Barcelona is a magical city famous for its tree lined promenades full of cafés perfect for people watching. And of course, the Gaudí architecture, the most spectacular being the Sagrada Familia. Pictures could not prepare me for the awe inspiring experience of walking beneath the towering spires and being bathed in the afternoon light streaming through the stained glass windows. It's still under construction and one can only imagine what it will be like once the final towers are soaring over the city skyline.
From Barcelona, I took a seven hour train ride to Leon where I started walking the Camino de Santiago. A 320km journey, The Way is a pilgrimage to Compestela de Santiago, the cathedral and resting place of James the Apostle. My next story recounts the 10-day journey and the amazing people I met along The Way.
Tapas and paella at outdoor cafés, flamenco and towering cathedrals - Spain is a country full of passion with an appreciation for long meals and late nights. A flight from Cusco, to Lima, to Bogota, to Frankfurt, to Madrid left my internal clock a mess. Luckily it was 11pm and dinner was just getting going at the tapas restaurant across from my hotel. I spent the next five days exploring Madrid, took a day trip to Toledo, then off to Barcelona by train and up to the Dalí museum at Figueres. Finally, I headed out to Leon to start walking the Camino de Santiago, but that's another story.
A view of Barcelona from one of the towers in the Sagrada Familia.
Madrid exceeded my expectations. Many friends recommended heading to Barcelona as soon as possible, but I found the city to be an interesting mix of art, parks, restaurants and plazas. The city also offers a fabulous array of museums, including contemporary art at the Reina Sophia featuring Pablo Picasso's Guernica.
Park Güell is another of Antonio Gaudi's creations.
Toledo is a quick one hour drive from Madrid. It's an ancient city, with narrow cobblestone streets and twists around every turn. A medieval city know for its metal work, Toledo still produces knives and swords sold in shops along the narrow streets.
Figueres is a couple of hours north by train and was home to Salvador Dalí.