21 October 2014

Barcelona Day One was all about walking and exploring

Sadly, I can remember the time many years ago that Shula Archer went on holiday to Venice with her future husband Mark Hebden (now long dead) and a couple of friends and Mark had done a colour-coded map showing where they would go each day. My holidays are not like that.

I arrived in Barcelona with little idea of what to do but with the conviction that there were things to do. It took most of a day to get there by train; one train to Paris then one to Barcelona, an easy journey though the final leg in Barcelona was a tad confusing and I was forced to ask a member of staff which platform I needed.

I did little on the first evening other than go to the restaurant/bar across the road from the hotel. I was staying at the BCN Urban Gran Ducat chosen because of its good central location just on the north edge of the Old Town and very close to Plaça de Catalunya.

The hotel had a standard tourist map with all the main sights shown and that was all that I needed. I was there for a few days and there was no sign of rain so on the first day I decided to take in the tourist spots further north of the Old Town. The first place I went was the Apple Shop, but that probably does not count.

The first place that I cam across was Gaudi's Casa Batlló which if I had know beforehand was there would have been the first thing that I went to. Often not planning works just as well as planning and it requires less work, so why bother?

After another couple of grand buildings, including another Gaudi, I arrived at Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece La Sagrada Familia.

I found a cafe just across the road from it and had a leisurely lunch there before exploring it in detail. It was a lot stranger than I expected, and than the previous Gaudi buildings had suggested. The towers were familiar but the detail was something of a shock. The church is a deliberate wish-mash of styles and decorations. Even in this one section there are the curvaceous towers, Gothic windows and square modern blocks.

Wandering almost randomly back to the hotel I passed though an Art Nouveau area with its pretty decorations and exuberant balconies.

I only paused in the hotel for a while as there was so much more that I wanted to see and the walking was going well. Another look at the map suggested a walk down Les Rambles that leads down from Plaça de Catalunya to the sea.

The walk was more exciting than most of the scenery though I did have this nice dragon for company.  I also saw lots of Ajax fans there for their game against Barcelona.

Les Rambles was well designed for rambling with a broad walkway sloping gently between terraces of proud buildings. I found the stalls a little tacky but they were kept well to the sides so did not impede my progress to much. More of a worry was the wavy paving that created a disturbing optical illusion when walking at pace.

This is one of the grander buildings that I paused to photograph on my walk. I just liked the sheer number of things going on in the design from the small window panes, the decorations in the railings and the bulb lights. And the shutters.

Hitting the seafront I explored the area a little before walking on. I grew up in Weymouth and I have always like the freshness and saltiness of the sea air and the gentle business of harbours.

The walk north-east along the harbour-side was largely uneventful largely because the wide pavement, which attracted many people on skates and other fun wheeled devices, was a reasonable distance from both the sea and the first row of buildings on the shore.

At the far end was a delightful covered walkway that the sun was having fun with.

I walked back to the hotel via the Old Town and that took me, accidentally, past the Cathedral. I was sure that I would be seeing it a few more times over the next few days but that did not stop me from taking a few photos of it then. There is something irresistible about intricate shapes against an almost clear blue sky.

Barcelona Day One more that lived up to expectations with a lot of good walking and plenty to see along the way. It also held good promise for the days to come.

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