Friday, 8 October 2010

España: Barcelona!

Our trip into mainland Spain officially began last Saturday. It has become blindingly apparent that a week here is going to go very quickly. But having already decided we will return to possibly habitate in some form, it is probably best we do not become too attached. Severing the umbilical cord will be hard enough when we leave Vigo.

Our parking ticket for our time in Barcelona tells me we were in Barcelona for 1 day, 13 hours and 59 minutes. It also tells me we were fleeced 68 euros for this. This is the largest amount I have ever paid for a parking ticket, it may have been cheaper to have had our rental car towed and pay for the tow truck. It certainly cost more than our hotel room for a night. However, like great Roman consuls before me I now know waging a campaign in Spain can be expensive without local knowledge.

What did we do in 1 day 13 hours and 59 minutes in Barcelona? Well, quite a lot. I will give you a run down with photographs soon. First some waxing about Barcelona, from someone who did not step a single foot inside a museum, gallery, basilica or any other mind altering land mark.

Barcelona is ripe rich and bursting with life, in parts it is over ripe. The city seems to have been germinated from a magic city bean in very fertile soil. There is decay in parts, but you come away knowing that this decay will lead to more brilliant structures sprouting or even just some nice graffiti.

If you get to walk through the many parks of Barcelona you will notice the ground is very malleable. It actually yearns to be crafted and nurtured. A metaphor for Barcelona? Mayhap.

Without further waffle, let me introduce you to our quick tour of Barcelona.

Barcelona in 1 day, 13 hours and 59 minutes.

8:37 pm

Shrug off that confused look the parking attendant gave you as you told him you would collect your car in a couple of days. You write a successful blog and have legions of rabid fans throughout the universe. Your blog will be floated in the DOW soon and will turn a profit.

8:45 pm

After dragging your whole life for 8 minutes through the streets, check into your very nice and bargain friendly hotel.

Smile with glee as you discover you have working internet in your work.

Jump for joy as you find you have a coffee machine right outside your door.

If you are anything like me you are probably in love with Barcelona and you have not even done anything.

9:17 pm

After a very quick shower and some important pressing matters on the internet, walk out onto the Rambla and soak in the very touristic atmosphere.

Enjoy the very good street performers. Grimace as you feel ashamed for ever giving money to a silver painted man in the past. These ones really know what they are doing.

Exercise self control as the friendly solo beer can salesmen try to palm off plant extracts, herbs, pharmaceuticals and every other vice known to man.

10:00 pm

Walk into one of the many Tapas restaurants and enjoy a very reasonable meal. Live dangerously, live a cliché. Eat the Paella and drink a couple of flagons of Sangria.

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Spanish invention time

I am loving the simplicity of the great Spanish inventions. This one struck me as being perfect. Notice the distance from the bar to the upper bar area. The bar lady and waiter use basic physics ingeniously to serve customers quickly and with the least effort possible.
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clue: look at the out of place pile of drinks

11:00pm

Take a leisurely stroll towards the port until the masts and smell of the sea remind you of your impending job hunt next week.

12:00am

Retire to your now quite salubrious looking hotel with the promise of a whole day exploring Barcelona to come.

7:00am

Wake to the sound of coffee machine; lovely droning machinations that rouse you gently from your slumber.

Check on your downloads that have been beavering throughout the night.

Test your Espanola on the coffee machine and drink three coffees of differing strength, FUERTE.

7:30

Shower, dress and eat a complimentary Croissant con chocolate.

8:00

Pausing only to grab a map from the hotel attendant, leap outside to explore Barcelona.
Ignore your companions at all costs. You are going to show them what you do not know about Barcelona. And then some!

8:15

Take random photos on your way towards the largest green thing on the map. It must be a park.



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9:00

By now you have drifted dangerously close to the commercial port and ferries to Ibiza. The Space closing Fiesta could be going on and you may feel its pull like a death stars tractor beam.

Thankfully rich malodorous sea smells have bought a plague of flies descending on you.

Note: There is nothing remotely aphrodisiac about a Spanish fly.

10:00

Hang on a second, maybe that huge mountain inland a bit is in fact the huge green thing beside the sea on the tourist map.

Pause a moment to curse cartographers who do not use contour lines to denote heights.

10:15

Start climbing the huge green thing to look at the Barcelona Olympic stadium and other treats.

Admire a famous naturalist who appears, and then vanishes into the bushes resplendent with tattooed pants and missing cod piece .

10:45

The walking is arduous, the scenery sublime.
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Just when you begin to loose hope you will find this scrawled on the ground.

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You are on the chosen path.

11:00 am

Stroll and relax on one of the many summits. Take in the sights of the statues.

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Feel slightly miffed as you realise you are in the grounds of a hotel.

12:00 pm

Take in the grandeur that is the Barcelona Olympic stadium.

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Start the long walk down towards the city

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The magical fountain may or may not be working.

Look at your map to find an underground station. It is time for food and a siesta!

1:00pm

Spanish invention time

Having used a few mass transit systems in a few European cities what greeted us in Barcelona was particularly neat. I am not sure if it was our particular stop, but we walked kilometres underground to get to a train. I actually began to think that maybe the Spanish underground is actually a series of tunnels with no trains and strategically placed vending machines.

We did eventually find a train, it was very fast and very clean.

You could even watch projected advertisements on the wall and listen to passable music.

Top marks.

1:30

Sit down and eat the international flavour that is subway with a difference. Drink Tequila from the bar and throw some dolleros at the conveniently adjoining casino .

2:00

Enjoy a well earned siesta. The coffee machine has been turned off by now and you can really relax.

3:00

Rise up from your siesta and begin the hunt for bicycles to rent. Bask in the frustration which are the warren like streets of Barcelona.

3:30

Find a sweet bike and start cycling the many warren like streets taking photographs.

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5:00

By now you have probably reached the 56 hectare water front complex which feels like a living theme park. Weave your way quickly through the throng of pedestrians, be sure to have photographs taken of yourself.
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7:00

You are now ravenously hungry, but you have not bought anything. Somehow end up in a recycled bag shop and buy this humdinger or equivalent.

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7:30

Eat an organic vegetable dinner from a cafe with the fantastic slogan.

Organic is Orgasmic

8:00

Return to your hotel for some much needed down time. You are going to need your best humour when you pay that parking ticket in the morning.

7:00am

Repeat yesterday morning except do not leave your hotel. You have 60 kilograms of luggage to pack.

11:45

You are now leaving Barcelona feeling quite chuffed at what you achieved.

In closing,

Barcelona was great, of course we needed more time but we just did not have it to spare. We had Vigo to visit and the white rabbit was disappearing into the horizon.

Time was the only thing that could have made things different. But in such a flavour bursting city you can walk in any direction and be entertained straight away.

It is worth noting that the shopping precinct was closed as it was a Sunday, we probably got a lot more done because of this. But the shopping from what I saw is right down my alley. If you like rich colours and re-made classics, Barcelona is the place to be.
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