FREE Days & Old Friends….Leaving Barcelona

I really meant to do Barcelona in just one post, but obviously that hasn’t happened.  We have been busy trying to book the next segment of our trip and I’ve put this on the backburner for a few days.  So here goes.

Sunday we had high hopes of getting an early start and hitting all sorts of attractions, but as we were actually able to sleep in…..I forgot to mention that our little apartment had no A/C so we had to sleep with the windows open and it was incredibly noisy Friday night and early Saturday too.  We could very clearly hear all the conversations around us as everyone had their windows and doors open and across the “street” (10 feet away) we could hear the TV and the bickering of the old women (incomprehensible in Catalan but definitely bickering).  This was not the case Sunday morning.  Everyone was quiet, presumably from the late nights they had and we had some peace.

After walking all day Saturday, we opted for the metro to Montjuic, which included a short funicular up part of the hill.  Were we not on a budget, maybe we would have continued up the hill with the cable car, but at 7 Euro, we’d rather walk.  And I’m glad we did because we found these really cool terraced water gardens, where there were a couple of little kids with nets looking for frogs, which was pretty entertaining.

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At the top of the hill is a castle, which according to our book was supposed to be free, as it was pretty much just walls and a couple of good views.  Not free anymore, 8 Euro.  So we walked all the way around and found an archery club with some pretty impressive bows practicing alongside the walls.

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Some amazing succulents they have here.  Below the castle is an area built for the 1992 Olympics, which includes a Calatrava TV tower.  Unfortunately, the area is underutilized and the best use of the space was some teenagers skateboarding in the empty fountains.

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There’s an art museum midway down and some great views of La Sagrada Familia.  The area at the bottom of the hill was built for the 1929 International Exposition and includes a rebuilt version of the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion, also no longer free.  The tall, red Venetian Towers mark the entry to the avenue where it meets Placa d’Espanya (it pains me to write it in Catalan).  Also adjacent to the circle is an old bullfighting ring (beyond the towers to the right in the picture) which has been turned into a mall and eatery, as well as a viewing platform, cinema AND rock museum.  Really great re-use of the space.  The glass elevator from the 5th floor down costs 5 Euro.  We took the regular one, no problem, and free.

We had every intention of taking advantage of the free Sunday afternoons at the Picasso museum.  Every intention, I swear.  But, by the time we got to the beach, well, those plans went out the window.  The beach is also free.  Having not brought a bathing suit, I waded in to my knees, but Riki was wearing his amphibious shorts (more on those to come in Asia I’m sure) and joined the entire population of Barcelona in the water.  Not kidding, Riki thinks there were more people on the beach than they have in the entire city of Cleveland.  It wasn’t even crowded when he took this picture – people had already headed out by this time.

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LAST DAY

Our flight didn’t leave until 18:00 (this is also painful to write as military time is used all over and I always second guess my conversions – Look down at your watch if you still own one – it only has 12 segments, not 24 – someone needs to get the watchmakers on the same page as the time keepers and just pick ONE way) so we had the whole day to visit a few neighborhoods we had missed.  Here’s a collection of sites, signs and graffiti from our last day – as well as a special treat at the bottom!

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Banksy-esque street art near the spot where we were meeting this girl!

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Social media is not my favorite thing, but in this case, I am SO glad we were able to connect with Isolda.  She had been in Barcelona for a week and had just found an apartment a few blocks from where we were staying.  We had a less than delicious lunch, but the conversation made up for it.  We hustled off from our lunch, straight to the airport for our flight back to Zurich.

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