the two of them.
At 2:30 we booked a time to go check out Gaudí’s famous church, the Sagrada Familia. Construction began in 1882 and they’re still at it. It is a very unique looking building, nothing like any other cathedral or church I have ever seen. The facades are entrenched in such rich artistry.
It’s all very busy, there are so many details and things to look at that it is easy to for the eyes to get lost. Being someone with nearly no religious background, I was not overly interested in what a lot of the sculptures actually represent, and more looking at the sculptures themselves.
During the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939 the church was raided and many parts of it were destroyed, including Antoni Gaudí’s workshop. You can easily see from the exterior which parts are new and rebuilt. In the basement of the building they had many of Gaudí’s original maquettes and drawings on display. Many of the maquettes had been smashed with only remnants of the originals remaining, artists had pieced them together to create a replica.
Once inside, a notable feature are the huge tree-like columns that stretch towards the ceiling before branching out. There were even hollows representing knots where a bird might build its nest.
We were not able to enter the towers, as they need to be booked in advance. I would definitely recommend going inside the church to anyone who visits Barcelona, I enjoyed it much more than the exterior. Make sure to book in advance, as it is always very busy.
Earlier on the trip, when we were in a different church (where I kissed her! I try to make a point to kiss Rachel in churches), I remember talking to Rachel about my indifference to stained glass windows. They’re often of creepy looking religious figures making awkward faces, or flowers or something of the like. Sagrada Familia gave me a new appreciation for stained glass. Light, its presence and absence.
Gaudí was quoted saying something along the lines of “with not enough light, you are blind, yet the same is true if there shall be too much.” The windows were designed to use the sun’s rays to light the entire church naturally.
The east facing walls had an array of green and blue hued panes in a mosaic like pattern. The opposite wall featured reds and yellows. Lucky for us, it was a sunny day, the sun flooded the floor with the warm hues of a sunset. It is a striking contrast to the dimly lit, cold walls of any other cathedral or church I have entered. It created a very warm atmosphere, one of hope and celebration. The high ceilings were decorated with intricate shapes, and did not feature looming arches seen elsewhere.
It was easy to see why so many people have such appreciation for Gaudí and his works throughout the city. Any locals that I have heard speak of him do so with such admiration and pride. After having been suppressed for so many years, the Catalan people seem happy to share with the world the marvels that they have created. I’m really curious to see if they do become their own nation. After having been here, it seems entirely possible.
I’d love to come back in 20 years and see how much more they have completed. We could hear saws going off occasionally on the upper floors and see men at work walking around.
More giant bubbles in the street!
I was exhausted after we saw Sagrada Familia. We stopped at the now open comic book shop on the way home. It was a large, beautiful store, Norma Comics. Most books were in Spanish, but it was still fun to wander around and look at the artwork.
Some random building.
I passed out around 6 or so and Rachel went out and got some more graffiti shots.