gaudi's famous church was breathtaking, to say the very least. nothing could have prepared me for it - not my high school spanish class, not my college art appreciation class or art history class - seeing it in person, right before my very eyes, was absolutely indescribable. we entered at the passion facade, a stunning portrayal of the last days of christ's life made to look stark and white and pointy, like bones and pain and sadness. we got the audio guide and learned about the symbolism and meaning that had been carefully built in to every single part of gaudi's church. the nave, a nonstop construction zone, was created to look like a forest. the supporting columns twist subtly and then branch out as they make their way up to the cieling, which looks like the forest canopy, and spaces between the leaves let the perfect amount of natural light in.
we took the elevator up to the top of the passion facade, which was an accomplishment for me, as i have an irrational and sometimes paralyzing fear of elevators, but how many times are you at the sagrada familia, right? so i took my chances, and it was more than worth it. incredible views of the city and of the rooftop details of the church were my rewards when we got to the top... and so as was a crazy winding staircase adventure to get back down. the first crazy winding staircase involved a narrow passageway and walls on either side of me, but the second one had only an outside wall and nothing to hold on to in the center; in fact you could see all the way down to the ground floor if you looked through the center (which alan told me not to do but i did anyway and immediately regretted afterward). i didn't have the guts to take a picture of that situation until i had my feet planted firmly on the bottom.
we continued our tour of the church, which took us around the nave and out to the nativity facade - if you've ever seen a picture of the sagrada familia, this is probably what you saw. it was the first and only part of the church that was finished before gaudi's death, in hopes of inspiring funding for its completion. the facade was designed to appear swollen and alive with the joy and love of christ's birth - again it was rife with religious symbolism and images from nature, and just absolutely awe-inspiring beyond words.
after that little adventure, we ate lunch in the cobble stoned inner courtyard of the castle, and then headed up to the roof to admire the view of the port below. it was a beautiful sunny day, a little windy up at the top of the mountain, but it was clear and perfect for looking out at theboats on the blue mediterranean. we were looking down at a garden on one side of the castle when we noticed a man with a few plastic shopping bags walking towards a big bush next to the garden wall. he banged something against the wall and then probably a dozen cats appeared from inside a few different bushes and ran over to him! he reached into his plastic bags and retrieved dry and wet cat food, which he then set out for the cats. i, of course, was really jealous (and missing my own cats) and decided that i wanted to go down and be loved by the kitties. when we got down there, we watched as another lady came bearing cat food and did the same thing. we got quite a show, although we learned that these were not the kind of cats that like to be petted so much.
on our way back down the mountain, we went through more garden areas and past a pretty fountain. since we didn't really know where we were going anyway, we took our chances and went exploring. we ended up finding a zip-line type swing in the garden and spent a few minutes swinging between platforms and acting like kids (who can resist a zip-line swing??).