Travel Notes 15: Stroll
Barcelona is a city made for strolling, and though I have been walking a lot on my travels, by the end of today I feel as if I have covered enough ground for half a marathon.
It starts with a walking tour beginning near Plaza Catalunya. A charismatic guide named Erik takes a group of 20 around pointing out much of the fascinating history of Catalonia which is highly educational and often funny.
He uses the sites in the Gothic Quarter to make his story come to life and it is great to have someone just to follow around the old suburbs of La Ribera and Born, citing stories of precious queens and kings and how the city of Barcelona has evolved since the Olympics in 1992. (The beaches in Barcelona were man-made sourcing sand from Egypt, where previously there was nothing but a rocky industrial coast before. Is this true? I assume so because I heard it on a tour … !)
Interestingly, Born means “joust” and the Main Street of Born used to be a medieval jousting alley which is a cool piece of history to discover. There is something quite magical in Erik’s delivery and it’s a generous tip at the end I leave for him taking the time and effort to make he last few hours very enjoyable. The tour comes to an end in the early afternoon, and I wander through the great park, Parc de la Ciutadella, enjoying the trees, gardens an amazing fountain.
I proceed to walk towards the pier of Barceloneta, eyes tracing a cable car that is ascending towards the hilly terrain of Montjieu. It is a long uphill walk but I seem determined to make it and start to climb, admiring graffiti along the way.
Castello Montjieu atop the hill used to be a prison and site of execution, a morbid detail; but the fortified ramparts are still worth the visit for the view and to see how sprawling and dense the city of Barcelona is from up high.
The day slowly disappears and dusk starts to come up as I catch a bus down the mountain and then walk back towards my temporary home, passing by Gaudi’s Sagrada Famiglia in the dying light. The cathedral’s silhouette is impressive even in the impending darkness, and I am eager to see just how vivid the details are during good light.
Notes from Monday, 17 October, 2016