Barcelona view of the city

We had one more day in Barcelona and, to ensure we saw as much as possible we had decided to use the hop-on/hop-off bus system.

Almost every city in Europe, including the UK, has these buses and it is a very good way to see and learn about the city. We have used these buses in many cities and really enjoy this method of sight-seeing. In most cities your bus ticket includes a cruise on the river. There is also a tour guide on the boat who tells you about the buildings and areas you are passing.

Barcelona view of the cityA view of part of Barcelona from the National Arts Museum

So, on the morning of Saturday 9th January we set off to catch the bus. With not many Euros in cash we were to use our credit card as usual. We had tried to purchase tickets for the bus at the hotel Reception but they only accepted cash. We then went across the Plaza to catch the bus. It was another chilly morning but fortunately we waited just 5 min for the bus. “Who said that it was always warm in Spain?” We boarded the bus only to discover that the conductor’s card machine was broken. Nothing we could do except get off the bus and wait another 15mins for the next one which did have a machine.

Barcelona view from our window 5Espana Plaza outside our hotel. We waited beside the columns at the back for the bus

The first stop where we chose to alight was at the Barcelona Football Club Stadium which we learnt has a seating capacity of 100 000. Unfortunately, as it was Saturday and preparations were being made for a major game that afternoon we were unable to go into the stadium itself. There were dozens of shops selling food, FC Barcelona clothing and other memorabilia. We spent some time walking around the stadium and finally found an entrance from where we could get on to a raised platform and see into the stadium. The immensity of it was beyond any imagination.

Barcelona Real Madrid StadiumInside the Barcelona Football shop

We then hopped on to another bus and stayed on it for a couple of stops, alighting at Diagonal Avenue, so named as it cuts Barcelona diagonally in half East to West. We were very impressed by the wide streets and sidewalks and cleanliness of them. The sidewalks on this street were divided into lanes for each of pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. Once again there were fountains outside a large park and in another park were a number of sculptures of animals. There was even a drinking fountain for dogs. Spaniards seem to be very fond of fountains, which is great as I love them too.

Barcelona drinking fountain for dogsA drinking fountain for dogs

Barcelona wide streets fountainsWide streets and fountains

A different and interesting sight down the centre and sides of the trees were orange trees and they were all full of fruit. We could not make up our minds as to whether they were meant for pedestrians and others to eat or no. The lower branches were empty of fruit so it made us think that they were not for eating but for their natural beauty. We decided to try one anyway. Trevor being tall was able to pick one from the higher branch. We took it back to the hotel where we had a knife only to discover that it was SOUR, OH SO VERY SOUR. It was more sour than the most sour lemon.  

Barcelona sculpture in local parkBeautiful sculpture in a park

Next stop was the Gothic Cathedral and the Old City. Once again we refrained from going into the Cathedral as it cost 9Euros (R160) each. We just really enjoyed walking around the whole area and noting the beauty of the restored brickwork of the 500 year old walls and narrow cobbled streets and discovering a museum of restored artefacts. There was one street which had been partially closed off as they had recently discovered some further old buildings which had been covered over for 100s of years.

Barcelona Gothic cathedralThe Gothic design Cathedral

Barcelona Sculpture at Gothic Cathedral MuseumUnusual sculpture on the lower level of the Cathedral

 Barcelona Gothic cathedral precinct 2

Lane beside the Cathedral leading to a statue of Christopher Columbus

From here the bus took us towards the harbour and beachfront area. We were amazed to see the cable car, which we could see from our room going up the side of the mountain, also came right down to the harbour. It was clearly a very long and scenic ride. There was a very wide variety of boats in the harbour ranging from some small skiffs, to large catamarans, to huge private yachts to enormous cruise liners.  We stood and admired them all for quite some time.

Barcelona harbour 2The harbour with memorial clock tower

The beachfront is positively beautiful again with very wide pedestrian, cycling and roller skating facilities. The activity was non-stop. I guess this was because it was Saturday and a very beautiful day even though a tad chilly in the wind. What did cause us to giggle was the attitude of the surfers.  It seems as if the Mediterranean Sea does not have waves and here were these surfers, about a dozen of them, lying across their surfboards waiting to ‘catch the big one.’ We saw one fellow, probably desperate, just get up and take off with great delight even though the wave was hardly what we, from Durban, would consider a large ripple. Oh the frustrations of trying to enjoy oneself.

Barcelona promenadeThe beautiful wide promenade

Barelona surfersSurfing on flat waves

While we sat on a bench watching the people and birds, we saw a large dog’s calling card on the pavement which its owner had not picked up. We were waiting to see who would walk or ride into it first. We were so surprised to see that, although some came very close to the mess, they all saw it in time and missed it.

Now for the highlight of the day. We went to visit the area of town where many of the buildings are in the designs of the architect, Antoni Gaudí. If you did not know about him before your trip to Barcelona you certainly would once you left. There is one street in particular where one can find dozens of his creations. They are really most unusual and fascinating designs. The most well-known is probably the La Sagrada Familia, a basilica which Gaudí designed and worked on himself for 43 years from 1883 until he died in 1926; knocked over by a tram. Thereafter it was worked intermittently until 2010 when Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it and declared it a minor basilica as distinct from a cathedral as it is not the seat of a bishop. It is now being worked on full time using Gaudi’s initial design.

Barcelona Gaudi design A building designed by Gaudi

Barcelona Gaudi design bench 2A bench designed by Gaudi with a beautiful iron backing

We ended our day by going across the road to the supermarket in the former bullring to purchase some essential groceries and packed up to be ready to catch the early train in the morning.

Barcelona fountain 3Fountain in downtown Barcelona

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