The Pig Yard

Barcelona 2004...

Holiday Locations

Barcelona was one of those cities we'd always wanted to visit for its culture and architecture. Previous attempts to book flights and hotels had just seemed destined to fail but with a following wind and some good luck Steve managed to get it altogether - flights, car parking and a hotel, admittedly not our first choice but in what sounded like a reasonable location.

Finding the right car park at 06:00 proved to be a problem but accepting the fact that any car park is better than none we left the Freelander in the Luton mid stay area. The flight was uneventful and Graham knew someone on the flight who directed us to the railway for the connection to the city centre before picking up the metro to take us to our hotel.

The weather was warm, spring like, clear blue skies and we were on holiday...

On arrival at the hotel we dumped out bags and headed straight into the city. We have always found that walking around a city is the best way of getting a feel for the culture and its people. We had a notion that the city centre was only 3 kilometres away so we headed off on foot. Its strange how you can walk for miles in a new location and with so much going on around you not notice just how far you are walking. By the time we got to the Sagrada Familia we were beginning to tire. The evening was approaching, temperatures were dropping and we decided to head back to the hotel to recharge the batteries.

This view of Sagrada Familia is the one seen in most tour guides but it gives an excellent idea of the impact this has on the environment.

The city did not disappoint us. This is the Casa Battlo, designed and built by Antoni Gaudi. The first floor (second floor to Americans) windows have a counter weight device that allows them to be raised up to the ceiling opening up the whole of the front of the house when the weather is fine.

Admission to the building was 10 euros but you are not allowed to take photographs and they are very hot on stopping people sneaking the odd snap.

The inside is superb with not a straight line in sight. Even the panelled doors have rounded panels, the ceilings are wondrous shapes like whirlpools of plaster and there is a general theme of sea creatures.

Just across the road from Casa Battlo stands the awe inspiring Casa Mila, also referred to as La Pedrera. Here is another Gaudi building without a single straight line in the whole of its structure. We couldn't spare the time to queue up and buy tickets to tour the building so it will be on the top of our list when we return sometime in the future.

Parc Guell is in the north of the city and was only a short walk from our hotel. Gaudi's idea was to create a garden city but his plans failed and only 4 properties were ever built. The design of the entrance is superb and the attention to detail is incredible. To maintain three dimensional curves Gaudi broke ceramic tiles and then produced curved mosaics.

Considering this was a Tuesday morning this was incredibly busy with tourists, students and school parties.

Looking back down the entrance stair-way towards the gatehouses.

Jane and Sue relaxing on the seats within Parc Guell.

Steve surprised us all by agreeing to climb the stairs in the towers, he has a fear of heights - acrophobia (fear of heights not vertigo which is someone who suffers from dizziness). The climb to the top was slow because of the volume of people on the stairs but it was worth it because of the views. We went up the older towers and looked across the main body of building at the newer towers. Doing this in the height of the tourist season would be a nightmare.

As can be seen from this photograph the skies stayed clear and blue although it was quite windy and the dust blew up into our eyes when back on the ground.

This is a detail from the newer end and the characters are not Gaudi designs. On closer inspection some of the statues have a Darth Vader, very modern look.

The city has numerous plazas with fountains or sitting areas. This has cafes on the sunnier side of the square and appears to be a popular meeting place.

We're not great coffee drinkers and the whole coffee fashion has passed us by, so much so that neither of us knows the difference between a Latte, Espresso, Cappuccino and a Mocha to name but a few. However buying tea anywhere in mainland Europe is a gamble as to what you will get and some teas are worse than what is produced by vending machines, invariably undrinkable.

To overcome our shortcomings we decided to drink coffee whilst in Barcelona and we got a variety of drinks depending upon the translation of our requests. One evening we drank a small cup of neat coffee with plenty of sugar - whatever this is called it managed to keep Steve jumping about for hours.

This is a photo of a decent coffee at the Maritime museum with a very attractive pattern on the surface.

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