Saturday 16/5/15 – Up early to see as much of Barcelona as possible. Had fruit we bought yesterday for breaky (gotta do some healthy food catchup for the sake of the poor old Vstrom), then off to find the ‘Hop on-Hop off’ bus for a quick tour of the city. We find this is often a good way to get a snapshot of a city (time and funds permitting), then we jump on the bike and ride into the places we want to see more of.
So glad we were up early, because the queues for the bus were quite long by mid morning. There were so many people around, glad we are here now and not in peak season, with what one can only imagine would be ‘wall to wall’ people.
Off the bus and onto the bike to visit the landmarks that caught our eye on the trip around the city. It was a hot day (around 28 degrees), so we decided to do as the locals do and ride without our hot jackets… very nice indeed, but we felt quite naughty… for the first five minutes!
Barcelona at first glance is a busy, bustling city, that vibrates life and excitement. It certainly lives up to it’s reputation of being a leading city for tourism, fine dining, culture, fashion, education, commerce, mankinis etc, etc, etc. All in all, Barcelona is a great place to be on so many levels, and whilst we thought we saw a lot, if you google Barcelona, we had a taste only, but what a taste it was!
There are many unique buildings, including those of architects Antoni Gaudi and Lluis Domenech iMontaner (both late 1800’s to early 1900s), some of which are UNESCO World Heritage listed.
There are lots of lovely green trees, and sculptures of all shapes, sizes and colours scattered throughout the city plus plenty of signs of the 1992 Summer Olympics.
One can be forgiven for being distracted by all of this and forgetting that Barcelona is indeed a sea side town. And what a sea side town it is. There is a huge marina, harbour and the most spectacular beach, all within walking distance of the main city centre.
It would have to be the busiest, most fun filled beach ever. There is an impressive board walk with cafes all along one side, and beach on other side. High fashion is intermingled with beach attire (yep including the mankini and some topless bathers), and formal and casual day and beachwear.
We spent quite a while just walking the board walk, before we settled down ‘watching life go by’ for a time, with a ‘small’ beer and Sangria. Fascinating stuff to say the least; could have stayed there all day, it was so pleasant and cool with our drinks. There was such a buzz to this place, it was hard to leave, but leave we must to see more of this wonderful city.
There was a topless area, and one ‘old duck’ is clearly a regular. There she was in all her glory, on a bench overlooking the beach, with nothing but a G string… bless! If the movie ’something about Mary conjures picture, then run with it. This old gal had long blond hair, was as tanned as could be, and had very, very long black painted finger and toe nails! Clearly she is happy in her skin.
We rode past some of the Olympic venues, and next stop was to be the National Museum d’ Art… set high on a hill with prime views of the city. There were many people sitting on the steps to the museum, in the glorious sunshine and enjoying the vista and buskers. The waterfall and views over busy, bustling Barcelona, simply breathtaking. The museum a work of art, as was the fountain in front of it. So high was it, that they had escalators down to the gardens below (got love that). To add to the spectacle, while we were there, along came a group of red Vesper riders. There must have been at least twenty of them!
We were marvelling at the view down over the fountain and waterfall when we saw three pigeons – one green, one pink and one black and white. Thought our eyes were deceiving us, particularly with the green and the pink pigeon but no, they were real. There was a guy there with them, who was doing photos.
Needless to say we were his captive audience, and had lovely pics with these pretty, gentle birds. They were so tame, and just sat there as he fluffed their tails for the pics. The pink one was called Juiet, and there are no second guesses of the name of the white and back one .. yep.. thats right, Bruce (only kidding – it’s Romeo!). We didn’t get a name on the green one…. Kermit maybe??
Next stop was the old town. This is where the bike comes into it’s own because we can ride right into the town centre, park and walk. There are bikes a plenty in Barcelona. Once again, we were delighted with the buildings, churches, the shops, cafes and life in general. Bought some lovely crusty bread, sausage and cheese for tea.
So many street performers! One couple treated us to some Spanish dancing, while another guy entertained children (and adults alike) by making big bubbles.
There were so many theatres and concerts, it was a shame we were not able to go into any…. maybe next time.
Next stop was the unique buildings of Casa Batllo, located in the centre of Barcelona, and another of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces. We viewed these from the outside only, as the queues were way too long, and it was late in the day. The oustide was just a teaser of what was inside, according to the boards out front. The colourful mosaic made of broken tiles on the front facade is vibrant and colourful, and adds to the spectacle of this modernistic art.
Last stop was the parish Church of the Sagrada family. It was designed in the Gothic style by the renowned Catalonian Architect Anton Gaudi. It remains unfinished, a work in progress, if you will, this despite construction commencing in 1882! Despite being incomplete, it has been proclaimed a Unesco world heritage site, and was consecrated and proclaimed a Basilica in 2010 by Pope Benedict XV1. The Sagrada Family estimate completion date will make it ready in time for the centenary of the death of Antoni Gaudí, who famously joked that his client, God, was in no hurry to see it finished. Gaudi died at the age of 74 in 1926, having been struck by a train. Sadly, because of his impoverished state, he was thought initially to be a tramp, and not identified for several days. This despite him being the architect, and in control of the Sagrada family church building project ….. very sad.
It is quite a remarkable structure, although the cranes and scaffold all around it do detract from it somewhat! On one face, the ravages of time make it look like it is melting, quite a bizarre appearance indeed, while the newer aspects are smooth and somewhat austere. The new wings have the names of the daughters of the current family members, which seems a wee bit excessive, but there you go! It is worth a look on Google to see the film of the anticipated completed structure that is some thirteen years away yet. It is one very busy structure!
Back to our hotel for a well earned tea, and pack so to get up early to hit the road!