Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rainy Barcelona...

Unfortunately the weather on our trip to Barcelona was really poor - 1 day of clouds, and 2 days of almost solid heavy rain, which is apparently really unusual for that area.

I booked an apartment, which was huge and very clean, but didn't have anyone on-site, so nobody to ask questions of, nobody to store our luggage with.   The first morning I bought cereal and milk for breakfast at a little grocery just a few steps away.  The owner had the shop open at 8 AM, then I saw the same guy at around 8:30 that same evening.  That's gotta be rough.

Overall, I really liked Barcelona, even though the weather was crap.  I could see spending much more time there than just a long weekend.  It's very lively and energetic, people seem very cosmopolitan (especially compared to Madrid), and there are lots of interesting shops.  We spend most of Friday strolling around the old town (the Gothic Quarter), luckily that was the one day there was no rain.  The pedestrian area is huge, you could get pleasantly lost there.  Our first stop was on Las Ramblas, a big pedestrian walkway in the old town.  I had read so many warnings of pickpockets that we were very alert and had our money stashed carefully, but we had no problems.  I did see one teenage girl who looked like a gypsy, who was doing some kind of scam, but nobody targeted us. The best part of Las Ramblas was the market, where they had all kinds of great fruits.

We had a disappointing  experience at El Corte Ingles, trying to buy new sneakers for Kenny since his old ones (bought in Madrid) were falling apart. We went to three separate El Corte Ingles department stores, just a few hundred meters from each other, and in each one they pointed to another one, and didn't seem to know what was sold where.  At first it was a problem because I asked for shoes (zapatos), but the term for sneakers is different (deportivos), and they're sold in different stores.  Finally at the last one they did have sneakers, but instead of having all the sneakers together, they had each brand in a different location, i.e. Adidas on one floor, Puma on another.  It was a real hassle.

Walking around the old town
Getting around on the Metro was very convenient and fast, really cheap at 1 euro, and easy to figure out. Plus, the metro stop was only just a few steps outside our apartment.

We asked around Friday to find a "typical" restaurant.  Aa guy at the tourist office recommended the 4 Gatos, which we sat down in, looked at the menu, and after debating for a while, awkwardly took our leave - it was very expensive and there was little choice.  We ended up eating just a few doors down for much cheaper.  The best part of my meal was the beans - white beans with olive oil and a parsley sauce, very tasty.  The artichoke was fine too, though I think grilling is not a good choice for artichoke.  Other than that, we ate mostly in McDonalds or kebab places, and one Turkish place).  

Saturday and Sunday it rained heavily.  Saturday we went to the Sagrada Familia (long line, Eric liked it but I could have skipped it).  Then in the afternoon we went to the CosmoCaixa Museum of Science - outstanding place to visit, and cheap!  Only 3 Euros for adults.

The displays were awesome, interesting, and most everything worked.  We met an American family in the cafe who had been living in Barcelona four years, and were headed to San Diego in a few months.

A robotic drawing arm at the science museum
The worst part of the trip was the taxi to get to the airport.  The guy took us in the OPPOSITE direction !  After it seemed like the drive was taking too long, Eric checked on the GPS on his phone, and showed it to me, and I asked the taxi driver why were were going this way.  He said, "There's a marathon today", and then got straight on the highway headed to the airport.  I didn't challenge him, but we checked later, and the marathon was in March!  What a scumbag.

No comments: