Sunday, July 19, 2009

Barcelona, Budgets and Blisters

We have just returned from our 3 day adventure: 1 day in Zaragoza and 2 days in Barcelona, hey we had to break up the 6/7 hour drive somehow. We didn't have too long and even less money, so we did a whistle stop tour of Barcelona; and on a budget.

Zaragoza was where the Expo 2008 was held, and a nice city too. So we dropped by, walked around, took some photos, got some rest and prepared for the several hours drive ahead to Barcelona.

Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, everyone has raved about it, so I expected great things. Sadly from a personal perspective, I found it to be over-rated. We walked the city pretty much and what we didn't cover on foot we saw via the tour bus.
Yes, it is a nice city and has a wonderful variety of architecture everywhere. The downsides were you had to pay to see most everything and it was not cheap and the amount of construction happening within the city meant that the typically tourist places were surrounded by road works, cranes or scaffolding which obscured that one perfect photo we all want for our collections.

I did like the Casa Batllo - a house that Guadi designed which cost 32 euros to visit; however worth the money. The inside was amazing and groovy. I would certainly live in a house like that. The feel and flow of the rooms was very cool, nice shapes and contours and photo ops everywhere (if only I could get rid of the damn tourists in my way - oh that's me too :S )
So after seeing the house, the park must be amazing, right? Wrong!
We get to the park, its a cloudy day threatening to rain at any moment - but still it held off. Again the instant you arrive you see the Gaudi influence and photos are a must. You make your way up past his museum into the main courtyard (I guess) and see the swirly tiled seating areas; very cool. But that is it! The gardens as big and as vast as they are offer little else except long winding pathways further up the hill.

When I go to Retiro Park, you see the photo ops, the people and hidden little gems within the park, the atmosphere and are able to relax and take in the park. Here sadly it was take the photo and leave (and that's just what people were doing, at any one time as many people were coming as going). There was no little gems to be found, the atmosphere was missing and it wasn't really the kind of place you could relax on the grass, as there was wasn't any. Just that long winding path that leads you up to a cross which is a view point where you can see the city.
For all the colour in Gaudi's artwork it was distinctly missing from the landscape, no flowers, no colour, no shape or form; a pity I think.

The night life was bustling with people and days were VERY hot. After walking so much my feet got blisters between the toes - owwwWW! But we carried on regardless. With only 2 days to see as much as possible it really was a whistle stop tour and maybe that is why I didn't appreciate the city to its fullest?
We had no problems with pick pockets or even seen any problems occur, maybe the fear of fear is worse than the reality or perhaps we were lucky!?

On the last night we went to watch La Bella y La Bestia (Beauty and the Beast) as I got to see Cirque Du Soleil in Gijon. It was a wonderful performance, great acting, music and costumes; again sadly no photography allowed, so no pics to share :(
As we were getting ready for the show, I thought is it worth taking the camera? I decided no! We emerge from the metro station into main plaza around 9.30pm, to hundreds of people gathered on several levels of steps, fountains spraying water to the rhythm of music and coloured lights flashing on and off in the water also to the music, it was a wonderful display - I reach for my camera... ...DAMN IT!!!
Another lesson learnt, take your camera everywhere!

The collection of snapshot photos from our trip can be seen below and the more professional photos are on my WEBSITE


Em said...

Sounds like another trip of ups and downs!
I love Casa Batllo - didn't want to leave. Trust that was €32 for the 2 of you, or they've doubled the price!
Shame about Parc Guell - maybe it suffers in proper tourist season. I've been there in April and October, both on really sunny days and loved it. The colours on the mosaics come out much better in good light, but I also just really like wandering through it all. The long walkway with the weird leaning columns always make me feel slightly odd (!), and I always found a grassy shady spot to sit down, usually listening to a guitarist or something nearby. Still, just as well we don't all like the same things!

Had the same problem as you with the fountains/light/music show though (if it's the same one - near the bullring and a big flight of stairs?) - seen it twice, no camera either time. Grrr.

Photos you did get are great though, as ever.

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