Sunday, March 8, 2009
SUNSHINE IN BARCELONA
Friday, March 06, 2009
We got up at 3 am to catch an early bus to Barcelona that took seven hours. Long story but we had a great trip and saw a good deal of country side along the way. We had snow for a long distance as we crossed the mountains and then we entered the southwest and finally saw the Mediterranean as we neared Barcelona. Bus travel has really been a wonderful way to see Spain and price wise it can’t be beat; about half the price of trains.
Our Hostel in Barcelona is very new, spacious and in an upscale area. We can actually safely walk on the streets at night if I could get Mary outside after dark! We’re in a dorm room with eight beds; all the bathrooms/showers are shared off of a common room where we can use our computers; cook meals and enjoy the company of young people from several different countries including Shelby from Boston. Took advantage of the great showers and washed our hair this evening after walking the area for several blocks. We found a Supermarket (much larger than we found in Madrid) and purchased a spinach pizza to cook for our dinner tonight. We’ve checked prices for bus vs train to Toulouse for Monday and have decided to go by bus; two hours longer and half the price. Looking forward to a quiet night; the advertisements tells kids who want to party to find a different hostel!
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Had a good nights sleep and awoke about 8 am refreshed and ready to go see the national treasure and symbol of Barcelona: Temple de La Sagrada Familia; and unfinished work that became the final symbol of Antonio Gaudi. Work commenced in 1885 and continues today. The building is only half finished. Funds for the construction are from private donations and income from tours; one of the reasons for the slow pace of building. We arrived early by way of the Metro to beat the afternoon crowds. Shelby, our young friend from the Hostel decided to go with us; it was fun having her along. We agreed from the start that as soon as she wanted we wouldn’t mind if she said goodbye. She stayed with us until after we reach the Parc del Guinardo.
We spent over two hours touring the partially completed church and museums describing the construction of the building. Gaudi used the elements of Mother Nature to design his buildings. Columns are “trees”, animals are visible on the walls as drain spouts, sunflowers and lavender plus more plants are found incorporated everywhere you look in the building. Up and down, around and then up and down again we went; stopping every few minutes to hang out of the windows or over the ledge for another fabulous photo. We could see all over Barcelona and even the Mediterranean Sea with many sailboats enjoying their Saturday afternoon.
Back on the Metro we headed for the Parc del Guinardo; home to several houses built by Gaudi and an overlook of the city that was every bit as stunning as the views from the towers of the Church we’d just visited. To get there we had to walk about 600 meters from the Metro Station; much of it straight uphill. Several of the stretches were so steep that the city has installed escalators between the blocks. We all made it; even Mary with her pacemaker!
Leaving the park and Shelley we headed back to the Metro; very slowly down all the steps…no escalators going down…for a trip to the Barcelona Sants Bus Station. There we found our way and purchased our tickets for our Monday trip to Toulouse.
The grocery stores were closed from 2:30 to 5:30 pm; so we headed back for computer time and then at 5:30 we walked to the supermarket for food. We’d planned to have eggs but could only buy a dozen; too many so we had a green pepper, yogurt, and ham and cheese sandwiches.
Shelby, God bless her, returned about 7:30 pm and I had my companion to go to see the night lights on the Sagrada Familia! I’d threatened to go by myself and Mary was so upset I’d promised not to go unless Shelby returned to go with me. We dressed warmly and got on the Metro; arrived…took some photos and then stopped for some beer on the way back to the Hostel. We took the beer back with us. Spent the evening viewing and sharing our photos of the day before calling it a day about 10 pm….life is good!
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Up about eight we were out the door by 9 am. We found the double decker Barcelona Tour Bus and signed on for the day! The loop through Barcelona takes just under three hours. We sat in the front up top and stayed on through the whole loop taking scads of photos of the Gaudi houses, the Sagrada Famila, Avinguda Diagonal where the wealthy people live, the Sports Center with the Futbol Club. They have two first class Futbol teams in Barcelona (that’s soccer in America). We saw the bull ring that is now being converted into a shopping center. The site of the 1929 World’s Fair that was later converted into the 1992 Olympic Site. It was actually converted in 1936 in anticipation of the Olympics but another country held them. More work was done in 1992. The bus climbed high into the hills and the views were wonderful of the entire city on one side and the sea on the other. We saw the Olympic stadium with the torch and another thing that we thought was for the torch but was actually a communication tower made of white steel nearby. There are several ways up to the Montjuic area of the Olympic Games: a funicular that is part of the Metro system, an aerial tramway that goes from the Port (looked like fun but not on our schedule today) and driving.
Leaving the mountain we came down on the port side where we saw all the cruise ships and the Christopher Columbus memorial monument that was erected for the 1929 World’s Fair in memory of his return to Barcelona Spain after the discovery of America at the foot of La Rambia, the famous street in the old district of Barcelona.
Shortly after we arrived at the Cathedral of Barcelona in the center of the La Rambia District where we departed the bus and attended the noon mass. After mass we headed back for the bus; stopping for a Starbucks and W.C. break. Then we enjoyed another full trip but this time we rode inside, took no photos and enjoyed listening to the English version of the history of Barcelona. Arrived home about 4 pm and now we’re getting ready for our trip tomorrow to France.