I get some latitude for posting a day late because for one, the internet when we arrived at our hotel was not functioning, and two, we were dreary and delirious from our long day.
Our first day, was not really a day; it was more like a day and a half, or, a half a day. We departed Vancouver on Air Transat with a direct flight to Barcelona. The plane took off at 6:00pm. Approximately ten hours later, we landed in sunny, hot Barcelona at 1:00pm local. You see, if you consider the fact that we woke up at 8:00am Saturday, and did not get to sleep until 7pm Sunday, then it’s a day and a half. Or if you consider that we were in limbo flying (and supposedly sleeping) on our flight and then magically arriving at 1pm Barcelona-time, then it was a half day. Either way it was long and we were tired!
It was a fine flight, in fact it seemed for me to go by quite quickly. Flights to Toronto have felt longer. We upgraded to Air Transat Club, which is like a mini-business class. It gets you bigger seats with more room and complimentary bar service. And china instead of plastic. Not much else.
I was embarrassed almost as soon as we landed as my pathetic Spanish couldn’t even effectively tell our cab driver the address of our hotel without holding up fingers to tell him the street number. Dos… Ocho? Ocho? (holding up eight fingers). Esta una hotel? Si! We got to our hotel at about 2:00pm. Understanding the idea of conquering jet lag by not giving in to fatigue and remaining awake until appropriate sleeping hours in our new locale, we dumped our bags and went for a walk. Our walk aimed to visit many popular sights in Barcelona – Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, a vast market called Mercat de Sant Josep (unfortunately closed on Sundays), the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Pablo Picasso Museum and the Palau de Musica Catalana – or Catalan music auditorium (whose exterior was colourfully designed by Gaudi). We stopped for a drink and a bite at a touristy square where we had some roasted vegetable and fried squid tapas and sodas.
Five hours later we returned to our room. It was a fine walk, though we’d been up for 27 hours and were understandably exhausted. More than once I had to stop myself or my wife from crossing the street into oncoming traffic. The weather did not help – hot (30 degrees even at 6:00pm) and sticky.
One thing I learned today: our hotel room (and presumably others like it in Europe) requires a card inserted to activate the lights and air conditioning.
Another thing I learned today: Barcelona’s architecture and building facades are decadent. Common buildings with no significance have extraordinary wrought iron and stonework. Coincidentally, the most poignant exteriors are those of Gaudi’s, and I am not a fan. But I accept that most people are, though I find his work trivial and unnecessary. In my opinion, his buildings are the extreme expression of architecture: the polar opposite of strictly utilitarian designers like Le Corbusier. I think the marriage of the two is important.
Casa Batllo – by Antoni Gaudi
Cathedral of Santa Maria