As a cheap traveller trying to get from A to B is never easy. Departing Rome meant going via Geneva for a couple of hours as A to B according to EasyJet just isn´t possible and for 20 pounds, I´m not using a real airline! I´m delighted to inform my smoker readership that should one be visiting Geneva airport in the near future there is a great big sign at the front door that states ´Geneva Airport - still welcoming smokers´. Of course, everyone was taking full advantage of the lack of smoking rules and were smoking EVERYWHERE. Of course, I wasn´t then suprised to arrive to Barcelona and finding people lighting up while collecting their luggage. What a flash back to Athens! Even in Athens they have banned it at the airport!
My accommodation of choice is in the Barri Gothic, the Gothic quater of town and full of great restuarants, street performers and quaint little streets. My first day was to take in Montjuic (a fort on top of a mountain), the site of the 1992 Olympic Games, and admiring the Torres Catalunya which I thought looked like a half eaten donut that had been speared. I guess the architect probably thought otherwise. Just behind the Olympic site is the Museum of Art which was originally built for the 1929 World Exposition and I thought was a huge palace or something similiar considering its grand vista and imposing approach of fountains and statues. On the way home you can´t help but ramble down La Rambla, Spains most famous street for the performers of all kinds and markets selling the usual stuff.
Just about every city has someone famous they can rattle off, for Barcelona its probably Gaudi and Picasso. Too famous artists producing a wide array of modern art. Gaudi is probably most famous for La Sagrada Familia, a temple which is still a work in progress. Started in 1882, it looks like a hodge podge of cement and fruit bowls slapped together to resemble a temple. First inspection of this gothic style temple (its not a church) really takes you back and you think this is awful and how could anyone like this. After spending some time in and around the building you actually start to appreciate more and more Gaudis attempts to imitate nature. Gaudi, believing that in nature there were no straight lines tried to build all his structures without straight lines. He said ´the architect of the future will build imitating nature, for it is the most rational and economical of all methods. The temple is definetly an attempt to recreate nature with the various internal structures resembling tree branches. As the plans and models were destroyed in the 1930´s and with work stopping and starting sporidically, the temple should be finished in 2020, a truly medievil timetable.
Just up the road from La Sagrada is Gaudis attempt at landscape gardening. Its a strange enchanting place where his passion for natural forms really took flight, to the point where the artificial almost seems more natural the natural. The park was never finished and Gaudi died in his house here that looks like it should be a ginger bread house. Nevertheless it affords great views of the city.
My other days in Barcelona were occupied by sitting on the beach, only a short stroll away and soaking up some Med sun, but not enough to make an ounce of difference to my now ash white skin. At night I have wandering aimlessly through the myriad of streets that make up the old city. You could truly get lost in some of those streets. In fact, I knew that i gotten lost one night when wandering and found myself walking down a street inhabitated by woman exhibiting and attempting to intice you to partake in the oldest profession in the world. Politely declining, instead making way for an older gentleman I turned into another street which was designed for the purchase of illicit substances. After my San Fransico experience I had no qualms about walking through this crowd offering all kinds of stuff!
I spent my last morning in Barcelona going through the Picasso Museum. It was quite nice to realise that Picasso was accomplished in other froms of art a long time before he invented cubism. There was quite alot of his early work, but not much of his later work which i personally prefer.
Speaking of cubic individuals, there was quite a selection of lifes wonderful characters at the hostel. There was the usual crowd of Brits who soul purpose in life appears to move from country to another drinking the place dry, the Americans who I think have created and are embracing the executive backpacker but nonetheless are wonderful to talk too, the Australians that can't make up their mind which European city to go to next cause there are SOOO many, the French who think its OK to smoke dope in the hostel and the odd Japanese who aside from their amazingly colourful clothes and layering system are content to take photos of arcane corners in the roof. I particularly admired one Australian bloke (Paul) who after a series of bad luck runs in his teenage years which involved a forward Rugby scrum and some smashed bones couldn't understand how people could live without fruit and vegetables. He was quite adamant, pointedly in fact, that "if you don't eat fruit, you will die". Wise words from a young Aussie.
I would imagine that Barcelona literally goes off in summer, like most Med countries. I had a wonderful time and was cheap as chips in comparison to other European cities. You could eat for less then 10 Euros a day. Its a shame though that I didn´t have the time to explore more of Spain. I may have learnt more Spanish rather than my pathetic attempt at ordering which probably sounded like a rat with arsenic in its mouth!