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And into Spain, Barcelona - home of Gaudi

Couple of days in Barcelona soaking up the warm sunshine (yes they still have it here in October) and a bit of culture (yes they have that too)

Tuesday 22nd October 13 (day 52)

Our hotel receptionist managed to print off our bus ticket so that was a relief. We had our last French breakfast in our hotel room after Lyn had visited the supermarket and purchased our last French baguette. We finished the last of the cheese for breakfast and making a sandwich to take with us on the bus.

Carrying our bags downstairs it was farewell to Sofia and Fonsi, who will be collected by Jean next week. We slipped Dracula's assistant 20 euros to pay for the storage of the bikes for a week and the printing of the bus tickets. He may have been a little creepy but he sure did help us out.

Struggling with our luggage, it was easier to move all our stuff on the bikes than it is carrying it all, we walked the short distance to where the bus would be collecting us. Just to make sure I walked a bit further to the train station and checked with a taxi driver who confirmed we were in the correct place to get the bus. We were a little early but we did not want to risk missing the bus so thought a short wait at the bus stop was better than having to hurry to catch it.

The bus was due 10.45 and did not drive up until 11.15 by which time we were starting to doubt we had the correct place to catch it - but we did and it was a quick embarkment when it finally showed. The bus drove out of Narbonne and we said goodbye to this town and this country. As we drove close to the coast visibility was not so good due to what looked like sea fog. The Australians we met yesterday said they had the same fog yesterday when they had been to the coast and also did not see anything.

The border crossing from France into Spain was almost invisible and before we knew it we were in a different country.

The bus stopped in Figueras, Spain for a 30 minute lunch break. We went to a small park opposite the bus station to eat our French sandwiches. The Spanish sun was out and it felt like it was welcoming us to this country. Wow, sure is a lot warmer weather here in Spain - it was a good sign.

We rolled into Barcelona Sants bus station a little earlier then scheduled just before 4pm. The lady at the tourist desk at the station advised it was best if we headed into the centre, which was just 3 metro stops away, to find a hotel. We managed to buy tickets and find the correct line and before long we were exiting the metro at Cataluyna Place.

As per usual, Lyn stayed with the luggage while I did the leg work to go find a hotel. I visited about 10 different hotels along the La Rambla until I decided on the Hotel Cortes. Over budget but we are in a big city and most of the places I visited were full or just too divey. At least this one included breakfast in the 85 euro tariff but was only available for 2 nights and we want to stay 3, but we took it anyway and will find another place for our 3rd night.

We checked in. The guy at the reception was really helpful, giving us a copy of our passports and advising we shouldn't carry any valuables on us due to pick pockets. Wow.

After taking our bags to our nice room we decided to go outside and have a wander along La Rambla. It was so weird to see so many tourists, the street was really crowded. After all the places we have recently been in France that seemed like ghost towns this was so strange. And so many different languages being spoken all around us, it was just such a contrast.

Best part was, it was warm. We were out on the street after dark and still had just shorts and t-shirts on. This is why there are still so many tourists visiting here - the weather is still lovely and mild. And it was a Tuesday night and all the shops were still open when we returned to our room after 8pm.

We had been to a supermarket and purchased a bottle of champagne (or at least sparkling wine) to celebrate the end of our bike adventure. Dinner was an assortment of cold meats, cheese, olives, pate and bread in our room, that we had also purchased at the supermarket.

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Wednesday 23rd October 13 (day 53)

Breakfast was fresh rolls, croissants, cold meats and fresh coffee. The waiter was a little amazed when I asked for my 4th cup of coffee but they were only little cups! He claimed my heart would be racing all day.

Last night I booked us on a Gaudi free walking tour with Runnerbeans Tours. Of course this is not a free tour as you are expected to tip at the end, but I have been on a few of these free tours in different cities and they never disappoint. Now of course you all know who Gaudi is (if not don't - shame on you google it).

Meeting point was about 10 minute walk down La Rambla and started at 11am. Weather was beautiful. Perfect blue sky as you will see from my photos on FB. And again warm enough just for shorts and t-shirts. We visited the main Gaudi landmarks (again see photos on FB) and when the tour finished at Sagrada Familia the tour guide, Miguel, advised how to get to Park Guell - another famous Gaudi landmark. Miguel advised we visit the park within the next 2 days as from then on they Barcelona government is going to start charging an 8 euro entrance fee.

We had no trouble following the metro directions getting to the park and then followed the outdoor escalators up to the lookout. Fantastic views of Barcelona from here.

As the day was warm we decided to treat ourselves to a beer in the small cafe in the park.

It took the rest of the afternoon for us to walk back slowly to La Rambla where we had a very late lunch, which was actually dinner because it was 6pm by the time we sat down to eat. Good thing we filled up at breakfast this morning at the hotel. We found a cheap restaurant actually on the Main Street that offered 3 tapas and paella for 8.95 euros. The food was good and we washed it down with 1/2 carafe of house rose. Definitely a lot cheaper to eat out here in Spain than it was in France.

Before returning to our hotel we stopped at a few other hotels as we needed to find another room for tomorrow night. Not having any luck finding another hotel we opted to take a room at a pension 2 doors down from our hotel that was recommended by our receptionist. It was pretty expensive for what it was but it seems we have little choice as everywhere else was booked out. Seems tourists are still flocking in for long weekends to enjoy the Spanish sunshine. Not that I blame them one little bit.

Tomorrow we are heading to the beach and will take our swimming togs just in case it's warm enough for a dip in the Med.

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Thursday 24th October 13 (day 54)

What a beautiful sunny warm day Spain greeted us with again today. We had a late breakfast - delaying our checkout until the last minute. We had to move into a cruddy place a few doors up which is only 10 euro cheaper but 50 euros worth more crappy and no breakfast. But everywhere else was booked or over 100 euros per night so we had to suck it up if we wanted to stay another night in Barcelona - which we did.

It was just after midday as we strolled the 1km down La Rambla towards the beach. We stopped briefly at the tourist information booth to ask how we can get to the bus station tomorrow and also asked with is the nicest beaches around the area. The lady laughed and said none of the beaches here are nice, you need to drive for about an hour north to get a nice beach. Ah, we said, ok we will just dip our feet in then. She advised not even to do that much. I know its a city beach but how bad can it be?

We strolled in the sunshine enjoying every minute of it. Actually it felt quite warm even though the outdoor temp gauges were only reading 24, I'm sure it was hotter than that.
We stopped to watch some street buskers - mainly the statue type who move when you drop a coin or coins into their tin.

There seemed to be a quite a few people (tourists) around as we meandered around the port which was home to very few flash yachts. The foreshore around the port was nice with lots of space for walking, bike riding and benches for sitting or cafes to enjoy a refreshing beverage.

I spotted a supermarket so we grabbed a couple of cheapy alcoholic beverages and found a nice bench within metres of an overpriced cafe and enjoyed their same view for a third of the price.

Thirst quenched, we continued on to the beach where a surprising amount of people where baking the day away. Although it must be wall to wall skin here in the summer time as the locals and tourists crowd the sand and cool off in the water when the weather is hot. I was pretty keen to have a dip in the sea until I dipped a toe in and almost froze it off. No matter where we have travelled the Mediterranean Sea always is too cold for swimming no matter what the weather. So I was contented with a toe dip to say we touched the Atlantic and crossed to the other side and touched the Mediterranean!

A little while later we found another shady bench and a near by supermarket to purchase our picnic lunch and another cool bevvy. We were not the only ones with this idea as the park benches seemed to be more crowded with lunch time picnicers than the nearby cafes. It was a beautiful day as we sat ate and watched the passing pedestrian traffic passed by on foot, bicycle, rollerblades and skateboard. Nice relaxed beachy atmosphere here.

After lunch we continued our strolling to the southern end of the beach that soon became obvious that this was the nudist part of the beach. Now I have absolutely nothing against nudists (having myself just recently done a naked romp in the ocean) buy why is it that nudist on a crowded beach, up close to everyone, are always wrinkled leather skinned men of a certain age (60+) who are not afraid to let it all hang out for the world to see. My god, I just had lunch! and this was no eye candy for dessert I can assure you.

We averted our eyes and walked on quickly. At the end of the beach was the huge W hotel - not sure why we didn't stay here during our visit in Barcelona. Lyn and I as usual casually walked inside and used the lobby toilets. Wow this place was nice, must be 5 star. We sat in the lounge bar for about half an hour enjoying the air con. When a waiter came up to take our order I just told him the usual spiel that we were waiting to meet someone - this works every time and they don't come back again until they see us with someone - which of course is never. Just out of curiosity I checked on the internet to see the price of the room, and then is became evident why we did not stay here during our visit to Barcelona. Rooms ranged from super cheap 330 euro to 10,000 for the penthouse suite. Yes this was the price per night!!!

So after a bit of a relax and watching rich folk for awhile be moved on and returned to the real world - our world.

I'm glad we spent the extra day here in Barcelona just to have a walk around the beach and have a bit of time to sit and people watch. Tomorrow we are heading towards Madrid, however breaking the bus journey with a nights stopover in Zaragoza.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 14:18 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona Comments (3)

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