October 28th to November 5th, 2011
Friday, October 28th
It’s almost a tradition to start a trip like this. Bus to Billund and KLM to Amsterdam. Then a flight to Barcelona. It’s my second time there. I was also in Barcelona some 12 years ago.
I’m arriving in Barcelona at 5 pm. Bus to the center, and then metro no. 4 to Poblenou. There’s supposed to be a short walk to the hotel, but I get lost. A friendly local asks if he can help, and gets me in the right direction. Finally I find Hotel Diagonal Port, and checks in to room 402. Time for a shower, and then a look at the local neighborhood. Dinner is a Pizza at Bilbao Bar. Then I get lost again, heading back to the hotel. There was also almost ½ km to go there.
Saturday, October 29th
I get up late – at 10 am. I need this vacation. Breakfast at the hotel is expensive, so I head out. Bilbao Bar can handle this much cheaper.
Then I head for downtown. Today's walk is in the area of Barri Gotic, just east of The Rambla. It’s the oldest part of Barcelona, and it’s full of old houses, churches and squares. I choose to walk the small alleys around this area. It’s the most fun – and there are few tourists there. It’s a nice place to walk and now and then there’s music for the trip. Opera in the church Santa Mari di Pi and a great little 3-man band playing behind the Cathedral. Other highlights include the nice Placa del Pi and the old cloisters at the Santa Anne Church.
Then back to the hotel, and lunch at another local bar – Bar 34.
In the evening I head out to Camp Nou. FC Barcelona vs. Mallorca is on the program. We are about 80.000 spectators. Barca is missing some of the stars. No Fabregas, Iniesta, Xavi – and Pyoul is only on for 2nd half. But it doesn’t matter as Messi is there. 3 goals in the first half completes at Hattrick. I’ve never seen anything like that in real life. In the second half he is more human. Barca wins by 5 – 0. The crowd is enjoying the show, and leaves the stadium happy.
I’m home at 11.30 – time for bed.
Sunday, October 30th
Summertime ended in the middle of the night, but it’s not to see on the weather. Sunshine, not a cloud insight and about 20 degrees Celsius. That’s not bad.
After breakfast at Bilbao 34 I take the metro to Paral-lel. From here there’s a funicular and a cable car to the top of Montjuic. I’m not the only one with this idea, so queues are long, but on the top there is plenty of room. Here is Castello de Montjuic. It’s an old fort build in the 17th century. It has a lot of stories to tell. For instance a lot of anarchists were shot up here some 100 years ago. Now there are only tourists walking around and enjoying the views. The only shooting is with bow and arrow in front of the Castello, but that is some kind of tournament, and no one is hit.
I spend a few hours up here, before walking down the mountain to the pretty nice area at Poble Sec. Here there are no tourist – and mainly immigrants. I get one of the worst Pizza’s ever at a local bar.
Then I head for the big Barcelona-park at Ciutadella. I get lost at the metro-station, and it takes almost an hour to find the entrance to the park. Inside the Barcelonistas is enjoying life. I take a stroll around the park, before finding another exit, almost as far away from the metro as the first one. But no. 4 takes me back to Poblenou for a break at the hotel.
My evening-walk is around Rambla del Poblenou. This was where I got lost at arrival, but now I know my way around the area. Dinner outside in t-shirt on one of the many restaurants. Not bad at the end of October.
Monday, October 31st
The day starts with a trip to the highlight of Barcelona. That is Gaudi’s world famous La Segrada Familia. It’s also known as the Unfinished Church. The queue outside is so long, that I expect the church to be finished when you get inside. That’s not for my temperament, so I decide to skip it – also I was inside 12 years ago, and nothing much has happened since.
Then I take a walk in the L’Eixample area to another Gaudi-thing, the 4 floor apartment building called La Pedrera. There’s a queue here as well, but not so long as the other one. Finally I get inside. It’s a very nice place. The roof is especially interesting. Everything is art – the ventilation, the emergency-exit and the water tanks. Downstairs in the former dry ceiling is an exhibition about the place and about Gaudi. One of the apartments has also been turned into a museum. A great place – and well worth the queue.
I continue down Padraig de Grecia to another famous Gaudi-building called Casa Battlo. I only check this one out from the outside. No more queuing today. Instead I head back for the hotel.
Evening walk in a stroll along the Mediterranean beach to Port Olympic. There are plenty of boats and fancy restaurants. I pick out one called McDonalds. It the end I find Barcelona Casino, and I make a sacrifice to the slot-machines inside, before heading back home.
Tuesday, November 1st
When I was in Parc Guell last time I was in Barcelona in January 12 years ago, I had the whole park almost for myself. That’s not the case today. There are tourists all over. I’m afraid I have hit a holiday season in Spain and France.
There are 3 good reasons to visit the park. Firstly it’s a nice park, secondly it’s full of Gaudi-stuff and thirdly there’s a great view across Barcelona. The walk up from the metro station at Vallcarca is a little tough, but they have made escalators on most of it – very good for unfit tourists like me – very bad for café-owners on the way. In the park the main attraction is a square full of benches made out of tiles. But most of the benches are occupied by tourists, so it’s pretty hard to see the fine art-work.
After checking out the park I head downstairs again – not via the escalators – but by food to another station called Lesseps. Then back to the hotel – and a lunch at Bilbao 34 – my favourite spot on this trip.
Late afternoon-walk takes me into downtown. It’s a walk in the sleazy area called El Raval. They have tried to pimp up the area, but the prostitutes, pimps, drunks and homeless don’t seem to mind. In the yard of the Catalan Main Library the homeless seem to prepare themselves for the night. But the area is nice to walk around anyway – you don’t feel too unsafe – but there’s no reason for flashing my camera in the small alleys here.
I end up at the Rambla – and here there are tourists. I head for the metro-station called Urquinaona and head back to hotel to watch Pilzen vs. Barca on the TV at room 402.
Wednesday, November 2nd
No special sights today. I take no. 4 downtown to check out the Ribera-area. There are not many sights there, but plenty of nice streets and alleys. The few sights don’t make much sense for me. The Classic Concert hall of Barcelona is a place to skip and knowing that the roof of the market Santa Catarina is very nice is good to know – especially when you can’t find anywhere to take a look over it. Instead I hang out in the streets and alleys – get myself lost – and always choose the direction with few or no tourists.
Finally I end up at Urquinaona, and take no 4 back home. Lunch at Bilbao 34 – and a nap at the hotel.
Late afternoon-walk is in the local Poblenou-area. It’s a pretty interesting area. It’s being renovated and transformed from old industrial area til a “chic” area, with trendy shops, café’s and restaurants. I also check out the local cemetery – Cementin de l’Est.
Dinner is at a trendy burger bar. So trendy, that there’s no bread for the burger. It’s topped by some cheese-thing is is very delightful.
Thursday, November 3rd
It’s raining this morning. So I start indoors. That’s a visit to Barcelona's l’aquarium down at the harbor. They have lots of different fish and sharks. You walk around the big tanks – and they even have some kind of conveyor where you can stand, at let yourself transport around the aquarium.
Next stop was supposed to be the Maritim Museum, not far from the aquarium. But it’s under renovation, so most of the place is closed until 2013. I don’t want to wait that long, so instead I talk a walk around El Raval and Barri Gotic. I find some nice backyards in Barri Gotic, which is very photogenic.
Back to the hotel then. The burger bar from yesterday also make a good lunch. It’s no problem getting great food in Barcelona.
Later it starts to get very windy. Perfect for a walk along the beach. There are only a few people down there now. Some with their dogs, a few couples in love and some windsurfers. Dinner is a couple of slices from a local Pizza bar.
Friday, November 4th
More rain this morning. It’s 11 before I head out.
Today’s walk is the area L’Eixample. It’s a neighborhood north of the old parts of Barcelona. The area has big boulevards, a lot of traffic, a huge number of designer shops, some tourist and a lot of nice houses. Many of the houses were build by the “Modernists” – very much inspired by Gaudi. Most of them were built at the end of the 18th century or beginning of 19th.
The walk is found in my Lonely Planet guidebook and take me to Casa Calvet, Cases Cabot, Casa Pia Battlo, Casa Mullares, Casa Serra, Casa Seyrach, Casa Comalat (the strangest), Casa Thomas, Casa Granell and Casa Llopis I Bofill. You can get inside a few of them, but mostly you have to see them from outside.
After all these Casa’s I head back to the hotel, when it start to rain once more. It keeps on raining all night, so dinner is at the hotel, where they have a decent offer tonight.
Saturday, November 5th
The end of this trip. Metro no. 4 to Urquinaona. Aerobus to the airport El Prat. Flight to Amsterdam – another one to Billund. I am in Billund at 5.30. Then a bus to Aarhus, and I’m back home at 8.30.