Europe 2016 Days 19-20…Barcelona, Spain

We packed our bags and said good-bye to our “apartment” in Zürich.

We walked to the station and caught the train to Geneva, Switzerland.  We went through several interesting areas.   Bern, Switzerland,  looked very deary and dirty, with lots of graffiti.  The city of Lausanne, had miles and miles of grapes on the hillsides. In Geneva it was a very tight connection, only 12 minutes.  We ran to the platform, but they had a security check for bags.  The security guard was very nice, we showed him our passports and he waved us through.  We did not know if we were on the correct train, until we sat down and the sign changed to Lyon, France. When you leave Geneva, you travel through a gorge with a very rapid, muddy river running through it.

We made it to Lyon, where we bought a ham and cheese sandwich and 2 pretzels.  There were many soldiers walking around.  We seemed to attract a bit of attention with our bags as several groups walked by us numerous times. There were no train numbers on the board, so had to go by time of departure.  This was our last train and it seemed to be the hardest to board. Once on board, we tried to sleep, but two couples from California, were being extremely loud. So loud, that we knew they were from California.  He sounded like Ozzy Osborne.  We decided to go to the dining car and grab some snacks and drinks. It was our last train, so might as well live it up.

We arrived at the Barcelona Sants train station.  The end of our train adventure.  Kind of sad but excited for the next 15 days, still so much to see and do.  The hotel had sent us instructions, so following their instructions, we went to get a train pass.  The attendant at the machine did not speak much English and we did not speak much Spanish.  She was able to show us how to buy a 10 ride pass that we could share. However, it wouldn’t take our credit card so had to find 10 Euros in coins.  The pass was a bit awkward to use.  One person would use it walk through the turn style and then hand the pass back to the next person.  We found the hotel, (very good instructions), you buzz and tell them who you are.  The hotel is on the third floor.  The clerk came down to get us and told us to use the elevator.  However, it would only fit 2 people without our packs, so elevator was out.  2 very friendly gentleman checked us in.  They were residents of the building as the clerk was gone for the evening.  They had us sign a credit card receipt, but since we had pre-paid, we weren’t sure what we were paying for. (Found out later that it was for their records only).  It is an older hotel, very high ceilings with a small kitchenette and an actual balcony you can walk out on.  We went to Cafe Vena as it was just across the street.  Cindy had cold gazpacho (not a fan), Jim and Jerie had burgers with spicy fries.  We all had a salad with oil and vinegar dressing.  Found a small store and bought a 2 litre bottle of pop/soda for 1.85 Euros, cheapest drink on the trip..Yeah!!

Back at the room, we were watching Madrid soccer teams play, the game ended in PKs and as soon as the game was over, we hear a yell so guess that person was watching too.  The person below us, started to play the piano and played until 11:30pm.  Not bad music but definitely of the classical variety.

The next morning we slept in, used the wi-fi to send some pictures to family and then set out to find the Barcelona Hop On Hop Off bus.

Our first stop was the Sagrada Familia church.  On the way there we saw some interesting architecture, that was similar to the church.

The designed of the church was Gaudi.  It is a very strange-looking church.  It was started in the 18th century.  It is in a perpetual state of construction.  It will eventual have 18 towers.  When Gaudi was asked when the church construction will be done, he replied, “My boss (God) was very patient”.  Gaudi died in 1926 when he was hit by a tram car.  He never married.

There was a HUGE line to enter the church, so we passed on going inside, and got back on the bus.  We passed many interesting buildings.

We made a brief stop at where FC Barcelona plays.  The stadium holds 100,000 people.

We drove past a convent, one of several in the city.

And passed more of the city’s architecture.

3 million people live in the greater Barcelona area. The city was settled almost 2000 years ago and there were many old areas.  The 1992 Summer Olympics changed that, with many areas being renovated.  The industrial area was re-built into the Olympic housing.  On a hill above the city, the bus drove through the Olympic stadium and the flame tower.  The stadium was re-modeled from an older stadium.  The swimming and diving venue sits on a cliff that over-looks the city.  The view was beautiful.

There is even a chairlift that you can ride to the port below.

The harbor and port area were re-built for the sailing events and the seashore was revitalized.  There is now 5km of beach available to the public.  There were many boats, both big and small.

The beaches are mostly considered topless, which is unusual for the United States.  So it was somewhat interesting, especially since we weren’t in swimming suits.

We ate lunch at one of the beach-front restaurants.  We ordered tapas: dressed olives, tomato bread, and chicken croquettes.  Also got chicken and a burger meal.  It was good, except we have no idea what meat the hamburger was made of.  We ordered water, but the waiter said we should order the fresh juice, so a bit of a discussion as he kept insisting on the juice.

We got back on the bus and drove past the Christopher Columbus statue which is the largest of it’s kind in the world.

We then drove through the “modern” revitalized area of Barcelona.

Travelled back to the tour bus stop, passed more interesting architecture.  We also learned that there is an avenue named after Carmen Amaya who was a famous gypsy who danced the flamenco.

We rode all 3 routes of the Hop On Hop Off bus.  Gave us a very good over-view of the city. After getting off the bus, we decided to find the office for tomorrow’s tour.  We wandered for a bit, and finally broke down and pulled up the internet on our phone.  We were off by a block, glad we looked tonight instead of running around in the morning.  We stopped for ice cream and got a vanilla, pineapple, and a cherry cream.  Wow, they were really good.   As we walked back, we stumbled upon the bike rental system which was intriguing and a Frozen movie poster, which Jerie found particularly exciting as she will be doing an internship at Disney World in the fall.  At the room we opened the balcony doors.  Not much of a view, but the breeze was nice. Our piano playing neighbor is back, serenading us to sleep.

Tomorrow we are doing a tour to the southern part of France and the small country of Andorra.


Categories: Europe, family, Spain, travel

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  1. We read a book about Gaudi in our reading series. He did a lot of buildings there. There was one even called the “Bones” building. Cool that you got to see it. When I started looking at the buildings, I was like I have seen those before!!!