Day 46 Barcelona

We spent last night in a campsite close to, and under the flight path for Barcelona airport. Needless to say, it was quite noisy. Situated between a busy road and the beach, we went to sleep listening to the sound of traffic, waves and aircraft overhead. Then at some unspecified time during the night, I awoke thinking that I could hear the sound of go-karts. The go-kart noises continued for at least an hour before I eventually got back to sleep. In the morning Howard informed me that it was people leaving for the airport, trundling along behind them wheelie suitcases that I had heard. ‘Ah – that explains the go-karts!’, I said.
The next morning, we hit Barcelona. I had previously warned Howard that this could be a little edgy. I think it should have alerted us of a taste of things to come when we couldn’t drive down the road to our hotel because of a demonstration on Sunday morning. We eventually found a space to park Oscar in a car park near to the Gothic Cathedral, and walked the short distance to our hotel. As we passed the Cathedral Square, we just caught the end of the Sunday morning ritual of Catalonia women dancing around their handbags. This happens every Sunday morning at noon apparently, and they do it to raise money for charity. Sure enough, there was a huge pile of handbags in the centre where they had been dancing – an interesting take on women dancing around their handbags at discos! We found our hotel in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, and the girl at the desk seemed very sweet, and booked us a tour of the Sagrada Familia for the next day, along with a city bus tour.
After a very pleasant lunch, we set off to explore the city. First stop was a walk along to the waterfront, and then along La Ramblas. For me, this is my least favourite part of the city, with hoards of tourists, and lots of tourist tat. We walked up to the Plaza de Catalonia, and then onto one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, Casa Batllo. We spend a pleasant hour or so wandering around this spectacular building, although I must say, I found the audio-tour a little challenging – Howard had to keep helping me with the settings – heavens knows how people less IT adept cope!
Next we took the tourist bus tour around the city, eventually ending up at the Park Guell. We hadn’t realsied that we needed tickets in advance for this, so purchased some for the next morning, and grabbed a taxi back to our hotel – or so we hoped. However, as we approached the city centre, we saw increasing numbers of police vehicles, and as we drew closer to our hotel, we realised that our street was actually cordoned off by the police. We got out of our taxi, saying we would walk. Easier said than done. At every turn, we were turned away by police in riot gear. Police helicopters were circling overhead, and police vehicles with blue flashing lights were everywhere. There was a huge demonstration going on, it transpired by the Catalan Separatists, who were objecting that the King of Spain was visiting Barcelona. We ended up taking a very tortuous route back to our hotel. When we asked the previously docile receptionist what was going on, she replied ‘ The King of Spain is here, and we don’t want a King’. No guessing which side she is on then! Two doors up from our hotel there were Catalan flags flying, and a women stood on her balcony banging saucepans in protest. It was all pretty scary, to be honest. After showering, we set off in the opposite direction from the protest to grab some supper, and on the way back Howard checked on Oscar. He had to pass through the police cordon to be allowed in – but they were not allowing anyone to remove their cars from the car park. Hopefully our lad will be alright tonight, but I must say, I am a little concerned for his welfare. Clearly the Catalan Independence movement is very much alive and kicking in this city tonight. Let’s hope tomorrow is a more peaceful day in Barcelona.

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