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We arrived in Barcelona mid afternoon yesterday, checked into our room, threw open the curtains and were greeted with an amazing sight. The Northern Facade of the Sagrada Familia lay directly in front of us. Truly awesome!

Once unpacked we headed to the rooftop terrace to take in an even better view of the Cathedral and the city. Drinks and tapas were involved. We sat relaxing and watching the perfectly choreographed routines of four cranes operating in unison, transferring yellow buckets of materials from one side of the facade to the other with the utmost precision.

This morning we were up early to breakfast and then take our three and a half hour private tour of the city with Brightside tours.  They arrived in a refurbished old Renault minibus with open sides. Niya was our guide and she was brilliant – so informative and passionate about what she was showing us. We were able to get on and off the van at many places so that she could guide us through what we were seeing. First stop – the exterior views of the Sagrada Familia (tomorrow we see the interior):

Next stop : Hospital de Sant Pau – a beautiful building, formerly a hospital (up until 2009) and now a World Heritage site.

Next Niya took us through some very swish shopping precincts and then on to view some more Gaudi architecture in the “Block of Discord”  (Illa de la Discord) on the Passeig de Gracia, in the Eixample district, which boasts outstanding modernist residences – Casa Batllo and Casa Amatller. On our way there, we saw the amazing Casa Mila, designed by Gaudi, with wrought iron railings designed by Josep Maria Jujol. The building reflects the ocean with its wave-shaped curves and balustrades reminiscent of seaweed.


Next instalment of today’s trip will follow – meanwhile something colourful from today: