Days 31 to 34 - Barcelona

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July 23rd 2017
Published: July 24th 2017
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After packing up and grabbing a quick breakfast at the train station on the morning of e 20th, we flew out of Nice on our EasyJet flight to Barcelona. We checked in to our AirB&B apartment at about 3pm and we planned to leave on the evening of the 23rd, though we hadn't been able to actually book the seat reservations yet as we couldn't do so online. As we had 3 days in Barcelona, over a long weekend, our uni friends Jon and Kate were coming out to meet us for a couple of them.

On he Thursday afternoon Dan went to Nou Camp, the Barcelona football stadium, to do the self guided tour and I went across to Reebok CrossFit BCN to fit in my first CF session of the trip. Sadly it was predominantly running and push ups (things I could do without paying the €18 drop in fee) but it was good to join a group and I had wanted to visit a number of boxes on my travels, so far I was too busy and/or tired to fit it in but I made a special effort. After that Dan and I happened to bump into each other in the Supermacato when we were picking up some food for dinner and he coming days individually on our way back to the apartment. That at least meant we didn't buy double of everything! We just chilled in the evening and ate dinner whilst watching a bit of Family Guy on Netflix.

Jon and Kate were scheduled to arrive at 21:30 on Friday evening so that gave us the day to explore a little by ourselves first. After some homemade Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, we jumped on the Metro and headed across to Catalunya station, which brought us out on the square at the top of La Rambla, one of the busiest tourist trap streets in central Barcelona. We wandered down La Rambla a bit, looking for a tourist office. I found what seemed like the newly opened NBA Cafe and Store, which we popped in for a look around and I bought a lanyard. We also found the hop on hop off bus ticket stall, something we had planned to do in Barcelona, so we bought some two day tickets so that we could split the two routes over two days. We hopped on the green route on Friday which concentrated on the east side of the city and took us past many interesting sights including:

- The Gothic Quarter

- Port Vell

- The promenade and beaches of La Barceloneta and Port Olympic

- The Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's unfinished church)

- Park Guell (Gaudi's Park)

We got off at Sagrada Familia to view it in more detail and attempt to go inside however it was sold out for the day. Instead we found somewhere for lunch, a little place called 'Bar Diagonal' which was well reviewed and good for tapas. It was mid afternoon by this point so they had unfortunately sold out of a few things so I ended up with Spanish Omelette, Chorizo Fried in Wine and a White Sausage dish, which the waitress tells me is a traditional Spanish dish. I had noticed that they had a notice board filled with magnets and notes of various currencies. It just so happened that I not only had a £1 note in my wallet but also a left over Jersey pin badge from the Island Games in the pockets of my shorts. After we settled the bill I offered these up for their board and explained where I was from and about he £1 note etc. The waitress was Please to accept them and translated for the lady she had been cooking with (presumably the owner) who really appreciated the gesture. She thanked me with a classic European fair well of air kisses on each cheek and gave me a little rocking chair made and sold by one of their regular customers as a gift in return!

We then hopped back on the bus and walked up to Park Guell, one of e few places I distinctly remembered from my day trip to Barcelona some 15 years earlier. Sadly, since I came last, the city now limits and charges for entry to the park and it was totally sold out for the day (a pattern was forming!) so we couldn't go in. Instead we bought tickets for all 4 of us for Sunday to make sure we didn't miss out. We finished off the green bus route leaving us back at La Rambla. We took a few pics of the area and then wandered down to and around Port Vell before getting back home on the metro in time to meet Jon and Kate at the apartment. Sadly they were delayed by an hour or so and didn't arrive until gone 11pm. Dan and I had eaten at home whilst we waited and they had eaten in the airport so we just chatted till the early hours and hen hit the hay.

The next day, Saturday, I was feeling absolutely exhausted. All these late nights and early mornings were catching up with me and staying up till 1:30 the night before chatting had not been the best idea for me. We got up around 08:30 and got sorted, today was Katie's birthday so we gave her the postcard of Michael Angelos David's genitals which we had bought in advance as her bday card, then we headed back to Catalunya on the metro and down La Rambla based on Kate's directions (she has been a few times before) to the food market. We looked around here for a while, spotting some good potentials for breakfast. The market was really busy and vibrant and sold individual cooked and raw ingredients as well as ready to eat things like pizza, fish and chips, pastries and pasties, gelato etc. I is definitely a place to visit. Eventually we grabbed some pasty like stuff (I went for a bacon, potato and olive pasty and a chicken rice salad) and found some seats in the shade outside to eat. I was stuffed afterwards but Dan and Jon got a gelato before we left the market and wandered all the way to the bottom of La Rambla, enjoying watching some of the street performers as we walked.

Next Jon & Kate bought a 1 day hop on/off bus ticket, Dan and I having a day left on ours from yesterday, and we boarded the bus to follow the orange route around the west of Barcelona taking in some sights including:

- the World Trade Centre

- Anella Olímpica

- Plaça D'Espanya (where an old bull ring has been transformed into a shopping centre)

- Camp Nou (F.C Barcelona)

- La Pedrera and Casa Batilló (two more buildings styled by Gaudi)

We got off the bus at Anella Olímpica, the Olympic venues from the 1992 olympics hosted in Barcelona. We wandered around the main stadium used for track and field, rugby and football, we then popped into the Olympic museum next door but didn't fancy paying the €6 entry fee to be inside on a beautiful day like today. Back on the bus we followed the route until almost at the end, getting off at La Pedrera and walking down to Casa Batlló to admire and take some pictures of Gaudi's work.

By this point, I was almost asleep and everyone needed a bit of a break from the sun, so we popped into Starbucks to grab and iced coffee and a seat. Once we'd recovered and caffeinated ourselves we took a long walk down La Rambla, around Port Vell and across to Barceloneta and the lower cable car station. It was about an hours wait for the 5 min cable car ride up to Jardins De Miramar but the views made it worth it. Katie, who was suffering a headache most of the day, had been deteriorating a little in the queue and starting to feel sick. Once the excitement of the cable car was over she started to feel really rough. We headed down the hillside on the Funicular railway line and had planned to have dinner at a tapas place called Quimet & Quimet however, a quick stop in McDonalds for poor Kate to have a McChunder (twice) meant that plan changed to Maccies/Subway for a quick dinner then back to the flat (via the Supermarket for a crate of Estrella Damn) for some beers and a quiet evening at home.

That was until Kate made a miraculous recovery (apparently the nap and the rehydration powder was a miracle cure), I had just showered and got into my PJ's at about 10:30 and when I re-entered the lounge they had made plans to head out to the beach and clubs down at Port Olympíc! So I changed and off we went, it was still baking and the metro in particular was a sweat box, I lost the fight to prevent myself from sweating through my fresh new clothes before we were even half way there. It was busy on the tube and at the beach front, as it was still early by Spanish time (about 11:30) we got in to everywhere for free and even got some free shots in one of the bars. They were all tourist traps and rip offs, Jon got the first round and it was €36 for 3 rum and cokes and a 1/2 pint of beer (that alone was €6)! At risk of sounding elderly, the music in the first bar was way too loud, I am all for loud, but I only have one pair of ears and once they are fucked that's it, so it was onwards to an Aussie bar and then an Irish bar, that at least meant the rounds got cheaper as the night went on. We stayed out till about 3am, passed up about a thousand offers for beer/water/weed/coke, got some food and headed home.

The next day wasn't that eventful. Poor Dan got up after just 2.5h sleep to go back to Sants and book our train on to Madrid as ridiculously, we could only make seat reservations on the day of travel! This meant our intended train was fully booked, as was the previous one, in the end we had to settle with separated seats on the 16:00 train, about 3h early than desired, thanks Interrail! I slept in till 11am and only got up then because Dan woke me up for breakfast. We ate at the flat and then headed out to Park Guëll to make our 2pm entry slot. The park was as I remember but I was able to enjoy it better this time (as I was about 13 last time I visited). Sadly we were in a bit of a rush to get back to the station to grab our luggage and board our train but we still had enough time to see the bench, the dragon on the stair case and the colourful buildings by the entrance. Jon and Kate had an evening flight, so we said our goodbyes and made our way on to Madrid.

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