Barcelona – City of Spires, Mosaics and Gaudi

It was late August and we expected sunshine and humidity, but as we navigated through the airport to get to Terminal 2 to catch the train to our hotel, we were very glad for the free shuttle. It was pouring rain and didn’t show any signs of letting up. Terminal 2 seemed miles away from Terminal 1. Once there it was easy to find the train station. We knew to purchase the T10 ticket which gave us 10 train trips and the ticket could be shared, but we didn’t know which train to take. It didn’t help to purchase the ticket from a live person….he just shrugged his shoulders as if to say “you stupid American, why don’t you learn our language or do further research. Luckily, a custodian was more willing to help us and pointed us in the right direction.

We could have wandered through the maze of rail, bus, and trams and got delivered to our hotel doorstep but not without a great amount of stress. In the rain and with luggage it was easier just to take a taxi from Sants (the main train terminal) to our hotel…less than 10 Euro,

Our hotel was noted as a 5 star by Hotwire and while it was modern and had all the amenities I would have preferred the 4 star we had originally booked right on the Ramblas! Our hotel name was Melia Sarria. The staff were helpful and the area was secure. We only had a few blocks to walk to Starbucks and to reach our stop for either the Blue or Red route of the Barcelona Bus Turistic (hop on hop off tour bus). We paid about 28 Euro each for a two day pass. It turned out to be a great decision!

After dealing with jetlag the first night, we were wide awake at 4:30 AM. Our hotel room was facing east. From the 16th floor we could see a bright strip of coral between the Mediterranean Sea and the skyline. Minutes later we could see a gigantic orange ball appear, but it quickly hid behind the still rain-laden clouds. We were up and ready to go by 8AM! We decided to take our first bus tour on the red line which took us to many of the central sites, but we decided to catch the blue line mid way and reconnect with the red later. The blue line took us past Barcelona’s most famous site the Sagrada Familia, a church conceived and started by Gaudi, which is still under construction today. From the looks of the model it will not be finished in my lifetime nor that of my grandchildren. But what is finished is magnificent. The detail is overwhelming and it would be easy to kill several hours just studying it without even going inside…so we put that on our “to-do later” list. The northern blue route also took us past Park Guell, also another famous Gaudi effort, but you could not see it from the bus. The football complex and stadium grounds was also very impressive. It seemed the 2012 Olympics really changed the face of the city and left its mark!

We were able to complete the Red Line and the Green Line, hop off at the beach for a look-see, and then get back on the red line in time to wander up and down the Ramblas looking at the sites and scouting a place for a late lunch or early dinner.

What we found first was an outdoor cafe in the center of the Ramblas who claimed to have the “Best Sangria”, and in our opinion it was pretty darn good. They should have charged admission for people watching, because that was half the fun!!! Finding food that George would eat was not quite as easy, but we did find a spot near the harbor that had steak and chicken, perfect considering we had not eaten a good solid meal in two days! Even the Margaritas were good (different but good)! We caught nearly the last bus back to our hotel and were in our bed by 10PM. Of course, we woke up at midnight; back to sleep and up again at 2:00 PM and similarly to the previous evening got about 5 good solid hours of sleep.