Monday, October 1, 2018

Viva Catalonia: Barcelona

After the troubled ending to the Switzerland part of the trip, Sarah and I flew Swiss Air to Barcelona.

It started with her luggage not showing up on the belt after the flight.  She asked me to stand in a long line at the lost luggage counter while she checked the other belts in the baggage retrieval area.  It was a happy moment when she showed up rolling her small bag.

We shared our taxi into town with a young Australian woman who was in Spain for a wedding.  Talkative, that girl was.

We arrived at our hotel, the Tryp Apolo, just a few blocks south of the Gothic Quarter. 

Wanting to use the rest of the day properly, we headed up to the Placa Reial for something to eat.  We ran into Roland and Penny who recommended a restaurant that we ended up visiting.  The food was very good except the fried anchovies.  These are a Mediterranean favorite, but not for us.  They are whole, tiny fish battered and fried.  They taste ok but are full of bones.  I had a the feeling of a bone stuck in my throat all that night.  When the server saw that we only ate a few, he took them off the bill. 

We just hung out that night, resting for the upcoming adventure.

The next morning we had to be down in the lobby to pick up a bus to take us to the scooter rental shop. We waited and waited, then Warren decided that they weren't coming so we took the subway.

The shop had our paperwork prepared in advance, thank you Maria, so the wait wasn't long. 

We had the option of taking insurance or not on the scooters.  I originally said no but changed my mind and paid 240 Euro for the coverage that I never used.  It gave me peace of mind that was probably worth the cost.

We rode it back to the hotel, then set out on the subway to see the world famous La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's cathedral.  It is impressive, but an architectural mess.  Gaudi's vision and his work so unique and charming, but the subsequent work is so different that I do not understand.  Still worth seeing even if we didn't go inside.

From there Sarah decided that we would walk to Gaudi's Parc Guell.  Little did we realize that the mile and a half walk was from the flat area of town to what appeared to be the top of a mountain.  It was uphill the entire way, getting steeper as we got closer.  But it was worth it as the work of Gaudi and the views from the top were wonderful.

We chose a taxi to get us back to town, having the driver drop us off at Placa Reial again for a late lunch at another restaurant.  We picked this one because it had a line while we were dining at the other.  The reason was that the prices were lower.  The food was ok and the beer appreciated.

We got back to the hotel in time to cool off and prepare our gift bags for the kick off dinner with everyone.  Our bag included candy from Sweet Pete's, a Jacksonville candy maker's store.  We also threw in chocolate from Lindt that we purchased in the Lindt factory chocolate shop in Kilchberg, just a few kilometers from Loogarten.  The bag also included a small rocket sticker and one from Jacksonville.

It was great to see everyone again.  This year included two new riders, Suellen and Penny.  I knew Suellen from the 2014 Scooter Cannonball Run.  I had found her to be one of the coolest people I have ever known, always smiling and responding to any situation with a clever, sweet solution.  It was nice to see her again.  She and Sarah hit it off immediately.

Tuesday found us heading to Gerona.  That will be the next post.

Placa Reial

Waiting for the bus that never came

  Mileage on the scooter at the rental shop, in kilometers.

Kymco Grand Dink.  Who names these things?

La Sagrada Familia.  The good side.

Steep climb to Parc Guell
In the park
Beautiful rough stone work

Sarah in the park

Looking down to the cathedral

The raised terrace at Parc Guell.  Famous mosaics by Gaudi. 

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