Sunday, July 15, 2012

Barcelona, a city not unlike Montreal

We had 2 days in Barcelona, well 1 full and two half days including the arrival and departure days.  I didn’t know much about the city besides the fact that it is in a region called Catalunya which considers itself a distinct society within Spain much like Quebec.  There are two official languages; Catalan and Spanish.  Catalan is like a Spanish version of French, for example please is si vos plaus, closer to s’il vous plait then por favore.

At my last blog, I posted that we were going out on the tourist bus; we caught the red line and enjoyed the city from the top of the open double decker was really starting to sink in that A-I’m on vacation and B- how wonderful it is to be in Barcelona. 

Our first jump off was at Place d’Espanya. It was the setting for the 1929 world fair as well as the about our whirlwind first afternoon and evening. 1992 Olympics. Next stop for us was the Teleferic de Montjuic which brought us up Montjuic (about the same size as Mont Royal it would seem to me, where we got to visit the castle where we enjoyed some wonderful views of Barcelona. Since we got on the last bus tour, we hopped off at the stop at the bottom of the Ramblas to that we could stroll it and find a place to eat dinner.  We went to a restaurant called La Fonda recommended by Rick Steves.  We had a great meal including wine and desert for 16.5E.  After dinner, exhausted, we made our way up the Rablas as were amazed but the sheet number of people out even close to midnight! So much for our early nigh!

Saturday we were up and out for about 11:00 and headed back to the touristic bus.  We got on at Placa de Catalunya and made our way North.  The plan was to head to Barcelona’s most iconic landmark, Gaudi’s Segrega Familia.  When we got there, we headed for the ticket line and were dismayed to see that the line to buy tickets wrapped around three sides of the Church.  Now I have to mention that my trusty Rick Steves’ guidebook had recommended that we skip the line by buying our tickets online, I don’t know want possessed me not the take the advice especially given my experience skipping the 4 hour line at the Coliseum thanks to the same guidebook.  Anyhow, we decided to continue on the route and loop back to the hotel, buy the tickets and go back late afternoon.
Me in front of the Passion Facade of Segrega Familia

Our next stop was at Parc Güell, another of Gaudi’s creations.  It was meant to be a 30 acres, park-like gated community.  The project never took off and the 15 acres that contain Gaudi’s work were donated back to the city by the Güell family.  I didn’t think I would be a Gaudi fan, but I can now appreciate his use of engineering and his desire to replicate what is seen in nature.

Main Entrance at Park Gruell

We had a nice lunch sitting on a terrace just outside the park and had sangria, Spanish ham sandwiches and a salad.  What a wonderful way to take a breather!

Our next hop was at the Barcelona futball stadium, the largest in Europe, with a capacity of 100,000 and home to Club Barca.  Europeen Soccer is currently on hiatus due to the Euro Cup and the Olympics in two weeks. So the only way we were going to see the inside of the stadium was to buy a 23E tour that lasted 1.5 hours.  So we skipped given that it was already late afternoon. 

Back at the hotel Reding for 6pm, I jumped on the computer to buy our Segrega tickets and saw that the last pre-purchased entrance is at 7pm.  Since it didn’t leave us enough time we adapted our plans We headed to the beach!  I love any excuse to go to the beach, so we spent the last 2 hours of the sun sitting on the beach, I went for a quick dip and read while Josee rode the waves for a while. 

We did manage to go home to change and then headed back out at midnight to enjoy the Barcelona nightlife.  We stood in line for half an hour at the Opium Mar, apparently THE place to go in July 2012 but were turned away at the door because we were wearing flats though the excuse was that it was a VIP only night. What can I say?  We got the once over and when he got to our feet, said do you have a VIP invitation?  No, sorry, tonight is VIP only.  Some got rejected as soon as they were seen, no scan so at least we past part of the audition! So ladies, if you’re ever in Barcelona and want to get into Opium Mar, wear a dress and heels!

But seriously, we ended up at Catwalk bar where 20E buys you admittance and a drink.  Nice place, good music and lots of people!  It was great.  Managed to stay out and awake until 3h30!

This morning was difficult, I was exhausted but we dragged our lazy tired bones out to our 11am ticket reservation at Segrega Familila which is Gaudi’s greatest work and the most iconic landmark in Barcelona. What I didn’t know is that Segrega is unfinished.  It was started in 1909 by Gaudi and has been under construction at various times since his death in 1926 to be completed according to his plans.  It should be complete in 2030.  BTW, something else I learned, Gaudi died in his early seventies when he was hit by a tram.

Our 3hr high speed train ride from Barcelona to Madrid allowed us to catch some sleep and recoup a little.  We found our hotel relatively quickly, 2 lines and about 5 stops from the train station.  It’s in a cute neighbourhood that looks to be bustling with activity.  We’re looking forward to going out to explore it whilst we scavenge for food!

Hasta Magnana!

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