It was one of those trips where everything went to plan. Indeed, whoever made the plan, kudos. You did a very good job.
It didn’t start that well however. Snow and London are, as all residents know, uncomfortable bedfellows. Bed really is the only place to be on snow days in this metropolis. We just aren’t geared up to cope with snow and travel is the worst thing to be planning to do when the snow comes in.
We were planning to fly to Barcelona. Two from Luton (north of London) and one from Gatwick (south). This plan was rational, sensible and extremely cost efficient given the locale of our homes but didn’t take into consideration the snow. The snow exposed a number of cracks and crevices in the plan.
K……., our solo traveller, spend three worrisome days wondering if she would be doing a Macaulay Culkin in the Catalonian capital because her flight went first and all predictions forecast heavy, travel stopping snow on the morning of our departure. She became expert on snow sites various – BBC weather watch, EasyJet alerts and when she couldn’t face the horror of the approaching blizzard, the Barcelona seven day forecast to ensure appropriate clothing for four days in her own company.
T…… and I agreed to go to the spa at Champneys if we were unable to fly.
Friday morning my phone jammed with incoming texts from K…… ‘Wat’s yr progress?’; ‘At airport yet?’; ‘Any news?’; ‘update pls’; ‘update PLS’, The final desperate query sent from the foot of her plane’s steps.
We made it out with ten minutes to spare. Seriously. Ten minutes. Then the snow came but we didn’t care. We were on our way to Barca for three and a half days of tapas, mojitos, wine and culture.
If that was success against all odds #1 our second result was getting into out apartment three hours before check in time. A leisurely lunch can be hampered by suitcases (even if they are the minuscule EasyJet permitted carry-on size). And in one of the pickpocketing capitals of the world depositing our bags pre alcohol was a good thing.
Success #3 was a more personal one for me. I won the best bedroom. No fighting or flattest heels involved (Take Three Girls: Barcelona), I even let them draw the straws.
My master bedroom, dressing room and personal bathroom were fantastic but fair to say the whole apartment surpassed expectations. Central, clean, well decorated with a good view (from my dormitorio anyway) it was a pleasant surprise to rent somewhere that is fairly represented in it’s promotional pics. Yes, T……. and I have been burnt before and fallen prey to a very wide, wide angle lens.
Have you noticed the colour of the sky in the first photo? Remember it’s snowing back home so blue is a very good thing and needs recording at every opportunity. Cerulean skies count as success #4.
And one more for luck.
I think Heaven just might be blue sky, 19 degree temperature in January, a vast and golden sand beach beside our restaurant table and a bottle, or two, of chilled vino blanco to accompany our sea bass. We were purring.
Later that night we had mojitos. They were yummy = success #5.
And in between we visited Santa Maria Del Mar an awe inspiring gothic cathedral that rises out of the tiny streets and alleyways surrounding it and defies anyone to walk past without a visit.
Now firmly in the centre of El Born Santa Maria del Mar was on the coast when built in the 14th century and must have been a welcome sight for fishermen returning with their catch each day. The rose window is stunning and the red candles lit throughout the church make it’s calm darkness vibrant.
Back in our Pla de Palau apartment we prepared ourselves for bed with a night-cap, drunk discussing the successes of the day. T…… headed for her mummy bear room, K…… her baby bear womb room with its child sized mattress (shortest straw) and yours truly to my master suite.
My God, do the Spanish ever sleep? That is a rhetorical question. I think there was pause between 4.19am and 5.20 but I can’t be certain. I rose exhausted.
“I’ve had the best sleep,” said K……. “It’s so quiet down this end. How about you?”
Looking at my un-sleep-refreshed phizog she began to laugh and went to check on T…….’s night’s success in the sleep department.
We couldn’t rouse her so comfortable was the Tempur mattress that only her bed had been fitted with. Hmmm. Neither would swap rooms with me so I bought ear plugs. Needs must.
Through the weekend we visited a number of memorable buildings including Gaudí’s, Casa Batlló in the Passeig de Gracia.
Apparently Signora Batlló hated the house that Gaudí built for her but I would move in, in a heartbeat if I could have a door bell like this (left), doors like this (below right),
and an attic like this (bottom left).
It was on to the Fundació Joan Miró in Montjuïc.
The building itself is pretty stunning, was designed by Josep Sert and opened in 1975. The museum and the view it has over the city below are reason enough to go but the collection of Miró’s on display is fabulous and shouldn’t be missed.
Outdoor sculptures only. No photography allowed inside, I’m sorry.
I think I need to know more about this artist. His paintings certainly got us thinking, his recurring theme very anatomically rooted. I shall say no more until I know more.
The museum is about 100 metres from the 1992 olympic stadium so we popped our heads in there I guess to say we’d done it.
“We’ve done it,” we said.
It’s showing its age in a way It would not be if Gaudí had built it. Or Mies van der Rohe who’s pavilion we went to next.
Built originally in 1929 for the International Exposition it was reconstructed thirty years later to the original spec and now has a permanent place in Barcelona’s modernist history. The iconic Barcelona chair was created by van der Rohe to be displayed here.
Gaudí, Miró and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe count as successes #s 6, 7 and 8 not only because they were brilliant but because we missed the queues so well our ‘plan’ was working. Walk in, no queue. Exit and the line of expectant visitors stretches around the block. Oh yes. That was the cream on our double espressos.
Success #9 came in the guise of Mr Carmichael’s erstwhile school friend E……, who lives in Barcelona and
got roped in offered to show three girls a good time. Brave or foolhardy I know not but we had a great Saturday night tapas crawl around El Born and finally, after lager, wine, mojitos, cider and a very strong honey flavoured Catalonian shot, we, with E……’s input found the limits to T…….’s ability to protest sobriety. Success #10.
The bar owner may look innocent but his cough mixture style parting gift was most certainly not.
Although, as I mentioned in my entry for the WordPress weekly photo challenge (Weekly Photo Challenge (Beyond)), Spain is enduring very hard times at present one thing the Spanish do not compromise on is their fresh food and the two markets we spent hours in were exceptional.
And for those with a sweet tooth and/or a childish disposition.
Success #11 – not buying any of the above. More, so many more temptations here Weekly Photo Challenge (Beyond).
On this mini break I discovered my sense of direction is not what I thought it was (“But it just doesn’t matter”), T……. realised that not all tapas was revolting but some of it was (“I don’t like bouncy food”) and K…… found out that not everyone wees as much as she (“where’s the loo?”) became our mid-January, fin de semana personal catch phrases.
We had an utterly brilliant time in an utterly brilliant city and even though our plane was delayed on the way home the pilot flew so fast she made up all but five minutes. And that counts as success #12.
I love it when a plan comes together.