I should have said that the photo last night with us both in it was taken by the waiter at the restaurant where we had dinner. He took quite a few using Mirinda’s Little Friend…but onto today…
I don’t remember seeing so many dogs the last time I was in Barcelona.
This time it seems that they are everywhere and not just on leads. I’m always amazed the way dogs can quite comfortably trot long with their owner/s, dodging legs and prams, avoiding cars, happy and content. I could never trust ours to remain unscathed. Freya has enough trouble dodging old people let alone motorbikes. However, a lot of the Barcelona dogs are exactly like that. They have a street sense that is better than mine.
Even at Sagrada Familia, with crowds in the thousands, one happy little lady was confidently trotting after her mistress as if it was just the two of them.
While the dog may not have noticed anything, it was very difficult for we poor tourists not to notice the hordes. There was a LOT of people. At least we had paid and printed our tickets off at home so we knew what time and where to go. It was so much easier than last time.
Also easy was the Metro ride. I didn’t think Mirinda would commit to taking the underground but she did (out of peak period) and managed beautifully. She didn’t have to resort to her French lessons app on her Little Friend to take her mind of things.
Actually the Metro trip was really easy. There was one change but the connecting line was just around the corner (literally…and I use the word correctly) from the other one and there were only five stops. It was all very easy, painless and devoid of elevators.
Mirinda was amazed when we exited the Metro and suddenly, there was Gaudi’s masterpiece, right in front of her. It was so amazing we just had to stop at the van and have a couple of (very nice as it turned out) coffees. We also stopped because we had half an hour before our scheduled time slot. We then went across the road and joined the battle.
This time, rather than just wander around, we went for the audio guide and tower visit as well. This came about because, having been before, I knew what to do. It was different last year when I was a Sagrada Virgin. Though, in saying that, I’m really, really, really glad we didn’t go up in the tower last year. While it’s a very nice, easy lift ride up, the descent is down a spiral staircase barely wider than me which gradually gets smaller and that is composed of 400 steps. I really don’t think mum would have made it. I had enough problems with my stupid legs.
We spent quite a while in and around the church as the crowds grew. Mirinda was completely blown away by it all. We had a lovely ‘quiet’ moment of contemplation in the prayer room. It was dad’s birthday today and I spent my thoughts on my memories of him.
Eventually it was time to go so on wobbly legs I tottered off, gripping my wife’s arm for support. After a brief stop for coffee, we headed up Avenue Gaudi to an amazing tapas bar called Copa Cafe where, sitting in the sun we had a delicious lunch.
The waitress told me my Spanish was perfect. I also complimented her on her English saying she should visit Australia. She said she could see kangaroos. That was about it for the conversation though it was more fun in real life.
After lunch we headed for the old hospital which is up the avenue from the Sagrada Familia. And what an amazing place.
Started in 1902 and completed in 1930 by architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner, it is extraordinary. All modernist with a disturbing symmetry, it reminded us of a small version of the Forbidden City.
It replaced an older hospital which had been built in 1401 (the Hospital de la Santa Creu) but which was no longer fit for purpose. A very wealthy banker called Pau Gil died and in his will (because he didn’t like his surviving relative) he bequeathed the proceeds of his estate to go towards building a hospital to replace it. It’s a measure of his estate that it paid for ten of the buildings that were eventually built on the site. Oh, and it paid for the land too.
A massive project was then undertaken to create a wondrous thing of beauty. The mosaics, the statues, the tiles and ceramics…the whole place is a stunning display of artisan skills.
Interestingly, the Sagrada Familia was full of tourists (like ants in a disturbed nest) while the Hospital which is just as beautiful, was almost empty (like all the ants had gone to the Sagrada Familia to help their friends). And they are both World Heritage listed. I guess you just have to know where to go.
Finally we decided we’d had enough and headed for the Metro back to la Rambla and, eventually, the hotel for a bit of a siesta. Or, as Mirinda called it, a snap. When asked what a ‘snap’ was, she informed me that it’s a nap which includes a bit of snoring. I’m sure she couldn’t mean me…
Anyway, after our snap we headed off for dinner at the proper Spanish time of 9pm.
We wound up at the Placa Reial and having been refused entry to the restaurant we chose (not because of Mirinda’s Peruvian hat but because they were full) we settled at a table in the almost empty Santa Monica restaurant.
While our meal was fine (if a bit big) the Irish couple at the table next to us were having a pretty bad time. The guy claimed he’d spoken to the chef earlier in the day and that he’d been assured he could have veal steak. The waitress wasn’t sure so she went to speak to the chef. He must have said it was okay because she brought them both plates with steak and chips on them.
This was not good enough because they impatiently called the waitress over and said it wasn’t done enough. The woman went as far as to say (you have to imagine the Irish brogue) “There’s blood coming out of it! I can’t eat that!”
The poor, beleaguered waitress took them back to the kitchen (I assume) in order to cook them some more and (I also assume) spit on them. On the way she was accosted by another couple (father and daughter I think) about their lack of cutlery. They had a big bowl of paella in front of them and only the elderly man had anything to eat it with.
If that wasn’t drama enough, during the meal a drunk was escorted out of the plaza by three police officers and searched. He even had his plastic bag searched. We began to get the idea that it was a pretty rough area when a group of men tried to sell us “Hash, cocaine, marijuana?” as we walked back to the hotel. I guess the alley that smelled very strongly of urine should have been a give away as well.
Still, for all that, the food was lovely and we had a pleasant stroll back (avoiding Urine Alley) before retiring.