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Perpignan to Barcelona: June 23

25 °C

Breakfast at 7:30. Oh, did you notice we did not have much to say about Hotel Ballandin. Not much to say. No complaints other than the coffee grindings they had gathered together from the next door tatoo-ist to offer as 'coffee' for breakfast. You don't have to be a coffee snob to know they came from a grungy floor.

Getting in to the carriage was easy. Getting into the wrong carriage was easier. Getting useful information from the attendant was difficult, language I guess. We heaved our cases into cabin 9 because we were booked into cabin 2. you don't know which cabin you are in until you are in the cabin. The French railways haven't thought of labelling the cabins on the outside yet. I was scared to get off and race to cabin 2 in the throng in case they thought we were leaving.

At the border town the French police did the passport check (I reckon the police were just celebrity hunting). Later Karen heroically rescued the cases at the border. She bravely took their smiles and nods as permission to hurry along the station to the other end of the train and remove the cases. They knew and stirred her and pretended to blow the whistle as she was hurrying along.

It was exceptionally relaxing on the train trip. I didn't have to drive so I could gaze mindlessly at the passing scenery and do those inner ooohs and aaahs.

View of the Mediterranean from the carriage:

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Heidi was right, we had too much baggage. From the Barcelona station we negotiated the subway well. Seems like the infrastructure and trains were borrowed from the French (or vice versa). However, the Barcelonians like stairs. The tourists with heavy cases most certainly do not.

We arrived at the metro station near our guesthouse a little late due to the hold up with a fare dodger in an earlier town. We then struggled into the daylight on the main street La Rambla just like skin divers surface for air when they have been pushing the limits. The street was busy but thankfully not like Hong Kong (yet). Our phones were slow to get reception and when they did the Barcelonian systems refused to co-operate with our global roaming. I asked an information booth guy something in English. What was the point. I pulled out the trusty iphone and pointed to text 'Mercat de la Boqueria' and he pointed in English in the right direction. Pointing in English does not indicate distance but it was a start.

Phew, we were actually close to the guesthouse so the trudging and hauling did not take long, just effort.

Our hosts was great. She and he helped us upstairs with our 'how long are you staying?' cases. We loved the room and the hosts and before long a sweeter shower has never been had before in all human history.

Vrabac guest house:
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Refreshed we determined to find lunch so we headed to the market across the street. Karen was fatiguing having almost skipped breakfast so the first thing we found was Starbucks. Turns out the food was good, a cut above our Lygon St experiince a couple of years ago. Her blood sugar up, my dose of nice coffee finally in my veins, we both felt better.

A few steps to the right as you exit takes you to the Mercat de la Boqueria. Heidi was right again, great market, lots of colours, lots of food, but we decided to return the next day when we had not had lunch. We tasted some chirozo; what's Catalan (they say it is a different language to Spanish) for 'yummificent'?

We walked La Rambla the main tourist drag and it is most definitely a tourist strip but it is a good start. Hit the port and the boats and the huge Christopher Columbus statue.

Flower fall against grey slate:
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The boat John and John and Ian and I have just bought:
winning_boat.jpg
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We located a 'tapas bar'. I located a cold beer.

Karen and her cava and her tapas snack:
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On the way back we chanced upon the Barcelona cathedral, Gothic and added to over the centuries. It was stunning; I think more so than Notre Dame. We spent some time there. A small mass or service was happening in one part and a christening in another before us as we sat. The atmosphere, the fact David would have loved the cathedral, the significance of the christening/baptism, the flute and guitar and singing overwhelmed us. We miss him so.

Cathedral:

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Prior to entering the chapel we were entertained by a trio. Still trying to work out how they got the piano there. They were fun. They were packing up as we left the cathedral.

Trio of fun:

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We noticed that late afternoon when you are in the shade it cools. There seems to be a constant breeze off shore and it is refreshing and cooling. Siestas are simultaneously sensible and restorative.

We wandered a little then decided to eat at a restaurant Ben and Heidi were happy with. They were open early. Fish soup, paella (I do make it better smugly said I), beer and cava (spanish sparkling white) later we wandered back as the night was slowly closing in.

What's Catalan for bonne nuit?

Posted by lesnkaren 03:16 Archived in Spain

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