Thursday 18 to Saturday 27 August
It is so tempting to return to Barcelona and it was a perfect starting point for our latest adventure to Africa via Spain.
We are here on our 7th visit to acclimatise to Spain’s summer heat before going on to Granada where we will join Hayden & Andrea in celebrating their wedding.
So sightseeing is not a high priority – we are too familiar with this city to fight the massive summer crowds around the most famous sights. As we passed the Picasso museum the queue of hundreds stretched all the way down the tiny Carrer de Montcada.
We did treat ourselves to a return trip to Badalona, our home for 6 months in 2012-13. There we enjoyed some tapas at one of the many Chiringuitos (summer beach cafes), and watched the locals enjoy the beautiful long sandy beach – arguably one of the best in the area.
We also revisisted Gràcia, the village area where Hayden lived in Barcelona. The Festa Major de Gràcia was in full swing, and we enjoyed wandering through some of the streets to view the decorations. We had a bigger part in the festival in 2012 when we actually helped finish off some of the decorations.
We wandered through the Parc de la Ciutadella, a favourite with the locals on a hot sunny Sunday. Balloons, row boats, ducks and a wonderful water cascade make it a truely delightful park.
Bruce has a new camera, an Olympus with a telephoto and wide angled lens, so he took advantage of the opportunity to try the camera.
Then for something touristy we thought we would cross the harbour from the Torre d’Alta Mar, on the Port Vell Aerial Tramway. The funicular that links the seaside area Barcelonetta with the Mirador Miramar (lookout) on Montjüic. After a 100 minute wait, the five minute journey was over quicker than imaginable. After lunch we rejoined the queue to return. You really don’t achieve much as a summer tourist, but then I guess you have long daylight hours on your side.
After a lot of standing in queues a drink was in order and it was delightful to sit in yet another Chiringuitos on Barcelonetta beach. Summer holidays are coming to an end in Spain and locals and visitors alike were making the most of the Spanish sunshine.
After a long walk along the beach, we found a lovely restaurant near the harbour and indulged in good food and wine.
Bruce is always on the lookout for an interesting beer, and after a successful search for decent beer in the USA it has become a more serious part of his touring. Imagine his delight when we found a brew pub next door to our AirBnB. We even had to make a return visit to extend the beer sampling.
With a busy schedule ahead we opted for a couple of quiet days. Slow morning coffee, a little paperwork and photo catch up and a long lazy lunch in the El Born district.
I am always on the lookout for a new experience in Barcelona. The funicular to the village of Vallvedrera is about 126 on the list of things to do, but next on my list. Vallvedrera village is one of highest residential areas in Barcelona. The short funicular ride took us to the sleepy village at lunch time. It is also where the TV tower Torre de Collserola is located in Serra de Collserola. The tower is a dominating feature of Barcelona and features on the heading of Hayden’s web page voo-du.net. He told us he could see the tower from Gràcia where he first lived in Barcelona and from the Autonoma University where he studied. From the base of the tower there is a Great view of Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor (‘Temple of Tibidabo’) on top of Mount Tibidabo.
Spain basically shuts down in Summer. You will always find the shops open in the main tourist areas, but step a little outside, and many businesses are closed. A bit like January in Australia.
After a week in the AirBnB we moved to the abba Rambla Hotel on the Raval Rambla and met Kate & Mark and Alex & Sarah. They are the first of family & friends to arrive in Spain for THE wedding. Clearly tired after the long flight so we stopped for coffee and then did an orientation walk into Barcelona.
Sarah had booked a walking tapas tour for us all – it was amazing. First the bombas, a potato and meat croquette with aioli and spicy tomato sauces. Then a mountain of fish and seafood followed by beer tasting and then a Catalan paella at the last venue.
Kate & Mark joined us for yet another journey up to Tibidabo. The Blue Tram with its quaint windows and light fittings trundles past beautiful homes, now mostly converted to embassies and high end offices. Then onto the funicular for the last stretch.
Tibidabo offers fantastic views over the whole of Barcelona. Photos suffice.