Long ago, back at the end of last year, I went on a cruise holiday. I blogged about this when I got back and intended to do more once I’d sorted through my photographs. However, such was the volume of photographs, it is taking me some time to get through them. I have, however, finally made a start, so I thought I’d begin to re-live my experiences and share some pictures. I will persevere with this, though it may take me the rest of the year to finish it.
Our holiday actually began a few days before the cruise: we were departing from Barcelona, so as this was somewhere we had long intended to visit we decided to spend a few days there first. We flew in from Bristol on Thursday 20 October. We had booked to stay in Hotel Lleó, which turned out to be clean, reasonably priced and, critically, not far from Plaça de Catalunya and Las Ramblas.
The day was disappointingly cold and overcast, but we spent a pleasant day exploring Las Ramblas, which is an amazing place. This is the main tourist area of the city and is packed with bars and restaurants. There is also possibly the world’s greatest concentration of ‘human statues’, some of whom are very impressive.
At the far end of Las Ramblas is Mirador de Colón (Columbus Monument), an impressive 52m high iron column topped by a statue of the man himself. It commemorates a visit by Columbus in June 1493 when he received a royal welcome to Barcelona – he obviously made quite an impression! There is a lift to the top, which gives a great view over the city – and by this time the cloud had broken up so we could enjoy it. The trouble is, only about 3 or 4 people can fit into the lift at once and there is not a huge amount of room at the top, so it operates on a one in, one out arrangement – I’m glad we went out of season or you could queue for days.
Later in the afternoon we met up with our travelling companions, Andy and Jan, who had arranged the whole thing for us. After eating we went in search of alcohol – a theme for the holiday – and stumbled upon a brilliant cocktail bar called Boadas. Only when we got home did I discover that this was in a list of the top 50 bars in the world. One down, 49 to go.
The following day we got ourselves tickets for the tourist bus. These follow a number of routes around the city and you can hop on and off as you like; an excellent way to see the city. Barcelona is, of course, famous for Gaudi, so we thought we’d better see some of his stuff.
We went first to Sagrada Familia, an eye-poppingly bizarre church which was begun in 1882. Gaudi took over in 1884 and things kind of got out of hand and it has been under construction ever since – it is expected to be finished in the next 20 years. The place was packed and, even out of season, the queues to get in circled the church. We decided that a view from the outside would suffice.
We hopped back on the bus and headed for more Gaudi madness at Parc Güell. This must be the most bizarre public park in the world and surely speaks of much substance abuse. Amazingly, it is free to get in.
We finished off the day with yet more Gaudi: a walk to see Casa Batllò and La Pedrera at night.
The next day we set off on the bus again, this time on a different route which took us back to Casa Batllò and La Pedrera so we could see inside. These buildings are amazing and once again clearly drug-inspired. Inside Casa Batllò has a very Alice in Wonderland feel.
At La Pedrera the surreal roof is the star, and by this time it was beautifully sunny and baking hot to enjoy it.
We spent a long time at these houses, which were not all that far from our hotel, so once finished we were determined to make the most of our bus ticket and see some things further afield. There was far too much to see in the time available, so we only saw Plaça d’Espanya, the art museum, the Olympic stadium and many other wondrous sites from the bus. We did get off for a walk around Parc de Montjuïc, which gave some excellent views over the harbour, which is where we would be departing from in the morning…
Barcelona was a brilliant place and I took hundreds of photographs; here’s a few more: