The mornings rain made for a very miserable ride to Barcelona, as we arrived at the outskirts of the city, we followed the GPS direction to our hotel, the GPS was taking us up some crazy steep, narrow one way road in the hills behind the city, this was defiantly not the correct area. On the plus side though it gave us the best view of Barcelona.
We managed to get to the bottom of the hill on the other side without overheating the brakes…
But managed to go round in circles trying to figure out where to go.
We did eventually find our way to Hotel Exe Parc del Vallés Cerdanyola del Vallès, which is about a 15 minutes ride from the city centre, as we had the bike, it didn’t bother us being that far away from the centre, plus it was cheaper.
As Clive began to unload in the now persistent rain, with black clouds and a thunder storm looming in, i went in to check in, the girl behind the desk was a happy as the weather, miserable, she must be having a bad day!
Our room was large, clean (we get pretty excited about these types of things) with great wifi.
By the time we had a hot shower the rain had stopped..wohoo… so we took advantage to have an explore around the local area and grab some dinner, taking the umbrella just in case.
The town was small and was not a touristy area, but pleasant all the same, and it was nice to stretch our legs.
We couldn’t believe it when we woke up, brilliant sun and cloudless blue skies, just what we wanted as this was going to be our only full day here and we were going to need to cram in as much as possible, so no time to waste we get on the bike and head into the city.
First on our list of places to view was
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
a Roman Catholic Church designed by the Catalan Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) the genius architect, who died after being hit by a tram.
Parking the bike was not a problem, with all the bags and side boxes off it made it even easier. We parked in the prime spot right outside the church…
Like most people walking towards the church, you walk with your head tilted upwards, taking in this spectacular tall building that a brilliant man designed.
The queues to get in to the church wrapped around 3 sides of the building and they didn’t seem to be moving either, we noticed a cafe opposite the church, so while having a much needed coffee, we could also see how fast the queue was moving…well it wasn’t even moving at a snails pace, it was way slower!
So the decision was made, we weren’t going to go inside, not this trip anyway…
This astonishing Church was started construction was inspired by the organic shapes of nature, Gaudí studied every detail of his creations integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled… ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry..
Its style Orientalist, Neo-gothic, Naturalist, Modernist and eclectic, construction started in 1882 and is going on even after more than 100 years.
Even though its unfinished it attracts around 2.8 million visitors a year and is the most visited monument in Spain.
The Church is meant to be completed in 2026…i wonder how Guaudi will feel about it when its finished as Critics have warned that its final design will has little in common with Gaudí’s original vision, a failing that the architect may not have had much trouble with, something we will never find out, even though its amazing.
Back on the bike , Barcelona is a easy city to navigate as it is mostly set out as a grid pattern, we are going to check out Park Guell, parking again was easy, we parked in the corner of the bus park.
This park started out as a development project. Eusebi Güell, acquired 42 acres of a large hilly plot in the Gràcia district. He wanted to turn the area into a residential garden village based on English models which was to be Sixty housing units and a few public buildings.
The project was a commercial flop and was abandoned in 1914 – but not before Guell’s friend Gaudí had created 3km of roads and walks, steps, a plaza and two gatehouses in his inimitable manner.
In 1918 the city of Barcelona acquired the property and in 1922 it opened to the public as a park.
There are a few entrances into the park, ours was not the main one, we followed the twisting paths and gradually ascended, the paths lead to the most amazing arcades and viaducts.
Gaudí’s imagination is astonishing and is revealed in the different elements that amaze visitors from around the world.
We find ourselves at a huge circled area with curving broken ceramic benches around the perimeter, this is impressive, we find a space on the bench and take in this fantastic creation from a brilliant mind, i’m sure Gaudi would be more than happy to know that his brilliant achievements had brought so much happiness to millions of visitors.
We make our way its famous dragon covered steps (covered in coloured broken-ceramic pieces)…this leads to the gatehouses, which look like they were built for the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale WOW WOW WOW.
We head back to the bike and decide to take a little ride around this colourful, vibrant city and end up at Catalunya Square, we park with all the others hundreds of motorbikes that are parked next to the square, then head of to find something to eat, walking past the hot dogs was too tempting, hardly local Spanish food, but never the less very delicious, we head back over to the massive square which is 50,000 square metres, and is known for its fountains and statues.
The square over looked by huge buildings, and at the edge of the square are tree and lawn that give it more of a park feel, apparently this square is where all roads start from Barcelona and you can practically go anywhere, we’ll test that out shortly.. as we are off to check out the old fort that over looks the Mediterranean.
We road up towards the fort zig zagged until we could get no further, and walked the rest of the way up, the walk up was pleasant, the gardens that followed the pathways were simple and well kept, we could have got the cable car up, but we were glad of the walk.
The castle was way smaller than i thought it would be, but still impressive and with sweeping views over the city and Mediterranean.
We walked across the old bridge, underneath where what would have been a moat? were beautiful designed gardens.
This castle or Fort has a rather dark history…it has been used to watch over the city and as a political prison and killing ground, anarchists were executed here around the end of the 19th century, fascists during the civil war and Republicans after it.
The castle is surrounded by ditches and walls (from which its strategic position over the city and port become clear).
Massive guns point out to sea and over the city and areas, it was a shame that people have taken to graffiti the guns, and take no notice of the signage that ask you not too climb the guns!
One last look out to sea, revealed the cruise ships below us, Barcelona is now the main port of call in Europe, with over three million passengers every year!
Time was now getting away from us, we have been here for hours, where does the time go?
The air was getting cold, and the sun was slowly dipping.
Thankfully the walk to the bike was all down hill, the ride down the twisting shaded roads was a cold one, but once past the cypress pine tree and down near the port, we were once again in the sun, but were still cold
making our way back to the hotel. Repacking tonight, we have a long trip tomorrow, we want to make our way towards Gibraltar