Day 12 & 13 – Barcelona & Montserrat

I arrived in Barcelona early morning. The overnight train from Granada wasn’t too bad. I was sitting near to the toilet though so every time someone use and left the door unclipped I’d have to go and shut it or otherwise put up with the knocking as the train swayed.

I went straight over to the Hostel to store my bags. The hostel staff were kind enough to let me go up and wait in the common area and use the internet while I waited for the person to checkout from the room I would be staying in. So that allowed me to get my camera charged up and do some research on what there was to see in Barcelona.

IMGP1215My first stop was the Sangrada Familia. My first impression of this church was ‘F%&k that’s one ugly building’ and I think I still stand by that. It looks like the inspiration for its design was a bowl of fruit, a few champagne bottles, and the luna park mouth. Its so ugly its practically art. The funny thing is that its not yet completed. They’ve been working on it for 170 years. I don’t think its going to get any better. On one side you have the really aged, dark brown look, on the other side you have this fresh light grey colour. I hope they try to blend it in a bit but maybe that will just happen with time.

In front of the church lies the most putrid pool of water I have seen outside Mum & Dad’s swimming pool ( 😉 ). Its very fitting I thought.

So after that I walked up to St Paul’s hospital which was created by the same designer as the church. A little more reserved and also complete. Probably one of the most stylin’ hospitals I’ve ever seen.

I decided to walk down to the main shopping area of Barcelona as it was on the way to a few other monuments and the Olympic park. On the way I passed Barcelona’s own Arc de Triomf. Not quite the grandeur of the one in Paris but a good opportunity to whip the camera out. Hey I have a quota to make!

IMGP1243 There is a famous street called La Rambles that is a nice long stretch of stalls and street performers. It was very crowded along here but there were a few interesting things to see. Its funny how many people get spooked by the street performers doing their thing. Also I couldn’t believe no one was letting an ambulance pass to get down the street. I think personally I would have just mounted the pedestrian strip. People are more likely to move than cars.

I made it down to the water and sat on the peer for a little while. They have a couple of funiculars (cable cars) going from place to place over the water. I then thought I’d try climbing another mountain to get to another lookout. On top of this mountain is a fort with some of the best views in town. They still have the guns mounted around the outer walls too allowing people to make all sorts of phallic references to them in their photos.

After taking in the tremendous view I started the walk down heading towards the old Olympic Village. I walked past the Olympic Stadium and was even able to go inside and take a photo. I think I was a little late for any of the events though. Unfortunately it reminded me of the 1992 Olympic theme song Amigos Para Sempre  (I have no idea how you spell it) so I had that stuck in my head for most of the afternoon.

IMGP1315 Next stop was the MNAC which lies in front of the Plaza de Espania. This was a very cool building. There were a number of levels stepping down to the main plaza covered in fountains. The Font Magica is the main fountain at the bottom. Unfortunately none of them were running and I had to imagine the dancing water. The fountain only runs from Thursday to Sunday and then only for a few hours at night. So I missed it. I think it would have been spectacular.

I then headed back to the hostel by Metro. It had been a pretty long walk.

While looking for things to do in Barcelona I came across Montserrat. Its a monastery high up in the mountains about hour outside of Barcelona. So I took the train and headed out that way. There were some thunderstorms coming in while I was waiting to go up. They have a rack railway to take you up the mountain. Luckily the storm passed and it was nice and sunny when I got up there. Well for most of it anyway. Montserrat is like its own little town up there. A very commercial little town but a little town all the same.

IMGP1369 I took some photos and had a look in the basilica. They had a choir singing in there and one pretty impressive pipe organ. I hiked up into the hills for a little bit before heading back down. It had started to get cold and rainy again so I thought I’d grab some lunch while I was waiting for the next train. I’ve been dying for some real food. They had roast potatoes and big hunking sausages in here so I ordered up. Unfortunately it was only luke warm but it didn’t taste too bad.

When I got back to Barcelona I just had a restful night at the hostel. I’ve had a cold for the past week and need some rest. I’m going to be covering a fairly large distance over the next few days to get to Italy. I’m passing through Carcassonne tomorrow and staying the night in Marseille. I’ve been looking forward to seeing the Castle at Carcassonne for ages. I’m sure it won’t disappoint!

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