21 May 2017
I slept well, but woke up with a stiff back – A hot shower (and the water was hot – great – but I had to clean the shower base first – not so great) made me feel better. I dressed and walked up to the rear deck – did 30 minutes of a combination of stretches, Tai Chi, Karate kata and pilates – I should patent the mix, as it’s seriously good, at least in getting this old fart moving smoothly again. It was 6:30, so there was no-one around. What is it about exercising in front of non-exercisers that makes one embarrassed? or is it just me? It’s probably just me…..
Down to breakfast. I hadn’t ordered the restaurant one; just went to the cafe and got a flatbread with vegetables, warmed in the microwave, freshly squeezed OJ, and a coffee. Eight Euro – cruise prices.
Back on deck, watching us creep down the French coastline.
Bored after ten minutes, and also cool – there was a fair breeze blowing – I went back to my cabin and snoozed. Next thing I know there’s a banging on the door – it’s nearly 12:00, and we’re docking. Another quick shower, pack stuff up, and join the queue to get off.
There were several announcements, in several languages, explaining the get-off-the-boat sequence. Pedestrians first – I checked with reception, and was told, yes, I counted as a pedestrian. After that those with semi-trailer or rigid vehicles over 12 metres, then cars on D deck, then those on C – well, it was total chaos – no-one gave a shit, they all just ran down the stairs to their vehicle, and started leaning on their horns. I got to my bike, struggling past several rows of motorbikes, unlocked it, put my panniers on and left. Out of the dock, straight on to a separate bike path. No customs check here, nor was there one in Genoa; If I was a serious drug smuggler, I now know a perfect route….This is the first building you see as you leave the dock –
That has set the tone of Barcelona for me; bike paths and gracious buildings – it’s a civiilised place.
I followed the bike path down to a major 5 star hotel, past the roller bladers, skate boarders, segway riders, unicyclists and a plethora of other forms of transport – it’s rooms start at 350 Euro a night, ffs…. It is opposite the lane where the Pension Franzia is; it’s still 110 Euro, but trust me, I couldn’t find solo accommodation anywhere else at that price. Barcelona aint cheap.
39 stes up to reception; book in, then two trips back to my room; one for the luggage, and one for the bike. Yup. The only safe place to store my bike is in my room. Mind you – look at these cops – bullet proof vests and machine guns – and they’re patrolling the inner city, which is full of nothing but tourists….Do. Not. Shoplift. Here. 🙂
No – they have not arrested me – they were quite happy to have a photo op. A third cop has the camera.
I walked towards Sagrada Familia, my main reason for coming here. Antoni Gaudi fascinates me; such a visionary (which means a bit loony, really). And much kudos to Barcelona who encouraged him. In my petty beaurocracy driven town he’d have been laughed at – that’s why we have such shitty architecture as the Edmund Barton Building….
The old town is busy. It’s Sunday, a warm, sunny day; later Barcelona play Madrid, and the winner takes the Spanish league title; plus I saw three or four sun-burnt-to-buggery bride parties – the bride wearing a white veil, and her coterie of bridesmaids all in identical hats, or T-shirts. These groups are definitely predatory – even old blokes like me avoid eye contact and make the “avert” hand sign…. It’d be like getting eaten by harpies.
In the shadow of the cathedral ( not the sagrada) I found a small bar offering paella, and seafood paella at that. I was told it would take half an hour to prepare, so I sat and salivated, watching the passing parade, sipping on sangria.
It nearly brought me to tears. A sizzling dish, full of the most exquisite food – I’ll dream of this meal. And it’s just in a cheap bar in a laneway. I know where I’m having lunch and dinner tomorrow 🙂 – it’s OK – I’ll burn off the calories on the bike 🙂 Trust me……
I walked on towards the Sagrada,
but stopped short – bought mundane stuff – toothpaste, deoderant, and have come back to my room. I’ll get up early and hit the sights.
See you down the road.