Our Barcelona encounter started the minute we set foot in the city. The Barcelona Sants Station bustled with movement, faces, languages and sounds. We immediately got the sense that our days there were going to be a bit different from what it has been in Madrid. Probably busier; hopefully not that hectic we thought!
To get to our hotel in the Plaza Catalunya area we emerged from the Plaza Catalunya Metro Station then we had to navigate our way with the aid of a lonely planet map through the massive summer crowds. We took a couple of wrong turns before we could tell north from east, but it wasn’t long before we checked in.
We stayed at the Plaza Catalunya Hotel (who comes up with these names anyway?), which couldn’t have been any better located at the heart of action with access points to the city in every direction. On the other hand; our accommodation wasn’t any special. In fact it was very average and I was a bit disappointment with the standard of the room for the price that we paid. I felt a bit ripped off compared to what the same money would get me in Dubai. The breakfast menu was not very exciting and I didn’t want to have it (again) by the 3rd day!
As clichéd as it might sound, once we dropped off our luggage all I wanted to do is to walk down the famous Las Ramblas street. Conveniently enough it was just about 80 meters away from us; right across the Plaza. I now believe this walk is mandatory for the first timer in Barcelona in order to grasp the intense surroundings.
After walking the length of Las Ramblas we came to the statue of Columbus or Cristóbal Colón as known to the Spanish. We climbed to the top and spent few minutes in the crammed viewing room. Although I hardly had space to turn my head or hold my camera up; I have to admit that the view from up there was one the best of the city we saw of Barcelona.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped by the Mercat de la Boqueria for Lunch. Like many other markets around the world this one is busy and loud; not only by the haggles of the sales people and the customers, but also by the screams of the staff at the numerous tapas eateries. It was more charming than annoying though. We had to wait for about 20 minutes before someone left so we can have their seats at the bar. Our tapas lunch was really good even though it wasn’t anything new. The same old patats bravas and calamri fritas, Nevertheless it was such an exquisite experience.
As soon as lunch settled down it was time for a siesta. Actually I couldn’t have survived the rest of the day without it and I really needed to be alert for the evening program!
Angel had to push me out of the room in the evening. I didn’t think my legs were still functional after all the walking that day. I would have stayed in had we not already purchased our tickets for a flamenco show at the Palau de la Musica Catalana. The show was a nice Flamenco/Opera fusion; well choreographed and very well attended. The real attraction was the architectural wonder in which the show was taking place though. It was a treat even without the show.
To be continued…