Barcelona, March 2007. I had a fabulous time, and took 396 pictures — but don’t worry, I’ll only share a small selection with you here. I labelled some but not all of the photos in the galleries. The result is that if there is no label, you will see the previous label. Again, when I get time I’ll put labels on all of them. In the meantime, please enjoy. Here are the pictures, followed by the descriptions of each day.
|Barcelona, day 1||Barcelona day 2||Barcelona day 3|
Day 1 was very full. Briefly, I walked up and down Las Ramblas with all its vendor stalls and sidewalk cafes. First stop to take pictures was the extensive Mercat de la Boqueria (Boqueria Market). Took a few snaps of the flower stalls. At the top end of Las Ramblas is Plaça de Catalunya, a large square, where I picked up the Barcelona card. They were celebrating 30 years of the Sardanes school, where children learn the traditional dance of Barcelona. Very nice!
Then I wandered around the Barri Gòtic (Gothic district) for a while. Saw the main cathedral, although the front was in scaffolding so I didn’t take a photo of that. Narrow streets, originally the most ancient part of the city built by the Romans, but most of the existing buildings are Gothic.
Had tapas at one of the sidewalk cafes on Las Ramblas — very nice and not expensive — but I didn’t take a photo of that. There was a famous female impersonator sitting at the next table, and it was interesting to see the passers-by stop and recognize he/she, asking for photos etc.
At 3.30 back to Plaça de Catalunya to join a bus tour that took us around to the main Gaudi architecture sites. We walked around Parc Güell, built by Gaudi at the request of his patron, Mr. Güell. It was very crowded, so photo ops were somewhat limited unless I wanted to get snaps of other people posing! The chameleon (called ‘dragon’) is the symbol of Barcelona.
We walked around Gaudi’s last work, La Sagrada Família, left unfinished when he died. Contruction still continues, however, piece by piece as they raise money from donations and admission fees.
The last stop was the Picasso Museum.
For dinner, more tapas at a Basque restaurant on Las Ramblas near the hotel. For dessert, a chocolate raspberry tart from a famous chocolate shop, Escribà Patisseries La Rambla 83 (founded 1820).
On the second day, I set out to go to Montjuïc and the Fundació Joan Miró. But since I hadn’t gone all the way to the waterfront on day 1, I took the long way and went down to take a good look at the Columbus monument there. There was also an antique fair on. Then I walked up the Avinguda Paral.lel and took the Funicular to the mountain. I spent quite a bit of time in the museum as Miró is one of my favourite artists. After that I was happy to wander around in some of the quieter parks and gardens on Montjuïc. I could have gone into some of the other museums there, but it was such a gorgeous day I wanted to stay outdoors. I was going to take a look at the Olympic stadium, but there was construction going on so I stayed in the quieter areas. After being mostly in crowds the previous day, it was a nice change.
I wandered down the hill on foot, from Jardins de Joan Marshall to the Jardins del Laribal where I had lunch at the La Font del Gat, a terraced restaurant overlooking the city and founded in 1884. Two black cats, reminded me of someone we know! I had what Maria told me was a typical Catalan type of dish, fideus rossa (reddish-brown angel hair pasta) with clams and squid. There were orange trees on the terrace and a good view.
I carried on down the hill past the Teatre Grec and ended up at the Teatre Mercat de les Flors in the theatre district. It was siesta time and very quiet and peaceful. At the base of the hill I found myself in a residential area, Poble Sec, when I saw some drummers walking past. Earlier I had heard what sounded like samba drums but didn’t see them. Now I could hear the real performance more loudly, so I turned off onto a side street and followed my ears. I ended up at a neighbourhood event at a tiny square where several teams of samba drummers (Castellers del Poble Sec) were playing. Very nice! In a strange way, it was this unexpected community event that was the highlight of the trip.
By now I was quite far from the Mediterranean seafront, but carried on down to the seafront. I walked along the marina at the Moll Bosch i Alsina, a paved open mall with palm trees, and crossed over to Port Vell (the old port) where there is a shopping centre called MareMagnum, aquarium, IMAX and multiplex theatres, etc. Again, it was more of a community thing than a tourist thing. I sat in the sun and read, then strolled around to find some more free music, a benefit for dentists in Africa. Crossing the bridge Rambla del Mar I was back at the starting point near the Columbus monument, and noticed that the pleasure boats (Las Golondrinas) had a last cruise at 5.30. It was about 5.27 so I bought my ticket quickly and got on board.
The cruise went out past the World Trade Centre and Torre Jaume I (tower with aerial tram) and then down the coast. We passed the Olympic Port with its gold sculpture and several beaches. Some para-surfers were darting back and forth around the boat. It took about an hour and a half. That pretty much was day two!
On the third day, I got together with Maria and we went around to some of the Gaudi buildings to see them more closely, the fancy shopping district of Eixample, the old town, La Ribera and the city park. We went into Casa Milà because there was a free exhibition on and we thought we could see more of the building. However, the exhibition was Music of the Third Reich and the galleries were blocked off from the main part of the building. We went through the exhibition somewhat quickly, although did listen to some of it through the headphones. Then back out onto the street for more rambling, architecture, soaking up atmosphere.
We had thick hot chocolate (almost like hot fudge sauce) with a mountain of thick whipped cream and a sponge cookie in a tiny chocolateria, Xocolateria La Xicra Plaça San Joseph Oriol 2. I didn’t take any photographs of that one, but did get some shots of the chocolate sculptures that were on sale for Easter (forgive the reflections in the window, there was no way to avoid them) and later of the patisserie (Excriba) where I had a chocolate raspberry tart and bought some Easter eggs to bring home to Martin.
By mid-afternoon (after only 6 hours of walking, this time) I was a little tired so I rested and read for a little while before going out again. At the end of the day, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to have some Japanese food, so went to a tiny place called Sushi-ya on a narrow lane off Plaça Reial. It mainly serves locals, especially students, as the prices were low. Encouraging was the fact that the other customers looked Asian, though the waitress (proprietress, perhaps?) was Slovakian studying English and married to a Catalan man — but the chef seemed to be Japanese. Had a nice chat with the waitress.