Sunday, July 10, 2011

Barcelona part 1

2000 year old fountain
Having arrived in warm, sunny and warm Barcelona and deciding that I would defeat Jetlag by simply not going to sleep, I realised that I needed to find something to do to keep me awake for the next 7 or so hours. Luckily Europe abounds with excellent free walking tours which are great value as the tour guides are usually expats living off the tips they get from the tour groups so they work extra hard to keep everyone interested….unfortunately in the group I joined I was the only Adelaidean in a predominantly Sydney and Brisbane based group. Oh the hilarity of the ever original anti-Adelaide jokes.   
Anyway, interstate rivalry aside, spent about 2 hours exploring the gothic district of the city and learning all sorts of interesting facts such as that its legal to walk around naked as long as you’ve got shoes on and why the statue of Columbus is pointing to Africa rather than America (basically it was put up in a hurry and nobody in the following 100 years could be bothered going up there to fix it).  Also visited the spot where Picasso lost his virginity so that was pretty rockin’. Ended the tour at the world’s tiniest bar for a beer, which was extra fun as they were in the process of installing an air conditioner that was at least as wide as the bar itself so every three minutes we all had to switch which side of the room we were standing on as they tried to work around us. Continued walking around on my own til I finally lost the ability to move or form coherent thoughts and returned to the hostel for a good 12 hour coma.
Enjoyed the hostel breakfast in the morning and set out for another day of walking. Lots and lots of walking. Strolled down La Rambla (the main tourist drag) before stumbling on the very cool Mercat de la Boqueria which was stuffed with enough fresh fruit, veggies, fish and of course ham to give the Central Markets a good run for their money. Ventured back into the Old Town to find the striking Gotic Cathedral. Really amazing both inside and out though covered in scaffolding as are most churches (apparently you don’t have to pay taxes for your church until its finished so most are perpetually “in progress”). The cloister hosts the crypt of martyr St Eulalia, one of Barcelona’s patron saints, and the 13 geese kept in her honour (one for every year of her life when she was killed). Also took the lift up to the roof to enjoy a pretty spectacular view over the city.
inside the Catedral
Spent the next few hours getting myself good and lost in the la Ribera district. Found another market, this one built over the ruins of a medieval cloister, part of which is preserved in a viewing gallery at one end of the markets. Stumbled upon the Arc de Triumph and the massive Parc de la Ciutadella. Went for a long walk around the park which featured an enormous fountain at its centre, and for some reason a sculpture of a woolly mammoth.  Walked straight past the Museum of Chocolate before realising and doing a pretty Pythonesque double take and heading in to check it out. Bought my  ticket (which was in fact made of chocolate) and explored the history of chocolate and numerous elaborate chocolate sculptures. Then found the Picasso museum (which had actually been my goal when I first left the Cathedral so I definitely took the scenic route) but there were about a hundred people in the queue so instead checked out a neighbouring gallery hosting a fascinating (if baffling) exhibit on society’s interactions with technology and collection of pieces from the wardrobe of Maria Brillas designed by Pedro Rodriguez. I don’t actually know who either of them are but they sure made a pretty amazing wardrobe between the two of them.
Suddenly found myself back amongst the tourist crowds right in front of another amazing church, Esglesia de Santa Maria del Mar. After finding a jamon y quesa boccadilo (ham and cheese baguette) and a nice shady spot for lunch. Returned to the Picasso Museum to find the line substantially reduced so spent a while enjoying the 3000+ pieces, mostly of his early work. By this point I’d been walking for about 7 hours and had started losing the feeling in my toes so decided to take advantage of siesta time and headed back to the hostel.
To be continued...

at the markets

tribute to George Orwell; a sculpture of the disease that killed him

Gothic Cathedral

Parc de la Ciutadella

Esglesia de Santa Maria del Mar

No comments:

Post a Comment