May 9....Well, at least it was supposed to be Buenas dias before 9 am....sigh! Still jet-lagged, the boys r snoozing at almost 11 am!...so much for our early morning plans.... :-P
We finally got moving out of the room at close to noon. Totally missed normal breakfast hours, so slipped into a cafe next to the hotel called Genis Cafe, an ultra sleek, modern healthy dining place. We got the most amazing coffee (cafe con leche) and focaccia paninis...yumm! We then walked on to L'Aquarium at Port Vell ( http://www.aquariumbcn.com/AQUARIUM/index.php?wlang=en) , which is about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. I made the walk really tedious by stopping every now and then to take random pics! ;-) ...The aquarium is supposedly one of Europe's largest with a 80m-long shark tunnel. While it was definitely fun for Neil, it was far from the best! (Also was way too much moolah for the experience ..€17,75pp...there is a €2 discount on the website, so thats totally worth checking out before heading there) Bah...I experimented more with my camera but mostly just trudged along and grumbled about how much my pics sucked! At the end of the 2 hour exploration we emerged from the dark interiors of the aquarium with one happy kid and two annoyed parents....we explored the mall next to the aquarium called Moll d'Espanya, where we saw the ubiquitous McDonalds, the very expensive F.C.Botiga 'futbol' store (€60 for a barca t and no Messi on the back! Yikes!) in the shopping center called Maremagnum (http://www.maremagnum.es/index.php?idioma=eng). After more pics, we ambled over the wave like bridge called Rambla de Mar connecting Port Vell and the mall to the palm lined promenade called Moll de la Fusta. This bridge rotates to let the boats enter the marina behind it and has this really cool mechanical masts extending over..hopefully, I have a good pic that I can link to right here. We also got a good view of the Teleferic or the cable car which is strung across the harbor to Montjuic, providing a birds eye view of the city. We bailed out on the actual ride because the skyline looked too hazy to get a good view. From here we headed on to the famous La Rambla ( http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/ramblas/barcelona-las-ramblas.html). We started at the southern end at Port Vell where there is a magnificent 19th century monument called Monument a Colom - this is a tribute to the glory of Christopher Columbus. Other spectacular buildings line the street here: Centre d'Art Santa Monica (art gallery and cultural center) and the Museu de Cera (a wax museum with a hall of horror and everyone from Lady Di to General Franco)... we didn't visit either of these places, just paid tribute to the grand architecture with more pics!!! :-P
The walk along Las Ramblas was thoroughly enjoyable. We sat down at a roadside Tapas cafe called Tapa i Apat, where over Sangria, beer and some tapas, there was lot of people watching amidst non-stop toddler chattering. La Rambla is notorious for pick pockets and the like and in the course of our people watching, DH was pretty certain he spotted more than one seedy looking person whom he tagged as prime candidate to fit this role! It was interesting to dissect people while enjoying our drinks! We also managed to slip into a souvenir store where we finally bought those 'Messi' tees for a lot less than €60... talking in hindi to the punjabi store owners certainly helped!! :-P The entire street is fun...with many artists selling their wares, stand-still statues begging for a euro or two so people can take photographs with them, interesting buildings along the way, flower stalls with the most colorful flowers....we even spotted a Dunkin' Donuts (called Dunkin' coffee here...doh!). So we had to step in to get a chocolate Bavarian creme and some hot coffee! After the calorie overload we went through Mercat de la Boqueria ( http://www.boqueria.info/index.php?lang=en) , which is a food market - this is my favorite part of our adventure for the day! The colors of the food is a sensory overload...I can only hope I did justice to my memory of it through my camera! Everything about the market is truly enjoyable....watching people buying food, the food stalls, the arrangements, the various calls inviting one to buy the goods...just charming!! More walking got us to Placa de Catalunya which is the northern end of La Rambla. The square here houses thousands of pigeons...it was a fantastic sight to see the kids mingle and run through the scores and scores of pigeons! Quite a feat that no one gets hurt! We walked into some stores here, got some chocolate gelato, a pic of Neil with a local polizia named 'Rafa' and headed back towards Barceloneta through the metro. We took the L1 line from Placa de Catalunya to Arc de Triomf. This is an archway structure built in the Moorish revival style ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arc_de_Triomf) which of course prompted more standard pics. This leads to a long walkway called Pg. Lluis Companys which takes one to a really nice park called Parc de la Ciutadella ...this houses the Barcelona zoo. The walk through the archway and park was very nice....I sincerely missed my telephoto lens and lost a lot of good close up shot opportunities :-( ....all because some travel book said: don't carry your camera bag into La Rambla....grrr!!!
Heading back through the park, we passed the Parlament de Catalunya, another nice building which used to be the fort La Ciutadella's arsenal. We exited the park near Passeig de les Pujades entrance which has the single most impressive object in the park: the monumental Cascada created between 1875 and 1881 by Joseph Fontsere with the help of a young Gaudi. It looked pretty dramatic with golden horses and chariot on top, cascading water fountain and imposing statues! Walk back to the hotel along the Marina was tiring but DS prevailed! Thank God for that! We had to wind down our day with a simple salad ....it was tiring but well worth it! I really wanted to head out at night to take night time shots of some of Barcelona's striking architecture but was too tired (although not that much to skip my blog! :-P)