“U” is for Umbrella
The last day of our adventures in Spain was flooded with a heavy downpour of rain. The small group of travelers that I was with at the time wanted to make one last stop before hoping a bus to the airport in Barcelona, despite any of us being prepared for the weather that waited outside for us.
We had walked against the cool winds that tried to push us away from our destination. We had called in and tried putting our names down for a reservation to enter the architectural feat that is La Sagrada Família, and were to told that we could walk in with other groups around 10am. We checked the time when we arrived in front of the gates surrounding the basilica, and were told by the guards at the front that we had to wait outside for bit before they could let us in.
The day before had been so sunny and warm, but as we looked up toward the gray skies our faces were dampened with misty sprinkles. A moment later led to an immediate cloudburst of heavy rain, and all of us travelers without hoods or an umbrella huddled together underneath a small awning in line.
The rain continued to pour splashing off our small shelter and mostly on to our damp sweaters and cardigans. We looked in front of us and were forced to step out from the awning and further into the slowly moving line.
A man carrying an armful of plainly colored umbrellas walked by the line that was out in front of the large church. “Sombrillas por 5 Euro!”
We all stared at the bundle of umbrellas as we stood in the rain.
The man with the umbrellas walked away as other men holding umbrellas arrived. Some were selling umbrellas for €6, while the rest were advertising their hot commodity for €5. I ended up buying one of the cheaper ones an immediately opened the portable shelter.
The group squeezed into a huddle under the umbrella as the line continued to slowly move toward the entrance. We passed the incredibly intricately carved façades of religious symbols and individuals underneath the tall spires that looked as if they were trying to reach right up into heaven.
When we did eventually get inside I had initially ignored the signs and suggestions for filing umbrellas away in the plastic bags that were provided. Above me were brilliantly colored stained glass windows mounted into the walls of the tallest church in the world. We spotted the detail of the roof in the nave, and marveled at all the different lights and colors that filled the Spanish Gothic/Art Nouveau masterpiece.
We eventually had to leave the church and wander back out into the rain, that was finally letting up, so we could catch our bus to the airport. While everyone else was quickly walking away towards the nearest shelter, I used the umbrella to shield the small water droplets that carefully dripped off the statues of religious figures carved into one of the façades, and gazed up at the beauty of a building that I had only ever seen in history books.