Thursday, November 14, 2013

55. Next Stop ... Barcelona

After four exciting and exhausting weeks in Paris and then a few more days in the SW of France, it is time for me to move on to my next destination ... so I packed my wheelies, rugged up against the chilly day and headed out to the airport.

 
I really don’t understand the physics of how aircraft get up and stay up in the air – think it has something to do with thrust from the engines and vacuum over the wings … anyway when I fly I always like to have a view of the wings – just to make sure the theory is working … on this occasion I had a view both of the wing and the engine … so I was doubly relaxed as we jetted over the Pyrenees that are showing the first signs of an approaching winter's snow.
 
 
Fortunately the driver had his map up the right way and 45 minutes later we make a low approach over the Mediterranean and glide into Barcelona. 
 
This afternoon I left a cold rainy Bordeaux wrapped up in jumper, jacket and scarf and arrived 45 minutes later in Barcelona to 22 degrees sunshine – what a lovely surprise.
I had booked shuttle bus to meet me and take me to my apartment – and walking out of the baggage collection into a sea of chauffeurs holding up signs for company executives etc, there is the man waiting with his sign “Henry Munsie” … this never ceases to amuse me … so he chauffeured me off to Avinguda del Paral-lel …
 
 
My landlord Jose is there to greet me and settle me into my new home for the next four weeks. Although the apartment is very comfortable spacious and cheery inside, the view from my windows is not exactly breath-taking !!! ... but the bed is extra comfy, the loo flushes and the shower is hot and long - what more can a traveller possibly want ? 
 
 
This is a beautiful city - clean and vibrant - full of tourists of course - but everyone seems very relaxed and friendly - and maybe that's because it is also a Mediterranean port and beach city ... 
 
 
It is an ancient city with a very rich history - founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, it was conquered by the Visigoths and then by the Arabs and then Charlemagne in the 8th Century. It has endured many battles and up-risings, the Great Plague - when its population was halved - the Napoleonic Wars - that ravaged the city - and of course in more recent times the Spanish Civil War and two World wars.  
 
 
And today I have been charmed by this city with its wide tree-lined Boulevards in the newer neighourhoods and its narrow streets in the old centre.    
 
 
Just about every building is a photo opportunity ... 

 
And the crowded malls that go on for ever ...
 
 
... and hidden squares with their cafes and bars ...
all this is going to be a delight to explore
 
 
 
 Then of course there is Gaudi's Barcelona that really drew me here in the first place ...  
 

And my Barcelona Odyssey begins with a visit to THAT extraordinary building ... stay tuned.