Barcelona – Day 1

Late last week I learned I’d be going to Barcelona for a meeting on Monday afternoon.  Short notice, yes, but Barcelona in July sounds like my idea of a good time, and to be honest I seldom have much going on anyhow.  After a tiny bit of convincing I followed my co-workers advice to head down one day early.  Total personal cost: one night’s hotel stay, which was EUR120.

I flew out of LHR at 9am, and landed at BCN two hours later.  After landing at BCN airport (which was nice and new, with clear signage) I was ferried into town by a taxi driver/Jose Calderon superfan.

After ditching my stuff at the hotel, I took to the street.  I had read that restaurants that have English are the least authentic, so I went off the beaten path and got the below for EUR3 including a drink (C$4).  It was something like a pizza on a baguette, with spicy chorizo, chick peas, pepperoni, tomato, and cheese.

I took to the hills, climbing northwards out of the city centre towards the mountain.  The grade starts out shallow, then grows steeper.  As you climb the sidewalk changes from flat, to mildly textured, to heavily textured so as to help your grip.  After about an hour’s trek I made it to this:

…an outdoor escalator.  Is this a good idea?  Does it work in the rain?  I don’t know.  The escalator is free to ride and continues 6-8 stories upwards, to here:

…where you still have to keep walking, up into a large park – Parc Guell.  After more walking climbing I was treated to this view:

Note the almost-Gherkin on the left, and the Sagrada Famailia on the right.  See the construction cranes?  It was started in the 1880s, and is expected to be complete by 2030.  Seriously, I am not making this up.

Above is a picture of la Rambla, and “main street” of Barcelona.  My hotel was about 500 meters from the sea.

Essentially Parc Guell is Pan’s Labrynth in park form.  It’s incredible to behold and about as ordinary as a building that takes 150 years to complete.  May I suggest the wikipedia article?

Walking back through the city you get streetscapes like this.

Oddly, while some streets can be wide, the traffic moves slowly and it remains pedestrian friendly.  New York sized avenues at a more leisurely pace.

Above, a quiet portion of la Rambla.  Note the tapas bars on the right; this strip is laden with bar after bar.  You can see that the street is wide, with the middle 4-5 lanes holding space for pedestrians, cycle lanes, and bars.  There are only 2 lanes of traffic (one each way).  It’s the best sidewalk in the world.

Best feature of the hotel?  The rooftop pool, of course!  Check out the view!  Both times I used it, I had the place to myself.

Not a bad way to wind down the evening.  Note it is just getting dark; the photo was taken at about 10pm.

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