Barcelona: Step by Step (ooh baby)

Our time in Barcelona has come to an end and it’d be fair to say that we’d give it a mixed review.  Sadly for us, Barcelona falls into the same category as LA – we expected, and wanted, to love it, but for some reason it just didn’t hit the spot.  If I had to sum it up, I would have to say that Barcelona lacked the charm of the other spots we visited in Spain.  It is bigger, more metropolitan and a little more impersonal than both Seville and San Sebastian, which I guess is the pitfall of being a big city.  Don’t get me wrong, we still had a great time, but it was missing a little something-something.  Our Air BnB apartment was also a little bit of a flop – nothing says ‘home sweet home’ like climbing 83 of the narrowest steps you’ve ever seen to your front door!

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I’d like to think that we gave Barcelona a fair crack despite knowing pretty early on that it wasn’t entirely our cup of tea.  We once again joined a walking tour and explored the Gothic Quarter.  We saw a couple of Gaudi’s many masterpieces – Sagrada Familia (which is still unfinished, but now has a scheduled completion date of sometime in 2026) and Casa Batllo.  These buildings have to be seen to be believed.  They are so whimsical and a real oddity amongst the more modern buildings in Barcelona.

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We visited the Barcelona Cathedral and took in the views of Barcelona from the roof.  We also got to see the 13 geese who call the courtyard of the Cathedral home.  There are always 13 geese in reference to the age of Saint Eulalia (the co-patron of Barcelona) when she was martyred, having suffered 13 tortures.  Legend has it that, having withstood all 13 tortures, Saint Eulalia was finally killed by decapitation at which point 13 white doves flew from the wound at her neck.  The Cathedral originally had 13 white doves in residence, but decided to trade them in for geese which wouldn’t bugger off all day leaving loads of disappointed and annoying tourists asking after them.

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One real highlight was our walk up to see Font Magica (or the Magic Fountain).  It’s effectively an enormous water fountain that does a choreographed display to music every evening.  It sounds naff, but it’s actually pretty cool and it draws a massive crowd of tourists and locals.  There’s great views across the city (including the bum on that statue) that gets better as it turns from dusk into night.

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On our last day we made it down to Barceloneta Beach and the other beaches right on the city’s doorstep.  The beach vibe in Barcelona is awesome, and it is a massive drawcard for the city to have such top notch beaches so handy.  There are cool beach bars, shops and restaurants and, when the weather is fine, the place is heaving.  Tan lines are definitely not in vogue in Barcelona, so we got to see a whole lot of boobies during our walk.  Campbell tells me that it was “disgusting”, but all the perving he was doing behind his mirrored sunglasses suggests otherwise.

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Perhaps most importantly, Barcelona provided the opportunity to see a familiar face. On our last day we got to have brunch with Simon, a friend from work.  It was so lovely to spend some time with someone from home and speak Kiwi for a little bit.  I look deranged in this photo, but I was actually just really excited to see Simon!  We have now been on the road for 12 weeks and we both miss our friends and family.  Family obviously goes without saying, but I definitely have a renewed appreciation for how important it is to have good friends.  There are times when I’d love to pop out for a coffee, see a film, go for brunch and “a walk” (which is really just getting from the car to the brunch), or have wine and fries after work.  Equally, I know Campbell would dearly love a night in his garage watching sport with his buddies, a round of golf with his Dad and the golf guys and a few beers with Trev.

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This afternoon we arrived in Paris.  We have an action-packed few days ahead before we head to the south of France for a week in St Remy de Provence.  Our Air BnB apartment is very quirky, but a huge upgrade on Barcelona.  Only downside – 95 steps to our apartment!

A&C

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