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Published: April 8th 2018
After wasting the better part of a day getting out to Gatwick on tubes and trains, then sitting around in the airport for a couple of hours instead of ambling through the English, French and Spanish countryside in high speed trains, all thanks to the French rail strike, it was great to finally touch down in sunny Barcelona. We had a hotel booked in the Gracia district of Barcelona, which is less touristy and getting there was a breeze. We bought a T10 1 zona card at the automat at the airport for a fraction under 10eur and with only one change on the subway and a 5 minute walk we were at the hotel La Casa Del Sol overlooking the Placa del Sol. The hotel was great but we were only in it 5 minutes before heading to a little tapas bar I'd heard about called Casa Mama, down some little side street a few minutes walk from the hotel. The place was heaving, the tapas was fabulous so i just kept ordering. Its amazing how much your Spanish improves after a few beers, at least I thought it did. If you are in the Gracia district this is definitly
the place to go to see the Spanish at play. We finally called it quits about 11.30pm just as the place was firing up. Not bad for a Wednesday night.
Thursday morning we were up bright and early and making use of the T10 card to get us to La Sagrada Familia for the opening at 9.00am in an effort to beat the crowds. We thought we'd failed in that but reconsidered after seeing the queue outside when we exited, it was astronomical. The church has got to be seen to be believed, words will not adequately describe it. It is truly awe-inspiring. After almost 3 hours in the church we took ouselves off to Placa Catalunya to take a wander down Las Ramblas, the main pedestrian thoroughfare. Las Ramblas was created when Barcelona tore down its medieval wall and created an elegant promenade. We wandered down Las Ramblas in the general direction of the harbour, watching all the people promenade, before stopping at La Boqueria market to drool over the charcuterie, cheese, vegetables and fish on offer until our hunger got the better of us and we stopped in a seafood tapas bar at the rear of the
market for a heaped plate of deep fried baby squid and a plate of roasted vegetables. Absolutely delicious. Feeling nicely replete we took to the street again checking out the Joan Miro mosaic in the pavement and generally marvelling at the beautiful buildings, like the former umbrella shop with umbrella mosaics and a chinese dragon on the walls and the Liceu opera house. We took a 30m detour for a look at Palau Guell the first of Gaudi's moderniste buildings. Continuing on down Las Ramblas we hit the Raval neighbourhood with surreal human statues that spring to life when you drop coins in their box. Las Ramblas ends at the 200ft Columbus monument on the waterfront.
After watching the boats coming and going for a while we took a stroll along the waterfront then took the metro back to Placa Catalunya to start our second walk of the day through the Barri Gotic. This is the birthplace of Barcelona, where Christians and Jews lived within the ancient Roman walls until the 1850's when the city expanded. The barrio is a real mix of ancient churches, fountains and monuments including Barcelona's original gothic cathedral and the remains of the Roman
temple of Augustus. We stopped in El Call, the Jewish quarter, with its narrow passages where the medieval Jews were forced to live and visited the old synagogue from the middle ages finally finishing our meanderings at Placa del Rei, home of the old royal palace.
Having dragged our aching feet back to Placa del Sol we sat over wine and tapas for a while watching the goings on in the plaza finishing the day with pizza and more red wine.
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