Monday, September 2, 2013

Noordam 2013 - Day 3: More Barcelona

After a great night's sleep we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at our hotel. Every day a great assortment of croissants, bread, donuts, pastries, etc. We really love the hotel Grupotel Gran Via 678.

We took the metro to Joanic station. There we changed to local bus 116: a small bus with a capacity of around 15 persons. The advantage of this bus: it stops right at the entrance of Park Guell.

At Park Guell you enter in some sort of phantasy world. Beautiful trees and bushes together with mosaics and other works of art. It is crowded, but still peaceful. Lots of musicians, even a man with a Hang (a wok-like dish used to make music). Park Guell was designed by Gaudi to be a residential area. Instead it became a UNESCO world heritage site.

 Park Guell
We loved the beautiful mosaics and the view when you walk up in the park. Besides the musicians, who seemed to perform legally, there are also lots of vendors. The carry their stuff in a white sheet until they see a police-free place. Just when they have all their merchandise on display again, some cop shows up, so they grab their stuff in the sheet and run. Really some never-ending cat-and-mouse game. Interesting to watch, however irritating it must be for the vendors.

Park Guell

Park Guell
Park Guell
After a cool drink at a nice terrace overlooking the mosaic benches, we walked down to the 86 Dorian columns that carry the square and on down passing the famous mosaic salamander.

Park Guell Mosaic

Park Guell Salamander

We caught bus 116 again ending up in metrostation Lessep. It was a nice metro-ride so we could cool down on our way to Palau Reial. The only problem was an in-metro karaoke performer that really was so off-key that he should actually pay us. Well, we had fun… afterwards.

Palau Reial, now a museum but once the palace used by General Franco, was a nice building (again designed by Gaudi), but after all the other Gaudi-sights this one didn’t really stand out. The surrounding gardens are nice and peaceful.

Palau Reial

A public bus took us from the palace all the way to the doorstep of our hotel. Barcelona is a great city to tour by public transport.

Siesta time again, so the kids went down to the pool. We checked our emails. We had an email from our travel agent. Due to the unrests in Tunisia, we will not call there. Instead the Noordam will go to Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia. Pity that now we can’t cross Africa off our bucket list, but we appreciate that Holland America puts safety first. Of course we didn’t prepare ourselves for Cagliari, so we used the siesta time for googling and planning ahead. Seems to be a nice town, so we are looking forward to it.

Around 6 pm we decided to walk to the Arc del Triomf. Not all the way to Paris, but Barcelona has her own Arc at the entrance of Parc de la Ciutadella. Nice parc, unfortunately also the main dog-walking place for the locals.

Arc de Triomf

From the parc we walked towards Barri Gotic on the Passeig del Born. We visited the church of Santa Maria del Mar. For now the most beautiful church of Barcelona, but of course only until the Sagrada Familia is to be finished in about 15 to 20 years.

Santa Maria del Mar
One of the main attractions is bubble blowing: giant bubbles of several meters long. When they pop, you have to watch out for the soap. In the Barri Gotic we saw a little ice cream shop. Home made ice cream. Nice…

Barri Gotic
Tomorrow we plan on going to Montserrat, so we bought our train tickets on our way back to the hotel. They sell them on Placa de Catalunya, actually just underneath the square in a very hot tourist information stand.

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