Beachfront and Dr. Seuss

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March 18th 2015
Published: March 19th 2015
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Tuesday dawned with brilliant blue skies and warm temperatures, however this hard for us to know as our apartment is on the ground floor of a narrow street with towering old buildings, making it always seem dark. Curtis poked his head out the door, looked up and indicated sunny skies. We headed out the door with the intent of walking to the waterfront and then along the beach area. We ambled our way along La Rambla which goes to the harbour.

Now our Tuesday morning had a much better start than Monday. Let's just say, what happens in Barcelona, stays in Barcelona! An Irish Pub, a few drinks, and an interesting walk home!!! We were apparently celebrating St. Paddy's Day one day early! We had lots of laughs but it did make for a slower morning and a desperate need for McDonald's french fries!!!

At the beginning of La Rambla there is a huge roundabout and in the centre there stands a towering 200 foot monument that is commemorated to Christopher Columbus' stop in Barcelona after stumbling across the Americas. We walked around this huge statue and then continued our way down to Port Vell. We walked across La Rambla del Mar, a wavy looking bridge, which leads to a shopping mall with an Imax theatre, restaurants, and the huge Barcelona aquarium. We were fascinated by the incredible yachts and sailboats that were moored in the harbour. One was called KUBO which has won a series of awards, even boasting an indoor swimming pool. We sat and enjoyed a sandwich in the sun on a park bench on our way towards the beaches. Again, everywhere, were people running, walking, in rickshaws, rollerblading. The feel of Spring was everywhere as the warm breezes blew, the sun beamed down and people were out enjoying it all. Soon we came to the promenade on the Mediterranean. This walkway extends for miles along the beaches of Barcelona. We stopped to watch as dozens of surfers waited for "their" wave. Guys walked along, with rum bottles in hand making mojitos and selling them. The waves were quite large and we watched as surfers got pummeled in the white froth, waves crashing to shore with a thunderous sound. Out on the sand were people clad in various outfits. Some wearing bathing suits while others were still in winter jackets and boots. We walked along taking in all the beautiful sights the beachfront had to offer. The paved walkways were wide, some above while others went along in the sand. Restaurants were everywhere with people enjoying beer, coffee, or sangria and tapas. School groups were playing on the beach in their school uniforms, men were practising beach volleyball and peddlers were selling their wares. We found really cool concrete beach chairs along the way. Now one would think that chairs made of cement would be uncomfortable. We were pleasantly surprised as we lounged on the cool concrete, our bodies fitting into the curvature of the chair. We sat and each listened to our language lessons, while watching numerous young men take advantage of the outdoor workout area. We continued our walk for a very long time until we reached the Olympic Village. We then turned around and continued our journey back, stopping at one of the beach terraces for tostada and aioli and a drink. As the afternoon sun moved across the sky we made our way back to La Rambla, stopping at La Boqueria for a few items for dinner. We cooked a delicious meal and tucked in for the night, weary after 12 km of walking and fresh air.

Wednesday morning we were awakened by dogs barking and all kinds of yelling. Thinking that perhaps the yelling was at the dogs we tried to go back to sleep. No such luck! The yelling continued forever. Now, when Spanish people speak,they run all their words together. This makes it difficult to understand people when they talk to me. There is no differentiation between words, it's just one long string. So try as I might, I could not figure out what all the commotion was about. Sticking my head out the door I saw that the police had arrived and soon all was quiet.

After breakfast we made the journey through the streets of Barcelona to Parc Guell, another fascinating designed by Gaudi. This park was initially designed as an upscale housing development. The construction began in 1900 after Eusebi Guell entrusted Gaudi with the task of planning and creating an estate for well-off families with splendid views over the sea. After 14 years, Guell decided to stop the work and when he died his heirs offered it to Barcelona City Council which acquired it in 1922, opening it as a public park in 1926. It is also a UNESCO Heritage site. Since only 400 visitors are let in at a time, we were free to explore the area around the park which is an amazing series of paths that wind up the mountain but the most mesmerizing part is that they lined with incredible stone terraces. We had never seen anything like this before. Two men were playing beautiful classical music, while in other spots, street peddlars were selling their wares. However they also had to keep a careful lookout for the police. Once spotted, the men quickly folded up their blankets of cheap treasures and moved on to the next spot. We watched as a couple of them had their things confiscated. This certainly did not deter them!

Our entrance time to the park soon arrived and we headed inside. This park is like a fantasy world or better yet, like being dropped in the middle of a Dr. Seuss book! The Nature Square which is a huge esplanade, is partially dug into the mountain and held up below by 86 columns. There is an undulating bench which surrounds this whole area. This bench is covered in tile-shard mosaics and pieces of pottery. The view of Barcelona and the sea in the distance was amazing. We continued our way down a spiral ramp until we reached the main entrance which has 2 Hansel and Gretel-like houses on either side. Unfortunately one was covered as it was undergoing tile work. Directly in front of the gate there are sets of steps which are full details and interesting shapes. There is a snake's head above the shield of Catalonia and a brightly coloured dragon or a salamander covered in mosaic tiles which is part of a water fountain. As we continued up, we entered the area where the 86 columns held up the Nature Square. The ceiling is formed of small domes clad with tile shards and the columns are huge. We wandered around the columns, marvelling at this amazing structure. We enjoyed the rest of our visit in the Austrian Garden, where we ate our brown bag lunch and admired the view.

We soon left Parc Guell and headed back down the hill, meandering through some very small, interesting streets. We popped our heads into unique bars for a quick glimpse and kept winding our way back towards our neighbourhood. We stopped for a drink along the Passeig de Gracia, made our way back to the Catalunya Square and further down to La Rambla. We tried to find the place by La Boqueria Market where, on the first day, we met a young man with the most delicious looking order of nachos and guacamole we had ever seen! We oohed and awed over it and he graciously offered us some. We thanked him for his generosity but couldn't bring ourselves to take any, as delectable as they looked but we were determined to go back. Murphy's Law, we can't seem to find the right place. Two more days and hopefully we stumble across it! Instead of nachos we came back to snack on roasted corn before dinner! Tomorrow we head to Montserrat for a wine and tapas tour! Looking forward to this day trip for sure!!!


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