My birthday, OMG another year has passed. However, for the first time that I can remember I think it will be sunny and hot. Something I never have enjoyed having a November birthday.
I have had the opportunity to visit many citys in Europe, and have always adored Rome above all others but visiting Barcelona has made the city a top spot for my personal favorites.
We caught the bus directly outside the site at 9.15am and arrived without any hastle into the centre of Barcelona just over 1 hour later. Just off the Plaça Catalunya, the vibrant hub and considered to be both the city centre and the place where the old city and the 19th century built Eixample meet. The plaza is abundant with fountains, statues and flocks of pigeons (forget Trafalgar Square, it was like a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds”).
Radiating in all directions are some of Barcelona’s most important streets and avenues; such as;
Passeig de Gràcia (Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller & Casa Mila);
Rambla de Catalunya (One of the city’s trendiest streets, with many international fashion shops and is lined with lime trees)
La Rambla or Portal de l’Àngel ( Las Ramblas, probably the most famous street in Barcelona. Designer shops, souvenir shops, beautiful flower stalls and local products, street performers and living statues)
As we had no idea of what we wanted to see or do, we had decided to purchase a day ticket for the open top Tour Bus around the city. This gave us the freedom to hop on and off when we wanted to. There are 3 routes, red (south city), blue (north city) and green (everywhere else).
We decided to go on the Red bus first but the queues were long, so we made our way across the Plaza to the Blue route, however when we looked at the tickets, I was horrified to notice the campsite had given us 2 child tickets…. now I might look a few years younger but that’s pushing it too much. We went and inquired as to a solution in the information centre in the Plaza. The lady was very kind and helpful and even phoned through to the campsite explaining what had happened. We had to pay for the difference between the child and adult ticket another €13 each but she gave us a receipt and a photocopy of the child tickets and wrote an explanation on the paperwork to bring back to the camp site.
Armed with our new adult tickets we boarded the bus and sat near the front on the top of the bus. On this journey we passed by iconic sites, such as Gaudi’s famous Casa Batlló, this incredible building with its irregular oval windows and Venetian mask like balconies has a skeletal quality, The local name for the building is Casa dels Ossos (House of Bones). Much of the front is decorated with mosaic of broken ceramic tiles which starts in golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon. You really have to do a double take at this building, it is unlike anything else I have seen. I want to visit the interior someday, a new bucket list is now growing.
Further on up the Passeig de Gràcia, we see the last house Gaudi designed, the impressive Casa Mila (A World Heritage Site), it seems that the goal of Gaudi was to avoid straight lines completely. He designed the house as a constant curve, both outside and inside (like a figure 8 or infinity symbol ∞). This house is also on my wish list to visit…. poor Mike.
We carry on and the magnificent Sagrada Familia comes into view and must be the most famous and most visited construction site in Spain. The Sagrada Familia is extraordinary and there is nothing to do but look up and stare and take in the fantastic statues, angels, carvings and impressive doors. While I might be content today with looking just up at it, I feel that it is worth the €14.85 entry price. We are going to buy the tickets online for Monday to avoid what can sometimes be up to a 3 hour wait. As the church is built entirely through donations, it is a nice way to contribute to this magnificent obsession of Gaudi.
We travel onwards around the North of the city high into the hills, and view the summit of the Mount Tibidabo, which is accessible either via the Tibidabo Funicular or walking. High on the mountain top we see the Sagrat Cor church, the old Tibidabo Amusement Park and the Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower. All three are visible from most of the city. Unfortunately, they were too far to take any decent photos.
The skyscrapers rise above us and are beautiful in their own right set against the azure blue sky.
We make our way passed many many more wonderful places too many to list here, until eventually we returned to Plaça de Catalunya where we wandered across the Plaza and enjoyed watching visitors feed the pigeons, having them land and to feed directly from their hands. Great amusement ensued as the fickle pigeons flapped their way from person to person as the seed ran out from one person to the next.
We boarded the Red route tour bus next and set off. This time the bus wasn’t so crowded, guess they were all having a siesta or tapas…. not us, we are hardened travellers and have to get our monies worth.
We visited Barcelona FC football ground and took the obligatory photos for our grandson Harry (this is also for Dylan too). This massive ground is not only home to FC Barcelona who are almost God’s over here, but an incredible varied amount of other sporting events. The grounds cover an enormous area, and there is a match tomorrow (Saturday 4th November) between Barcelona and Seville at the ground. So the tension and the atmosphere was mounting. You can go for a tour inside the grounds, into the various areas, dressing rooms and the manager’s box. Wahoo, Harry and Dylan would Iove that.
We then went up to Montjuic where the Summer 1992 Olympic games were held. The grounds are open to the public. The sculpture represents the torch bearer. Montjuic means mountain of the Jews and this is where the famous Jewish cemetery is located. A beautiful peaceful and green area and has spectacular views of the city.
We made our way down to the Port next and watched as the cable car went over our heads down to the beach front. In the harbour, one of MSC’s cruise ship was in port. she dominated the dock and we wondered how an earth these cities on the seas actually float.
The port area is vibrant, with white and glass buildings, most of this area is new build as it was renovated for the 1992 Olympic games. The athletes were housed here, now this time has passed the affluent society of Barcelona have moved in and it is now the rich playground with multi million pound yachts in the marina and 6 figure price tag homes.
The old fishing market is still there but with a makeover and you can get some of the best seafood restaurants in this part of the city. Bikes of different types are the mode of transport here.
Sculptures can be viewed all across the city from the sublime to (quite frankly) bordering on the ridiculous. But great to spot.
We made our way passed more places of interest and then made our way back to Plaça de Catalunya. We walked around for a while taking selfies and fending off the street sellers with their cries of “selfie signor” … We walked back up to see more in detail the Casa Batlló and the lamp posts which had caught my eye on the tour. The sun was settling low in the sky and the light in the tiles incredible, lighting up the whole front of the house.
After a while, we went back to the Plaza again and had a birthday celebration in a tapas house. Washed down with a thirst quenching cervesa. Delicious.
When we had finished, we noticed that there were quite a lot of police congregating at the lower end of the Plaza, whether they were expecting some demonstrators we are not sure and by this time the sun was going down fast and with it the heat. The temperatures drop fast at night and we didn’t have jackets or anything, so we made our way back to the bus stop and luckily enough, one was ready and waiting to take us back to the site.
One hour plus later we got off and walked tired but contended back to Vera. Night Night Barcelona, thank you for a wonderful birthday. I’ll never forget it.
Also, I would like to say a big thank you to all my Friends and Facebook friends who took the time to send birthday wishes to me, and to those who phoned me and wished me happy birthday. When you are away, the card stock is small (but perfectly formed…) and it’s lovely to get such wonderful messages. I feel very lucky to have friends and family like you all. Also there is a brand new Queen Bee on the block, thank you Pam she’s gorgeous and is making a place near Vera.
Just a note to add, we went to the reception this morning and explained the situation with the tickets and without any fuss the lady apologised and gave us the difference back…. so we are no longer €26 down…. Wahoo… what a result and a big thank you to Camping Vilanova.