Wednesday 23 October
It’s Wednesday, and we’re going to Barcelona. That sadly, requires a 7am alarm clock, to be out the door by 8am, to catch an 8.40 train, which gets into Barcelona at 10.20.
I had a bit of a dry throat on the way, so drank a bit of liquid, which was a mistake, as by the time we reached Barcelona, I was preoccupied by where the nearest toilet might be.
There was no toilet at the station we got off at. There was no anything at the station actually. You couldn’t even buy tickets there.
There’s very few signs to such amenities it seems, so after wandering around, and the only maps we could find being of the metro network (there are no toilets marked on the map in our guidebook), we went to a tourist information centre.
There was no toilets there either.
We found a very long, slow-moving queue. We queued up, paid €1 for an official map (which still didn’t have any bloody toilets marked on it!), and then when we reached the front, asked where the nearest toilets were. “In the big shopping centre just out there” the lady working there said, pointing in a direction. Excellent.
We exited the tourist information centre, to the sudden realisation that we couldn’t see a shopping centre. I spotted the most grand branch of C&A I’ve ever seen, so we headed for that, thinking a big C&A is probably in a big shopping centre. It wasn’t, but the shopping centre was next door. More luck than anything else.
The toilets had a guard by the entrance corridor, and were roped off with the tiniest queuing rope in the world. They were only free to use by people who had paid for parking, were pregnant, blind, old, or who had bought something. We got out our wallets, “how much?”
20 cents?! Surely they’re spending more on the wages of the guy stationed here, than they would ever make in income from this. We paid and went, as it were.
We then went for a walk around Barcelona. Strangely, my gf got a little bit lost. She’s normally shit hot at mapreading. Some guy offered to help us, and I immediately checked for my wallet and phone to see if they were still there or this was a distraction method. That’s just the reputation that Barcelona unfortunately has for pickpockets.
There was some people poking around in bins. And not the hobos you’d imagine either. People who looked quite normal, opening bins, poking around with sticks, closing them, opening another bin, and so on. No idea what they were looking for.
We walked back the way we’d came, but seemed a bit lost again.
These tasted just like an apple turnover.
Even more strange than my gf getting lost, I got out the map, worked out where we were, and navigated us to our chosen destination. How is that even possible? I have a combination of the worst map reading skills and the poorest sense of direction, ever.
Having got to Goudi’s unfinished church Sagrada Familia, I was slightly disappointed to find a lot of it covered in netting and scaffolding.
I know it’s still a work in progress, but it’s still more of a building site than I was expecting.
There were flats and hotels next to it. I couldn’t work out if they can charge a premium for the location, or they have to charge less because you’re literally right next to a building site.
We attempted to buy two cans of Fanta in the park outside. There’s no prices listed. My girlfriend holds out a €5 note, to be told it’s not enough. Apparently they’re €2.70 EACH! She immediately declines it, and we walk away.
We walk around the corner to a newsagents where we buy the same two drinks for 70 cents each, and then returned to the same park and drank our budget identical drinks. In your face, overpriced park sellers.
My girlfriend looks at a map of Barcelona and seeing how long it’s taken to get this far, and how hot/tired we already are, suggests we take a hop on/off bus tour. I need a little persuading because it’s €52 for the both of us, but go for it. The bus has free (but terrible, unreliable, and slightly irritating) wifi. This gets us to Park Güell to look at more of Goudi’s wobbly artwork, and the longest bench in the world.
The logic with taking the bus tour, is that it would then allow us to see other things. But the return trip was very long. An open-top double decker under low trees, some with hanging advert banners, meant I felt myself noticeably ducking a lot, lest I should be smacked in the face.
The journey carries on, with the audioguide telling me some really dull things. On the right, there’s a building that belongs to a bank. Yawn. Sometimes it tells you there’s something interesting on the right, but I saw something that looks more interesting, on the left, that it makes no mention of.
On several occasions it tells you about a view of the mountain, but by the time you’ve looked, the view is obscured by buildings.
The bus goes all the way round Barcelona’s football stadium. Apparently there’s a separate tour where you get to go into the changing rooms. This made me laugh. The idea of it being full of players going “do you mind? I’m getting dressed..” and “out of the way – I need to get out onto the pitch”.
There are so many traffic lights in Barcelona (that all change SO SLOOOOOOWLY), that it takes ages to get to the bit where we’re getting off. After walking straight past the bit we were looking for, we go back and find it again. Sadly a bit disappointing. It was the first thing commissioned for Gaudi to make, on someone’s house. And it’s a building down a narrow alleyway, with an admission charge. Because the alleyway is so narrow, you can’t even really photograph the outside.
After a pasty type thing each from this market (mine was chicken and cheese, girlfriend’s was courgette and cheese, I burnt myself on the cheese 🙁 ), and a swiss roll thing from Carrefour, then another 20 cents each to use the shopping centre toilets again, we caught a train back to Salou. We ovened pizza for tea and watched something gentle about how great Britain (and the British seasons) is on BBC1. Which is an odd thing to have on at 9pm on a Wednesday, but it gave us something to watch.
(Note: I did see a Chinese restaurant in Barcelona. And a Chinese supermarket. And many more Chinese people.)