Friday, 6 June 2008

Rocking and Rolling to Barcelona

After a beautiful day, the best yet, we decided to “go for it” and set off for Barcelona. The weather was benign and forecast was quiet. F6-7 in Sardinia and S France, so I guess that adventure’s out of the question, so Barca’s not a bad back-up, with a chance to go on the Gaudi tour. Set off at 4pm, with a good sail for the first couple of hours. As the evening drew on the winds dropped and we motorred. Sounds idyllic, but there was a confused sea for about six hours that eventually settled into a slightly sickening swell which kept going amazingly all the way to the port of Barcelona, a total of 18 hours. Totally safe but totally uncomfortable passage. The chicken, pepper and pasta meal only added to the nausea, and a packet of sweeties at 6 a.m. did n’t help much. Apart from that it was so damned cold. Waterproof bottoms on, Laura’s jacket, wind-surfing gloves, anything I could find to put on to keep warm! Flaming June, flaming cold. Never mind we landed in Barca at 10a.m and booked a berth for two nights, cheap at 90euros, for a prime position in the centre of Barca. A hot drink, egg butty and straight to bed for a couple of hours!!
A lovely sunny afternoon, so we walked into town, booked the Gaudi tour, ate tapas, and wandered around the Ramblas and the Gothic quarter. It’s five years since we were last here with Laura and Kate, on a journey from St Raphael, S France, when we collected the boat. It’s still one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it must have one of the highest per capita for drug addicts, vagrants and poor souls with mental problems. Picture this, sitting in an edifying placa, drinking a coffee, still rocking from the journey over, when a woman walks past berating the waiters and anybody who pays attention. She’s Spanish but shouting in English which is weird in itself. Every now and again she flashes a harmless-looking black velvet heart-shaped purse strapped to her waist, which she hides under a very fetching, saggy black cardy! It seems that this “emblem” says that she is a” lady of the night”, or in this instance 5pm..
The waiters tease her and she shouts at them in English, “I am not rich, I am not beautiful, but I am an honest working woman”. After this a well-meaning young guy, cycling with one of these people-carrying banquettes in front, pulls up. She falls into it nonchalantly, happy that she’s stirred a few people up and got a reaction, and is driven off. A few hours later we are eating tapas again, and outside a nearby boutique, a shop-owner has apprehended a guy who is shouting indignantly that he hasn’t taken those “f… jeans” or the Spanish equivalent. His protestations fell flat when he open his jacket to reveal two trouser hangers! His girlfriend pulls out the jeans and hands them back. Meanwhile they’re joined by two policemen, and when the guy starts the old indignant routine with them, one of the police smacks his face!! Can you imagine it? In England, the blackest villain would be screaming assault and harassment from the rafters!! Meanwhile his girlfriend sneaks off down a nearby escalator!!!
In spite of all this, I still think it’s a relatively safe city, although Anj might beg to differ, when he got robbed here several years ago!! There are police everywhere!!

Today we went to see one of the architectural wonders OF THE WORLD!! Gaudi’s buildings- the most weird and wonderful constructions. The best thing about Barcelona. Covered in brilliant, colourful ceramic mosaics, often using recycled crockery, and glass bottles, built in the 1920s, long before recycling became popular!!
Casa Pedrera, Casa Battlo, Parc Gruell, and the awe-inspiring Segrada Familia- still under construction, due to be finished in about thirty years. Tops of spires covered in huge groups of oranges, bright fruits, golden crosses, a bright green tree of life covered in white doves, and so much more. Check it out on’t t’internet, or wait till I get back with my massive collection of photos. It was worth more than Ian’s life to try and stop me!!

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