Beautiful Barcelona – Day Two

DSC06363 (480x640)Today we are on our own as we decided to experience the adventure of walking through the old city, which would take us through  Barrigotic (old gothic quarter) up to Placa (Plaza) de Catalunya and a visit to Spain’s equivalent of Macys & Super Wal-Mart; El Corte Engles (The English Cut).  In our visit to the previous three Spanish ports, Barbara would would melt every time she saw one of their stores, more on that later.

We boarded the city shuttle bus right outside terminal building “B”, making sure we knew exactly where to some back to, and rode the short distance to “Monument Colon” which is a monument to Christopher Columbus, making sure again that we could recognize the bus for our return trip. We did not realize that when we purchased our ticket on the bus that  it was for a round trip and not one way – 0h well – live and learn.

We were told where old Chris is pointing to, but can’t remember.Sick smile

It is so interesting to see the difference in the faces of Spain waking up, as opposed to the faces later in the day.  We were warned to beware of criminal intent in this area, however the folks we encountered this morning seemed only content to “get somewhere” and hardly paid any attention to the obvious tourists. However I still never let my guard down.  The following are some street scenes along our walk through the narrow “streets”.

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Lovely lamps and shuttered shop fronts

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We saw more graffiti in Barcelona than any other city.  Pictured above are the attempts of the “artists” of this generation to leave their mark on beautiful public walls, and doors.

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Thankfully the only vandalism to this beautiful old door was on the tile below the modern light fixture; the face of the rider on horseback had been defaced.

As we strolled on, we passed a school that was tightly secured and a playground with the back wall enclosed by what we assumed was the original fortress wall.   In one corner of their playground was a small bronze statue of a nude woman. As we moved on we were entertained by one young future FBC soccer player heading to school with his “football” advancing before him using solid football maneuvers.

Finally we reached our goal before starting back toward the waterfront: El Corte Ingles.  Since there was a cafeteria/restaurant on the “plano” (floor) nine we took the elevator up and settled onto stools at the food bar.  In front of us were delicious plates of Tapas under glass.  We ordered two cups of Café con leche, a generous plate of potato  salad (with tuna) which was yummy, a plate of onion rings, which look like calamari, and a small plate with with a beautiful open faced sandwich on which were cheese, mayo, avocado and a cherry tomato. The quenta (bill) came to over $20, but it was in El Corte Ingles!!! 

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After lunch we headed to the basement where Barbara bought two packages of Saffron for around $10, which was a bargain.  Saffron is an essential ingredient in paella.  Note the coveted plastic bag of green black and white, I’m sure you will see that again.

After a potty stop at Burger King we began our stroll down the famous “Las Ramblas”, which is a wide pedestrian only tree and shop lined walkway. It was here that one really needed to have their wits about them, we were told, but we were still not accosted.

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Street performers work the crowd for donations.  This one was particularly scary with his animated movements, and reveled in spooking the crowds of young girls, who apprehensively approached him.

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I love the look on this young mans face is he ponders “How does he do that?”, well I pondered the same thing, as there were no visible signs of support but his leg and foot. He never moved and seemed to be a solid statue.

The “Mercat Boqueris” was next on Barbara’s wish list, and it certainly did not disappoint.  Stall after stall of every imaginable food product was available, either by the gram or kilo, they would accommodate.  We found a cheese stall and inquired as to the price of “Queso Manchego”, my favorite Spanish cheese, and were told 37 euros a kilo, so we ordered up 60 grams  (two thin slices) for about $1.40.

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Just marvel at the fresh vegies at this stall.

As we girded ourselves for the walk back to the bus stop, we were surprised to run into Bill & Marge Pieratt, and Bill and Nancy Helwick. who were preparing to eat at one of the many food stands on Las Ramblas.

We had no difficulty in finding our  bus as it was already waiting and almost full of returning passengers to not only the Noordam, but the Eurodam as well. Upon boarding Barbara, not realizing we had purchased a  round trip ticket proceeded  to give the driver another 6 euros for two tickets, and there the story gets very complicated, so I will let Barbara explain the ending.

Once again our sail-away was nothing spectacular, it was just good to be “home”, so after resting a bit, we dressed in our formal duds and enjoyed a very nice dinner of “Surf & Turf” with  our table-mates, Mark & Cathy and Tor and Trudy.

As I write this, it is 9 Am Friday and we are approaching our next port; Monte Carlo, Monaco, and I just had to get a picture of the pilot boat on his approach, to add to my collection

Next: Nice & Eze – France that is….

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