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Friday: First day in Barcelona

by on July 29, 2012

From Renee:

Welcome to Barcelona!

We arrived to the city and were happy to verify that our apartment (great location, very near Sagrada Familia) has air conditioning and an
elevator. (Note: our 4th floor apartment is actually on the 6th floor as they throw in a P and O level before the “1st” floor in this builidng.  Total of 120 steps to the top… we’ve been walking down, but not up) While small and a bit “funky”
it will do – although after the palatial place in Elviria, it does seem small!)

Only trouble is, the front entry is a very short door within a very large door… David ran smack into it the first day and still has a bump on his head!

We started our first full day with the “hop on-hop off” bus tour. This bus takes you on three different routes through the city and has a narrated
tour (in English) that you listen to on earphones (similar to airplane movies). We like these tours as you see the big sights and then can figure out
where things are and what looks interesting. This works particularly well in Barcelona as many of the “must see” activites are architectural and so
riding on a big open topped double decker bus actually gives you a great view.

We hopped off the bus to see the Cathedral Barcelona (billed as the most important church in town – clearly it’s NOT but more on the Sagrada
Familia later) and walked thorough the Gothic Quarter. While exploring the very small cobblestone streets we decided to have “Churros and
Cholocate” – which is a Barcelona speciliaty – and is quite good! Its “hot” chocolate which is more like slightly thin chocolate pudding – served
VERY hot – with a plate of curly churros. You eat it by dipping the churros into the chocolate. VERY YUMMY!

Next we walked down La Rambla, the most famous street in Barcelona, which reminded us of the Champs Elysees. Lots of activity. Fancy stores.
HORDES of tourists. Thankfully we haven’t yet met the infamous Barcelona pickpockets – but we have a few more days so there is still time!

In the evening we did a second route of the bus tour, seeing the Olympic section of town and the “Port Olimpic” that was built for the 1992
Summer Games. Its looks interesting – they have the stadium open for tours, a gift shop (of course) and a lovely park. Down the hill is the former
Olympic Village and a redeveloped waterfront with lots to do (and a giant statue of Christopher Coloumbus). We’ll visit these later in the week.

So far we like Barcleona — its HOT and HUMID but lots too see and easy walking. Anna and I purchased fans, which are very popular here due to
the weather. Its interesting as we hear a lot about the state of the Spanish economy. In Marbella it wasn’t easy to see any impact (perhaps due
to the large number of foreign tourists) but here in Barcelona there are many, many closed storefronts. At first I thought maybe they were just
closed due to the siesta (crazily – most of the stores close from noon’ish till around 4 or 5 everyday!) However even walking around in the
evenings it is clear that our very upscale neighborhood has lots of small shops/restaurants/businesess that are out of business.

The trials of eating here in Spain are a whole separate problem. They eat many times a day and at odd times – and if you want something to eat around 5-6pm
in the evening – your choices are slim. It is common for families (with children) to eat dinner here starting after 11pm!!!  Not us… we’re sleeping.

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