Andorra and Barcelona

Trip Start Jul 23, 2012
1
11
60
Trip End Feb 03, 2013

Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Friday, August 24, 2012

24/8/12

We both slept in a bit so we quickly packed up and got on the road towards Andorra. We had another fantastic ride over the mountains, the roads here in Spain are much nicer to ride on as they are wider and smoother, also not so many camper vans so therefore we could go faster! 
We had a more obvious boarder crossing into Andorra, however again no one asked for our passports. As soon as we passed into Andorra we hit traffic and lots of it, we passed HEAPS of shops and big shopping malls. Our rough plan for the day was to try and leave our bikes in Andorra after having a little look around and catch a bus to barcelona to get a taste of the big city. A little lost on where to go we pulled over and went in search of an information place to get a map and finalise our plans for the day. After struggling through broken english/spanish and sign language we interpreted the bus station was in the next city, so off we rode. What a nightmare! Slow moving traffic in 30+ degree heat, not really understanding the map thus getting lost, frustration grew. We pulled over a few times to try and gauge our location however we did not have much success. It was like driving through a massive duty free department store, quite unbelievable and not what we were expecting Andorra to be like. Finally we found a good spot to park and with Rhys needing the toilet and both getting a little hungry unfortunately McDonalds came to our rescue. After a pleasurably guilty meal and time to cool down we set off in search of the blasted bus station (not noticing it opposite McDonalds!). We walked up and down a few streets before I finally asked someone for help, they pointed us in the direction we had just come from and to our relief we finally found the bus station. The lady at the desk spoke fantastic english so we were able to get tickets for the next bus in 3hrs time, and also get some advice on where to leave our bikes. Plan made! We were still however, a little disappointed in Andorra and this showed as we did not know how to fill in the three hours as neither of us enjoy shopping. Finally a decision was made and we took off on the bikes heading for the hills. We struck gold and found a beautiful spot, we went for a small walk through the pine trees and discovered a small lake, not a bad way to waste away the hours. Rode back into the city and parked our bikes in a small side street just off the main road and close to the bus station. Tried to secure as much gear as possible in Rhys' panniers and both top boxes then packed the rest in our backpacks and we were off to Barcelona. Had a very SLOW bus ride out of Andorra, the traffic was crazy! We decided people from Barcelona must come to Andorra to do duty free shopping for the day, as there is no other way to explain how many cars and people we saw. During the bus trip we realised I had left the spare bike keys in my top box and Rhys had the rego papers in his; so if people were to steal our bikes they would be able to start, ride and sell them legitimately. Lessons learnt for next time we leave our bikes! After 4.5hrs on the bus we finally arrived in Barcelona, at 2215hrs, we thought a taxi would be the best way to get to the area we wanted to stay. We were dropped off at a hotel we had quickly found on the internet however had not made a booking.....nil rooms available so off we walked to find a room. After being turned down by around 10hotels/hostels we finally found a guy who put us in touch with a hostel who had a room. By this stage we were hot, hungry, tired and thirsty! The hostel we stayed at was down a small street which did not look the most welcoming however the hostel owners were lovely and the room was fine, however no air con or fan! 2310hrs we finally put our bags down and went for some food, it is great how in Spain you can still get a meal at 2300hrs. We had a jug of Sangria and some tapas which were yummy. Got to bed around 0100 and proceeded to sweat our tits off all night! It did not get below 28oC all night! 


25/8/12 

After a somewhat interrupted sleep due to heat, dogs barking and a dog or something playing with a plastic bottle we woke up and looked out our window and were greeted with more heat! Had a shower; which was pretty much pointless as while drying you started to sweat again, however we were pleasantly surprised when we walked outside that it was cooler than our room. We made a direct route up La Rambla (main tourist street in Barcelona) towards stop 1 for the hop on hop off tour bus. Tickets purchased and we took the green route, eastern side. 

The beach of Barcelona looked very inviting with a great promenade to walk along, the promenade itself was designed and built during the first part of the 20th Century and extended when the Olympics came to town in 1992. Since then Barcelona has continued to join the many beaches together to form a continuous promenade. 

 We continued to tour through the streets of Barcelona, seeing the port, Olympic village, a massive building shaped like a cucumber covered in 70 000 LED lights which gave an awesome display of colour at night and a hell of a lot of people! 

Back in St Emilion you may remember we met a random kiwi who gave us the lowdown of the area, well he also stressed to us that when we visit Barcelona we need to go and see Gaudi's Building, La Sagrada Familia. Sure enough our next stop on the tour was this architectural marvel.  Gaudi was an Architect who had been commissioned by Barcelona's wealthiest to design and create fine buildings. After completing countless, Gaudi set upon work of his 'Masterpiece’ – Sagrada Familia – Being a huge multi steeple church/memorial to the holy family. The construction began in the late 1800’s but unfortunately Gaudi was run over by a tram (probably while day dreaming about his insane building) and died shortly after. Thus the building is STILL a work in progress and Gaudi was only able to decorate the inside and one side of the building. While the other side has been finished close to his original plans. Apparently when it is finished it will be the highest building in Barcelona. As you can see from the photos of the side Gaudi decorated (the nativity scene) there is not a straight line on the building and it is literally dripping with detail….pretty cool stuff.

The original plan was to go inside and have a good look around but by the time we turned up the line was – no joke – about 120m long….sooooooo many people! We figured we may just buy a book or look at a few photos as the wait would have been somewhere in the hours….a little disappointed we continued on our merry bus tour!

As I said before Gaudi completed many projects around Barcelona and we were off to see another. Park Guell is a beautiful garden filled with buildings and sculptures of Gaudi’s. it was meant to be a area of private residences but the idea never took off so the park was preserved, and what  beautiful spot it was. Hundreds of mosaics coated the various buildings within the park while angulated rock sculptures for thoroughfares and bridges, all in all a great place to spend a few hours. 

After a spot of lunch we again jumped back on the bus and made our way to Montjuic (one of the two mountains in Barcelona) for some amazing views of the city and the harbor. On top of the hill there was a battlement, which was used as a key defence strategy for the city. Just down from this hill there was the Barcelona Olympic stadium. As Barcelona was the first Olympic games that I remember seeing on the TV it was pretty cool to go and see where the flame was lit and the stadium itself. We were both surprised that for an Olympic venue it seemed quite small, even the track and field section was tiny, I guess you just loose a sense of scale on the TV… 

After a walk around the Olympic area the decision was made to get on the western route bus and have a look at the home ground of Barcelona football club, Camp Nou. On arriving at the stadium we tossed up weather to go in and have a look at the stadium itself, but we figured we couldn’t miss seeing the goings on of one of the most successful football clubs in Europe! Student tickets purchased we headed into the museum for a look at the amazing array of trophies that the side has one over the years… SO MANY!!! Plus 4 massive UEAFA champions league cups in their own separate display box…. We followed the signs down into the dressing rooms through the players tunnel and out onto the pitch, the thought of being a player heading down the tunnel was enough to give you goose bumps, pretty inspiring stuff. We finished the tour with the commentary boxes and finally the FCB Megastore, and trust me it was pretty MEGA!! Filled with every type of merchandise conceivable, they even had FCB potato chips!!!

We finally caught the bus the remaining distance back to the main square of Barcelona and walked back to our hostel. We had decided to head down to the foreshore for dinner but after showering and getting dressed Raelene came down with some tummy problems…after putting it down to a bit of dehydration she eventually perked up and off we went in search of a paella for dinner. Our waiter turned out to be a mental case and had the obsession of walking everywhere super fast causing havoc wherever he went...no tips for you mate! Barcelona is such a pretty city at night with all the goings on and the lights…fantastic. We capped off the night with a walk along the waterfront and found a couple of cool old replica ships moored in the harbor. On getting back to our room we noticed that it was thankfully slightly cooler than the night before, thank god!


26/8/12 
 
After another hot nights sleep and interrupted by the typical Saturday night antics a city hostel creates we chatted to Mum, Dad, Nicola and Megan on Skype for a little while then packed our things and left our bags in reception so we could wander the streets till our bus left at 3.45pm. On the way we decided to get metro tickets rather than later when we had our bags. It was lucky we decided to do this as the ticket machine chose to 'eat’ our 5euro without giving us our tickets. The staff member opened the machine up and spent a bit of time trying to retrieve the money however having no luck she gave us a refund. We tried again and were successful. We then walked to Casa Batllo and La Pedrera – Two more of Gaudi’s buildings. Casa Batllo has a roof covered in coloured ceramic tiles to look like fish scales and the rhythmic sequence of the roof shape is to resemble the backbone of a dragon, it was a very striking building. Only a few blocks down was the La Pedrera that we decided to go in as it is meant to be one of Gaudi’s greatest works, built in 1906-1910. The whole building has a wave like fašade and each balcony had wrought iron fences, which were designed to look like seaweed. On the rooftop there was a series of ‘warriors’ and other magnificent art pieces used to disguise chimneys and ventilation towers. In the attic it showed just how intricate the building was as there were 270 catenary arches which supported the roof top terrace. We were also able to go into an apartment set up around the era the building was built, again the attention to detail was evident in each room, a true pleasure to walk through. After spending a bit of time wandering through La Pedrera we slowly made our way back to the hostel to get our bags, it was another +30oC. Jumped on the Metro, underground train, and in 10mins we were at the bus station ready to get our bus back to Andorra. Leaving ourselves plenty of time we went over to the larger train station and found a spot to sit and get something to eat. 

The bus back to Andorra was much faster and only took us 3hrs, which was great. Walked to the street where we left our bikes and both feeling a little nervous we were very happy to see both bikes were still there, even the pillow I left on the seat hadn’t been pinched – bonus! Andorra was a much more pleasant place on a Sunday evening, it was pretty much a ghost town compared to Friday. We rode for a little bit in hunt for a camping ground, with Rhys missing the sign a few times we eventually, under my lead, found our home for the night. We quickly set up camp and rushed to the bar as Barcelona was playing in the local Spanish league. It was great to watch Barcelona play a team we had never heard of as we had just been inspired due to our tour of their home ground. Barcelona won 2-1, with Messi scoring both goals, it was great to be in the room with passionate Barcelona supporters. 

 
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Comments

M & J Yerbury on

Stunning photos - what an adventure you are both having. Loving your blog. xxx

Irene on

Hi Raelene,

Sounds like you guys are having a great time in Europe so far! Let me know when you visit Holland/ Belgium, maybe we can catch up!
All the countries that join the EU (European Union) have open borders, that is why you don't have to show your passport when you cross.
Have fun in spain!

Xx Irene

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