"" Writer's Wanderings: Si, Si Barcelona!

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Si, Si Barcelona!

Designed by Gaudi

 The morning sun promised a nice day for our adventures in Barcelona. We've been here several times and pretty much seen all the highlights so we opted to take the Barcelona BusTuristic which is hop on hop off. We've done this one before and enjoyed it. I think it's one of the best hop on hop off of any we've done in the past. Our hotel advertised that we could save two Euros if we booked through them. We already saved with the senior ticket and two Euros off sounded even better. Buyer beware. They had a booking fee that required three Euros each. By the time we were done we only saved one Euro on each ticket and we had to pay at the bus anyway. Well, one Euro is one Euro I guess.

After so much walking the last week and dragging luggage several days, it was nice to just sit back and leave the driving (and walking) to someone else. The bus has a good audio system you plug into with your own set of earplugs that are supplied along with a nice map that is easy to follow to know where you are and where you're going. 

Barcelona, a mix of old and new.

There is a red route which takes in the southern part of the city and a blue route that circuits an area a bit north. The blue route is less traveled except for the stop at the la Segrada Familia, the church designed by Gaudi that is still not finished after 141 years. We opted not to get out and see it up close. We've been there two times and it still isn't finished (she smiles). 

Antoni Gaudi's influence is seen in much of the architecture in the city. Once you become a bit familiar with his wavy lines and mosaics, you can begin to pick out the buildings he had a hand in designing. There is a park, Park Guell, which is full of fanciful pieces of art and structures of his that we've been to in the past. Again we opted to stay on the bus. My feet thanked me.

The church that he designed and began building was a project he knew would not be done in his lifetime. The story is that he said his client wasn't in a hurry, "you see God has all the time in the world." He didn't realize that his lifetime would be cut short at the age of 73 though by a tram. You really do have to be careful crossing streets in Barcelona. 

Segrada Familia still not done.

Barcelona is quite a mix of the old and the new. Modern glassy skyscrapers rise above beautiful old buildings with iron railed balconies covered in ivy or cascades of flowers and potted plants. The detailed figures that adorn the facades are amazing. There is lots to just sit back and enjoy as you ride through the city. And that's exactly what we did--sat back and enjoyed a two hour morning ride.

Believe it or not, we actually opted for Burger King for lunch. It's always a challenge ordering at a kiosk in a foreign country even if it does have an English option. We didn't exactly get what we thought we ordered but it was enough to see us through the afternoon. We were just going for another long bus ride.

The traffic was getting heavier in the main part of the city and the line to get on the blue bus route was long. We waited about a half hour and caught the third bus that came by. The blue line took us by the unfinished church as I said before and then up where there is a bit more of an outlook over the city. It seems to stretch as far as Paris did. And like Paris with the iconic Eiffel Tower, you can easily pick out the Segrada Familia even with its largest spire still unfinished.

No! The other way!

There is a football (read soccer) stadium you pass and can actually go in and even run out of the tunnel onto the field if you like and of course, lots of opportunity to buy the local team's jerseys. 

The blue line also takes you past where the Olympics were held in the 1990s. The structure for the Olympic torch still stands.

It was getting a bit warm when we exited the bus and we walked a bit down the main street, La Rambla. Of course drinking Starbucks coffee, hot, did nothing to cool us off. We did a little exploring along the way to find a restaurant for the evening. Bob wanted to try Paella. I didn't want to try it at a busy sidewalk cafe in the major tourist area in the middle of the busiest part of La Rambla. 

We finally found a restaurant a little off the beaten track that was highly recommended by TripAdvisor for their Paella. After a shower and change of clothes, we returned for dinner and tried the local dish. Bob had a seafood mix and I opted for chicken. It's hard to describe the taste. It wasn't as tomatoey as I thought it would be. Lots of rice to eat and little chicken which was probably okay considering the size of the iron skillet it came in. Neither of us would probably order it again. It was okay but not something to put on the list of gotta have again.

La Rambla is a long street with a huge pedestrian center. Traffic goes one direction on one side and the opposite on the other side. In the middle are souvenir booths, gelato, pastries, flowers, cafes, and of course lots of musicians, hawkers, and beggars. There used to be people who looked like statues and lined the walkway as well but we didn't see them this time. Lots of bachelor and bachelorette groups. Could be a noisy Friday night. 

At the end of La Rambla is an iconic statue of Columbus. When you look at him, you would think he is pointing to the New World where he is set to sail. Trouble is, he's pointing in the wrong direction. So there is speculation that perhaps he was actually trying to go somewhere else and ended up in American waters. I think he was just pointing to the lion across the street.

Early morning on La Rambla before
the crowds.

Our second morning in Barcelona would find us packing up again, wandering down La Rambla one more time and then getting on our cruise ship to begin the second half of our planned journey. The real challenge will be trying to post with the iffy internet that is usually onboard ship. Wish me luck.

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