Day 195, Tuesday 17 July 2012, Barcelona
Well – I was warned in the reviews on various hotel web sites that the noise at the Barcelona Center Inn can be quite bad, and the reviews were correct, lots of noise from the hallways as people arrived from their nights out and then an alarm went off at 5.00 AM, and 5.30 and 6.00 etc etc. I didn’t really get much sleep until an hour or so from 6.30. I didn’t use the air con either so found myself in a pool of sweat when I did wake, it has been a while since that has happened!
I was up late and faffed a bit, had my old standby breakfast of egg on toast from the cafe downstairs and then caught up with some blog posts until I left the hotel about 11:00 with no real plan, apart from wander the streets in the general direction of some of the key sights and hit the gothic quarter.
The day was sunny and already hot by the time I left, it is really nice to be wearing t-shirt and shorts again – and not with leggings underneath like I was in Cornwall. I picked myself up a Spanish SIM card as it is possible I will be staying in Spain for a while – plus I like having mobile access to the internet – I am a net junkie…
My first stop was the Palau de la Musica Catalana, though I did not pay to go inside and my photos from the outside sucked a bit due to some really savage light… though it had some interesting bits.
I soon discovered the Barcelona Cathedral, the bulk of which was constructed in the mid 1400’s. It was a pretty amazing building and it was great to be able to take photos inside, though it was a heaving mass of tourists.
I particularly liked the paintings in the small chapels that contained some lovely 15the century paintings, this was my favourite from an unknown painter and completed in 1475.
I also really liked the small carvings I found while waiting for the rickety lift to the roof, they remind me of LOTR !
There seems to be a mass of renovation projects going on in Barcelona, perhaps it is work created by various government bodies during these recessionary times, but a huge number of buildings are under cover. The roof of the cathedral was one, though the view was good.
And the gargoyles were awesome.
From the cathedral I just wandered the streets for a couple of hours, mainly in the old gothic quarter, the streets are so narrow there are very few cars, and the area is full of bars and galleries that do not open until much later in the day. It was relatively peaceful and cool compared the bustle of the big squares. I took a lot of photos ! Most of the doorways have been graffitied in some fashion, some good stuff, but a lot of aimless tagging as well. I did take a number of photos of the stencil and sticker art which I really like and will post those separately one day.
The small touches were fantastic, this old well in one of the squares was a favourite.
It was the alleys and the 5 or 6 story buildings looming overhead that I liked the best.
I did accidently wander into Plaza George Orwell.
Now I knew where I was I went and visited Palau Guell (Guell Palace). This is one of the big attractions in Barcelona and since renovation is now a UNESCO protected building. It is not particularly old but was designed by Antoni Gaudi and completed in 1890. Gaudi (possibly where gaudy comes from ?) was a Catalonian and designed a number of the key buildings in Barcelona. The Guell Palace, was semi-interesting, I am not hugely into furniture and floorings etc, but it did have some nice touches, I liked these doors
And the roof was very cool, with all the decorated chimneys.
Plus I liked the roof top photo opportunities.
I wandered off for lunch and a beer and was heading towards the Picasso museum when I realised I had the wrong debit card in my wallet and could not get any cash out ! so I meandered back to the hotel.
I had a wee rest before heading out again in the early evening, got some cash (whew) and walked up to the Temple de la Sagrada Familia – another Gaudi designed building, sadly the skyline was broken by a number of large cranes and the ground was broken by about 1 billion tourists, maybe a million, a lot anyway. The building is stunning though and I may go back one morning for a quick lool before the hoardes arrive.
The queue to get in was not worth effort so I wandered back down to the hotel.
On the way back I passed Salesians church, built in the 1870’s and designed by Joan Montells, who was a teacher of Gaudi’s. It is unsual in that the bell tower is in the front of the church.
I spent the rest of the evening ripping my hair out trying to do two things online. Firstly i wanted to transfer some cash from my NZ bank to my English one. I had already jumped through the various hoops to get overseas transfer set up, but this was frustrating as I had to fill in so many boxes – and find the information for those boxes – that by the time I had finished the session with the bank had timed out and I had to log in again and start all over, grrrrrr. And I am not even sure it worked yet…
Secondly I wanted to book myself to Malaga, I started with bus and trains, found the best options for dates, length of travel and cost, and decided on train. The train web site would not accept either of my two NZ credit cards, so bus – yeah 16 hours is a long time but I have done it before – same result on bus web site, grrrr… Next resort – fly. Ryan Air, looks good, price is cheap(ish), convenient time departing and arriving (so my cousin can pick me up). Booked it , YES, payment accepted. Go to add a second bag as booking only allows one bag – 48 frigging euros !!!!!! the fare was only 62… WTF Ryan Air! So my cheapish flight cost way too much..
But anyway… I am staying here in Barcelona for one more day, I leave Friday morning for Alcaucin, a small village about 40 minutes from Malaga where my cousin Ian lives. Looking forward to it.