Yesterday I visited the Sagrada Familia, the still work-in-progress grand basilica in Barcelona. As I got off the metro station, I saw a long line, perhaps longer than Hanuman’s tail at its longest. It was wrapped all round the massive basilica, on two sides. And to consider that it was a weekday morning at a time of year that is not peak tourist season!
Undeterred, I walked on. Walked on beyond the back of the line and round the other side of the basilica. There was a much smaller line here. This was for people who had already booked their tickets – online or elsewhere. I stood at this line for two minutes and then decided to check at the gate. There were multiple gates and this line (the shorter one I stood at briefly) led into only one of them. There was hardly a line at any other gate. I showed my ticket on my mobile at one such gate and was let in!
A few pertinent observations:
- It is fairly well known that lines at the Sagrada Familia can be really long and every online forum recommends you to book tickets online. Why, then, do so many people still turn up there to just stand in line for tickets? I thought a lot of people read online fora nowadays!
- The whole myth of their being no shortest line at supermarkets? It is a myth only at supermarkets where most shoppers are regular customers and know how many counters there are and what the queue structure of each is. When you go to visit the Sagrada Familia, which unless you are extremely religious or interested in architecture you will do only once in your lifetime, you don’t know how many counters there are for entry. So you just take your place in whatever line you find first. And that leads to queues of unequal length!
- I’m surprised at the number of people who had printed out their tickets. I was among the few who showed it on my phone and faced no problems whatsoever – my ticket had a QR code and the reader just read it off my phone! It was a similar experience at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam last week.
As a tourist, printing is not an easy job – you will need to find places where you can get printouts and they usually charge exorbitant rates. Yet, I see so many other tourists actually printing out their tickets!
- My ticket was for entry between 9:15 and 9:30 (the Sagrada Familia asks you to intimate when you’re going to land up, so that they can distribute the crowd). I landed at 9:05 and was let in without any eyebrows raised. I’m happy it wasn’t 100% rule based
- I took one of the lifts up one of the towers of the basilica, an experience which I think is overrated. I had to deposit my bag in a locker as I went up. It was funny that I had to drop a 20 cent (or 1 Euro) coin into the lock of the locker to complete the circuit and be allowed to lock! I picked up my 20 cent coin later on when I retrieved my bag. I have no clue what the intended use of this money dropping is!
Overall it was a very satisfying visit. I’ve written another essay on it which I hope to publish elsewhere. Will let you know when I do.