This is day 2 in Barcelona:
Today, we woke up after thankfully having a room over our heads, since we didn’t have any success with couchsurfing here. We took cold showers, and got ready to head into down to Plaza Cataluña. Our friend Wendy was meeting us in Barcelona and she took the airport bus which dropped off here. Fortunately the guy who ran our room said that we could check out whenever we wanted, since no one had our room the next night. So we left our bags, picked up Wendy, got some breakfast, and then dropped her bag off back in our room. We headed to the grocery store, partly for snacks but really because my deodorant ran out and I needed a new one.
After an hour or so, following a quick journey by metro down to the water, we ended up retrieving our bags, leaving our keys and heading out to check in to a new place. We rented a 2 bedroom flat in a nearby area, through airbnb.com. With that process complete, we headed out into the core downtown area to look around a bit. Our highlight for the day was a free walking tour. We met at the Plaza Reial, a beautiful, small plaza, hidden between buildings and covered with palm trees, a fountain, and lots of restaurants. A popular company, RunnerBean tours, offers 2.5 hour walking tours of the old city and another for the architect Gaudi’s buildings. The guides work for tips and it was an extremely informative and fun experience.
The old town is fairly compact and includes some neighborhoods in the Barri Gotic and El Born sections of town, though I might not be 100% accurate with that. These are the neighborhoods with lots of tiny narrow streets, historic buildings, churches, medieval hills, even groups of street performers playing fun Spanish music. Without a tour we would have just wandered thinking that the area was neat, but with the tour, our group of 20 or so learned a lot about the history of the area. It was a great opportunity to take photos and to get an idea of what places I might want to return to.
The tour ended around 6:45 and we decided to go back a couple blocks to the city museum, which goes into the Roman ruins a couple levels below ground. It was a quick look through the museum though. All city museums are free from 3-8 pm on Sundays. We got there around 7:15 and the staff warned us they would be closing in 10 minutes. So really, it closes at 7:30-ish so they can leave at 8, I guess. We went in anyway and, sure enough, a sweeper started following the crowd. So we were there for about 20 minutes before emerging in a chapel in the cathedral above. This cathedral had a math exhibit. It was more neat than informative. I’m sure the point was for people to be wowed by the visuals rather than the equations because it was an exhibition on non-Euclidean and advanced geometries. I snatched a poster that was sitting on a table, and had only above 5 minutes to look through the displays. I hope we can come back in the next few days to explore this Cathedral a bit more. Sights have interesting hours here… not to mention that many stores are closed for 2 or 3 hours at lunch time. The cathedral is free from 8-1 and 5-8pm, but isn’t free between those hours. Hmm. I will come back at a free time.
We took a metro back to our flat (our 11thmetro trip so far) and decided to go out for tapas at a place the flat’s owner highly recommended. It was a few blocks away, and without any tourists. We ordered lots of dishes: bread with tomato spread, olives, patates bravas, roasted peppers, dried sausage, and a few others I can’t remember. A very nice meal.
Lots of walking, lots of photos, sore feet, gelato, good coffee, and hopefully a good night’s sleep coming up.