Thursday, September 4, 2014

Barcelona day 1

After a good night's sleep; bed was comfy, room temperature good, breakfast downstairs plentyful, we set about our day's activities. 
We already knew that we were going to do the Fat Tyres Bike tour.  The others have been great in London and Amsterdam.  It is a great way to get orientated with the town.  Meeting point was in the centre of town, so off to the nearby train station at Llacuna to Jaeme1.  We purchased the T10 card which is a multi person card so 5 rides each at anytime. (€10.30). 
We were a little early so we wandered around the area which is part of the old Gothic Quarter.  
The roads are narrow, the buildings close together but very fascinating at the same time.

Stumbled upon the Roman Columns built about (read below)

The Cathederal was just here as well, along with the Museum of History of Barcelona.  We will visit both of these another day.

On to our bike ride.  It was very popular with about 40 people doing it.  (€22 compared to £20 in London). Our guide, Massar, looked Spanish, but she was in fact Swedish who has been living here for 7 years studying art, history and is married to an Australian!
She guided us around the tight streets, telling us the history of Catalonia (Barcelona is the capital of this region and they like to see themselves as independent of the rest of Spain. They were separate many moons ago. There have been a few battles too.  It is a bit like the Flemish and French regions in Belguim.

(In fact, they have a referendum in November to test the waters of becoming independent.)
King Ferdinand was from Madrid and he wanted to marry Isabella who was Catalonian, so that brought the two regions together way back. The King and Queen resided here in Barcelona. 
It is believed that the Queen later had an affair with Christopher Colombus.  King F. sent him off to discover the world in the hope he would never return.  After a long time, he did return, having discovered the world.  He was hailed a hero, much to the King's dislike.  He apparently returned with a dose of syphillis (which Queen Isabella died from some years later!)

We rode along some roads, a little more challenging, and mostly bike paths.  
One spectacular stop was outside the La Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family).  
It is an iconic building, started by the visionary, or somewhat ambitious architect, Gaudi.  He wanted to build a temple that was a bit out there (but "would do penance for the materialism of the modern world"). 
It was always going to take 200 years to complete. It began in 1883. There will be 18 towers (one for each of the 12 Apostles and 6 others) and one even taller one dedicated to Jesus Christ to be 170m high.

We are doing a tour through tomorrow so more about that then.

Back on our trusty steeds for more riding.  
Through the "Arc de Triumph", although this was built to celebrate a battle.  Someone wanted to build a tower.  Mr "Eiffel" was contracted to come up with a design.  His design was an iron tower.  The leaders of the day didn't like it so he got the sack and someone else got the gig to build an Arc instead.  Mr Eiffel went off with his tail between his legs to France and built his iron tower there 1 year later!  
We rode through the Citadel Park, the largest Park in Barcelona.  No Church here though. The waterfall and fountain are of action due to cleaning!

On to the beaches which were created for the Olympics in 1992.  Spain had been controlled General Franco since the 1930's. He banned the Catalonians from speaking their own language and were not allowed to fly the Catalonian flag.  After his death in 1975, things started to change.  With the Olympics, much construction and development occurred, which included relocating the docks/port area and creating the beaches (made with tonnes of sand brought from the Egyptians (straight from the Sahara desert).  Barcelona is now the 3rd most visited city in the world (After Paris and London).

Enough for now.  Buenos tardes!

No comments:

Post a Comment