Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 24 August 2015 • Abroad
I was sure that there was a sort-of church building in Barcelona that looked like it had been heavily pooped on. I was so sure, I tried to convince Windy and Vindhya that this building was located in Barcelona, although I had no idea what it was called. ‘Have faith!’ was the undertone of my persuasion. ‘Are you for real?’ shined off their faces in reply. Through the power of social media, we quickly learned that my vague inaccurate description was right as somebody did respond and guessed that it was the Sagrada Familia, thus the start of my faithful journey through Barcelona.
Upon arrival, the front gate of Sagrada Familia did not look like it was pooped on. It was a clean-lined light brown bone-like structure with statues around the door depicting the story of Jesus. I was sure of what I had seen online but at that point, I too, doubted what I had seen. I gave up the belief and put myself on the waiting line to enter the church; Windy alongside of me.
With three extra euros and too little time to read about the church beforehand, Windy and I equipped ourselves with one audio guide. With one headphone, I listen to the guide and relayed it to Windy. We were both in awe of the story.
I have to give a hands-down to Gaudi as an artist. The Sagrada Familia was inspired from nature. Looking up to the ceiling, it’s unlike any other cathedral I’ve been to, and that’s a thing considering I was in and out of countless numbers of them during my Eurotrip. Although he also used colourful glass mosaic, he played with them in a modern way, making the colour scheme falling on the walls very different to that usual in other cathedrals. One of his philosophies in designing, and something I totally agree on, was that you have to have just an enough amount of light. Both too much and too little will leave you in the dark. What a man!
It was like watching a documentary movie when listening to the story on the audio guide and walking through the structure. I really recommend an audio guide, especially if you haven’t been a fan of Gaudi (beware, you will be!). There are columns that mimic trees and its branches, and some mimicked bone structure. Twirling around the cathedral, ended me at the back entrance of the building. Here, the gate told another part of Jesus’ story. And guess what? The walls mimicked nature with textured surface, it looked like it got pooped on.
Ha! I was talking about the right building all along. Turns out I’ve been seeing images of the other entrance of the cathedral and I wasn’t making things up. I gained some trust from my fellow travel mates, although I think not as much as I accused a UNESCO World Heritage Site to be a pooped building.
Like it’s pooped on, right?
What’s crazy about Antoni Gaudi is that the city will be decorated with his designs. Early in his career, he often grabbed attention for his unique work. To cut things short, Barcelona had faith in him to design the whole city. Now, if that isn’t mind blowing enough, Gaudi’s designs were so complex he still has people interpreting and continuing his work as we speak, long after he died. People are making a living out of his dream. I couldn’t make my friends believe me about the Sagrada Familia, yet he had people believing in him since 1915 all the way upon completion predicted in 2027. That’s a whole lot of faith, if you ask me. He might even be a kind of art prophet having disciples doing his work and spreading the news.
He designed with a long term everlasting vision; one that would transcend through generations. If Sagrada Familia wasn’t enough, you can see a lot more of his work around the city such as Park Guell and even his own corner-less home. We spent much of our time admiring some of Gaudi’s work and it left me wanting more. Specifically in this particular house of God, I would have to say, I’m a believer in Gaudi. As she had stated, Windy is one too.
After eventually putting some faith in me, I returned the favor and putting much faith in Windy. As a sucker for surprises and unfixed itinerary, I yes-ed Windy’s wishes to visit Montserrat. I had no clue what it was to begin with, but I had a lot of faith in Windy being the unique person that she is. Also, after she took me to Chefchaouen.
Montserrat is located about 2 hours outside of Barcelona. We took a train straight to the foot of the hill, where the monastery stood. Having no time spent on browsing about the site, I lost my jaw, witnessing my final destination seemingly carved into a hill. The entrance option was by cable car, and naturally this was what we took since we had a limited amount of time. The walking route looked interesting and scenic, and one I would do if I had all day.
“Why would anyone build something here?” Windy ask the inevitable question to an oddly structure, while traveling in the cable car.
“Windy, there was no Internet in the past and probably no books on this hill. People needed entertainment and I would imagine this would be one of them,” I joked likely. Screw checking in and uploading status, this was an awesome way to occupy minds and make a statement in the past.
Montserrat is located on a sharp elevated rock. It gave a great view accompanied with the crisp fresh air of autumn. Similar to the surrounding rocks, the monastery was the color of light brown. It was very different to that inside with colors of black, gold, and marble grey dominating the palette, also colorful mosaic glass. Everything was elaborate, nothing less. I was left speechless in the halls to our main destination.
“I’ve been wanting to see the Black Madonna. There are so many versions of them around the world, but allegedly this was the original one,” Windy explains as I still stripped the place down with my eyes. I wouldn’t know any different.
I had no idea who or what the Black Madonna was, until I came to face with it. Being in and out of cathedrals and religious places, there was an odd rolling of emotion staring at the dark figure and its son. I can only describe it as empty. No emotions at all, something very odd after being mind boggled on the journey up to that point. As if I was hypnotized, I became a faithful and joined touching the orb that was in her hand, exposed for the public. Afterwards, both Windy and I sat in the praying room in the back of the Black Madonna out of no agreement.
For some reason, one that I can’t explain even after almost 2 years, I felt the urge to sit there and just think. Questions about her presence and allure on her believers ran through my head heavily, until there was a numb silence. There was just peace that made me teary just sitting there. It was overwhelming and strange considering I’m not a Cahtolic faith. But then again, maybe faith passes borders of any religion. It’s a question I have yet to answer.
Walking out from the room, I bid thank you to Windy for the Montserrat experience. Having faith in your travel mates and accepting all that comes with is something that I’ve always believed in and my faith hasn’t let me down just yet.
Who knew my visit to Barcelona would be a little weighted by new believes; in Gaudi’s awesome complete work in the future, in the authentic Black Madonna, and half price shopping of similar brands in Indonesia (no need to elaborate on shopping). It was an interesting experience as a wholesome and what traveling usually does to me; break expectations of the world. With all said and done, I believe I’ll be back in Barcelona to chase more of Gaudi’s work and to sip on more Sangria.
More Barcelona Information:
Recommended to buy tickets online to avoid standing in a long line.