The rain in Spain...
Trip Start May 22, 2010
167Trip End Oct 31, 2010
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Philip and Anna have stayed here before so they were the guides. From the Columbus memorial, by the port area, there is a lovely avenue, Las Ramblas, the goes up to a central square, Placa de Catalunya. At the end is a fountain that is the focus of celebration when the local football team win. We walked up Las Ramblas under umbrellas. John even bought a plastic poncho. It was reasonably busy although Anna said she had not seen it so quiet. There was a big central paved area, 1 way roads on either side and then the pavements. The side of the road and the central part had shops and stalls, mainly selling souvenirs. There were a few people dressed up hoping for tips, an area with art and a piece with mainly flower stalls
The paving was interesting because it really looked like it was curved up and down but in fact was flat. Anna was disappointed as she said she had not pictured being here in the rain but it was a nice temperature and the thunder was dramatic, so the worst we suffered was damp feet.
We went into the amazing food market, la Boqueria. It was almost a shame we were getting food provided on the cruise as it would have been fun to buy here. They had lots of meat and cheese, fish, fruit and vegetables as well as spices. There were also some stalls selling sweets and chocolate which we did buy from.
The Placa de Catalunya is a large central square with fountains and statues in the middle. It was formed when the old city walls were demolished to extend the city in the 19th century. We stopped at a café for a drink where I opted for a lovely fruity mango and raspberry sorbet which was a frozen version of the drink Anna and Philip had.
By then the weather had improved so we bought Hoho tickets. These were for 2 days and covered 3 routes. The buses all had an English speaking tourist representative on board. Later we were to find that if the top was full they would ask people waiting if they wanted to go onto the bottom. This worked out to be a good thing to do because the buses had stairs up at the front and down at the back. At stops they would only open the back door for people to get out and the people on the bottom could then go upstairs before the people at the stop could enter
The red route was a 2 hour circuit. It took us past some of the Gaudi designed houses in the centre, many of which are now museums. Casa Batilo had a façade with a tiled curve designed to look like the scales of a dragon. Antoni Gaudi qualified as an architect at the Barcelona School of Architecture in 1878. He was given the job of working on the Sagrada Familia but also designed other houses and buildings that are now also famous. He died after being run over by a tram in 1926.
We found most of the modern buildings were stylish. There were a lot of modern sculptures around the city as well. We were amused to see abandoned earphones on the top of the shelters by the bus stops. We went past a park with a giant Miro sculpture called Woman and Bird. It s 22m tall, very colourful and was completed by him in 1982 when he was 89. We also liked anther statue of an upside down elephant. We also liked the smiling lobster, designed by the person who designed the Barcelona Olympic mascot.
There were often trees down the streets including a number of palms in which parrots could be heard rather loudly. We also saw some plants that looked like toi tois. Another odd thing we went past was a prison which was in the centre of the city, although we were told there were plans to move it.
There were a lot of apartments with the Catalunyan flag displayed. We were told that 3 million people live in the city and when we went up higher we could get an impression of the size of the city
The nicest views were in the part after this. We went past the base of the funiculars that cross the harbour and as we went down we had lovely views of the port and our ship. We all tried to take photos, most of which had trees in the middle, but luckily Trish got one great shot which she will share.
The bus took us around part of the Port area which has been modernised and much of it designed by the same people who designed the Louvre Pyramid. The theme was a ship and it gets wider as it gets higher. The cruise terminal has and entrance like the front of a ship. In the middle is a huge tubular steel statue that is meant to suggest the waves of the sea – which it does when you know to look for it. We saw a group of people on segways which would be a fun way to see the area. We stayed on the bus to get an overview because of our short time here.
We switched to the shorter Green route when we got to the area that was used in the Olympics for sailing. This was also the area where the Olympic competitors were housed, in blocks of flats built for the occasion. After the Olympics, they were sold as family residences which revitalised the neighbourhood. The bus then took us along the seafront and we could see part of the 5km of beaches that are in the city.
At the most easterly end of the route was a 14 hectare park that we could see parts of from the bus
We had tea at a Tapas Bar that Philip and Anna had discovered when they were in Barcelona. We were going to choose some items each but then Rex suggested we ask the waitress to choose 12 for us. This was not enough so we later added another 6. We ate calamari, octopus, beef with fois gras, mussels (the others had my share of these), shrimps but the highlight for me was the scallop with asparagus.
We walked back down Las Ramblas, which was much busier at 8pm. There were many more bird and pet stalls here and even more people dressed up in order to get donations but we did like the head on the table with the body nearby, enough to take a photo and put coins in the hat. This was really too early to have eaten in Spain but we were ready to return to the boat.