The reunion in Barcelona

Trip Start Mar 17, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Friday, June 25, 2010

Forget Rio. Forget Mexico City. Forget Johannesburg. Before arriving in Barcelona I had been led to believe that it was probably the most dangerous city in the world. I was surely to be pick-pocketed, maybe even at knife-point. A girl I met was mugged with a machete to her throat. When I arrived at our accommodation Gabriel the owner gave me six pages of anticdotes to read from people who had been mugged or pick-pocketed. What I found though and what filled me with confidence was that they were predominately middle aged women from the UK and there stories sounded, whilst unlucky, pretty na´ve. Nevertheless the first two day I was concerned to go anywhere with a heap of cash or camera or iphone.

First off, getting to Barcelona was a marathon. I left Cadiz on the 12:00pm bus for Granada where I would catch the overnight train to Barcelona from. I was excited about going to Granada because I had heard wonderful things and was really disappointed I wasn't going to get to spend more time there. The bus went via Seville, which annoyed me more because I could have caught the overnight train from there and it would’ve taken less time and cost me less money. Anyway, can’t get caught up on these things when travelling. I had heard that in Granada Tapas is free with every drink and was excited to test this out whilst I waited for the train. Granada is aesthetically stunning. A beautiful old town with the snow-capped Nevada range in the background. Apparently Bill Clinton described the sunset there as the best in the world and of course, Bill would know. I found the train station and looked to leave my bags there but was disappointed to find out there were no lockers. So I lugged my big pack around the city as I went exploring on foot with my trusty iPod to keep me company. I found what looked like a nice quiet Spanish bar ordered 'una cerveza’ and sat down to watch the soccer, expecting my tapas to follow, but nothing. After that I headed to another quiet Spanish bar to have a beer again and again no Tapas! One more try I thought and this time I was not disappointed, with my beer came a nice big plate of potato chips. Disappointed by my failure and beginning to question my Spanish skills I headed back towards the station and stopped around the corner to have a drink and watch the next soccer game, Italy vs Paraguay I think. This time I wasn’t disappointed, roast pork off the spit, olives and chutney beef baguette and gazpachio soup. It was amazing.

Arriving on the train I looked intently for my bed where I would be spending the overnight journey, only to find that I had been confused when booking the ticket online on the Spanish website and booked myself a seat for the evening! Thankfully it was part of a four and there was only me and a lovely, old, fat Spanish man sitting there. He kept insisting that I stretch out and put my feet on the seat and even offered me a sandwich for which in return I supported him while he walked to the bathroom, I mean this guy could hardly walk.

In Barcelona I had my bags padlocked and was ready for anything but arriving in La Rambla, the main tourist boulevard, all I saw were tourists, most with their camera’s around their neck, a lot talking on their iPhone’s and even some walking around with money in their hand. I felt a little more self-assured. Our apartment was in a very old building that seemed to be part of an old church, it was very easy on the eye. Killing time until Millie arrived that night I wandered the city and went for a run down to the beach in the afternoon which was much nicer than I had expected. That night Millie was exhausted from her two days of travel so we had an early night.

The next few days we spent wandering all the different areas of the city, focusing on one neighbourhood each day. We had dinner down by the beach one night where Gabriel had recommended ‘the best Paella in Barcelona’ and spent the other nights perusing the bars around our area and El Raval. We did a day trip out to Montserrat which, whilst beautiful, I wouldn’t recommend if you don’t have a heap of time. We also visted Guell Park, or Gaudi’s Wonderland. That I would definitely recommend. Gaudi’s architecture dominates the city and after visiting Guell Park you really notice all the little things he has contributed, most obviously La Sagrada Familia, which is yet to be completed after construction begain in 1882! Guell Park gives you a fantastic view over the city and showcases the eclectic mix of Barcelona’s population, from gypsie’s selling jewellery to musicians, to jogger’s to people walking their dog’s.

Barcelona is alternative, yes; mad-capped, yes; dangerous, not if you have your wits about you. Next stop Marseille.
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