Friday, March 12, 2010
I was awake early and by 7 am I was in the lobby working on my computer; woke the others at 8 am and by 9 am we were out the door to McCafe (MacDonald Breakfast Bar) for hot chocolate and croissants. The weather prediction was only 10% rain…but it was raining enough that we eventually returned to the Hostel to pick up umbrellas. Of course…as soon as we did….. the drizzles stopped. Good insurance is to always carry the umbrellas!
By 11 am we’d purchased our tickets for the Hop On/Off Bus that would take us around the city up until 7 pm this evening. Our original plan was to stay on all the way around and then make stops during a second trip around. We ended up staying on just past the Soccer Stadium before hopping off to go to a Starbucks to get some hot drinks and take a bathroom break. It was soooo cold we were all freezing! This is the coldest winter that Spain has seen in many, many years! I’m sure if it had really rained hard today we would have had snow again like they had a week ago. According to the locals, they generally don’t even wear coats during the day in March!
After we were warmed up at Starbucks, we changed from the Blue Route to the Red Route; there are four bus routes: Blue and Red on our plan and then there is another company that has Orange and Green routes. One has to be careful on the buses to make sure that you’re on the correct bus. Each route is a bit different but they all cover some of the same streets that have the famous buildings designed in the Gaudi style. One of the first that we saw was The Casa Mila with iron Balconies designed to look like waves. See the slideshow. We started on the Red Route to reach the Blue Route; switched to the Blue and headed for the Sagrada Familia, the new Cathedral designed originally by Gaudi with “organic” style architecture that has been under construction for over one hundred years. Maybe our grandchildren will see the completion? We had a quick look as we drove past the Cathedral and then on pass many other sites including the Soccer Stadium, home to Fulbol Club Barcelona, one of the premiere teams in the world. This stadium was built in 1957 and is the largest stadium in Spain holding nearly one hundred thousand people.
After our stop at Starbucks we returned to the Red Route so that we could go to the Montjuico Mountain. Passing the Montjuico Castle, we climbed rapidly up to the top and drove past the 1992 Olympic Stadium and many of the different sites build for the games that year. The views of the sea and the City of Barcelona are wonderful…on a clear day….we had fog so didn’t get to enjoy that special view. We were soon on the down side headed toward the port where all of the cruise ships leave on the Mediterranean Cruises that Americans love to take!
Here we saw their World Trade Center, many large ships, the statue of Christopher Columbus and a beautiful hotel…we hopped off at the hotel and mixed in with a trade show by Intel as we took another break for bathrooms. There is a bus that comes along about every five to ten minutes so we were soon back on the bus and completed the tour around the port before heading up the Ramblas to the old part of the city and the Barcelona Cathedral. Built in the Gothic style with the buttresses inside the structure during the fourteenth century it is now undergoing a major cleaning and restoration on the outside..note the photos on the slide show. The main altar is built above the tomb of the patron saint of Barcelona, a thirteen year old girl that was killed by the Romans because of her religion: Saint Eulalia. In the Cloisters attached to the Cathedral there are thirteen white geese, because she was thirteen years old. Their incessant honking when disturbed alerted the monks to intruders in ancient days but now they just entertain the tourists!
Back to the tour bus for a short ride back to the beginning of our day’s adventure; our plans for a second trip around were definitely off of the table by this time. We felt like we’d gotten more than our monies worth and were ready to enjoy an early dinner as it was already 5:30 pm. And, we were still oh so COLD. We headed for a restaurant that served Paella; the famous Spanish seafood dish. So good and they had pint glasses of beer the size of a German beer stein. Sated and warm we ventured back to the streets for a short walk to the Hostel.
Our last adventure for the day was to tackle the Metro System for a trip to the Sagrada Familia to see the towers with the lights on at night. We soon found out that using this line sounded much easier than it actually was. We walked for blocks in the tunnels to finally reach the train that took us to the site. We did enjoy the visions of creativity as we walked all around the outside to view the different sections. It was after 10 pm by the time we hailed a taxi for the trip back to the Hostel…very fast and much easier on the legs. Me thinks the troops are ready for a day off tomorrow…at least in the morning.