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The Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, better known as  the Sagrada Familia,  Barcelona:
“The inside was so surprisingly light and bright and filled with sights that are hard to put into words”

Excerpts from the original book
Adventures in Spain/Catherine Petit
This five-part series includes the
Introduction and Parts I to IV



Photos/C. Petit


I decided to try something different and treat myself to lunch at the Alfonso XIII. A very expensive and elite hotel with a lovely little restaurant inside. Lunch and dessert were well worth the price. It being the day before my birthday, I regarded it as a treat for me from me.
Wandering the streets after lunch to walk it off, I headed back home for a nap. I was going to an opera that night and I wanted to be fully rested to completely enjoy the performance.

Tuna singers

The Teatro de la Maestranza Opera House was featuring L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti. It was so funny and the actors were so accomplished – after the performance I was walking on air.

I was on the Triana Bridge walking home when I noticed two Tuna singers. How beautiful their costumes. Then I saw two more Tuna singers. I quickly crossed the road and ask them where they were performing. One of the men said he did not know. I asked them if they had any CDs with him and he said their CDs were with someone else.

I was so disappointed. I told this young man that I really loved Tuna music. He smiled at me, then flipped his guitar from his back and started to play one of my favourite Tuna songs, “Clavelitos”.

Imagine, me on a bridge, a beautiful night, lights reflecting off the water, being serenaded by two young men in their Tuna costumes. I cannot imagine a more wonderful birthday present ever.


Triana Bridge
[Tuna Singers]

Tuna Singers are based on the traditional University singers from the 13th century that today dress in the clothing from the 16th and 17th century. They play the lute, guitar, tambourine, and the bandurria. They sing ballads, and folk songs, and occasionally one of them will dance.

The Triana Bridge

They wear a cloak that on the front has badges from cities and universities they have been to, and on the back, they are festooned with bows and long ribbons. I have been told each ribbon represents a woman they have kissed.

Their tight-fitting jackets include a beca (a sash that indicates which university they attend and what they are studying).

Their shirts are always white with large collars and cuffs, their pants are baggy up top and fitted below the knee. Finishing off the suit are stockings and black shoes or boots.





Rock covered with mica on the Camino

Many people select a rock from home to carry along with them on the Camino. Tradition says as you walk, somewhere on the path, you place the rock on a wall, or post, or add it to many others in a pile near the path.

It has been suggested it is a gesture of leaving problems or burdens on the Camino. Others suggest the leaving of the rock symbolizes the reason for the Camino has been fulfilled or realized. Still others say the rock you leave behind will call you back to the Camino.



My Camino

There were always people on the Camino. Walking for many reasons, remembering a family member or friend. Walking for guidance, help to heal a broken heart, and many other reasons.

As we walked, we sometimes shared stories. Why we were walking, or tales of adventures the day before. Sometimes we walked in silence, listening to the crunch of our boots on the gravel and the birds in the trees. Not to mention the occasional mooing from the cows in the pastures. Several days we actually walked with the cows.

It was a wonderful experience.

Cows and pilgrims on the Camino





Santiago de Compostela

It was my last full day in Santiago and I wanted to experience mass at the cathedral one last time.

The botafumeiro

Mass started and the priests, altar servers and the bishop entered the church. Mother Superior began to sing. Such an angelic voice – clear, full, and absolutely beautiful.

The mass continued.

They filled [the botafumeiro] with incense and the eight men lifted [it] with pulleys and it began to swing. The organ began to play, louder and louder as the incense burner grew closer and closer to the ceiling. As the men started to allow the botafumeiro to slow, the organ music became softer until it was about to stop. At that point, the music became more bass and louder and louder until the man stopped it completely and the organ stopped at the exact moment.

“The organ began to play, louder and louder as the incense burner grew closer and closer to the ceiling”

Mother Superior – I told her how lovely her voice sounded, and how I was lucky enough to have attended mass both times when she was singing. She told me that every time she sings, she is not singing for the congregation, but was only singing to God.




Sagrada Família

It was finally time to head to the Sagrada Família. The line to buy tickets was awfully long. Rather than worry about not getting in, I decided to look up and take in the beauty of the outside. Each façade represents a different part of Christ’s life.

The Nativity façade faces East, the Passion Façade faces West, and the Glory Façade faces South.

The outside was wonderful to see, but the inside was so surprisingly light and bright and filled with sights that are hard to put into words.

Columns reaching for the ceiling looking like trees and branches from below – and color everywhere. So much color.

Gaudi used many different ways to display his art. He wanted to look like you were in a forest of trees, and he accomplished this. He thought color represented God, and life, and he put lots of color in the windows as well as the “art work” throughout the inside.

I had to sit down to take in all of the beauty and art work inside. How on earth did all of this come together? Such great beauty, so much color and life inside. I wished I could spend an entire day there, just to feel all of the color, but that would likely have to wait until my next visit.







PART IV coming up!