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Published: January 16th 2011
Desperate to get out of London one more time before the end of the year as I was feeling I hadn't managed to pack in enough trips in 2009. Therefore it was a no brainer when my friend Rich said ... hey how about a trip to Barcelona! Didn't take long to book a flight and a fancy hotel down in the marina, packed up Daryl and ran off to enjoy the warmer weather and all the culinary and alchoholic delights Barcelona has to offer.
Barcelona was high on my initial list of places to visit, but kept getting pushed down in priority as other travel opportunities took over. It's funny how when you start you have a list, but then you find people suggesting other places and you go with that as to travel with people who's company you enjoy really makes the trip much more fun! Living in the UK is excellent that way, although you do sometimes have to just say no and go your own way.
We spend the days running around exploring the joy that is Barcelona and in particular the weird magic that is Gaudi. After an obligatory wander along Las Ramblas and
around the Central Market Daryl & I got our bearings with a Fat Tire Bike
tour (let me tell you some of those narrow lanes in the old city filled with people don't make for good cycling conditions) which took us through the old city, through the parks, past Sagrada Familia (that not yet finished church!) and finally down to the beach to watch the not so subtle pickpocket gangs at work. I used these guys in Berlin and they usually make it quite entertaining (and keep the pickpockets at bay!). Apparently petty crime is a big problem in Barcelona which has a bad reputation for pickpocketing and crime. We didn't have any problems, but we kept a close eye on our possessions and avoided Las Ramblas at night.
The rest of the trip was all about Gaudi. We spent most of Sunday in Parc Guell which is a park high on the hill of el Carmel, looking down over Barcelona and the bay. If you only do one thing in Barcelona, I seriously recommend a visit here on a sunny day for the ambiance and the views. We worked our way down from the top of the park to the
Testing out the buttock form of the seats ;)
central Terrace and the lower exit, enjoying buskers scattered throughout the park. Nestled among the plants and gardens are numerous Gaudi elements which words cannot do justice (and that folks is why we have pictures)! I can say that it is amazing and to see all elements you have to follow the road which winds its way through the gardens as different elements of the road are built over grottos/walkways and easy to miss bits if you take short cuts. All elements are designed to reflect nature, although I can't say it's a nature I recognise. The lower terrace is a wonder in itself with curved mosaic seats around the rim which were apparently formed into seat shape by the bare buttocks of workmen. Having had to endure the odd unwanted brickies crack, I think that's one construction sight I would have been happy to avoid. Underneath the terrace is an amazing space held up with slanting columns which lead the eye up to mosaics installations throughout.
We also squeezed in a visit to La Pedrera (Casa Mila) which is a fabulous examples of this man's twisted way of looking at the world. Swirls, mosaics, sculptures on the roof
and not a square wall in site. Not sure how you would furnish it if you had to live in it, but to look at ... pretty!
Not all of the visit was about sightseeing, we spent nights with Rich & Heli exploring the restaurants and bars of the Marina and Barri Gotic, which has a pumping bar scene. Rather than limit ourselves to one bar (although there was one we seemed to find our way back to quite frequently, hey, they free poured!) we wandered the narrow alleys and stopped wherever fancy took us. Late nights, late mornings and lazy days ... nice pre christmas break!
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