Hola from Barcelona, Spain – a return visit!

We when arrived in Barcelona off the ship, we didn’t even have any accommodation booked! 30 minutes free WiFi in the port terminal [and it is on the ‘go-slow’ as everyone tries to log-on] and we are both madly searching for a place to stay. Found a cheapish and cheerful place just off La Ramblas which included breakfast, so we booked that for three nights. Turns out it was pretty good and such a central location.

It is 32 years since we were in Barcelona and I had forgotten just how beautiful it is. We walked everywhere, one day doing 21,352 steps – I think I am, I know I am … getting skinny!! Yeah right! We walked up and down La Rambla, saw all the flowers sellers, hawkers, street performers, living statues and gelato stalls and mixed in amongst all of that a few people begging. The ‘plane’ trees are so beautiful and the buildings just gorgeous. It is such a big wide promenade and you can just imagine it being the place to be [in days gone by], especially when all the alley-ways everywhere else are narrow and winding. “It takes its name from a seasonal stream (raml in Arabic) that once ran here. From the early Middle Ages, it was better known as the Cagalell (Stream of Shit) and lay outside the city walls until the 14th century.

We visited the markets, which are just fabulous and full of wonderful food and it is all so beautifully presented. It is a visual symphony and I wanted to eat everything and buy everything!! If you lived close to these markets you would never cook again! Well maybe at least never buy fruit that wasn’t cut up for you, or the freshly squeezed juices and not forgetting the dried fruit and nuts, and of course the chocolate!

We walked to Guell Park (along with hundreds of others!) and really enjoyed looking at the ‘living statues’, the beautiful buildings and people watching! It is located on Carmen Hill and we walked there! Guell designed the park with Gaudi architecture in mind and it really is the most wonderful place. I did laugh when I saw signs asking people to “respect the residents” … there is little or no regard for them [the residents] as bus loads of tourists unload by the hundreds! We spent a few hours here and walked to the top for views of the city – not quite fabulous as it was very ‘murky’!

I love the living statues and I love it even more that people don’t notice them and then they scream and jump when they move … actually I think Colin may have been ‘jumped’ when we were in Bellingham [nearly a year ago!!!!] when we walked past one on a corner. This one wasn’t quite as good as some … she really needed to loose her ‘wings’!

Then we walked to ‘the famous basilica’ – we didn’t see this last time we were here! Well not that we can rembember!! It has being built for 130 years … and they hope to have it finished for the 100 year anniversary [2026] of the architects [Gaudi’s] death! It is the most fascinating building – ‘avant-gaude’ is the only way to describe it. It is only May and a two hour queue to go inside! Not for us on this trip, but a great reason to have to return to Barcelona.

I loved that it had a permanent Christmas Tree included in its structure.

I really wanted to do the cable-car ride across the marina, as we had done this last time. It was a very long wait and cost €12 … I am not really sure it was worth it, but it does give lovely views of the city, marinas and beach for a mere 7 or 8 minutes – if you can get close enough to a window!

We spent our last afternoon walking around the gothic quarter, people watching and eating Gelato. Barcelona is a wonderful city, so vibrant and busy. The graffiti was like we have never seen before. Some of it was just amazing, but the rest is just a mess. In some parts of town you can’t even park your car overnight on the street without it getting tagged and when you walk up the alleyways at night [as you head back to your hotel] all the shops pull down their shutters and they all have graffiti on them.

I am thinking that Barcelona rivalled Athens for graffiti … and won!

We loved being here, having casual dinners and of course drinking Sangria. There is more of Spain to come.

“Never be too busy to stop and smell the roses”

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