Barcelona Travel Journal
> How it all began...
In the summer of 2000 Yvonne finished school and she would love to visit Barcelona, a city where she'd been one year earlier, on a one-day-tour from the south of France. One day in this fabulous city was definately too short and she was looking forward to another visit to take a closer look. Flying for the first time, all alone to Barcelona was a huge adventure by then and a great success.
> The Plan
Even before arrival back home it was clear that she'd return to this gorgeous city of Gaudi. Every now and then the idea came up, but there were so many other cities to be discovered as well. Finally, in the beginning of 2007, after a year of saving money for our big trip which should have started on August 19th, we thought it was time to treat ourselves again. We didn't want to use a great amount of our savings, but there are also cheap hotels in Barcelona, we didn't have to spend money on a Barcelona Car Rental, as we'd planned to stay in the city itself and some affordable flight-tickets were widely available. That's why we booked a return ticket at Lufthansa from Hamburg, a budget option only 3 hours driving from Groningen.
Now we just needed to research our options for Barcelona Hotels. An afternoon of browsing Hostelworld resulted in a nice and affordable hostel, close to the city center.
> Journey to Barcelona
A journey that has been insecure untill the last seconds, because Yvonne finally got surgery after a long time of waiting, and this would happen only 2 and a half weeks before departure. According to the doctor this would be no problem, but it all turned out to be a bit harder then expected and recovery period after surgery was prolonged from 2 weeks to 2 months. As we were ot able to cancel the flight we decided to wait until right before departure to see whether we should go or not.
Provided with a small suitcase of clothes and other essential stuff ánd a pair of crutches we get into our car on saturday, May 29th. Despite of loads and loads of rain and a sputtering car we arrive in Hamburg in time and we can move on to the gate immediately, as we did online check-in at home last night. Right in good time we see a rainy Germany getting smaller and smaller under us. Not before we reach the southern part of France we get to see some clear spots between all the clouds. After the landing and a stiff part on the crutches we hop on the train that will bring us to the centre of Barcelona in only 30 minutes. After some minutes in the metro as well we get out right in front of Casa Batlló, on a stone's throw of the Omni House, our hostel.
> Barcelona Day 1
Our room is simple, but the bed is good and it all looks quite cosy. After this first, short inspection we head for the centre to check out Plaza Catalunya and the first part of las Ramblas. The fountain on Plaça Reial is a good spot for our first break and from here we walk into the Gothic quarter a few moments later. On the square in front of the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia an idiot shows his tricks and there is music everywhere. The cloister of the cathedral has a view on the fountain in the middle, with some very special inhabitants: geese. When we continue our way through the quarter we walk into a pleasant gathering at the Plaça Sant Jaume. Dozens of people of all ages are practising a Catalan dance, the Sardana. Apparently rhere are no special conditions at all for the instruments on the stage, except that they have to be at least a bit out of tune.
When we're back at the square in front of the cathedral a little later people are playing music on stage and you can also have a great massage here for only 5 euros. We think this was enough comotion for today and we go for a diner at a nice and quiet little square behind the Santa Maria del Pi. After that we have still enough time to find ourselves a good spot at the Magic Fountain and when we're having an icecream the lights turn on, while it's getting dark. We see some lightening in the distance, but here it stays dry and the temperature is very pleasant. After the great show, with the colorful enlightened fountain dancing to the music, we return to our hostel to check the damage to our feet after the first day. I conclude that when you're walking on two crutches and only one foot, the blisters also are lmited to that foot. Minor advantage? Well...
> Barcelona Day 2
On our second day we roll almost straight out of our bed into the Casa Milà, but first we admire the fairytale-like Casa Batlló, with its freakish forms from the outside. Casa Milà is just as special on the inside as on the outside, not a single part of this building is straight and the chimneys on the roof are fascinating. Most of them look like soldiers and a group of three of them is covered with splinters of green bottles. It's obvious that imagination and creativity were Gaudi's best qualities.
We now greatly appreciate the work of this architect and decide to see more of his work. It's only a short ride in the metro to his life work: the Sagrada Familia.
From the outside the building is already quite impressive, even though we like the original part, built by Gaudi himself, better than the much larger, new part. This part looks too modern and too fake for our taste. When we arrive at the pay counter to check out the inside as well we see some pasted signs that waiting time for the elevator to the towers is over 90 minutes. Sounds like a waste of time to us, so we decide to come back tomorrow at 9 sharp to see the interior and the upper parts of the church.
We're still not tired of Gaudi and take a cab to Park Güell, to spare our feet, but especially my leg.
On the long mosaïc bench, twisting around the square, we eat our lunch. We have a look in the park, where music is made on several spots. What a great city this is! Unfortunately our camera has some exhaustion symptoms, to blame or not to blame on Antoni Gaudi: the battery has no power left and for the first time since we use a digital camera we forgot to charge the spare one. So we have to get back to the hostel first, to charge at least one of our batteries.
About an hour later we think that there is enough power in one of them to last for a while. We like being lazy now, so we take a taxi again, now to Casa Calvet, a building that is quite different from the rest of Gaudi's work, because of it's relative dullness.
We spend the end of the afternoon in Parc de la Ciutadella, where we scare to death at the entrance of the park. We thought to be in Spain... what is that French arch doing there, with the Morish brickwork on it! In the park itself we find more music, jugglers, boats, a fountain partially designed by Gaudi and a lóóót of lazy people. We enjoy the afternoonsun and go to bed early after we had diner.
> Barcelona Day 3
Our third day is another Gaudi day. Just after nine we're at the pay counter of the Sagrada Familia and now the line for the elevator is fairly short. So we join the line righ away and 15 minutes later we enjoy the view over this huge church from upstairs. It's a real pity that the morning hours are not the best time to take pictures of the church and the other towers, because the sun is on that same side too. We examine the interior of the church as well, people are still working hard to finish the entire building by the year 2025, just before the 100th date of death of the ingenious dsigner of it all: Antoni Gaudi. The museum offers a lot of info about the church itself, but also about things like the natural shapes used in all of Gaudi's work.
We move on and arrive right in time for a tour through Finca Güell, where Gaudi designed the stables and annexes of the country estate of Güell. Unfortunately there is not much left of the original estate, because parts of it have been donated to the Royal Family and there some roads have been constructed right through it. The tourguide offers a lot of information though and it's really worth it's money.
When we're looking for the place where our map shows another Gaudi building, we're surprised wehen we're not finding the Colegio Teresiano. A passer-by tells us to follow the road for a few kilometers where we should find the building, but the taxi-driver whom we ask to bring us is stubborn and he takes another road pointing us a totally different building. Via a detour we finally reach our goal, to find out that the school which is now situated in the former nunnery can only be visited when you're invited or made an appointment.
Casa Figueres, or Bellesguard, is also reproduced on the wrong place of the map, ór (more likely) secretly moved to confuse us. With some help and by using our hands and feet we manage to find the apartmentblok with the cute little tower and mosaïc details and we take some nice pictures.
Waiting for the bus we get in contact with a grandpa who explains that "approximately" means that the bus can easily leave 30 minutes earlier or later. Eventually we're waiting for almost 40 minutes, but our granddad shows us a much faster way to reach our next destination: Casa Vicens. A little later we just see the last sunrays on the colorful, Morish-style building.
Later we look around on the Ramblas again and we enjoy the lovely weather. After diner we go to the newest attraction on town: Torre Agbar. We vainly wait for the lights of the hypermodern building to switch on, but we came on the wrong day. Only in the week-ends and on anniversaries the festive lights cheer up this ugly monster. Unfortunately we don't get to see this anymore, a huge disappointment for Peter.
> Barcelona Day 4
We start this last day in Barcelona with a visit to the most well-known market of the city: the Mercat La Boqueria, or Saint Joseph market. We love to watch the energetic salesmen, dead animals, bored locals and curious tourists. After a fresh juice we check out at our hostel and sit down to relax on a little bench, where we look around. Sometimes the lense of our camera peeps with us. Around noon we return to the airport and a few hours later we land safely in a wet Hamburg. The weather in Germany is great as always!
> Meer Info
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