Mum and I commenced our journey on Tuesday. First stop, Barcelona. Noelene will join us in Paris, then after spending the weekend at a wedding in the Philippines, Paul will arrive in London the day after we three do. We will all fly out of London nine days later, Mum and Noelene through to Brisbane, dropping Paul and me off in Dubai for the final Formula 1 race of the season.
We arrived in Barcelona at lunchtime on Wednesday. The first leg from Brisbane to Dubai is arduous. Despite all the excellent service and amenities aboard this A380, nothing can really take the tedium out of sitting on a plane for 14 ½ hours. The second leg was just half that time, and with a couple of hours in between, we arrived in Barcelona 24 hours after taking off in Brisbane.
On Thursday we strolled a circuit around the perimeter of Barri Gottic, down La Rambla, along the waterfront, and back up Via Laietana to Plaça Catalunya. On the way we stopped in at Palau de la Musica and bought tickets for a flamenco show on Saturday night, Plaça Catalunya to enquire about some touristy-type activities, and La Boqueria to give Mum her first taste of the famous food markets (the best I have seen in Europe).
Last year, before we left for our European adventure, Pete B (one of my work colleagues who tragically passed away this year) lent me a book on Antoni Gaudi, and my love affair with this great architect’s work began. I took the book to Mackay on a visit to Mum, and like me she too became a Gaudi devotee. The pictures in the book are spectacular, but they don’t do justice to the feeling you get when you physically experience one of Gaudi’s creations.
My favourite Gaudi experience is Park Güell, and on Friday I shared that experience with Mum.
At 09:35 we entered the Monumental Zone of Park Güell. We were in the first group to enter, but the 300 or so other people in the park seemed to be concentrated around the famous Park Güell salamander. I admit that is probably a slight exaggeration, but I was pleased to direct Mum to the famous dragon as our first stop in order to take her photo beside the reptilian fountain. It’s a must-do at Park Güell and later in the day it is impossible to get a clear shot.
We then headed up the stairs to the Nature Square, with its spectacularly curvaceous bend enclosing the outer perimeter of the square. The colourful mosaic of ceramic tiles, and smooth lines make the undulating bench cool and inviting.
We photographed, chatted, ate a couple of digestives for morning tea, and people-watched while resting on the strangely comfortable seat. That set the tone for our day, and from the Nature Square we ambled lazily around the Monumental Zone; and in the gardens that form the rest of the failed residential development, we found a cool shaded stone bench to have our picnic lunch. Families and couples wandered up and down the broad stone steps that meandered to our left up the side of the mountain.
After a leisurely break we visited Gaudi’s house that has been transformed into a museum, wandered along the stone promenade lined with huge agave-like succulents in pots and found a stone seat in the corner of yet another arched walkway where we sat and listened to buskers playing flamenco guitar.
Finally we extricated ourselves from our comfy corner and made our way to the exit and an obliging waiting taxi driver that ferried us back to La Boqueria to purchase our dinner. Tonight we would dine on cheese, olives and bread. It was fun watching Mum making the purchases instead of standing back and letting me take the lead.
We stopped in at our local supermarket and replenished our milk, wine, and chocolate supplies, and with all the essential food groups covered, we crossed the narrow street to our cosy apartment.