18 December 2016

SPAIN: Four Days In Barcelona

Location: Barcelona, Spain

 The Most Expensive City In SPAIN  

We had planned on Barcelona being a layover stop; just a place to reset our biological clocks.  

One of us is culturally challenged and neither of us is urban-travel trained. We just didn't anticipate discovering so much interesting stuff to do, nor did we expect, so many intellectually challenging encouters to unfold. We were overwhelmed and thorougly enjoyed ourselves for several days.  


Follow our route by opening TRAVEL MAP 2016/2017 on the right sidebar ([view larger], zoom +/-, pan around). Click on any photo in this post and launch a slideshow gallery of all photos.
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BATH, ONTARIO, CANADA
A few days before our departure

The view from an upper floor window in our rental apartment.

We were fortunate with our late Fall weather this year, coolish temperatures, but nothing too alarming! Some light snow today and the weather man is predicting 20 cm of fresh snow for our region of Ontario overnight and tomorrow ... it's time for us to 'get out of town'! 

So ... we've finished our shopping, bought some light-weight and easily pack-able clothing, the necessary pharmaceuticals, some travel sized toiletries, reading material. This is not our typical outpack. Following our recent house sale, most of our outdoor gear and equipment is still in long-term storage. For this trip, we'll pack a range of clothing that covers us for Spring through Autumn weather conditions (+15C to +30C, wet to arid). We'll need a basic walking & hiking kit (boots, packs, poles). Not sure that I'll get a chance to dive, but I'll bring my certs and log book, just in case. We'll be carrying some new gps maps for our car and camper van road trips, Helen has a a new thief-proof day pack (for the cities), we're carrying the mandatory files and electronics for journal-ling and blogging and a variety of camera equipment. We're travelling very compact this time, everything should fit into our two, MEC fast-track, rolling duffels and our two carry on packs.

BARCELONA, CATALONIA, SPAIN

We flew out of Kingston ON at 5:20 pm, connected in Toronto and departed there at 9:10 pm. In addition to the almost total, 8 hour flight time, it will also take our bodies awhile to absorb the 6 hour time zone difference. We arrived 10:55 am CET Wednesday morning.


Historical Note: We have Scottish-born, Canadian Sir Sanford Fleming, the inventor of Standard Time Zones, to thank for the jet lag we'll be experiencing, I suppose. 
 
We had planned on Barcelona just being a layover stop; a place to reset our biological clocks. Think about it! ... we paid a lot of money, to transport ourselves & 2 pieces of luggage & 2 carry-on packs, over 6500 kilometres of open water, at speeds in excess of 500 mph, at a fairly constant 39000 foot altitude, through more than 2 hours of moderate turbulence, for 7+ hours across 6 time zones. We couldn't afford first class, our bums numbed horribly, the airline food was inadequate & damp & wilty, the wine was slow coming & small & young  ... there were wailing children, several passengers farted and we felt hopelessly trapped. 


All of this made us tired and grumpy (well, me in particular).
We landed and cleared security. Our shuttle driver Cesar, met us at the airport and delivered us to the Leonardo Hotel Las Ramblas in downtown Barcelona


Our assigned, hotel room overlooks an ancient, cobblestone side alley and an old city hostel. A constant parade of street dawgs (and their handlers) pee on the nearby sidewalk trees or anything else available; there's infrequent, creative, inebriated choralling; we have a half, wrought-iron balcony; with resident, nesting pigeons ... there's barely enough space for a small chair and a smaller ashtray.

We unpacked, napped for a couple of hours and then wandered around Las Romblas: for tapas & wine, walking, salads & wine, more walking, snacks & wine and a walk back to our room for gratis vino tinto (free red wine) by 800 pm. Notice how I wrote 'wine', four times in one sentence. This will be an early evening, but we'll be here for three more nights.

Some History ( for additional detail, click) Wikipedia                                                    
 
 ... the origin of the earliest settlement at the site of present-day Barcelona is unclear. Remains from the Neolithic and early Chalcolithic periods have been found on the coastal plain near the city. The ruins of an early settlement have been excavated in the El Raval neighbourhood, including different tombs and dwellings dating to earlier than 5000 BC. Later, in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, the area was settled by the Laietani, an Ιberian people. Both settlements struck coinage which survives to this day. 

It is sometimes asserted that the area was occupied c. 230 BC by Carthaginian troops under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca, but this is disputed. The alleged military occupation is often cited as the foundation of the modern city of Barcelona, although the northern limit of the Punic territories up to that time had been the Ebro River, located over 150 km to the south. There is no evidence that Barcelona was ever a Carthaginian settlement ... 

" Barcelona ... The Most Expensive City In SPAIN "



The Las Romblas streetscape is busy, crowded and exciting. Stinky European cigarettes, ladies with pipes, restaurant servers with an attitude, (almost) no fast food, very good local wines, segways, lots of scooters & motorcycles, personalized scarves & pointy shoes, humans transitioning, sensible food portions & huge bills, Romanian Gypsies. There aren't any  Sysco restaurant food deliveries (or the equivalent, thank GAWD!) here; preparations are fresh.

La Boqueria Market
... the first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates from 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. From December 1470 onwards, a pig market was held at this site; at this time it was known as Mercat Bornet. Until 1794, it was known simply as Mercat de la Palla, or straw market. Later, the authorities decided to construct a separate market on La Rambla, housing mainly fishmongers and butchers. It was not until 1826 that the market was legally recognized, and a convention held in 1835 decided to build an official structure. The market officially opened in the same year, but the plans for the building were modified many times. The inauguration of the structure finally took place in 1853. A new fish market opened in 1911, and the metal roof that still exists today was constructed in 1914 ...

The most amazing market I've EVER walked ... locally harvested game, freshly butchered animal carcasses (heads on or off), resident pigeons flying & scavenging, seafood presented in the shell, creative dessert creations & displays, vendors prepare food for sale & display (all types), Basque eateries, very relaxed alcohol consumption, sensible & reasonable health regulations, live non-electrified ethnic & jazz music ... accordions, clarinets, small drums. 


Later in the evening, we wandered the Gothic Section; old fortresses, narrow cobblestone alley-ways, street displays & entertainers and outdoor cafes.

 
Antoni Gaudi (& Others)
... Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was a Spanish architect from Reus and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí's works reflect an individualized and distinctive style. Most are located in Barcelona. Gaudí's work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceraics, stained glass, wrought ironworks, forging and carpentry. His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by natural forms ...

Barcelona truly is a city for walking. Streetscapes often provide more room for pedestrians than for vehicles. Side streets in particular, can be very narrow; a place for emergency, service and delivery drivers only. We walked to a few of Antoni Gaudi's architectural marvels. 

                                                  
A lunch at Placa Reial; entertainment by a resident tight rope walker. 


For our last full day, we had planned on a short walk and lunch out, an early evening and then; packing for tomorrows' road trip south along the coast.
 

We ended up ... walking Las Romblas again, but south this time, as far as the harbour area
   

Views of the World Trade Centre, listening to street musicians (several drum groups, accordion players, jazz ensembles, singers), visiting several historical locations, cathedrals and fortresses, including the Pablo Picasso Museum and Exhibit


We enjoyed lunch & dinner out, got lost and turned around several times (in the Barcelona labyrinth) and probably walked (at least) 20 kilometres.  

This was lunch @ Nou Cellar 

Helen - Entree of pig trotters and snails

Dann - Vichyssois soup and a Russian salad 

KUDOS
It's often about the food! 
Breakfast buffets in European countries are typically very good and our experience at the Leonardo Hotel ' over the past 4 days ', was certainly no exception to that ... everything was always fresh, a variety of squeezed juices, quality brewed coffees & teas, several different egg dishes, quiches, breads & buns, cold cut meats, cheese plates, vegetables preparations, salads, local yogurts, smoothies, different fruits each day. Breakfast was included in our room rate.

Crusty ... culturally challenged
Wry ... navigationally challenged

4 comments:

  1. Reisephant.blogspot.de19 December 2016 at 06:43

    Interesting to see Barcelona through fresh eyes. Hope, you brought good shoes for all that cobblestone walking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Christa & Stefan ... yup, got lost a few times, wore out our feet but not our shoes.

      Delete
  2. What a marvellous city it breathes architecture . Although a tourist hub you never feel like one you are one of them. You always leave Barcelona with a desire to come back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See you guys in a couple of weeks, thanks for checking in.

      Delete

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TEAM: LOAF, Crummy, Wry & Crusty