I woke up rather early today, and decided to use the washing machine and brave hanging it out of the window after a brief spell in the contemplation zone reading my book. Sadly I had messed up a setting, which meant that the spin was slow and resulted in my clothes coming out sopping wet. We set off once again towards the Arc de Triomf. This time, however, we were actually planning on the zoo visit. Would today be the day I saw a Red Panda in the fur, not asleep the whole time, like when I was 6!? It had been quite some time since my last visit to a zoo, I especially wanted to go to this one whilst here as I knew they had the Red Pandas. Zoos are a mixed experience for me. Some things I have no problem with seeing there, but when it comes to certain animals and their conditions, although regulated, I feel a little uncomfortable with. Mostly depending on the size and intelligence of the animals.
The vultures looked much bigger than you see on TV documentaries. Alex mentioned just how large their wingspans were just before one started to stretch its out and display for us, as if on cue. We watched a couple of them picking at the carcass of something with a tussle going on as to who got dibs. Noting quite how far the poo was outside the cage I took a step back. This was quickly validated by one of the two doing its business in the direction of the cage edge. Thankfully not reaching outside, but enough to show quite how it all got there.
We stopped by the dolphins, one of which was not bred in captivity. The zoo had adopted a policy to not take in dolphins from the wild. Another thing I was quite pleased to hear was that they no longer did performing shows for an audience. Although in some respects I can see the training being fun for them, it is still unnatural. I find this to be a positive reflection of the expectation from the public thanks to the evolution of culture and society.
Naturally, for me the highlight was seeing the Red Panda. When we approached it I couldn’t see any out, but there were several wooden huts stuffed with hay, which I would guess that some were asleep inside. I let the others know then that they were actually nocturnal. Slightly disheartened I walked away, only to be called after by Chris who had spotted one up in the tree, difficult for me to see under the low canopy. Just as I crouched to take a photo of the red fluff ball on the branch it popped its head up from buried within a huge fluffy tail. It gave a brief glance around, looked at everyone, yawned and licked its nose before settling back down again to sleep. Perfect timing for me! I would have loved to seen some playing but that was special in itself!
Sadly Tom was not so lucky with the Jaguar, which did not show itself but remained in its hidden area behind the enclosure door. Chris, however, was fortunate enough to see the Giant Anteaters in action. Perfect opportunity for some photos. We passed by huge giraffes, which dwarfed the rhino and elephants, which somehow seemed smaller than I thought. The hippos seemed quite content to float about blowing bubbles. A bison decided to stamp, leap, and generally flex its muscles as we went past. This transported me back to seeing them in the wild in Yellowstone.
After the zoo we reunited with Steph who had been out in the sun reading and listening to music. There had been a loud wailing child for a long time, which had irritated her. We walked to Oporto (Portugese) restaurant, where I mistakenly asked for veal, confusing it with venison - it was delicious all the same. We just about made it to the Gaudi Cathedral (Sagrada Família) in time for our 3pm booked time slot. Security spent some time checking through bags. Straight after being let through we were struck by the intricate designs. There was a Welsh lady that was well spoken who asked for a photograph of her by one of the green doorways. In the conversation surrounding this we let her know that Gaudi had died long before it was finished, to which she responded “Oh shit! Is he dead!?”, which we found to be quite amusing given her demeanour!
Walking in through the door took my breath away. The vaulting and stained glass appeared so orderly in comparison to the outside. The place was huge, despite so many people wandering around there was a big sense of space. Possibly this could be due to the lack of seating in the place. Most other cathedrals that I’ve been to have a lot more seating inside. The central Jesus hanging was impressive with the vibrant colours from shining through the stained glass windows the room was lit up spectacularly.
The smaller alcoves to the sides were impressive enough on their own, but the sheer size of the spectacle as a whole would be difficult to put into words. Unlike the other cathedrals I’ve visited in the past the windows didn’t have any scene depiction despite the intricacy. Though part of the interior had netting it still shone brilliantly through giving a glowing aura. Here I also lent my camera to Steph again so that she could get some enjoyment out of some photography, despite having her camera having been stolen. I had been backing up the photos that I had taken religiously ever since the event so that it would only be material possessions lost, not the photo-documentary.
I spent some time just looking up at the ceiling, as it was equally colourful and impressive. The interior stone had a much more uniform than the colour of the exterior. I would love to return when it is all finished and all the cranes and scaffolding have been removed. There is a museum underneath as you exit. Showing Gaudi’s work and the engineering involved making it. It included a 1:25 scale model of what the finished cathedral would look like. I can certainly see that the final form could be better appreciated from the outside at a bit of elevation.
We left after a walk through the now relatable gift shop. Chris and I got some Ice cream, Steph helped me to pick out a cinnamon flavoured one that was delicious. We went home to drop some things off. We’d decided earlier that tonight was the night for Tom to experience the, now fabled, pork dewlap. We ordered a selection of tapas which included 2 portions of the dewlap, which took the waitress by surprise - she cautioned us as to what it was. me and Alex went for the Gin of the day, Beefeater 24 with pink grapefruit garnish. Chris had a Piña colada. Steph had the Kahlua Alexander cocktail. a little later I was intrigued by the rest of their Gin selection. After asking the waitress what she recommended (her favourite was, as mine, Hendricks). She then suggested that I went with Ophir and offered me a chilli garnish, which loving hot food, I accepted gratefully. The bill came to a whopping €40, over half of which was for the Gin. I rather enjoyed them both, the Ophir was very interesting with just how much it had a black pepper aroma and flavour.
We swung by another Gaudi Apartment on the way back from the cathedral, which paled in comparison, and at €34 entry it was more than enough to just see from the outside. Tom made some Nachos with avocado, cheese, and salsa under the grill when we were back at the apartment - despite just having had the tapas including the melt in your mouth lamb.