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Unread 30 Jan 18, 02:56 PM  
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geoffa
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Hola! or Ohla! A Barcelona experience. Day 3

*** First of all bare with me. I've been in hospital for days now awaiting assessment and operation. Briefly I had hernia operation in December. Lots of scar tissue and a hematoma.Digestion all over the place. Massive stomach cramps last Thursday. Doc on Friday and hospital referral. Chose Watford General as Doc thought it wouldn't be as bust as our local Northwick park. Been prodded, poked, given enough antibiotics so that I could cure anybody with a laying on of hands. I take Warfarin and the levels have been too high for operating. Surgeon came to talk to me at midnight two nights ago!
Hopefully, it will all happen this morning...

It actually happened 24 hours after that! I won't go in details here but needless to say I've been on morphine.

Anyhow, to nicer times...
========================================


Day 3 20/1/18 Rambling and Mountaineering.

Our heads are thumping a little this morning. No need to tell you why. (Read Day 2).

We decide to have breakfast over at Kairos the place we got the cake from yesterday. We both have toasted bikini croissants with a macchiato for Darrin (they dont seem to understand latte) and a straight forward cappuccino for me.



We have decided to walk to La Rambla. It should take 15 to 20 minutes. Its just off the Plaza Cataluyna. The square is stunning in size I think it is actually bigger than Trafalgar Square! It has two amazing fountains which become magical at night as the waters change colour. Even by day they are stunning.

Day:


Night:


There are various statues dotted around the Plaza and one I particularly like is La Diosa (The Goddess) by Josep Clar. This is a copy. The original is in the Casa Cuidad de Barcelona (City Hall).



So we reach the top end of La Rambla. Sadly today there are bollards and concrete blocks everywhere, a result of the hideous terror attack that took place on 20th August, 2017.

The paved area undulates like waves.



Part of the way down on the right is the Gran Teatre del Liceu. It is considered to be the best opera theatre on the Mediterranean.



Built 170 years ago, it suffered a horrendous fire in 1994 which reduced it to ashes. People were determined it should rise again and a concerted effort of fund raising and re-building saw it re-open in October 1999 with an unforgettable performance of Turandot.

Library picture of interior:


Further down still is the glorious market - the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often simply referred to as La Boqueria. It is situated in the Cuidad Vieja district. This is what a market should be like. The colours, the smells, the bustle. Why dont we have markets like this in the UK? Ill let the photos show you the splendour.




















We continue down La Rambla and eventually emerge at the bottom near the old port. On side stands the Sector Naval De Catalunya (the Navy) and on the other the Gobierno Militar (Military Government building).

Immediately in front of them is the Christopher Columbus column with black lions around its base.





Its reminiscent of Nelsons column except that the base is round. The connection - It was constructed for the Exposicin Universal de Barcelona (1888) in honor of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas. The monument serves as a reminder that Christopher Columbus reported to Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V in Barcelona after his first trip to the new continent. The statue points east towards Columbus's supposed home city of Genoa.




We wander down to the marina. This was the old port of Barcelona before it was expanded. There is a centre for shopping, cinemas and restaurants built out on the water and it is reach by the new Rambla del Mar a sort of glorified pier.



The weather is beautiful and it reached 20C this afternoon. A far cry from the miserable weather back home.





We start back up La Rambla. There are various street artists and one is dressed as Don Quixote sparkling in the silver outfit in the sun.



I pop some loose change into the funnel fixed to the front and he leaps up with a roar waving his lance. Several girls who had been stood nearby jumped ut of their skins and screamed with shock. I knew what would happen because theres a similar living statue performs in Covent Garden in London and does the same thing. A good laugh.

We buy some sweets and chocolates for family and friends and at each stall they have dolls of Messi and Suarez hanging from hooks. (Footballers from Barcelona FCB).

Now all morning we had seen people wearing Spanish flags like cloaks. We assumed football match was on. Not so.
On returning to our hotel the entire Plaza Urquinoana its filled with them. They are holding a pro unity rally.



Also Spanish Police were demonstrating about Catalan politicians in jail getting better food than them! Thankfully, it is all contained in the square and police ensure that pavements are left clear for people to pass by. One thing we found disturbing though was that they set off loud (and I do mean loud) banging fireworks. The first we heard made us wonder if a bomb had gone off. Very disconcerting.

This afternoon we are off to the Monserrat Monastery which is located up in the mountains some 43 miles north west of Barcelona. I visited 51 years ago but dont recall a lot about it.

Along the way we pass the training grounds for Barcelona FCB - home of Messi and Co.




I do remember the rocks though. Monserrat means serrated mountain and the popular belief is that the angels cut the mountain with a golden sword.



This nearly 4,000 feet high mountain stands out amongst its other mountain companions for its unique features. The Montserrat massif was once a delta of several rivers draining into a shallow inland sea. The rivers deposited coarse, heavy, well-rounded stones and cobbles and over time limestone deposits shaped the feature we see today.
We climb the winding road and approach the monastery building.



You walk through an ancient gate and up a slope to a plaza in front of the monastery.



There is a statue of St George (hes patron saint of Spain too). It was designed by Subirachs who did some of the works on the Passion faade at Sagrada Familia.



The face is recessed and it works exactly like the busts in Disneys Haunted mansion in that the face turns and follows you as you walk past. When first installed many didnt like it.

The first monastery was founded in 888 A.D. by hermit monks but in 1025 it was rebuilt by the Benedictine order. Today there is a cog wheel train which climbs from the mountains base but for now we are in a coach winding our way to the almost top. The monastery is famous for its Black Madonna the Virgin of Montserrat. You can join a special line which takes you past side chapels and upstairs which lead to a raised balcony above the altar. The Madonna is encased in a glass box but the orb, depicting the world, which she holds protrudes through a hole in the glass for the faithful to touch.



The interior:





When we get outside again the wind up here is blowing now and again and the air temperature is about 5C so we head down to the audio visual centre where they present a concise but informative film about the monastery and its famous choir LEscolania who tour the world.

Time for souvenirs and then a tasting of four liqueurs made at the monastery. One was very herbal but the one we bought was made from hazelnuts.

The terrace affords us a great view of Barcelona to the south east.



We now head to the cog wheel train. This was originally a steam train but after an horrendous accident in the 80s.



It was replaced with the electric trains we are using today. They are an amazing feat of engineering.



As we descend there is a wonderful silhouette of the mountain. Look at the rock that resembles a finger pointing to the sky.



At the bottom we climb aboard our coach and using the AutoVia (Motorway) we head back into the city.

We have dinner booked for 8:00p.m. at Cera 23 and we are cutting it fine. It doesnt help that there is a bus diversion on because of road works so we are taken 5 blocks beyond where we need to be.
The restaurant is located of the main street down an alley and we get there about 10 minutes late.

They are fine about it. Sat on the next table are an Australian couple, Gary & Lara. We are soon chatting about beef cheeks, tapas and good wines.

I have the prawns in tempura with sauce of mango, marin and ginger to begin with.



Darrin had the special tuna with a spiced mango mousse.



Mains for me was the confit of lamb done with spices and a wonderful fruity cous cous. (No pic).

Darrin went with honeyed beef cheek with white truffle mash.



Our wine is an Allende 2010 Rioja:



Salut! (Cheers!)



We did not have desserts but chose coffees instead.

As we walk back slowly to the Metro station there is a street concert and party going on. They know how to enjoy themselves in Catalonia!
Back at the hotel its straight to bed for a good nights sleep.



INDEX: https://DIBB.in/13036728
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Edited at 03:04 PM.
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Unread 30 Jan 18, 03:52 PM  
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DisneyDaffodil
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Good to see you back here Geoffa, hope you feel better soon. I am really enjoying your trip report still. However, I will be bookmarking info for a future trip now as we changed our minds about visiting this year. We were browsing flights/hotels (as you do on a cold winter Sunday 😀 ) and managed to find good prices for flights and a beautiful boutique hotel in Venice, and as we have never visited Italy, we booked that for this July instead 😀.
I'm still reading along and enjoying your Barcelona trip though. Get well soon, Sue
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Unread 30 Jan 18, 04:40 PM  
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Glad you are on the mend your comment about the fire works I'm sure you were not the only ones to jump Lovely weather you had
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Unread 30 Jan 18, 05:43 PM  
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Excellent food again. Ox cheek is fabulous and I've no idea why it isn't consumed in the UK- well hardly anyway.
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Unread 30 Jan 18, 06:04 PM  
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Mr Tom Morrow
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Geoff. A lovely report. Well done for writing this up whilst still in Hospital.

I was so impressed with the Market, as you say a pity we dont have ones like that. The Monastry tour did look very interesting.

To the food. I would have opted for Darrins appetiser and your entree.
Oh, the hazelnut liquer sounds very nice as well.
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Unread 30 Jan 18, 06:07 PM  
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Glad you are well enough to start posting again.
Another great day.
To hear the loud bangs go off must startle anyone... I bet they think a bombs gone off!

Thanks for sharing..
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Unread 30 Jan 18, 06:16 PM  
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geoffa
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Originally Posted by barryp1 View Post
Excellent food again. Ox cheek is fabulous and I've no idea why it isn't consumed in the UK- well hardly anyway.
We have had it in the UK but I agree it is hard to find.
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Unread 30 Jan 18, 08:48 PM  
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Glad you have had your op hope you are soon back to normal

Another good day with some nice looking food

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