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Barcelona

Here you’ll find travel reports about Barcelona. Discover travel destinations in Spain of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day3

    Friday 19 May sees us in Barcelona. We arrived after an hour flight from San Sebastian on Vuelig Airlines. We took the city bus from the airport - a nice 30min ride at a cost of 6 euro pp. Then we were to have a 15 min walk to our apartment - but it was a bit longer than that- lets just say we were buggered by the time we got there. Walking with suitcases along Passages de Grace mid morning was interesting. We were met by our host - Alessandra - she was really nice and the apartment is gorgeous.

    So Barcelona, its just a little bit busier than San Sebastian. Heaps more tourists and lots more traffic. Another difference is things are a bit more expensive here. No more 2 euro glasses of wine. The city though, has great architecture - all along Passages de Grace you get a sore neck from looking at all the buildings and their diverse facades. You have the Gaudi influenced ones next door to the more modern look.

    Today I set off on my morning walk. It was great - the streets were empty of tourists and I was able to admire my surroundings and get to see the city in the quiet. Tonight we will explore an area nearby where the locals go and check out places to eat and drink.
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  • Day15

    It was up early to catch an 8.30 fast train from Madrid to Barcelona with a travel time of only three hours. The walk to the train was only 20 minutes and the sun was just starting to rise as I walked. Many people were just heading home from enjoying tapas and the coffee shops were just starting to open.

    The train was very comfortable and smooth and as I watched the fastest speed I saw register was 298km/hr. The trip was soon over and I arrived in Barcelona. A short taxi to my hotel and I was in a nice modern and surprisingly roomy single room. I headed out to get my bearings and found I was only 5 minutes walk from one of the main tourist squares. I have been pleased with the location of all the hotels I have booked so far.Read more

  • Day15

    The walking tour guide recommended a visit to a nearby museum that has excavated Roman ruins down under the square we were standing in. It was also free entry from 6pm to 8pm so off I went. I went down the stairs to see a pretty special area of an excavated ancient fish processing plant. The remains of big round pottery urns were used to store fish. There were pillars from where the rooms stood and remnants of tile floors. Up above in an old church there was displays recreating the buildings below.Read more

  • Day73

    Hard to believe that after 72 days and 7000 kilometres of driving, today would be our last day in Spain. From that first, frazzled, jetlagged day in Madrid where we wandered fairly aimlessly still coming to terms with being in a cold European spring with our dog in tow, to now where we've embarked on a ridiculously optimistic journey. But first - more world heritage sites!

    We still had a few more to tick off, since the works of Gaudi entry on the list covers seven separate buildings. And we'd decided that even though La Sagrada Familia was the most important and well-known, we couldn't just leave it at that. A pair of houses Gaudi had designed were just near our apartment (well 10 minutes walk anyway), so we headed there first.

    Both were very touristy spots but still impressive. The first house, Casa Milla, was one that we'd actually visited in the rain on our first day, and now with bright sunshine it looked far more impressive and interesting. Shaped like a quarry, no internal load-bearing walls, and a revolutionary (for 1906) underground parking garage!

    The second house, Casa Battlo, was vaguely styled after the story of Saint George slaying the dragon. The front of the house had balconies and arches vaguely reminiscent of a dragon's jaws, a long tall central roof inspired by a serpent tail, and then a tower/pinnacle topped with the cross of St George, inspired by the lance he used to slay the dragon. Well, in the story anyway. Again very crowded and touristy, but looking good in the sunshine.

    Next was a long walk the opposite direction to a cafe we'd been recommended. It was typically a brunch cafe, but brunch in Spain happens any time between midday and 4pm, so given it was just after 12 we tucked in. I had a mushroom and spinach omelette, while Shandos had a salad.

    Last stop on the world heritage tour was Park Guell, a park partially designed by Gaudi in the hillier northern suburbs of Barcelona. It was originally conceived as a gated community for rich people, but only a couple of the plots had houses built, and after Gaudi and the financier died the area became a public park. Most of his landscaping and utility buildings are still there though, with the typical undulating surfaces, tiling and other similar flourishes. Very beautiful, and we spent a good couple of hours enjoying the sun and warmth. Schnitzel was a big attraction here, lots of attention and pats!

    Back to our apartment where we relaxed a couple of hours, before heading back out for dinner. Decided we had to have something Spanish for our last night in Spain, so ended up at a vermouth bar where we had a couple of vermouths and some tapas - beef cheek, hildas, cheese, and a couple of other things.

    Final stop was another craft beer bar, where I tried a mushroom beer. Very odd, not the greatest thing I've ever tasted! A mixture between mushroom risotto, liquid smoke and beer. Strange, not something I'd try again. Back to the apartment for a bit of packing and an early-ish night, as we were both feeling nervous about the long day of travel tomorrow. Particularly Schnitzel's first ride in a plane cabin!
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  • Day5

    Nice little centrally located hotel. We were given a room with a nice-sized private terrace. We were upgraded to a larger room, can't imagine a room much smaller than what we are in!

    Notes:

    Clean but corners, etc. a little grungy. Lots of hot water and water pressure is great. Poorly designed shower, we can point shower head right or left and move it up and down on a slider, but we cannot change the angle and it comes straight out. There is a door that stops short of the end of the enclosure, so water almost pours out onto the floor. Later: Figured the shower head out Friday morning.

    A/C working great.
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  • Day15

    Today was our changeover day.  We felt like we were pretty busy - for one thing, I already typed this up and lost it. For another, we had to be out of our cabin by 9 am then fill time until we could get into our new cabin around 1.

    One thing that was nice was that we were able to wander around the ship and take some photos without a bunch of people around.  People started coming on at about noon.  We are seeing less children - no more spring breakers.

    We were cut free from our safety drill because the crew running our muster station knew we had already done one within the last two weeks (even though we are in a different room and assigned to a different station which should mean we need to attend again).  sue and Mark had to stay for the whole drill.

    Our stateroom is the same category although it is two decks lower and the reverse floor plan.  Like the floor plan better (bed is by the balcony instead of closer to the door) but there is a lot less storage.  Our room steward Made (Mahday) seems helpful and attentive.

    Had a nice dinner in the buffet watching our sail away and then we went to the spa and watched the sunset out the stern of the ship.
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  • Day72

    Another day of sightseeing in this enormous city, with so much to see and do! Early start for Shandos today as we'd decided on doing separate things for a change. She left the apartment around 8am to catch an early train for the Salvador Dali museum, in another city about 70 kilometres north.

    I relaxed in the apartment for a bit, spent some time on Skype then headed out for a few hours. Main stop for me was the Hospital de Sant Pau, which is world heritage listed (of course), being designed by the same Catalan Modernist architect as the concert hall from yesterday (Luis Domenech i Montaner). Caught the metro there which was relatively simple, but even though the station was right under the hospital it was a little difficult to find, since it's an enormous block and the old part is on the far side.

    The hospital itself was quite beautiful, a large campus style development which was revolutionary at the time it was built (1905-1910). It was essentially a series of Catalan Modernist pavilions scattered around a central area with courtyards and gardens for the sick to convalesce, while the workings of the hospital were hidden in subterranean tunnels. Only a couple of parts are still in use, while the main workings have shifted to a more modern building next door.

    The buildings are all beautiful, with lots of gorgeous tiling, mosaics, stained glass and intricate design. But the workings of the hospital are prioritised above all else, which is interesting. I took my time around the site, filming and photographing, though I was done within an hour. I'm glad I went, but the 14 euro entry fee felt a bit steep for what was on offer. If we'd both gone and paid a total of 28 euros it would've felt like pretty poor value.

    By now it was 1:30pm, and not knowing what time Shandos would return (and neither of us having a way to contact the other), I decided to play it safe and head back home. Headed straight back and then took Schnitzel out for a walk while I grabbed lunch - more empanadas from the gourmet empanada place, which has been great every time.

    Back home to edit video and wait for Shandos, who arrived back around 3:45, tired but happy with her expedition. We spent the next couple of hours relaxing before our final appointment of the day - La Sagrada Familia.

    Probably Barcelona's biggest tourist attraction, this is an enormous basilica dedicated to the Holy Family. Although the original design was by Gaudi, the world heritage listing actually only covers his work on the underground crypt, and the enormously impressive Nativity Facade. Since you have to book timed entry tickets, we walked over a bit early and took some photos and explored the vicinity.

    It's kind of crazy to think construction started in 1882 and it's still basically only half built! They've finished the interior, two of the four facades, and eight of the twelve Apostle towers. They still need to build two more facades, four more towers for the remaining apostles, a huge tower dedicated to Mary and an even bigger one to Jesus, plus three of the four sacristries. Current projections have them finishing around 2026, or the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

    Anyway, the nativity facade is very impressive, as it's a huge wall-sized sculpture of the Nativity stories (immaculate conception, flight to Egypt, adoration of the Magi etc) in Catalan modernist style. The interior is beautiful and again very Catalan Modernist. The pillars supporting the roof spread out upwards like trees in a forest, and due to the use of light, space and colour you never really feel like you're inside.

    Stayed here basically as long as we could, including paying our respects at Gaudi's tomb in the basement. Headed straight out for dinner where we couldn't quite decide on what to have, so ended up with a mixture of things. A couple of tapas items at a vermouth bar, empanadas from the empanada shop, and a couple of drinks in a craft beer place. Back to the apartment very full and very tired!
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  • Day70

    Woke up to find an overcast, rainy city hidden outside our brick windows. We discovered this when taking Schnitzel out for his morning business! After a bit of deliberation we decided to catch the metro to the Eixample district where a lot of the early 20th century stuff is and have a look around.

    Schnitzel came too, and had his first non-carrybag ride in a subway train! He got carried the whole way and seemed a bit scared, though he was also sulking because he had to wear his muzzle. Downtown we had a look at a few things, including the Palau de la Musica Catalan and a nearby Gaudi house, but with the drizzle it wasn't super pleasant or conducive to good photos/videos.

    Stopped for a coffee and a snack in a dog-friendly cafe where Schnitzel sat on our laps very patiently while we shared a small plate of vegetarian nachos. Wandered over to La Rambla which is the main shopping boulevard in the city. Very crowded with tourists despite the rain. Ducked into a large marketplace where lots of stuff was happening, again very crowded but we tried a few things for lunch including a small box of noodles from a Korean stall, a beef burrito, and a juice. We also managed to get a chicken neck for Schnitzel from one of the butcher's stalls inside, which the lady gave to us free of charge! He wolfed it down as usual, first time he's had a chicken neck since we left Australia!

    Continued walking down La Rambla until we eventually arrived at the waterfront where not a lot was happening. There's a large shopping centre on a pier in the bay, but neither of us felt that inclined to visit since it all felt a bit Darling Harbour. Wandered around a little more before we jumped on the subway to head back. Schnitzel was brave enough this time to go on the floor, but still cowered between Shandos's feet.

    Relaxed in the apartment for a while, and I went out to a nearby hipster barber shop for a long overdue haircut. Still raining steadily into the evening as I wandered a few streets looking for some toiletry supplies. Partly successful in my mission, but I also managed to find an excellent cake shop selling Oreo brownies and delicious choc-chip cookies. Lots of cool shops in our area which is quite nice. Big contrast from the apartment!

    Stayed in for dinner as neither of us felt like venturing out, and had a pair of Spanish tortillas for dinner.
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  • Day71

    Still no let up in the rain today, and if anything it was actually worse. So we decided that we'd make the most of it, and focus on indoor attractions. Headed out moderately early heading for the Picasso Museum, since obviously it was entirely indoors.

    We'd booked fairly early tickets, since as with most things on tour it's better to get in earlier and avoid the large groups. The museum was quite good, though different from what I was expecting. I went in expecting a fairly retrospective style collection, with artworks from each of his various periods. But a lot of the collection focused on his early years, before he got into the cubism and surrealism. There were a couple of other periods exhibited (the "Blue Period" where he painted entirely in hues of blue for a year or so), and a large study of "Las Meninas", a Renaissance-era painting by Velazquez in Madrid's Prado museum which we'd visited about 10 days earlier. Picasso's study involved endlessly painting and repainting both the full thing and smaller parts of it (individual people etc) in his own style, which was really interesting.

    But I guess it's important to remember that although Picasso was Spanish, most of his key creative output and influential periods came later in life when he was living in Paris and Cannes. He left Spain fairly early in his artistic career and only returned a couple of times. Still great to see a lot of his works, but not sure it was entirely up to expectations. I guess museums can only exhibit what they can acquire, and despite Picasso's enormous output, very little of it goes on sale so it's almost literally priceless. Alas!

    We headed back outside into the rain and retreated to a cafe where we had a hot drink and shared a croissant. Had a couple of hours before our next booking, back at the concert hall (Palau de la Musica Catalan) so without the option of walking around in the rain, we decided to just amuse ourselves in cafes and restaurants.

    Eventually ended up back at the same cafe opposite the concert hall we'd been to with Schnitzel the day before, where we had a more substantial meal (I had a Mexican egg dish and Shandos had a salad) and another hot drink.

    Finally at 2pm our concert hall tour was ready, so we set off inside. Although the outside is interesting, it's in a couple of fairly narrow streets and is difficult to really get a handle on. But the inside is absolutely stunning. The main concert hall is large-ish, holding about 2200 seated patrons, but it's decorated absolutely beautifully.

    The long sides are decorated with stained glass windows depicting Catalonian folk tales, there are statues of Greek muses around the back of the stage playing various world instruments, the proscenium arch has on the left scenes of nature and a huge bust of a Catalan folk hero, while on the right is a smaller bust of Beethoven and a sculpted scene of the Ride of the Valkyries from Wagner's Ring Cycle. Ironically, this arch takes up so much space it's impossible to have scenery on stage, so it can't actually host operas (nor is there an orchestra pit either).

    The roof is made of stained glass as well, with an inverse dome patterned like the sun, reflecting both light and sound through the entire hall. It's incredible, and I'd 100% recommend anyone who comes to Barcelona visits and tours this building. Also of interest was the way Catalan Modernisme architecture finds its voice here (the lead architect Luis Domenech i Montaner was a leading exponent), the way that natural motifs like roses, leaves, trees, stars etc are brought inside the building. Fascinating stuff.

    After all that we were fairly exhausted, so we hopped on the subway back to the apartment where we stayed the rest of the evening. I tried to cook a fresh supermarket pizza in the oven, but while it was heating up I noticed billowing smoke - there were a bunch of filthy pans and trays stuffed into the oven, some still covered in oil and food scraps! Gross. Thankfully we also had a small toaster oven, so I cut the pizza into slices and cooked it in there. This place isn't going to get a good review from us, that's for sure.

    Off to bed around midnight after watching a boring and uninspiring Manchester derby in the football. But at least United didn't lose!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Barcelona, Barcelone, Barcellona

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