"" Writer's Wanderings: Port of Call - Barcelona, Spain

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Port of Call - Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona. What a city. We have been there at least three times maybe four. We even stayed for several days once before going on a cruise. We have done all of the Hop On Hop Off routes, seen the unfinished La Segrada Familia, designed by Gaudi, several times (Bob claims he’s not going back to see it until it’s done) and had churros and chocolate.

I didn’t even take my camera this time. I have enough pictures of Barcelona (to see pictures go to my travel index for Spain or enter Barcelona in the search box at the side.). I just wanted to enjoy. We took the shuttle bus to the base of the Christopher Columbus statue that was still pointing in the wrong direction if he was thinking of sailing to the New World. From there we began our walk up La Rambla, hand in hand, feeling good about being in this beautiful city again.

We were early so the “statues” were just setting up. One of them was shaving his face so that he could apply his makeup evenly. It took me a minute to realize he wasn’t a homeless guy just doing his morning routine. Later we would come back and walk past the amazing people who look like statues and watch other visitors react to them when they discover they aren’t stone or bronze.

Some time ago I had been researching something we could do in Barcelona for this trip. I had found a reference to a chocolate place that was supposed to be off the beaten trail and apparently had great churros and chocolate. Everyone indulged me as we tried to find it. The problem was trying to explain why I picked the place. I couldn’t remember exactly, It had been so long ago.

Eventually we found the street and the chocolate shop and went in. The only other people in the shop were obviously locals. I wasn’t too sure the proprietor appreciated us foreigners. He never smiled, took our order and brought our chocolate and churros to the table. They were good but not quite what I expected. I kind of wished we’d just gone to the place where we’d been before that was near the water. Oh well. It was a new adventure and we could say we had our churros and chocolate with the locals.

On our way back I found a clever hat that I bought for our granddaughter’s birthday. I had decided that at .55/minute on board ship for internet it would cost me more to search for a gift and order through the Japanese Amazon site than it would to mail a package. Our next challenge would be to find a post office. At a tourist information shop, we found a lady who mapped out our walk to the post office for us. We began our walk.

The post office was all the way back to the Columbus statue (the one that really was a statue) and then left on that street. The walk was just about as far to where the PO was as we'd already walked from the chocolate shop. Unfortunately we had no idea what we were looking for. As luck would have it when we stopped to try to figure out where we were we saw people coming and going from a building that looked promising and our map said we were there. We walked up the steps.

Sure enough it was the post office and we found mailing envelopes and boxes but they appeared to be only for Spain and Portugal. How would we get our package to Japan? The lobby was huge with a glassed-in counter all the way around. Each window had a number over it and a person behind it. We looked around at people standing and waiting. Bob noticed they had tickets in hand that they would check when the numbers on a monitor overhead changed. We went back to the entrance and found a device that gave us three choices, send, receive and one more I can’t remember. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised it was in English. Maybe Bob found an English language symbol first. We tapped the send button and out popped a ticket with a number. On a screen in the corner of this huge lobby, we found a monitor and waited for our number. And waited.

About ten or fifteen minutes later our number appeared ant we went to the appropriate window. Would the man understand and speak English? We could only hope. We showed him the hat and small fan we’d found and said we had to send them to Japan. He looked at the mailer in our hand and pointed and said “No.” He held up a finger for us to wait and he pulled a mailer from a drawer behind him. We stuffed the hat and fan and a card into the mailer, addressed it quickly and he weighed it and told us our cost. It wasn’t much more than what we would have paid in the states and probably as much as trying to order over the internet would have cost on the ship.

Proud of ourselves, we walked back to Christopher Columbus, stopping along the way for a few moments to watch the Giant Bubble Guy (I need to tell my friend she could finance a trip to Spain this way--or not), found our shuttle and smiled all the way back to the ship. We’d earned a good lunch.

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