Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and Canary Islands
Thursday, July 14, 2016
We arrived in Barcelona after a long 14-hour flight, the kids were brilliant and mercifully slept through most of it.
Despite it being summer, the early morning air was crisp as our taxi sped us away to our apartment in Montjuic. After the almost palatial digs of our luxury accommodation in Malaysia the apartment was charmingly ‘cosy’. We wheeled our suitcases through the narrow corridors and up the flight of steep staircases, being an old style building there are no elevators and I thank god we are on the first floor.
We take it easy on our first day exploring our neighbourhood, locating the essentials like a supermarket, pharmacy and of course patisseries – of which there are several, almost on every corner. The sweet smell of freshly baked goods streamed out into the street – heaven. Their glass cabinets display an assortment of mouthwatering delights which we enthusiastically sampled a generous array. My favourites were the mini chocolate croissants, the delicious moon shaped parcels of fluffy delight either dipped in chocolate or crammed inside with the good stuff and sprinkled liberally on the outside with chocolate flakes. Sitting close by was baguettes filled with ham, cheese, salami, chicken or known as bocadillos and seemed like a popular takeaway lunch for those on their way to work.
Our neighbourhood was full of apartment blocks, their tall french style doors fringed with wooden shutters and girded by tiny balconies. I have to get used to the narrow streets which double as pedestrian walkways, the cobblestones gave the pram a workout.
After we settle in we set about exploring all that Barcelona had to offer over the next 10 days. We drink in the splendour of this exciting and colourful city, marvelling at the genius of Antoni Gaudi as we steep ourselves in his most famous of works the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, Park Guell and La Pedrera. We get moving pretty early in the morning and catch the Sagrada all lit up as the morning sun streamed through the stained glass windows casting rainbows throughout the corridors. It was impossible not to be in awe of Gaudi, he was a visionary, an architect ahead of his time considering it started construction back in the 1920s. His other works like Casa Battlo and Park Guell evoke fantasy while La Pedrera his last work with its undulating stone facade and twisting wrought iron balconies were innovative. But the highlight was the roof which capped off this most impressive building, it’s chimneys looked like soldiers.
But what captivated me most was our time as we explored Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter – Barcelona’s historic centre, full of twisting alleyways opening out into regal squares and stately cathedrals. The Gothic Quarter used to be a Roman village, the remnants are still visible and despite the processes of modernisation it still retains its historic feel. We spend many a happy day there, in search of tapas, the perfect leather goods, children’s bookstore or simply getting lost in its medieval maze. On our last day, we wander down to the harbour, to the monument of Christopher Columbus which marked the spot where he landed upon discovering the new world. Today the pedestrian mall leading up to the seafront is lined with artisan markets, restaurants and artists who make for interesting statues.
As we drive out of Barcelona we are a little sad to say goodbye to our little place. After a week and a half, we feel like locals already, but we look back to coming back in 3 months time. Til then Barca adios.