Barcelona - beaches, bocadillos and beer!

Trip Start Jun 02, 2008
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8
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Trip End May 01, 2010


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Where I stayed

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Friday, June 13, 2008

"Tents are not allowed madam...and is that erm...."  "a Trangia" I replied randomly hoping its Swedish origination might help in some way. "Yes" the Danish security lady replied..."stoves are not allowed on the flight"...

How had I overlooked this? In a desperate bid to make the 15 kilos  I'd off loaded the tent and stove into my hand baggage ...

"Do you have fuel ?" she probed further..."fuel is not allowed....",   "yes I know"...I replied curtly....luckily I'd had foresight to wash the meths out of the trangia beforehand....  Incidentally I still vouch for these stoves having carted one  round the world 20 years ago...used for countless  breakfasts and random cups of tea  on the road. This was a miniature version but still just as effective...Of course 20 years ago stoves were probably allowed on planes you just wern't allowed to brew up on them!

I was meeting Karen - my friend and neighbor from Twickenham in Barcelona.  I'd had a sudden urge for some luxury after the camping besides most of the  hostels fill up really quickly in Barcelona and I'd left it too late for a decent one..the hotel was in calle mallorca..a pleasant quiet area but still within walking distance of the La Rambla etc .  Karen's plane was late taking off ..something about president Bush coming to London causing chaos at Heathrow..when she arrived we grabbed a bite i tried to impress Karen by ordering the bill in Spanish.  Five minutes later the puzzled waitress came back and poured me a beer....

The first morning we made for the old city, from Pl Catalunya, along the famous la Rambla - a tree-lined boulevard that is both touristy and busy,  breakfasting in the grand Placa Reial (disappointing and expensive), before heading for the marina and beach.  The latter was long, sandy and bordered by open air expensive restaurants.  Karen took a trip up the hill of Montjuic for great aerial views of the city and I wondered the old streets discovering a lively tapas bar on calle Argenteria where a huge array of every kind of tapas were presented along the bar...you  help yourself and pay the 1.50 euros per tapas at the end.  A good old fashioned trust system which worked for staff and clientele alike...no queues no fuss.  I sampled three tapas and a beer - my total bill less than 10 euros. I walked into the early evening at which point I collapsed exhausted my fit flops working overtime!

The next day after b'fast of coffee and croissants we set off on foot again. I headed for Pl St Jaume - the heart of the city once the center of the Roman fort from which Barcelona grew..some acrobats were making a human tower there...so I stopped to watch....i had thought about a bike tour which leaves from this placa however feeling lazy I  carried on walking. Some Spanish locals were dancing the Catalan dance in front of the cathedral...it may not be the most dynamic of dances but the old people were doing it with pride.  I was amazed to see an old man hobble in, casually throw his stick into the center and join in ...proof you are never too old or infirm to dance given someone to lean on!

I wondered on to the cathedral...well worth a look at.  However i inadvertently snuffed out one of the candles climbing up to get a better picture behind the railings...a Spanish nun immediately appeared clutching the candle speaking so fast at me I hadn't a clue what she was saying but guessed it couldn't be good... .  She beckoned to me to follow and then thrust the candle into my hands..i stood there humbly as she climbed into a room the size of a post box and then indicated for me to pass it to her.  At that point she thanked me, smiled - and enormous relief at not having to pay further penance wafted over me...

I decided then to make for the tapas bar from yesterday and set off down numerous little streets each time getting lost until eventually i came upon it - close to St Maria del Mar. It was busy with Spanish and tourists alike having Sunday lunch...I worked my way to the bar and started talking to two Germans who had consumed 21 tapas (evidenced by the cocktail sticks i counted on their plates) several beers and  were now trying the Spanish wine poured from a customary great height. They invited me to a beer and we chatted about travelling, unusual tapas and football. They chivalrously treated me to my beers - their bill came to over 50 euros but they felt it was worth it ...

I arrived back early, Karen arrived later full of her Gaudi day.  That evening we found a local salsa club which felt crowded after Aarhus and a dubious mix of people... mostly they were regulars and there seemed to be a lot of group dancing such as La Rueda or the Cuba Wheel where there is a caller and  girls are passed around the human wheel.  It looks great done in a compact and tidy wheel but here the crowded conditions impared the aesthetic appeal.  I had a few dances and  we left...

we'd not really sampled Barcelona night life but the lure of my hotel bed outweighed the attraction of some mixed dances in a crowded and unfamiliar club...

The next day we parted and I left for Girona...
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