Saturday, 7 November 2015

Barcelona - July 2015

Barcelona adventure day 1:

Today we went hiking in the city of Barcelona.

First we decided to see what there was in Plaza Espana. Many people had told us there was a fountain show during weekends in the evening and we were ready to watch when we had the chance. Then we went to pl (plaza for short) Catalunya, which was the closest station to La Rambla which many people also told us about. On the way, there was a market full of stuff and people, it really is bustling. There was a fruit section a sweet section etc. In the fish section I was rather surprised to see the lobsters were still alive.

La Rambla led us all the way to the harbour of Barcelona. We found an ice cream shop and I decided to take an ice cream. After looking around we found a harbour cruise. We decided to go on it and just as we started somebody took a picture of us. We started the cruise and took a few pictures, but they weren't very good. After we finished we searched for a bit longer and found a restaurant (a snack place really). Tonio took some seafood salad and I took calamari.

Then we decided to go to Barceloneta. There weren't as many people there so we chose to sit down on a bench and play chess (the victory place). I actually beat him for the first time yaaaay!!! (*clap).

Towards the end of the day we ate dinner at our hotel and went to sleep. What a great first day.

Barcelona adventure day 2:

Today wasn't a very lucky day although the first bit was.

We went to Casa Bajo into a house made by Gaudi a famous architect and it was beautiful. There were very few straight lines in the house and we had some machine that shows what there was in the olden times and you get to look around with it and all kinds of other stuff.

Then it started to get bad. We went into the famous Park Güell everything was good in there except we went in from the wrong way. There was even a museum in the park.

It was getting dark and we decided to go to the Sagrada familya and look inside but when we went there there was a man who sold the tickets to go and he said that there was so much to look at that we wouldn't have enough time so that was a bit of a disappointment.

But we had a great time and I will see you later

Barcelona adventure day 3:

Today has been a spectacular day. We went to Montserrat and it took a long time to reach the mountains but eventually we made it but I tell you, it was worth it apart from the first bit. We went to an information place and we asked the lady for walking tours and all she did was give us a map. It was like asking someone how to swim and he/she just gave you a book of instructions.

Then we went to a restaurant and I took an energy drink and Tonio took some beer as usual.

After that we chose one of the five hiking tours and it was 5.2 km. We started off by going on a funicular up a steep way and ending up in a crossroad. We took the way of adventure and the first bit was uphill and wide. We came to a detour and there was the first beautiful view. We took so many pictures of the views that went across the city of Barcelona.

Then started the horrible downhill, yep you heard me, the horrible downhill. Once you go down a downhill for a long time you get fed up and somehow tired and the next day you get sore muscles. After going down a great big hill and seeing a few more awesome views we reached the holy cave a place where there was a mini church and other things with explanations explaining what the things were.

Then we saw an uphill and was relieved and I didn't think I was going to say this again in my life. Finally we reached the building that had a cable car that took us to another cable car to go to the train to go to the hotel. Whew that was a long way.

Then we decided to go to Pl Espana to get something to eat and then watch the fountain show. But when we went there we couldn't find any restaurants so we had to go all the way out of the square and into a back alley. Obviously in the last day we were supposed to go to some traditional Spanish restaurant but we ended up rushing to an Indian restaurant knowing there weren't any other restaurants around. They had some very good food that I can't pronounce. At last when we gobbled up our food, we ran as fast as we felt and came to see the last 20 minutes of the fountain show. It was beautiful. But that was the end of the last and probably the best day in Barcelona.

See you.


Tonio's impressions:

Barcelona was crowded, noisy with much, too much, traffic and stifling hot. At one point, we went into a metro train that was bursting with people. You had to push your way inside. At Montserrat, an hour’s train ride away, the girl at the “information” kiosk was curt, bordering on rude: you ask her a question and she basically hurls a leaflet back at you in reply.

Ok. That’s gripes out of the way. At the end of our three day visit we didn’t want to leave. We were to wake up at 5 the following morning, but we were watching a spectacular display of music, dancing water fountains and coloured lights. Youngsters were also dancing at the edge of the water, thousands of people were milling about watching, sitting on wide staircases with a backdrop of lit waterfalls, leading up to the Palau Nacional de Montjuic. At a quarter past eleven Gianluca reminded me that we needed to catch a few hours’ sleep so we reluctantly dragged ourselves away from a magical setting, casting a last longing look back, and down into the metro station.

Inside the train, we had a deeply philosophical discussion on the nature of our individual identity, the possibility and desirability of a cure to ageing and death, whether replacing our bodies by artificial parts would turn us into robots, or if it would still be “us”. All this was sparked by my remark that he had a longer chance than me to revisit Barcelona, which upset Gianluca so I mentioned that I haven’t yet given up on living forever...

You need at least a week to take in all the main attractions of this beautiful city. We had only three days.

The first day we immersed ourselves in La Rambla, there to discover the true meaning of the peak of the summer tourist season. We entered the Mercat Sant Josep La Boqueria. Inside the market Gianluca was mostly impressed by the fact that lobsters and prawn-like creatures placed on ice were still alive. At the end of La Rambla at the edge of the port we went on a boat for a harbour cruise, to rest our legs more than anything else. This was a humdrum affair. There was no commentary at all. We saw a couple of cruise liners “lining” the quay, much industrial activity and containers and stuff, nothing of note at all except for an old man playing an accordion for a few minutes followed by a round of begging with a cap, and then a lady who take an excellent picture of Gianluca and me. It turned out so good that I paid her for it: €7.

La Rambla proceeds on top of the water as “La Rambla de Mar”. We had lunch and then headed to Barceloneta: the beach resort. In the evening we wandered around the old part of Barcelona, Ciutat Vella.  By this stage Gianluca was exhausted and we had to return to the hotel. No Barcelona evening for us. It was my fault: I was trying to do as much as possible because of the limited time available, but a child needs to rest!

Casa Battlò

The second day was dedicated to Barcelona’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudì. We went to his Casa Battlò, a beautiful house in the centre of the city. Having a very expensive lunch at a street side cafeteria, the waiter serving us recognised our Maltese language: he turned out to be a Moroccan who had spent some years in Malta, where he was an active athlete with the Zurrieq Wolves running club! We climbed up to the Park Guell, again in scorching heat, only to find at the end of the visit that we had gone in from the wrong end. That was a bit of a disappointment. We were also informed later, while trying to get a ticket to go inside the Sagrada Familia, a world famous basilica designed by Gaudì, which is still under construction close to a century later, that there was not enough time left for a proper visit, so we had to give it a miss because the following day we had decided to go to...

Montserrat! I’m told there’s an interesting monastery there, but we proceeded straight up by funicular to the mountain for a hike back to Montserrat. We chose number 4, which was supposed to be the easiest. I wonder how the most difficult route was. Number 4 was hard enough, but the views were incredible. We arrived back at the monastery place at around 4, very thirsty, had a quick drink and took the cable car down for the train back to Barcelona.

After a rest and a wash it was time to have dinner and then go to the Font Màgica de Montjuic show in Placa Espanya. The problem was, we couldn’t find any restaurant at all! With the show already in progress, we needed to find something to eat, and eventually found a side street with a welcome sign indicating... an Indian restaurant! So much for having a typical Spanish tapas or paella washed down by sangria and so on.

The food in the Indian restaurant was great.

We rushed out to catch a bit of the water fountain show, and we were not disappointed. As mentioned earlier, we had to drag ourselves away to go catch some sleep before an early rise to catch the flight back home.

What a city. Maybe we’ll go back. Maybe, because there are also so many other places to discover...

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