Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Free Tuesday #3: Tibidabo

Tourist Tuesday #3: Tibidabo!

I was so happy to see sunshine and clear skies this morning - they were essential to this trip.  But before I left, I should add that I actually swam this morning. In a pool. For more than 20 minutes.  What is happening to me in this glorious inspired city!? The point is that I'm glad that I swam and did not do a leg workout because today was all about hiking and stairs. And more stairs. And then more.  I digress....

My fabulous new buddy Belinda agreed to join me for a trip to Tibidabo, which is a mountain overlooking Barcelona.  You can see it from all over the city, with its giant church rising high into the sky.  Actually, you can see it from San Cugat (where ESADE is) as well.  We met at Cafe Zurich in Plaza Catalunya and took the train to the Tibidabo exit. We didn't really know what to do from there, and once we realized the tram wasn't operating and the funicular was broken, we boarded a bus to take us a bit higher.  Still not knowing what to do, we (she) asked some locals who were hiking around how we could reach the church.  They didn't think it was possible, but we figured we would have a go anyway. Off we went!
The hiking was a bit rocky, but the views were incredible.  Luckily after a bit we found ourselves on a path that was frequented by runners, walkers, and mountain bikers. Here we could see the Torre de Collserola (a giant telecommunications tower) in the distance. We figured there had to be a way to get there so we kept going.
And meanwhile, the church was also getting closer! There had to be a way!
After about an hour, we found a map that pointed to some steps. I had a moment of hope when I thought there might be mechanical steps like other parts of Barcelona, but that hope was fleeting once I saw the endless staircase.  Halfway through the hike we stopped to talk to some mail carriers who tried to explain how to get to the church.  Side note: it was amazing how they didn't seem in any rush to get anywhere, and where perfectly happy to stand and chat.  We kept going and then saw a road with a big sidewalk - clearly the way to Tibidabo!  And then we turned around to see the views... notice that windy snake road? That was where the above pictures were taken.

After maybe another 30 minutes, we finally reached the top! And we were rewarded by this stunning church, which I have been eying from afar since arriving in the city.  (There is an amusement park too, which I remembered from Vicky Christina Barcelona. It was closed, though.)
We visited the bottom crypts first, and were rewarded by some of the most beautiful mosiacs I have ever seen. (All the backgrounds here are mosiacs!)

Then we took a lift (finally! mechanical help!) to the second level of the church.  Which led to... more steps!
But we were rewarded yet again by 360 views of the city.  We could see towns and towns and far off into the ocean.  It was absolutely stunning.

And then we found even more steps... which led us to the very top of the church and this view directly up.
This was the view directly down. Pretty incredible to ponder how people actually managed to build this church.
 (Hi! I have needle sticking out of my head!)
 Belinda then made me take a proper picture. No more needle.
After wandering outside, we were able to inside the main sanctuary. It was so stunning that I could not accurately convey it with my pictures, so I will just leave it to the imagination.  I did snap this picture from the outside. I thought this was a great rest stop for this cyclist.
Luckily once we made it down, there was a bus about to leave to head down the mountain. We hopped on, said goodbye to the beautiful church, and headed back to the city for a delicious lunch.  Min was a fabulous date for my Tourist Tuesday, and I was grateful to get to spend hours with her today.   Below is my parting picture and a video from the top. Enjoy!

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