Day 196, Wednesday 17 July 2012 – Barcelona/Mataro
Another reallylousy night sleep, no alarms this morning, thank goodness, but I was still not properly asleep even in the morning, dozed till 8.00. Up late, the same breakfast at the same spot, safety in consistency !
I faffed around again for a while as I tried to engage my foggy brain and completed the blog post from yesterday. While faffing I received a Facebook message from Jess, a Spanish friend of my daughter Meliesha, who I met in Bristol. Jess is from Mataro, a beach town about 30 minutes by train from central Barcelona and is working near home over summer. Another of Mel’s Bristol friends Michelle is staying there too and they have invited me to come down for the afternoon and see a less touristed area – very cool! I had no real plans for the day so said yes immediately.
I left the hotel around mid-day and walked down through the main shopping district (well a shopping district, no idea if it was the main one !) near Catalunya square, It was very hot so I took the opportunity to dive into a department store to make the use of their air conditioning, plus I had some time to kill before catching my train. I made my way to the mens wear and thought I would pick up a pair of board shorts as I left my (bizarrely blood stained) old pair in Malaysia. I found a pair I liked and pulled them off the rack to find they were 245 euros !! that is close to 400NZD – they were Dolce + Gabana. I put them back and fled the department store for the safety of a cafe.
The queue for the open topped tour buses was insane, why do people put themselves though it !!!
After a revitalising espresso I went wandering and found Saint Anna chapel, which was very nice, cool and quiet and worth a visit.
I thought I had left myself a ton of time to get the train, but little did I know of the confusion that awaited me at Catalyuna station. I obviously went into the wrong station first, damn hard to figure out as the signs are not overly helpful. I did eventually find the line I wanted, not that it was on the map, just read and obscure reference to a line. I followed the direction of the single arrow that pointed to my line and then got lost. Apparently I was in the wrong station, of the half dozen stations around the square I finally found the one I wanted – via random selection. The station I wanted was on the ticket machine so that was easy, finding the right train less so. Unlike the Metro or Underground there was no line map for the train system. Luckily the station I wanted was a final destination for one of the trains so I just waited for that one. Hooray ! the train left at the time I was due to meet Jess and Michelle, oh well !
The ride to my stop at Cabrera de Mar, where Jess worked, was on stop back from Mataro. The ride took about forty minutes and about thirty of those were alongside white sandy beaches on the Mediterranean Sea. I was writing some blog notes in my notebook when I glanced out the window and saw a bunch of naked girls on the beach – after five months in conservative SE Asia it was quite a shock. The beach was secluded apart from the train line about twenty metres away ! Topless sunbathing is extremely common on all the beaches here so I found out.
Jess and Michelle met me at the station and we walked down to the beach and sat and chatted for a while before I had my first swim in the Med – or at least my first swim in 25 years, I cannot recall if I swam I swam when I was in Turkey all that time ago. The sea was warm and clear and smelt/tasted clean and fresh – fantastic. This is where Jess works…
I was a wee bit concerned about getting burnt so we didn’t spend too long in there before getting changed and catching the train up to Mataro.
We stopped for a drink or two at a beachside bar in Mataro before heading in to town so the girls could show me some of the local street art.
There is a walled of block that has been really nicely painted with some great work and I have posted these in a separate blog post. I am loving the street art in Europe, there are some talented people around. We then wandered up to a cafe that is owned by Jess’s parents and I had a great, very sweet chocolate shake and some carrot cake. Jess was not feeling very at this stage, very bad stomach pain, as it was early evening by now Michelle walked back down through town to the station and I caught a very crowded train back to central Barcelona. Mataro is a nice town, the central plaza was closed to traffic as there was something on, so there were loads of pedestrians about, providing a r – nice feel. The beach was awesome as was the bar and the iced coffee with Baileys 🙂
Thanks to Jess and Michelle for inviting me around for the afternoon, I had fun !