I was already contemplating the sad reality that my Spanish adventure was coming to an end when I walked into the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia during my final couple of days in Barcelona.
As soon as I stepped through the front doors into the main hall of Sagrada Familia, I felt moved by the beauty and awesomeness of the space.
Then the sound of organs, followed by choral singing, flooded my ears and sent a wave of emotion right through me. Music will get me every time.
Magnificent places of prayer and contemplation – be it a temple, mosque, church or synagogue – have always had the power to move me. But Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s design for the Sagrada Familia, which feels so ahead of its time (commenced in the 1880s), has an other-worldly quality that really felt like it elevated me to another place.
Yet the architecture is conceived from our own world. Gaudi took the shapes from the plant and animal kingdoms, magnified them and incorporated them into the structure of the building.
Gaudi is quoted as saying that the vaults of the ceiling, which stand at 45 metres at the highest point above the central nave, would do wonderful things for lighting and acoustics. He was right on both counts. I took more than 150 photographs at Sagrada Familia and my favourite moment was simply sitting and looking, and listening to the music as it resonated around and through me.
Music and singing have been a thread that has woven right through my life, and my journey through Spain was no different.
I have a habit (perhaps annoying for some) of breaking into song when there’s one that feels relevant to the moment. You may have already noticed this in some of my blog headlines? 🙂 It’s a habit that was shared by one of my travelling companions and together we laughed our way through quite a few spontaneous snippets of song across Spain.
We’ve also been entertained at dinner, lunch and even at breakfast by buskers playing everything from guitar and piano accordion to the mouth organ.
Music capped off my visit to the Sagrada Familia and I’ve already spoken about the impact of the Flamenco we saw in Seville. Barcelona features again in my top three musical moments in Spain.
We went to the top of the Avenue Maria Cristina to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. It’s a music and light display integrated with the fountains.
The setting is spectacular, from the buildings and waterfalls to the colourful fountain and the avenue beyond. But for me, it was the unmistakable refrains of Freddie Mercury singing ‘Barcelona’ which delivered the magic.
I really didn’t want to leave Barcelona yesterday. I’m filing this last blog about Spain from London. I crammed so much into my final few days (and nights – Spain is the kind of place that really comes to life after dark) in Barcelona that I didn’t get a chance to sit down properly and write.
It’s ironic to me now that part of me didn’t want to leave Melbourne for this holiday. Once settled into Scotland, I didn’t want to leave for Spain.
Yet for nearly three weeks I’ve had the most incredible time touring Spain. I made two lovely new friends from our touring group and the journey culminated in some magical experiences in Barcelona.
The thing about journeys is that they are full of the excitement of beginnings mixed with the sadness of endings.
But there’s probably something about the uncertainty of my current circumstances that makes it even harder to leave. There’s security in being somewhere for a period, with the same people and establishing some sense of a routine.
Now I’m visiting London on my own, staying in the West End. When I arrived, my hotel room wasn’t ready so I wandered down to the markets at Covent Garden to get some brunch alone.
As I rounded the corner, my ears caught the sound of a soprano singing, as they do regularly in the market pavilion, and it immediately lifted my spirits. Hello singing my old friend.