Saturday, October 10, 2015

#1523 2 Weeks in Barcelona day 3: la catedral, a long stroll and La Barceloneta

I decided to change the name of the series from September in Spain to 2 Weeks in Barcelona. The only thing is that we weren't in Barcelona for two weeks; we spent a few days out of the city. It really should be 2 Weeks in Catalunya. Whatever...let's go!

Day 3 Wednesday Sept. 16

Our plan for the day was to go back to the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) and see the cathedral in the morning. I don't think we had any big plan for the afternoon, which turned out to be a good thing.

Again we took the metro from Tibidabo to Placa Catalunya and walked along La Rambla. It was another beautiful, picture-perfect Chamber of Commerce day. The temperature was in the mid-70s with a light breeze. It was very comfortable for walking around.

The thing about walking around a city like Barcelona is that you are always looking around at the narrow streets and at the people and at the buildings ahead of you. You should also remember to look up.

bell tower of the cathedral

the cathedral glimpsed between two buildings


a Neo-Gothic bridge

the top of the cathedral
La Seu is the Gothic cathedral of Barcelona. Construction began in 1298 and took centuries to complete. My memories of the cathedral involve my grandfather. He was a tour guide and would take us along when he was doing English-speaking tours of the city. Of course I was too young to appreciate what I was seeing at that time. I was really only looking at Avi while he told those tourists the history of the buildings and trying to keep up with him as he strolled through the Gothic Quarter.

But now, standing there looking up at the vast expanse of the front of the cathedral, I realized how beautiful it was. And how familiar. And I missed my grandfather a lot right then.

the cathedral
a view of the cathedral from the plaza

I couldn't believe how many people were there. Was it always like this? I don't remember. There were tour groups all around, each guide speaking in a different language as people poured around the church and up the stairs and down the stairs into the plaza.

Inside was the same. The photos I took inside were quite dark, but I liked this one:

inside the cathedral
We spent a little time inside the cathedral looking around. It's as gigantic inside as it is outside. There were so many people and there was a level of noise that wasn't loud but a constant buzzing, in a way.

We went outside to the cloister where the geese are, but there was some work being done there and it wasn't as picturesque as I remembered it. I don't think the fountain was running, either. Kind of a bummer, but what can be done?

If you would like more information about the cathedral, this is a good link.

We stayed in the vicinity of the cathedral because my mom remembered that there was a church nearby that had scars from the the civil war. We wandered down some streets, turned a couple of corners and found it. If you click on the photo below, you can see the shrapnel scars from bombs and bullet holes.

the church at Placa Sant Felipe Neri
The Spanish Civil War only lasted a couple of years, but it was a bad time for Barcelona. There's family history from that time (1936 - 1939) and I have not paid enough attention to that history.

We knew there was some Roman ruins somewhere (why did we never bring a map with us?!) so we wandered around until guess what? We found some!

Roman columns from the Temple of Augustus
Way, way back in the first century BC, the Romans called the city Barcino. There were buildings and temples in Barcino. Some of the ruins still exist, like these four columns that have been left standing and cleverly built around. There are other ruins around, too, but we did not look for them this time. Maybe next time. We were excited to see these four columns though. These things are truly ancient.

After walking around for several hours, we decided to have something to eat. We didn't want a big lunch since Sonia and Eric were coming to for dinner that night, so we found our way back to Els 4Gats for some tapas.

this self-portrait by Ramon Casas (in front) with Pere Romeu dominates the wall

tapas: pa amb tomaquet, patatas bravas i croquetas
I think I mentioned in my last post how much I loved this place. It's beautiful and full of history and it just felt special to me.

Before I left on this trip, MT said to me that I should go and not leave there with any regrets. If there was something that I wanted, I should make sure I did it. I just thought of one regret. I wish I had asked our server (the same lady both days) to take a photo of the three of us in the restaurant. Maybe next time.

After lunch, Mom was tired and wanted to go home. From all the walking we had done, she had a pain on her foot, like she had a crack in her heel or something. I felt strange about letting my mother go home alone, but Lizzie and I still wanted to walk around a little more. Mom insisted that she would be okay on her own, after all, it was her hometown. She was worried about us walking around on our own, but we felt pretty confident. We're grown-ass women! We can do this! So we went our separate ways, agreeing to be home by 4:30 or so to wait for Sonia and Eric.

Lizzie wanted to ride the teleferic between the harbor and Montjuic. We could see the tower where the cable car was, so we started walking that way. We walked down Via Laietana to Port Vell. At some point we took the wrong way and we ended up across the bay from the cable car tower, but we were at the Barcelona aquarium. We didn't have time to go into the aquarium, which wasn't on our list of things we wanted to do anyway, so we just walked around the marina area. We gave up the idea of the teleferic because we couldn't figure out how to get there and we were running out of time anyway. I was secretly relieved. It looked cool, but kind of scary, too. :) No regret there for me. Maybe next time.

walkway connecting the port to La Rambla
The port area was really spruced up for the 1992 Olympic Games that were held in Barcelona. A lot of new things were built to accommodate the Olympic visitors in that part of the city.

Lizzie and I strolled back up La Rambla, stopping for a delicious ice cream along the way. An helado was definitely on my food bucket list. I had a lemon ice cream (my favorite!) on a sugar wafer cone. The sugar cones there are so much lighter and crispier than they are here. I'm not a big ice cream eater, but I really enjoy that the light lemon ice cream there. It's really more of a sorbet. It's delicious.

We got home in plenty of time before Sonia and Eric arrived. Mom had discovered that her heel was fine but that she had an enormous blister on the side of her foot! Her shoe had rubbed against her foot during the miles of walking and I'm not kidding, the blister was as big as my thumb. I have a photo, but I won't share it. It's pretty disturbing.

Sonia and Eric arrived and brought their daughter Nicole. In Spain it is customary to greet people with a kiss on each cheek, but I went ahead and gave that 13 year old girl a big ol' American hug. I think she was traumatized.

We went to visit Sonia's father Jordi and his wife Elvira. Backstory: Jordi was married to my mom's sister Nuri. Jordi and Nuri had two daughters, Monica and Sonia. Nuri and Jordi divorced and Jordi married Elvira. My aunt Nuri did not remarry. Jordi and Elvira live in the same apartment where Jordi lived with Nuri on Via Augusta. I remember going to the apartment as a child and thinking it was splendid and modern, especially compared with my grandparent's home on Roca i Battle. The apartment looked the same, but now seems incredibly narrow and small. Sonia showed me her childhood bedroom, which is roughly the size of my walk-in closet, and Monica's room, which is just slightly larger. I remember playing in Monica's room as a child.

After a nice visit with lots of photos, the six of us (minus Jordi and Elvira) went on to the port area where we would meet Eric's daughters for dinner. We stopped at a bar near La Barceloneta called Juanita Lala (emphasis on the last "la") for a canya before dinner.

from left: Mom, Eric, me, Sonia and Lizzie at Juanita Lala
Nicole took the photo. She was pretty enthralled with our iPhones.

Dinner was at 8:30 at a wonderful restaurant called 3 Nusos. Eric's daughters, from a previous marriage, Catia and Melani were there. (I'm not sure if I've spelled their names correctly). We sat outside on the patio. It was a warm Mediterranean evening. I'd brought a sweater because we were right by the sea and I thought it might be chilly, but the temperature was glorious.

Eric's daughters, all three of them, are beautiful girls. Catia and Melani are both in their 20s. Nicole, as I mentioned, is 13. Catia works for an online sex shop; Melani works for the city of Barcelona on the Bus Turistic.

Seafood is on every menu in Barcelona. Why not? The sea is right there. Everything is fresh. The thing is that most of the time, the seafood comes to the table in it's entirety, which is off-putting to a girl like me. But on this night, I did order seafood, but only because the menu described it as a fillet (which it was). The main course was a sea bass with vegetables. It was good, but it did not hold a candle to the starter: a mixed green salad with nuts and goat cheese.

salad at 3 Nusos
I really don't remember much about the meal except my salad and Mom's starter which was anchovies de la Escala served with pan con tomate. The presentation was lovely: the anchovies were laid out on the plate in the sauce with one anchovy hanging from a stick like a banner. I think I may have had a bite, but I can't remember because I was so caught up in my wonderful salad. All that goat cheese! Mom said those anchovies were among the best thing she ate while on vacation.

After the meal we were all chatting and Eric asked Melani if she was able to get us a discount for tickets to the Bus Turistic. She said she was able to get us free tickets (!) and all we would have to do is meet her near Placa Catalunya the next day to pick them up. We exchanged What'sApp info and agreed to see her the next day.

After dinner, probably around midnight, we took a taxi home and that was the end of a very full Wednesday in Barcelona.

I'll be back Monday to tell you about lunch with cousin Ferran, walking around El Born and reminiscing with Mom around Putxet.

1 comment:

Kteach said...

Good job logging! Love to relive the days :)