Weekend in Barcelona – day 2

Destiny: Barcelona (Spain)
Flight Oporto to Barcelona-El Prat Airport
– 29.57€ (Ryanair)
– 42.14€ (TAP)

Hotel: Wow Barcelona Hostel
– 25€/double room (breakfast included)

Restaurants: Ciudad Condal (12€/pax)

Transports (train and metro)
– T10 ticket (10.30€): 1.03€/trip (maximum duration 75 minutes)

Flight Barcelona-El Prat Airport to Oporto
– 17.33€ (Ryanair)

We began the second day in Barcelona (Saturday, 8th February 2014) with a tasty breakfast, which was served on the 3th floor of Wow Barcelona Hostel. We could serve ourselves of bread, breakfast cereals, jam, milk, coffee or tea. Besides, natural orange juice was being served by the lady of the Hostel.

We began our walk towards two of the most famous Gaudi houses: “Casa Milà” and “Casa Batló”.

Casa Batló

Casa Batló

Both houses are located in “Passeig de Gràcia” and both of them are Unesco World Heritage Sites.

“Casa Milà”, also known as “La Pedrera”, was built between 1906 and 1910. It is the largest and the last civil building designed by Gaudi. The roof is the most extraordinary part of the building. It features several giant chimneys pots that look like knights.

To our disappointment, “La Pedrera” was being remodelled. Therefore, its whole facade was covered by a cloth that was showing a red Nissan. At least, we found the geocache that was hidden in front of that building and it had a nice container, which represented one of the chimneys of “La Pedrera”.

Cycling Path

Cycling Path

Due to the long queue at its entrance, it was very easy to identify “Casa Batló”. “Casa Batló” is a
house built in 1877 and remodeled in the years 1904-1906 by Antoni Gaudí. Locally, it is known as “Casa dels Ossos” (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic appearance.

“Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia” (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family), the unfinished Gaudi’s masterpiece, was our next destination. Along the way, we passed by a digital bike counter, in “Passeig de Lluís Companys”, which is located next to a cycling path that passes under “Arc de Triomf” (Triumph Arch).

Just to have an idea of how much the bicycle is used in Barcelona as a mean of transport, the bicycle counter indicated that on that Saturday, at about 10 o’clock in the morning, 404 bikes had already passed there. Besides, since the first day of the year till that day (8th February), it had counted about 25 000 bikes.

Right next to the bike counter, there’s a huge roundabout, known as “Plaça de Tetuan” (Tetuan Square). We saw there some palm trees that may have been attacked by the red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus), a beetle whose larvae excavates holes in the trunk of palm trees, leading to the plant’s death.

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is really huge and…WOW! What a beautiful and quite unique church!

“Sagrada Família” is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Its construction began in 1882. Gaudí was involved in the project between 1883 and 1926, the time of his death. At that time, less than a quarter of the project was completed. It was just in 2010 that its construction passed the midpoint.

Knowing that he would be unable to finish this project in his lifetime, Gaudí conceived the construction of the church to take place in parts and he left behind plans and models as to how the church should be finished.
The “Sagrada Família” is estimated to be finished by 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

There was a lot of people around the Church, some of them were just observing it from the exterior, but the majority was in the queues to buy the entrance ticket and to go inside the Basilica.
The queues were long enough to discourage us from wanting to visit the Basilica. So we just admired it from the outside. There are so many little details! No wonder it is taking so long to be finished.

Romanesque cauliflower

Romanesque cauliflower

We continued walking until we arrive to “Mercat de la Sagrada Família” (Sagrada Familia Market), which was nearby. We saw there a fascinating vegetable, the Romanesque cauliflower, whose form is a natural approximation of a fractal. There were some products that looked really tasty, such as the bread. However, in general, everything was more expensive than in Portugal. Bananas, for example, cost double the price. We were planing to buy there food supplies for our lunch and snacks, but we ended up just buying some fruit and bread, which was very delicious, and then we went to the supermarket.

We stopped in a small park nearby to have lunch (Plaça de Hispanitat). We prepared tuna sandwiches with the items we had bought and we ate them while we were watching some dogs playing in there.

Parc de l'Estació del Nord

Parc de l’Estació del Nord

In the afternoon, we passed by “L’Auditori”, we crossed the “Parc de L’Estació del Nord” (Park of the North Station) and then we found ourselves next to Triumph Arch, in the “Ciutat Vella” (Old City).

Barcelona Triumph Arch is not a triumphal arch. It was built in 1888 as the main access gate for the Barcelona World Fair.

It’s impressive the number of bikes parked next to Triumph Arch! Those bikes belong to a public bicycle system inaugurated in 2007 named “bicing”. This service is only available for people from Catalonia and it is free of charge for the first 30 minutes of use.

Triumph Arch

Triumph Arch

We walked along a wide promenade that leads to the “Parc de la Ciutadella” (Ciutadlla Park), the biggest and oldest park in Barcelona. There were several groups of young people practising slackline in the park. Another thing that caught our attention was a giant spider nest made of some kind of plastic.

After we left the Park, we visited “Mercat del Born” (El Born Market). “Mercat del Born” was inaugurated in 1876 and it was opened as market until 1971. After several years of reforms and changes in the definition of its final destination, the former market was opened in 2013 as “Cultural Center of Barcelona Born”. This renovated place shows an archaeological site discovered in 2001, during some rehabilitation works, that contains the remains of buildings dating to 1714.

Mercat del Born

Mercat del Born

We left “Mercat del Born” and went towards “Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar”, which is an outstanding example of Gothic style architecture. Unfortunately, at the time we passed there, this church from the 14thcentury was closed.

While we were wandering in the “Barri Gòtic” (Gothic Quarter), we were surprised by a bride and a groom who were walking from one side to another to be photographed in the most interesting spots.

At the time we arrived to “Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia” (Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia), also known as Barcelona Cathedral, it was still closed. So, once again, we missed the opportunity to visit a church in Barcelona. While we were taking pictures of the Cathedral, we saw again the bride and the groom posing for the camera.

The famous promenade “La Rambla” was our next destination. Before getting there, we passed by the 14th century “Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi”, which has the biggest rose window from the whole Catalonia.

Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi

Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi

We stepped in the crowded “la Rambla”, where we admired the beautiful facade of the pastry shop “Escribà”, as well as the beautiful bonbons in there.

Some meters ahead, we found ourselves at the entrance of the bustling “Mercado de La Boqueria” (Market of La Boqueria). I really enjoy the way fruits and vegetables are organized. We spent there some time and, after we have been seeing macarons everywhere, we decided to taste it. We didn’t dislike them, but we also didn’t enjoyed them a lot, they are just OK.

We made a deviation from “La Rambla” to have a look at “La Via Sepulcral Romana”, a Roman necropolis.

Some meters ahead, we found ourselves in the most important square of Barcelona – “Plaça de Catalunya” (Catalonia Square). We crossed the Square and went to the restaurant “La Ciudad Condal” to have dinner.

We arrived at the restaurant at about 18h and we were lucky to find a free table. After some time looking at the menu and being not able to decide which tapas to choose, the waiter asked us if we wanted him to select 5 different tapas. All the tapas were delicious! But one of them totally surprised me – thin slices of ham and bread spread with tomato and olive oil. I don’t appreciate ham, but that ham itself and, especially, the combination of flavors was great! For desert we ordered a delicious “crema catalana” (catalan cream).

Bouqueria Market

Bouqueria Market

At the time we finished our meal, the restaurant was crowded and there was people waiting for a place to sit.
Meanwhile, it had started to rain and we walked fast back to “Las Ramblas”. We went inside the Carrefour supermarket to took shelter and to buy some water and food supplies for the next day. That supermarket is huge! We spent there enough time for the rain to stop.

As we passed in front of the “Palau de la Virreina” (Virreina Palace), we noticed that there was something going on in there. We approached ourselves and noticed that it was free exhibition of giants – the “gegants de Cardona” (Cardona giants). This was one of the several activities held during the “Fiesta de Santa Eulalia” (Santa Eulalia Festival), which was taking place during that weekend.

45_barcelona_cardona_gegants

Giants of Cardona

We walked almost all the way down Las Ramblas, till we arrive at Drassanes Metro Station, where we caught the metro to Diagonal Station. We walked from there to the Hostel. My brother and his girlfriend, who were felling tired, stayed in the hostel, while I and JB walked a bit further to look for a geocache that was very well camouflaged. We were almost giving up of looking for the geocache when I looked from another angle and…voilà! There it was!

We had to catch an early flight back home on the next day, so we went to bed early.

Back to Portugal
On Sunday, 9th February 2014, we left the Wow Barcelona Hostel, walked to Barcelona-Sants Train Station, caught the train to the airport and took our flight. That time we all traveled in the same airplane, although not together.

The view of Barcelona from the airplane is fantastic!

We left the sunny weather of Barcelona and found a terrible weather in Oporto, Portugal. It was cold, raining and windy.

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