13.11.2010 - 13.11.2010
Day 59 Saturday 13 November - “Barcelona – Visit 1”
Barcelona is every good thing we'd been told to expect and we experienced none of the negatives we'd been warned about. There certainly was no hint of any pickpockets or other intimidating behaviour we'd been warned about.
Started the day on the Barcelona Bus Turistic, a very popular tour to the extent that the bus filled up after about three stops and after that they only let on the number of people that had got off. The commentary was multi-lingual and once we worked out how to select the channel my only problem was keeping the ear-buds in my ears. My ears must be deformed or too big or too old but I just couldn't keep the things in place.
Most of the streets are lined with trees and this proved to be a bit of a challenge when trying to photograph something. We were struck by the number of imposing and massive buildings, many of them dating back well over 200 years.
Two hours on the bus and we were back where we started. Decided to walk for a while. There's a waterfront area, Port Vell, with a huge shopping complex and many restaurants. It is also home for thousands of sailing yachts.
Next we wandered up the La Rambla, a wide avenue with a very wide median strip. At the Southern end there were dozens of small stalls setting jewellery and other knick-knacks. Then there was a section of restaurant seating mixed in with quick draw artists and various street performers. People who dress up in striking costumes and invite you to have your photo taken with them. This gave way to an area of mainly flower stalls with many spectacular blooms on display. Towards the Northern end there was a section devoted mainly to cage birds and other pets.
Along the way we'd made a detour into the Mercat St Josep La Boqueria. The type of market I'd hoped to find in Amsterdam, Paris and London. Full of every conceivable form of food-stuff and very colourfully displayed. The crowds on La Rambla had been more than you'd experience in Sydney, inside the market it was like the Beijing underground at peak time. We moved about one step forward then two sideways and generally went with the flow.
We reached the end of La Rambla at the Plaça Catalunya and decided to take a different route back. It started well as we strolled down the Avenue Portal de l'Àngel, a wide street with no cars or buses. Then I decided to duck down some small alleys that weren't marked on the map. We came out on La Rambla near where a street vended was roasting chestnuts, we chose another lane way and after many turns, twists and some backtracking we found La Rambla again, right near the Chestnut vendor. When I came out in almost the same place for the third time I decided I'd had enough and we followed La Rambla back to the hotel.
This is likely to be the last of these for a while as we board the cruise ship for the next four weeks. I'll see if there's a reasonable deal on Internet access and will try to keep you updated, they may be infrequent and brief.