Barcelona, Happy anniversary

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

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Where I stayed
CitizenM Schiphol Airport Schiphol-Rijk
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today we are married for one full month, and are traveling around for 75 days. We are both still alive, better still, we still love each other and have a lot of fun together. Today is our last day of travels through Spain. But I have a feeling we will be back. This evening we are heading back to Holland to spend Quentin's last school vacation week in Belgium. The boy just got back from three weeks of vacation with his mother.

We slept in a bit before we started packing our suitcases. Check out is at noon, so as good citizens we left the hotel five minutes after twelve. We stored out luggage and headed out to explore the outskirts of Barcelona. Our first stop, Barcelonetta. This is the Port Veil area. Here we found the Barcelona beach with a view of the W hotel on the far south side. The W hotel in Barcelona looks surprisingly similar to the Burj el Arab hotel in Dubai. They probably used this one as their example. The beach was packed with people as you would expect on a lovely day like this, but we did not come for sand and sea. We wanted to take the cable car. We headed to the tower where we gave in to our dislike of crowds. The queue to get up did not seem that long, but still we waited around an hour before we could board our cable car. The ride takes us high over the harbor and gives nice views of the city from above. You can see the cathedral construction site and the Ramblas. The cable car was filled up to about 12 tourists so it does feel like you fly in a can of sardines. Our one hour wait was rewarded with 5 minutes of cable carting and brought us to the hill of the Montjuit castle. We walked around the hill form where the views of the city are amazing. We did think about taking the second cable car up to the castle, but spending another 9 Euro a person was simply not worth it. Instead we took the tram down the hill and headed out to the Guell park on the other side of town.

After a short subway ride we surfaced around the Guell park. Guell park used to be Gaudi's residence. As the park is located at the top of a hill, so our journey went upwards. The first bit was easy as there are convenient escalators that take you up the hill, a bit like the mid-levels in HK. But then there is a bit of hill that is deemed as being not steep enough to build an escalator. So you have to hike upwards Before commencing our climb, we stopped for a drink and a bit of food.

The Guell park was very interesting, it does not matter if you like or dislike the work of Gaudi. It's for sure this man was one of a kind. The crazy architecture, with natural shapes and mosaics of ceramic tiles decorate the hill where he used to live. He for sure had one of the best views of the city from up there. Only in his days this were the outskirts of Barcelona, where no one would want to go. Nowadays that is a different story. It was very busy up the hill and on the terraces. It was almost impossible to make some nice shots of the sites without having a tourist block your view. Especially the famous gecko at the entrance was 'covered' in tourist. This park must be amazing to visit in winter when there are less people.

After visiting the park we went down the hill into the neighborhood of Gracia. Yesterday we saw the preparations for the annual festival so we wanted to check this out. In this festival each street is decorated in a theme, and in the middle of the street there is a band playing. The streets have nicely decorated entrance gates to top it off. It was a very colorful site and the streets were filled with people holding a beer and having fun. And there were big lines for the ice cream parlors. In the evening this must be one big party. Unfortunately we can not attend, as we have to fly back to Holland today, so we made our way back to the Hotel to pick up the luggage and depart the beautiful city of Barcelona.

A friendly taxi driver took us to the Barcelona airport. Here we found that we forgot to buy a fridge magnet for Spain. This is something we do for every country that we visit, so that we have a nice collection of magnets when we go back to normal live and have a kitchen with a fridge again. So we scavenged for some overpriced magnets before we boarded our flight to Amsterdam.

We managed to book a Transavia flight back. But luckily they chartered a relatively new plane from KLM so the short flight was comfortable. We had no complaints about the service on board of the plane, as there is none. If you would like some water, you would have to buy it, what is next, 50 cents for the toilet?

Once we landed in Amsterdam around midnight we were treated to a true Dutch summer night. Temperatures of around 15 Celsius and a big fat rain storm, lovely. It really makes you feel, 'Welcome to Holland'. We booked a night at the airport hotel Citizen M, as I did not feel like piking up a car and driving to Hoorn in the night. So we grabbed our luggage and headed out to find the Hotel. It was only 1 minute walk from exit 4 of Schiphol airport, where it not that this exit was closed. So we had to walk around in the pouring rain. Thanks God Linda had bought some rain jackets in HK, so they came in handy. But you can imagine we both were a tad 'grumpy' when we finally arrived at the Hotel. But the Citizen M Hotel quickly put our smiles back on our faces. The hotel was funky and has won various design awards. The room is small, but ultra functional. Everything is high-tech and DIY. They have a Philips Moodpad and a very comfy and big King size bed. The shower is in the shape of a teletransporter from Star Trek, so is the toilet. The Internet is free and fast. And there is a battalion of Macs down in the lobby that we used to do some administrative tasks.

Tomorrow we head down to Hoorn, to pick up Quentin, my oldest son. And then off to Belgium for a mid-week of vacation park fun.
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