Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Barcelona city tour...

We continued on our city tour today on the official Barcelona city tour ( . The two day city pass was extremely useful. We explored the western part of the city today. The tour has two routes - the eastern/northern called the green route and the western called the orange route. Both routes go one way only and the stop in front of our hotel is for the green route. So we took this route and had to go the entire two hour tour to get to Placa de Catalunya where we changed our bus to get on the orange route. The only plus of doing this was that both DS and I got our naps!

the orange route started at Place de Catalunya and took us through Barri Gotic and Ciutat Vella area to the east of La Rambla. We went past Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music -, Arc de Triomf, the Barcelona Catedral, Monument a Colom, the World Trade Center by the port and then onto Parc de Montjuic. The park is on a hill overlooking the city from the southwest side and is home to fine museums and leisure attractions, soothing gardens and the main of 1992 Olympic sites, along with a handful of theatres and clubs. There's so many places to see here. We started with a Teleferic ride to the Castell de Montjuic. The cable car ride is €8,50 pp, the entry to the castle is free but since entry into others museums does require tickets it might be worth getting the Montjuic card ( this is valid for a day and gains entry to all museums, galleries and the cable car ride) - we didn't get this but in retrospect might have been more economical. The castell is more like a fortress with a fantastic view of the coast, Port Vell and the city (attached a pic taken on my Xoom). We walked around reminescing about walking through a similar fortress in Puerto Rico so many years ago in '06. It has a central courtyard with the usual touristy eating joint. Surprisingly the eatary had some good salad and especially good pasta with tomato sauce. Very home-made, very tasty. We took the teleferic back to the bus stop, took the tour bus to our next stop - Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC). This art museum housed in one of the most extravagantly beautiful structures holds one of Europe's greatest collections of Romanesque art and also has an extensive collection of the less captivating Gothic art. The altar frontals which are painted, low-relief wooden panels that were forerunners of the eleborate 'retablos' (altar pieces) and had adorned later churches were magnificent. There wasn't enough time to really look at all the art work, plus having a hyper 4 year old is not conducive to an art museum visit. :-(

In any case, we bought tickets for the museum as well as Poble Espanyol, which was our next stop. Poble Espanyol or Spanish Village ( was my favorite stop of the day - I and my camera could have spent the entire day here. DH was my money-shot composition director and I was the technical executor of his directions!! :-P This place is both a cheesy souvenir hunters' haunt and an intriguing scrapbook of Spanish architecture. Its composed of plazas and streets lined with surprisingly good replicas of characteristic buildings from across the country's regions. The buildings house dozens of moderate to expensive restaurants, cafes, bars, craft shops and workshops, and a few souvenir stores. I must have taken more than 100 plus pics was incredibly fun! After munching on some expensive panellets ( and some gelato we headed out on the tour bus. The rest of our city tour took us through Placa Espanya which has the Placa de Braus Les Arenes bullring - no more bull fights here, instead its been converted into a mall. It looked interesting but we didn't stop here and completely missed the Parc Joan Miro, which is a park behind the bullring and has a sculpture called Dona i Cell ( woman and bird), apparently one of artist Miro's known works. The guide on the tour bus droned on about this as well but I didn't even notice! I could barely keep my eyes open as we went past the FCB soccer stadium, down Avenue Diagonal which houses apartments ranging from €600k to €3m (!!!) and ended up in Placa Catalunya.

We stopped for a quick meal of tapas/sangria/beer at Cerveceria Baviera at the northern end of La Rambla. Dinner was not the least bit memorable but we did notice a lot of Pakistani and Indian service folks! We emerged from the restaurant to a lot of cheering and screaming on the streets. Figured out it was the La Liga championship game between Barca and Levante. I don't follow soccer much but the cheering and celebrations on the street was infectious. The square in Placa de Catalunya was roped off to show the game on a large screen with music and fireworks to celebrate the three time champions! DS had a blast waving the Barca flag and going 'por que' (no clue what that means but we joined in on the chanting and music)!!! DH and DS at Placa Catalunya showing off the victory sign for Barca!

We took the metro back to our hotel from Placa Catalunya (L1) to Urquinaona, then switched to L4 to get to Ciutadella Vila Olimpica which happened to be right across our hotel. Got back to our room to read news of the earthquake and loss of life in Lorca, in southeastern Spain. Unfortunate but we were lucky and didn't feel a thing. The day ended on a sombre note for many reasons....

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