viva espana …


So I’m in Barcelona. Actually I was booked to go to Prague but a last minute cancellation and some frantic google-ing brought me to this wonderful city where I am happily installed in 4-star luxury at the Hotel Catalonia Ramblas. As I write, the sun is shinning outside and warming all and sundry to a nice oven-ready 20 degrees C …

My father-in-law Stuart once told me that he had always avoided visiting Barcelona because the only attraction worth visiting is unfinished. That was nearly 10 years ago, and he has since passed on, and today the Segrada Familia is still only 50% complete, and the foundation has the cheek to charge 8 EURO for the privilege of visiting what is essentially a building site! Still, it was an awesome experience and in my view a ‘must see’. Pic above is from the Passion facade which has been sympathetically integrated into Gaudi’s more organic original design (Nativity facade and bell towers) – does anybody know what these numbers mean???

From one talented spaniard to another crazy one … Joan Miro announced to the world his intention to ‘assassinate’ painting in his work and if you visit his museum high up on the Montjuic hill, you can see for yourselves just how far he went with this idea. I mean, there must be a finite number of scenes one can ‘paint’ involving women, birds, the night sky and planetary bodies 😉 Does anyone else think he might be an alien abductee? This could just explain the abstractness in many of his contrived illustrations …

Some travel tips: the best way to see this city is by bus – the Tourist Bus now includes 3 routes (South, North and Forum) and a one-day ticket costing 19 EURO will taken you to pretty much all the tourist spots. Alternatively, if you prefer traveling sub-terra a T10 ticket costing just under 7 EURO will get you 10 rides on the Metro within Zone 1.

And if you fly into Gerona via Ryan Air, be prepared for an additional 70 minute bus ride into Barcelona – the transfer is pretty painless (but will cost you 21 EURO for a return ticket) and the bus terminates at the Central Bus Station, near the Arc De Triomf Metro.

Tourist guides are plentiful on the net, so go knock yourself out when planning to visit this great city. My own itinerary has included:

    – multiple visits to La Bouqueria (food market off Las Ramblas) where I
    breakfast on fresh fruit and smoothies every morning
    – multiple walks down Las Ramblas (look out for the amazing living statues)
    – Santa Caterina Market (great architecture but lacks the buzz of La
    – Catalonia Cathedral – take the lift up to get a great view of the city
    – walk from Port Vell to the Olympic Village (some great fish restaurants on
    the way)
    – lunch at Cuina Creativa in c/ Dagueria (excellent food, even better prices)
    – Segrada Familia (what more can I say, wow!)
    – Parc Guell (the closest Metro station is Vallcarca, then walk down to
    Lesseps afterwards)
    – dinner at Merendero de la Mari, Placa Pau Vila (advisable to book – I had a
    divine Esqueixada (salted cod) and Fideus Negres amd Cloisses (squid ink
    – Fundacion Miro (en route on the Blue Tourist Bus route)
    – Vildsvin (Ferran) for interesting tappas and beers/cava

Barcelona is a great place to visit with family, and I plan to come back soon with mine …