A Travellerspoint blog

June 2015

La Sagrada Familia

A dream come true visiting this amazing church

sunny 30 °C
View Our Big 2015 Adventure on kiwiscanflyto's travel map.

Our on off bus pass had finished the day before so we decided to walk to this basilica. It was about a 1/2 hour walk, I just followed Geoff as my sense of direction leaves a lot to be desired. We arrived in plenty of time just had to find the building where we had to meet up with the tour guide. We asked at the hop on hop off buses and soon got directed to a building called Julia or something like that. We followed our guide with the rest of the party straight into the site. Because this building is so long in the making we were interested to learn that they are starting to talk of a finish date. Apparently they hope to finish in 2026. 100 years from when Gaudi died in hospital two days after being hit by a train. He was mourned by all Catalonia and is buried in a crypt of the Sagrada Familia. This place is an example of Gaudis unique art nouveau architecture and is filled with religious symbolism and meaning. The Centre tower is still to be added. The height of this to be one Metre less than the nearby hill, Montjuic andad he believed his work should not surpass that of God. The building has many different styles on the outside. Everything on the building has its own meaning. When you go inside this huge building it is a surprise as the interior is so different to the outside. Everything is on a massive scale especially the pillars. Gaudi had given a lot of thought to the effects of the light coming through the stained glass windows. The gold floating Christmas sculpture is contraversial I liked it. It was just so great to be in this building absorbing the whole place I didn't want to leave. I can imagine the celebration in Spain when this place is finished there will be an explosion of fireworks over the city as that seems to happen when they are celebrating an event. We also looked through the school Gaudi built in the ground. Gaudi spent 40 years of his life working on the Basilica, living like a hermit in a workshop on the site. When questioned about the slow pace he replied "my client is not in a hurry". Sunday was a good day to visit this area as we saw bands side stalls and dancing in the park. Also Sundays are the only day that workmen are not working on the basilica making lots of noise. The construction is now funded by the tourists that visit. We walked back to the city. On the way back we ate at a tapa cafe. Delicious the smoked hams in Spain are so yummy. We then decided to visit Casa Batllo. Everytime we went by this place it was surrounded by photographers. It was the result of a restoration of a conventional house Guadi used for it the typical constructive elements of modernism (Catalan art nouveau) that included ceramics, stone and forged iron. It was criticized for its radical design that broke city bylaws. In 1906 it was awarded by the council as one of the three best buildings of the year. We had our photo taken on one of the top balconies. We eventually made it to the top of the building, took far too many photos. That evening we had a nice meal locally. It was 1/2 the price of the city restaurants.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:48 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Park Guell and Tibidabo (Barcelona)

Out and about in Barcelona on a Saturday

We hopped back on the hop on hop off green bus as we were planning on visiting the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, the assistant on the bus talked us out of it and convinced us we should book a trip through their firm for the next day to avoid the queaus. We are still not sure if we were conned or not, never the less we changed our plans and alighted at Park Guell, a place I had always wanted to visit. There is a steep hill to walk up and some elevators in the steepest parts. You certainly need to do some of these sites while you are fit. On getting there us along with most others discovered that only 400 people allowed in at once the earliest we could book was for 1 1/2 hours time so decided to wait there was a park you could wander around in and conveniently a very busy food place. You were only allowed to stay at the tables under shady umbrellas if you were eating of drinking. The waiters were hovering so we ate very slowly and drank our lemon drinks very slowly then dare I say it had an ice cream to extend the time. There were lots of hawkers in the area selling their usual wares. Finally we got to walk around Park Guell. I would recommend this, we seemed to have a very Guadi time in Spain. It was meant to be a garden City but was a failure with only two homes built on the site. He must have started with the garden strustructures. The city council bought it and turned it into a public park one of Barcelonas main tourist attractions so it really wasn't a failure in the long run. This was well worth a visit with lots of interesting gaudi structures, he certainly didn't like straight lines. The two main buildings in this park look like something out of a fairy tale. It was a very warm day. We finally got down the hill and recaught the bus, it was the same bus it had done a complete round of the city the bus assistant recognized us. We hopped off the next stop. Ran across the wide road just managed to catch the tram up the hill, not cheap, a steep hill as we had already walked as far as the cable car before this. We then caught the cable car Tibidabo funicular to the top of the hill it was on rails. You can bus up here. We arrived at Parc D'Atraccions Tibidabo, for some reason they built a fun park up in the mountains many years ago. Some of the original attractions are still at this park like a two tiered carousel. It is quite an amazing site. Over looking the amusement park is the Santa Maria church built between 1570 and 1587 in late Gothic style. There is a massive church underneath then another large church on top. The interior is beautiful. This place was busy with lots of people enjoying the attractions and restaurants. There was a fashion show taking place and a wedding also. There were amazing views over Barcelona. The place is surrounded by a national park. We got the cable car then walked down the rest of the way and there was a bus waiting. Had dinner in a square in the city. There are so many restaurants here. We didn't eat till 9.30 pm normal spanish dining time.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Barcelona Hop on, hop off buses.

Exploring the city by bus

sunny 29 °C

Sleeping in Barcelona in June means sleeping with no bed linen on. On Friday we toured the city on the hop on hop off buses, good value as you can do the red tour and the green tour which take a few hours and you get a good commentary on the head phones. We first purchased hats that wouldn't fall off in the wind and made sure we had sun block on. We stayed on the bus for the full red tour just enjoying the scenery. This went past the zoo, world trade Centre, Anella Olimpica. The Olympic games were one of the best things for this city. Lots of places were repaired. The Olympic village was by the sea vast areas of land reclaimed from the sea. They made a big decision to get rid of the shanty town by the sea. A big modern area was developed with shopping malls, New beaches, bridges etc. They linked the hills above the city to the sea with a cable car. This area is very large to cope with the vast amounts of tourists that now flock to Barcelona since the games. Barcelona now one of the leading tourist destinations in Spain. Apparently before the games they played second fiddle to other places such as Madrid. After lunch we hoped in the green buses and found these went past the older part of the city and places that interested us the most. In places like this it is impossible to see everything in a short time, it is about enjoying the experience and seeing a few of the major sites. We got off at Tibidabo. Had a nice snack and coffee then walked up a steep hill as far as the cable car. Decided to walk back down and do it another day. We got off the bus at LA Pedrera, Catalan for stone quarry real name Casa Mila. A Gaudi building. The building has an undulating facade which evokes incredible stone waves. The ballastrades are made of recycled material. Originally designed as a residential block, today it is part of a culture center. The Espai Gaudi, in the attic space traces the designers research and secrets. The restored flats are still used today. The roof is all angles with a forest of sculptural chimneys. We enjoyed this and we're surprised to find the building was hollow inside. We spent a long time here and just managed to catch the last hop on hop off bus back to the city. Again we had paella along the LA Rambla. This time we went further down as the night before while enjoying our meal a large group of protesters turned up outside the Opera house with banners whistles and loud speakers then proceed to make a big racket. They even let them close off the street. It was ushers on indefinite strike, that is what we made out from the banner. I guess they wanted higher wages. They looked like students. Every night the protesters were there in force. All part of the noise and bustle of the city. Just a pleasant 15 minutes underground train ride back to our accommodation.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 08:51 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona Comments (0)

Exploring Barcelona


sunny 28 °C

On our first day in Barcelona we caught the train tor Barcelona. We were advised to buy 10 tickets rides. First you get off the train and look around trying to make sense of everything and definitely making sure to remember where you exited. The first place we headed to was LA Rambla. This is a long wide promenade that leads down to the waterfront. If in Barcelona you need to promenade along with the hundreds of other tourists. Along this promenade are lots of small shops selling touristy things, flowers etc. Then there are numerous eating places a lot of people can be spied drinking large jugs or glasses of sangria, beer etc all hours of the day. In the Centre of the promenade is a very large mainly food market. We purchased a refreshing lemon drink from here. There were a lot of shops selling hams and ham products they have a love affair with ham and pork over here. Along the way there are the usual street performers, the John Lennon one was doing well for himself. Of course there are the hawkers everywhere selling jewellery, fake bags, glasses, selfie sticks, whistles, sunhats, light blankets etc. Eventually we found ourselves down at the water front in the new area developed for the Olympic games that were held here. Large areas of waterfront were reclaimed from the sea and redeveloped into a very attractive new area popular with the tourists. There is a large shopping mall and new marinas. This area is linked to the older area in the hills by a cable car. We managed to full up our day and joined the other tourists with me drinking sangria and Geoff drinking a beer followed by paella. Eating out here very reasonable and eating in our local area half the price of the city. A great start to staying in Barcelona. We find ourselves eating late here and didn't arrive home till late.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:42 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona Comments (0)

Malaga to Barcelona

Another adventure ahead

sunny 27 °C

As we didn't have to catch the plane till 3.15 pm we had plenty of time to wash all our linen, clean, pack and say our goodbyes to David and Barbara. As we neared the airport we thought we had missed on the last gas station, but right in airport territory there was one that every other person with a car were lined up at. Then it was almost straight into the hire car place, managed to find our spot which was underground. Geoff relieved to drop the car back without a scratch after his first major experience of driving on the right hand side of the road. The airport seemed bigger than when we arrived. We walked and walked and walked some more to get to where we needed to be. Then it was on our plane, Vueling for our flight to Barcelona that took 1 1/2 hours. It was another major walk to get through. Barcelona is a very nice airport very well set out with lots of restaurants to choose from. The shops there looked great too not that we had time to linger. We made a good decision by stopping and having coffee and something to eat. We then headed for the train when we got there we found that we needed to catch a shuttle to get to the train. It was a bit of a squeeze. It was then a long walk to catch the train. Luckily we managed to get seats. This took about 40 minutes as stopped along the way it wasn't an express train. We then had to find the L4 line to Trinitat Nova. This was a long walk towing our bags along isles and down steps. One gentleman carried my bag down an extreme lot of steps. We seemed to be walking under a lot of city. Finally we found our train. On we piled and had to stand with it being rush hour traffic trying to find something to hold onto and keep our bags under control. We finally piled out at Llucmajor a few more steps to negotiate till popping out. There was a gap in our instructions so first walked a little way the right way then the wrong way then a side excusion till with help found the street. The energy level was dropping to a chug at this stage. We found our apartment on the 5th floor and we were welcomed by our hosts who were heading out to exercise. He played competitive volley ball for a number of years, lots of trophies here. We headed out for groceries and something to eat. Our hosts left for Siberia the next day. Yana's family live there. He is from Germany. They moved to Barcelona for the climate. They said wages here are lower here. The cost of living is also lower here. We have two cats to look after that came from Siberia, one is a little skitterish, it is a wild cat breed. These cats never leave the apartment.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 09:25 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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