Barcelona, Such a beautiful City

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
Trip End Mar 11, 2011

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Where I stayed
Room Mate Emma

Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good evening people, we are now on the flight back to Amsterdam, so some time to update the blog on the days spent in Barcelona. Our day started not too early, the bed in the hotel was too comfortable and the weather forecast for today was not too good. But when we opened our curtains we saw nice blue skies dotted with white clouds. We got up and out to find ourselves a some breakfast. They do serve it at the hotel till noon, but we want something from the street. Yesterday we noticed a lot of small eateries around our hotel that looked nice for our morning food. Just two blocks down the road we sat ourselves down on one of the street terraces. We ordered some warm baguettes and some drinks. The lady behind the counter was friendly and we enjoyed our sidewalk breakie, It was a bit cold though as we were sitting in the shade side of the street. What is going on with the weather nowadays. Isn't August supposed to be summer time?

On our way to the subway station we took a bit of a detour along some Gaudi landmarks. We found the 'Casa Milŕ' house close to Diagonal. There was an immense queue outside of people wanting to get to the signature rooftop. We did not want to stand in line for an hour or more, so we decided that the building looked very nice from the outside as well. We snapped some shots and headed towards the subway station.

I must say I like these Barcelona stations, cities like Paris, and even New York can learn from this. The underground is very clean, no graffiti, no dirt covered walls (like New York), no penetrating smell of urine (like in Paris) and there are escalators and elevators which made the way to the underground a bit easier. The trains are similar to those in Hong Kong, you can see through the entire train as there are no separating doors between the carriages. This design gives the train a less claustrophobic feel.

We took the train to the 'Sagrada Família' cathedral which has its own stop. When we surfaced from the bowels of the station we arrived in tourist central. The streets around the cathedral were filled with tour guides holding up their flags, they were followed by bus loads of tourists following their shepherd like good cattle. The hairs in the back of my neck rose up when I saw the queue of people trying to get in to the cathedral. We surfaced at the 'new' side of the building. This side was not designed by Gaudi, but by some other guy. It stands in contrast with the round and nature like designs of Gaudi, as this side was designed in a Gothic way, with sharp corners and clean lines. We walked around to the Gaudi side of the building, this is the way the building is supposed to look, when (or if) they ever finish it. Now it is still one big construction site, so it is hard to make a good picture, even with our exquisite photography skills (uhm). We decided not to go in, as again the queues were too long, and we don't want to waste half a day in a queue. So we went onwards back into the subway.

We surfaced near to 'La Rambla' area. This is the buzzing center of Barcelona, and apparently pick-pocket central in the evening. The street was filled with touristic eateries and souvenir shops so we headed out into the little side streets. Here we looked at some shops more unknown buildings. There is a lot of charming and surprising architecture to be found in these areas. After a bit we stumbled upon the Barcelona Cathedral. This site was also under construction as it is being renovated. Further down the street we found the Marketplace, When we entered they were about to close down. Many of the shops where cleaning up. We strolled around for a bit before heading further. We were getting a bit hungry from all the walking and the sight of food. As we are back in a metropolitan city, Linda did her homework well. She googled some nice eateries and wrote down their addresses. We picked a Japanese restaurant in the Gracia neighborhood, highly ranked on various review sites. As it was not within acceptable walking distance, and our feet did not agree to walking back to a subway stop, we decided to hop on a taxi.

Taxis are cheap and convenient here in Barcelona. The service is similar to New York, you can pick one up by raising your hand or walking to one of the many taxi stands. The big difference is that they don't drive like suicidal maniacs over here. So a short and comfortable ride in the back of a Seat (the Spanish version of a Volkswagen) took us to Ubiko down in the Garcia area. Here we enjoyed some nice sushi maki rolls with some Saporro which was brewed in the UK. The food was good and the restaurant vibrant.

With slightly recovered feet and a filled tummy we strolled down the streets of Gracia. Almost every shop was closed because of vacations. Not very convenient, but it shows that the Barcelonians don't give in to commercial pressure. They enjoy life, so they go on vacation when they want to, even if it means closing the shop in the high season, chapeau!

In the streets of Gracia we saw the preparations for the annual Gracia festival. This starts tomorrow and lasts for a about two weeks. We will check it out tomorrow to see what all this work leads up to. After a long walk we reached our hotel. Before we went up, the shoarma guy next door got our attention. We ordered a nice garlicky shoarma rolls for a little late afternoon snack. Strangely they had only chicken on beef. For shoarma I would normally expect lamb, but it still tasted nice, and under a mountain of garlic sauce you can hardly recognize the meat anyways.

Later that evening we went out for a little walk around the area and ended up having some (rather disappointing) tapas somewhere around the corner. It was a lovely day in the city, tomorrow we'll explore some more before we catch our flight back to Holland.
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