Barcelona 3

Our last full day in Barcelona started at an appropriately late hour. We are adjusting well to Spanish hours! Breakfast at 9 and on the road by 10. Our plan was to make it to the Torre de Collserola, the large communication tower that dominated the skyline. This was going to stretch our commuting skills somewhat, as so far we have restricted out travels to the subway and on foot.

Directions to the tower required us to take a train, funiculaire, and bus. All these forms of transport were covered on our Barcelona ticket, so the only real challenge was to find them all successfully. The train and funiculaire proved easier that I had anticipated and a short walk to the bus stop had us in view of the tower. The timetable indicated a 20 minute wait for the bus, so Sam suggested we walk. The stroll through the very interesting and obviously affluent hilltop suburb took us past lots of interesting houses and we soon arrived at the next bus stop. Sam was keen to continue, but we were heading out of the suburban area and the footpath was non-existent, so on my insistence, we waited for the bus. The small village bus had only a couple of other passengers and I (incorrectly) assumed that the bus would take us to the tower as its ultimate destination. We saw the tower come and go, and despite Sam’s protestations that I should press the stop button to alert the driver that we wanted to get off, I still persisted in my hope that we would ultimately get back there. That hope faded as did the tower in the distance and we finally did get to the end of the route – an amusement park and cathedral. I approached the driver and told him we wanted to go to the tower. However, in my less than perfect Spanish, I told him that we wanted to go to the “torro” (the bull), not the “torre” (the tower), so he was a little confused. I eventually made myself understood by showing him the picture in my tourist book. He said we should stay on the bus and he would take us there. We waited a few minutes before starting on the downhill journey and again as we made our way past the tower, Sam suggested we ring the stop button. Again I said no, the driver would know where to leave us off, but again I should have listened to Sam. We drove past the tower one more time. AN English speaking passenger asked us where we wanted to go and he then spoke to the driver who apologetically said we would have to go around the route again. We decided we should just sit back and enjoy the ride. Exactly half an hour after our journey commenced, we passed the spot where we had first got on the bus, and in about 3 minutes from then we were finally deposited at the right stop for the tower. We had about a 10 minute walk from there and eventually arrived. A short wait and an exciting ride in a glass lift soon had us very high above Barcelona. The views were quite amazing and we wandered around checking out the various parts of the city we had visited. On our return to the bus stop we found we had almost a ½ hour wait, so I did give in to Sam’s request to walk back to the station. We were soon back on the funiculaire and the train and into town. We got some lunch and headed back to the hotel.

After a brief rest, I outlined my plans for the afternoon – a trip to the beach. Sam was not keen, but reluctantly came along. He made me promise we would not stay long and said that he might not go in for a swim but just watch. The walk from the station to the beach was fairly long and Sam was still somewhat reluctant. We finally arrived and after a good coating of sunscreen, he plunged in. He was impressed by some of his topless companions, put off by a few of the others, but the main attraction was the blue, clear, cool water. After complaining most of the way that he didn’t want to go to the beach, now he didn’t want to leave. However, it was getting late and I decided we should get home to meet Peter. When he wasn’t there when we got back to the hotel, we went for a quick dip in the hotel pool to cool off again after our hot trip back from the beach. Peter finally did make it home and asked what sights he really should see. We recommended the Sagrada Familia and so we headed down onto the subway to visit. We also hoped to get a glimpse of the cigar-shaped building that apparently lights up in many colours at night, but even at 8.30 pm there was still too much daylight for any lighting to be on. We found an open air Tapas bar and decided to dine there. I was hoping we might get back to the markets before we left so we caught the Metro down there only to find they had closed for the evening. Sam was disappointed as he wanted a dragon fruit and coconut juice drink that he had seen there on Tuesday.

Sam really enjoyed himself in Barcelona and threw himself into the activities.

We walked back up the Rambla towards our hotel and found some street entertainers still hard at work. One group that caught our eye was a troupe of tumblers. Their final spectacular act involved one of them doing a back flip over the heads of 5 adults standing in a row. We finally made it back to the hotel and into bed.

Peter’s version of the evening:

I arrived back at the hotel from the conference shortly before 7:00 pm. After Majella and Sam had described their adventures for the day we set out for Sagrada Familia which they had seen already and recommended as one sight I should see. We rode one Metro line to the next station from Placa Catalunya, changed line and rode the next to Sagrada Familia station.

We walked round 3 sides of the building – the 4th was shrouded in scaffoling and screens, offering no clear view of the structure. I snapped a good number of photos on the way around.

From there we walked down to Avinguda Diagonal to see if we could get a view of the cigar shaped building, Torre Agbar. We did manage a clear view along the diagonal road and decided that was as good as we could do until dark which was still several hours off.

We walked back toward the metro station at Sagrada Familia. Sam and Majella stopped at a shop where the struck a package deal to buy a Spanish flag and a pair of sunglasses for 11 euro.

A little further on we found a restaurant, Els Porxos, across the road from Sagrada Familia on the 4th side we had not walked previously. We decided to see if tapas might satisfy our collective hunger. Because we had missed on the Patatas Bravas on our first try at tapas, I was determined we should have that which turned out to be chunks of fried potato with a spicy mayonnaise. To the patatas we added Tortilla Espanola, an omelette with finely chopped potato, and Jabuguitos al ron, which the menu described as sausages in ‘run’ but we assumed might have intended ‘rum’. On the recommendation of our waiter we added Mejillones al cava, mussells in a creamy onion sauce. All of the dishes were served in generous portions and the combination, with the bread that was added, was more than enough to fill 3 of us. For drinks we had sangria (Majella), orange juice (Sam), and beer.

After dinner we caught the metro to a station where Sam hoped to buy a dragon fruit and coconut drink but the market had closed for the night. We walked back up La Rambla to our hotel where Majella and I drank some packaged Sangria she had bought earlier in the day. We turned in early to prepare for our next day of driving to Avignon.