I started my trip throughout the Iberian peninsula in Barcelona for two reasons. For the first I have a CS-friend there and I wished to meet him again. For the second, my neighbor Carol told me, that there is a lot to see.
I was going by flight with the company Vueling at around 4pm (no flight company has so far opened the gate in time, when I was going by plane, because there is always a problem with the log in). The plane had no logo and looked old and not well served, but we arrived safely to our destination Barcelona. I was lucky this time and have had my place in the second row (seat 7F – a window seat), because there was no business class.
When we landed in Barcelona there were only one important thing for me: a toilet, because I have not been at the airplane’s during the 2-hours-flight. I was happy about the lack of queue at the toilets, but when I came out, there was a long one. The signs for the luggage belt and the exit were easy to follow and I found my suitcase soon, but to find the tourist information was not so easy. I had to ask for it, when I was close by. There I bought a 24-hours-ticket for the public transport. Short time afterwards I found the right bus stop for the route 46, which is going to the city. Anyway this bus was only to ”Plaza de Espanya” and I had to go further to the ”Plaza Catalanya”. By the way already at the airport the signs were in three languages: Spanish, English and a language I did not know, but easily found out, that it was Catalan.
Arriving at the ”Plaza Catalanya” I had to use my tablet and google maps for finding the way to my CS-friend Fernando. I became late, but he was anyway happy to see me when I finally arrived. I have got a warm welcome and it was wonderful to find out, that we still were as good friends as before, even we have not met for two years. On the go I had bought a kind of potato-pancake with slices of sausage in it and I asked Fernando to warm it for me, what he did. He is a vegetarian, though I could not invite him for my dinner. Unfortunately I did not think about it, when I bought that pancake. After a chat we went to bed, because it was becoming late. By the way he has a nice flat, even the house does not look the same. His apartment house is in a narrow street and the house looks old and not well maintained outside. The staircase is very narrow as well. I have never seen such a narrow staircase in an apartment house before.
We had breakfast together. After talking with him about the plans for the day I went to the Park Gell, which was recommended to me buy my neighbor Carol and Fernando also told me, that it is a great idea. He gave me the directions as well. He named a Metro Station (Liceu) and the colour of the line (green) I had to choose, but I did not find that one. Though I started from another Metro Station (Jaime) and another line (yellow). Therefore I had to change and I did it easily. The Metro System in Barcelona is well-organized and easily to use. From the recommended station Lesseps to the park it was still a quite long walk, but I made it and I was happy again to have my tablet for finding the way, until there were signs for the park.
The Park Güell (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Güell) is for free, but to see the interesting buildings of Gaudi one has to pay an entrance fee for. It is only allowed for a certain number of visitors to entry the special area at a defined time. If one miss that stated time, one cannot come in there before buying a new ticket. I had to wait for two and a half hours before I was allowed to enter the area. Meanwhile I was walking around in the park. There were a lot of different people, who tried to sell their items to the tourist. They were on different places and on each place they had similar items. I bought a bracelet with turquoise stones for 2 EUR. Later I spent a lot of time with Güell and Gaudi.
On my way home to Fernando’s flat I tried to visit the cathedral ”La Sagrade Familia” by using the bus 92 to come from the park close to the church. The outside of the building is on refurbishment, anyway I took some pictures of it. Unfortunately I run out of battery for my camera and I did not take the other one, I have, with me. By this I made one or two pictures of the church by my tablet. I tried to come inside this church, but there was a waiting time around two hours as well and Fernando and I would meet around 4pm – unfortunately I became late anyway and arrived at his place around 5pm. Barcelona is a big city with long distances, therefore it takes much longer time to come from one place to another than I was expecting. Although I had to find the Metro station ”Monumental” and even the police lady did not know about it, but when I showed her on google maps. Now she could explain the direction for me. Usually I do not need more than google maps to find my way, but at that place – a big bus stop – it was even difficult with the gps by google. There was a beautiful monument at that Metro station, unfortunately I did not take a picture of it.
When I arrived at my friend’s I had to take a short rest – then we walked Barcelona together.
You can see where we have been by my photographs. Fernando told me that ”rambla” means a promenade, a wide street with trees, usually with central platform.
We walked until the beach, but not further because my feet ached. We went home for some minutes again, but really for a very short while, because it had become chilly and I had to fetch my cardigan and my friend a jacket.
Our last goal was the ”Plaza de Espanya”, a beautiful place with illuminated spring water plays after nine o’clock in the evening. Unfortunately there was a car exhibition those days and we could not go closer to the buildings and not close to the spring waters at all.
We went back and to a restaurant close to where Fernando is living. We ate tapas and me a paella con carne. This paella was so huge, that I only could eat half of it, even I only have had mozzarella sticks as a starter. We had a good nights sleep that night.
Unfortunately I could not stay for longer in Barcelona, I have not seen half of it I had on my list, but I was up quite early because I would go further almost with the 11:30 bus from Barcelona to Madrid. I checked the Internet for a seat, but there was no longer one available, though I was looking for ”bla, bla car”, but I had to open an account and to put in money, what was not possible for me at this time. Because I did not pay, people, I asked, were not answering me. Furthermore I checked the trains, but the prices were really high. Therefore I decided to walk to the bus station “Estació d’Autobusos Barcelona Nord” to see if there might be a possibility to get a seat on a bus anyway. I arrived there at 11:15. I managed to buy a ticket for the bus leaving at 11:30 and became very happy. I was at the start of an eight (8) hours ride with free WiFi onboard and also a movie was shown – even one could not choose, what one will see. I was not looking at the movie, because I was travelling to know more about Spain and it was amazing. I did not remember anything from school how Spain looks like. At that time all was only theory. A video about the landscapes and important places would have been wonderful, but nobody had such a think thank when I was attending school in the 1950s and 1960s.
We had to pass toll-stations on the motorway, too. I could not count all the files, there were a lot. The first longer stop was in Zaragoza. I would have liked to see something of the city, but that was not possible. The stop lasted for 15 minutes only and one have had the possibility to go on the toilet as well as buying something to eat and drink. The bus had a toilet, too, but I prefer to use them as little as possible.
The next stop was in ”nowhere”, that means I could not find the name of the city close to the stop. I think it was close to Calatayud. There was a restaurant and a gas station. This stop was an important one for the driver, even it was only for 15 minutes, too. People who wished could also here eat and drink and use a toilet, but the snacks were very expensive at this place. At this stop I took some photographs from the surrounding hills.
I have seen so many and fascinating formations during the trip, that was really amazing. I was very happy about my decision to start in Barcelona and go southwards. For a long time, we drove on a plateau, but when we came closer to Madrid, it became different again. From time to time I have seen big fields, very good for farming, other times there were only small fields, where only grapes and olives could be cultured. Mostly I just saw all these stunning hills and mountains.
With every stop I had a problem, because the driver only announced in Spanish. Fortunately my seat neighbor could speak English and I asked him, what the information was about. Though I could enjoy the trip and was still happy when arriving in Madrid.
Tuesday, 22nd August 2017
The first day of my holidays I actually spent by going by bus throughout Portugal and Spain on my way to Barcelona. I was lucky, that I had planned to visit Barcelona and booked the flight to Stockholm, Sweden from this airport. I had wished to have more than one day to spend in this beautiful city, but my employer changed my schedule just before my holidays and I was not able to leave earlier.
The ride on the bus was really comfortable and, after a stop in Madrid and the bus change, I slept very well on the bus to Barcelona. I was actually surprised about it. At Barcelona Sans most of the passengers left. It looked nice, but I had booked to Barcelona North, because I thought, that will be closer to my destination, the “Central hostel”.
I had booked a bed in a hostel this time, being sure to have a place to stay in the city center as well as I would not get my friend Fernando in trouble to host me. By the way it would not have been possible either, he told me, because he is married now and still have that little apartment I know. The “Central Hostel” was a good choice. It was not only in the same street like the Casa Batllo Gaudi, but also clean and breakfast included.
Wednesday, 23rd August 2017
Arriving early in the morning to the bus station Barcelona North I saw, that I had another place in my mind, when I booked. I walked to the “Market Hall”, which is a museum in the area of “Born”, what I also remembered to late and early in the morning it had not opened either. I found an open coffee shop in the area and had a breakfast. The coffee shop was run by Asian people, but looked very Spanish, so were the offers. Afterwards I used Google maps and walked all the way to the hostel. Anyway it was throughout an area I already have seen during my last visit. At the hostel I was allowed to leave my luggage and attended a “Free Walking Tour”. As I told you before, this walking tours are not really free, but one gives, what one can afford and think the tour was worth.
The tour was mostly in “Born”, because it is the area of the beginning of Barcelona. The tour was about the history of Barcelona and really interesting. The tour ended at the Parliament House and I had an expensive lunch close to it at “El Beso Y La Luna”. It was tasty, but the service was not special.
Now it was time to go to the church Sagrada de Familia, a church of Gaudi as an architect. The building is not finished yet, though Gaudi did not see how all of his ideas came true. Thinking about, that Gaudi was born in 1852, I am so impressed of his ideas and his modernism. By the way I was a little late to the church. I had booked a ticket online, because I was not willing to queue for a ticket for hours. I chose a ticket for 3pm and thought I will make it, but at the end, time was running out for me even I took the Metro. Unfortunately I first walked the wrong way to the Metro station and came to “La Rambla”, where the attack has been some days ago, but now it was lively like usual. Finally going by the Metro I changed at the wrong station and had to change one more time. Anyway I was just in time for attending my session and happy, that I made it.
The outside of Sagrada de Familia is maybe more inspiring as the inside at the first sight, but wandering around and looking up you can find more and more amazing details. I only had a basic ticket (for the price), because I was not sure I would make it on the tower – you know, I am afraid of high, and because I do like to concentrate on art and not on the audio guide. Actually I walked around for a while and once in there, nobody tells you to leave at a special time. At least I entered the souvenir shop, just to take a look and finally came out from there with a bill of 70 EUR, mostly depending on two pretty t-shirts with design of Gaudi’s Sagrada de Familia and the Gaudi garden and park.
Directly after the sightseeing of the church I went back to the hostel, but was walking and found some nice motives for photography. I also passed the Casa Battlo Gaudi and was more than ever convinced to come back to Barcelona for almost one more time. I checked in at the hostel and was happy about my lower bed as well as the rooms and beds were so clean and nice.
At 7pm I met with my couchsurfing friend Fernando outside the hostel and we were walking just a few meters to a restaurant. While Fernando ordered a vegetarian meal I ordered a meal with chicken. I think I have not eaten so much chicken before, but in the Mediterranean region. I tried to invite him, but he did pay the bill.
Thursday, 24th August 2017
Breakfast buffet was served at the hostel from 8am. I thought it would be a little late, but hoped to make it to the airport in time, because the website, I booked the flight with, stated that one have to be at the airport earlier as usual because of the extended security controls. I was the first in to the breakfast buffet and took time as usual, because breakfast is very important for me.
Around 9am I was at the bus stop for the bus to the airport. That bus stop was also very close to the hostel. I had only a 10 EUR-note in cash left, though the bus driver sold me a return ticket instead for the one way ticket I asked for. I was very angry about that, but neither speaking Spanish good enough nor Catalan, I could not make my voice heard.
The security control at the airport of Barcelona did not take special long time, contrary to it, it was fast done. Though I had a very long waiting time. I was flying with the Spanish company “Vueling” and the service was like the others on low-cost airlines, but the bathrooms were very clean all the time.
My destination was Stockholm and you can read about my days at home in Stockholm by following the link or choosing “dorotheeinternational.blog/Stockholm/2017/August 2017”.