Our 12 day cruise ended in Barcelona, Spain, and we booked a hotel for two nights. In hindsight, we should have stayed longer, missed a lot of things to see/do.  The day we docked, we disembarked early, found our hotel, deposited our luggage and headed toward the closest Hop On Hop Off bus stop.  We took it all around, noting the places we’d like to come back to. 

Of course, we had to do the Gaudi Sagrada Familia Church first; it looked doable by foot, but after several blocks, we caved in and grabbed a taxi for 5 Euro - it was MUCH further than we had thought.

The uniqueness of the exterior is only the beginning of this fascinating architectural wonder, still uncompleted.

The large Roman Catholic church was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.

Though construction of Sagrada Familia had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms.

Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Familia's construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War—only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí's death. The basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona—over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona's cathedral, over Gaudí's design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí's death disregarded his design, and the recent possibility that an underground tunnel of Spain's high-speed train could disturb its stability.

Describing Sagrada Familia, art critic Rainer Zerbst said "it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art" and Paul Goldberger called it 'the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages'.

View from our tour bus of a city bus blocking the intersection due to a stalled car to the left.

Gaudi’s house La Pedrera -- would’ve liked to have seen the inside

Little dog going for a ride.

Public bikes: use your credit card, ride it to where you want, drop it off at another location.  First hour is free.  Really reasonable rates.

The Agbar Tower, home of the Water Dept. and scores of other offices.  Below, the square closest to our hotel, for busses, metro, etc.

Ticket for public restroom toilet paper.