Place Catalunya, which is considered Barcelona's city centre was like Trafalgar Square used to be in the good old days - pigeon central.
This is the beginning of La Rambla, Barcelona's place to "ramble" and be seen. Lots of shops and restaurants to keep a person busy.
I love markets so couldn't wait to explore La Boqueria which is Barcelona's biggest. I was not disappointed. (I went back twice more!)
Figures made from marzipan - no I did not indulge..
Oh how the Spanish love their jamon (ham) and queso (cheese)
I surprised myself by walking the full length of La Rambla to the sea...1.2 km on top of what I had walked already that day.
Here is a monument to Christopher Columbus.
I made it as far as crossing this new bridge across the water and I was done. Sitting on a bench I started chatting with a couple from Cornwall, England who were off on a cruise the next day. It turned out that they ran a boat charter company for years and we sat discussing travel, the Channel and Scilly islands for quite a while.
Time to head home - my dogs were barking, well more like howling really. I did a dumb dumb thing. (what else is new?) I got new orthotics just before the trip and due to our lovely Saskatchewan weather I wasn't able to break them in properly. (I don't think walking around the basement of my building for 45 minutes a few times a week was really giving them a good work out) I have used orthotics for 18 years now and I know you need to not overdo at the beginning or you will be in trouble and my podiatrist who I call Dr Hotty because he is hot...(sure hope he doesn't read this blog...that will be embarrassing on my next visit...) has told me this numerous times. So guess who took one pair of shoes with their NEW custom orthotics to Barcelona? Up goes my hand. I could not figure out why my feet were KILLING me and then the penny dropped. My hiking shoes (which I had been using almost exclusively in Toronto and London) with my old orthotics were in London...so I must remember to pack those old orthotics with me when I go to Asia or I will be, to put it bluntly...screwed.
Anyway I hobbled back to the metro and headed back to my room.
The next morning I decided to walk around the Gothic quarter of the city...but first I had to have another pastry with my cafe con leche.
This one had chocolate in it! :)
This morning I aimed to wander the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona - and the cathedral was the first stop. Well I am sure it would be impressive if you just hadn't seen the Sagrada Familia...luckily it was free to enter as I wouldn't have paid to go in. The cathedral was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. I gave everything a cursory glance but I was interested in more than the church!
Geese in the cloisters!! 13 Geese to be precise - said to be 13 because the patron saint of the cathedral, Saint Eulalia was given 13 forms of torture in Roman times and became a martyr. Okay...whatever....but geese! White geese!
The cloisters were lovely but the geese were even prettier.
I then wandered around the Gothic Quarter which was charming. I think I still prefer Seville over Barcelona though.
Can you tell I can't resist narrow walkways? I enjoyed getting a bit lost and not knowing what was around the next corner.
Token dog photo in a quiet square
One of the plazas off La Rambla
Then it was time to head back up La Rambla as I had an appointment at 2 o'clock...but just another quick look in the market...
To try and counteract my morning pastries I bought one of these fruit cups - delish. I also bought one of the empanadas pictured earlier to give to a fellow I saw looking in garbage cans. I had the lady warm it up for me and it smelled divine. He looked at it suspiciously and asked what it was and shrugged when I told him and muttered something and took off. Maybe he was a vegetarian...or just an asshole...or both?
Back at Plaza Catalunya I had to admire this enterprising fellow. The vendor was selling "pigeon food" but this guy was omitting the middle man and going for it.
The rest of the gang were happy to help local enterprise. I usually love feeding pigeons but decided not to for some unknown reason. I always used to at Trafalgar Square back in the day (I seem to be using that "back in the day" phrase a lot lately - guess it means I really am getting up there) and loved it.
I walked past another of Gaudi's works...Casa Batllo. This was a reconstruction of an existing structure and was completed in 1904.
The buildings surrounding it aren't exactly offensive either. I decided not to visit this one - personally I find the outside of Gaudi's structures appealed to me more than the interiors.
Then it was time to visit Casa Mila known as Le Pedrera...this was completed by Gaudi in 1912. Once again I found the exterior to be much more impressive than the interior....
Although the roof was pretty cool....
Hey there Sagrada Familia!
Stairs, stairs everywhere - I was pretty tired by the end but it was worth it!
Then it was time for tapas and cava (sparkling Spanish wine)! Meet asparagus with cheese in truffle oil, three cheese croquettes and bread brushed with oil and tomato. (don't think the tomato was too involved in this...) It was yum.
Back to my room....I did spend a lot of time in my room in the evening. I couldn't work out how to work the television in the living room and my room got nice and cozy once I turned the heater on. I guess if there was a downside of the trip to Barcelona that would be it (and locking myself in...)..too much time in my room but I was tired after walking around all day. Having a companion on this trip would have been nice for evening things but would have been a drag for the other person as I was continually sitting down when I could.
The next morning I decided to have a traditional breakfast for these parts...a ham and cheese sandwich...the Spanish are obsessed with this combination and I must say the Iberian ham is absolutely delicious.
Then it was off to Park Guell - yes, another Gaudi masterpiece! This was a little more difficult to get to and luckily I had been sent an email that morning instructing me on the best way to get there due to construction at a couple of the gates. I was planning to go the way google maps was directing me so that worked out well. I was able to take the metro all the way and then walked for about 20 minutes. This is another place that must be booked ahead online - if you want to get into the monumental zone and truly, that's what you want to see.
My jaw dropped when I saw this...it's like you have entered another world...
The tiles on the long bench on the terrace.
View showing from the terrace showing the tiles
The famous ceramic dragon - I had to snap quick to get this one as so many people were lined up to get their picture taken with it.
I walked up a bit to get a better view....I wanted to get to the famous cross and the fabulous view but Thelma said "no way" so I listened.
And that's the next 24 hours of my time in Barcelona covered!