My day started early, very early: I woke up more then an hour before my alarm was set to go off.
I think I was a bit overexcited and worried at the same time, since this would be my first trip abroad without family, friends or school… all by myself in a city I so far had only visited twice for merely hours (I had been to Barcelona for a short day excursion when I was staying in Malgrat de Mar and Lloret de Mar in 2002 and 2003).
So, on to the airport, checked in, blahblahblah (you all know what happens in an airport right?) and boarded on Clickair flight XG 1248, taking off on time at 9.45 AM.
Thanks to the plane being good as empty, I managed to have some rest (thank god!) and was thrilled when the cabin crew announced that we were approaching the city and had started descending. I could see the city the last 5 minutes of the descend, and believe me, seeing it put a grin on my face ðŸ˜€
Soon as I stepped out of the double glass doors of the gate, I found myself in a pretty big and hot building. Temperature announced on the plane was 26Â°C… and it wasn’t even noon yet, so the hottest part of the day would still come!
Barcelona International Airport – El Prat de Llobregat (BCN) is a very long building, and it was pretty easy to find the baggage claim area, getting there took a while ;).
Before I left, I browsed several websites for info (most came from www.barcelona.com, and despite their listed prices needing to be updated it’s still helpful) and found out that taking the Renfe train would be cheaper then taking the aerobus. The train symbol was easy to spot in the terminal, and after an escalator, a passenger bridge over a carport, down a set of normal stairs and getting a one-way ticket towards the city, I waited for train number 10 to arrive.
My Metro correspondence was easiest to take in the Sants station, and Raul told me to get myself one of the travalcards for multiple days (available in 2-, 3-, 4- or 5-day version) valid for the entire urban transportation network.
Metro Line 3 would turn out to be my main form of transportation in the city, since it stopped right in front of my hotel, the Auto Hogar in Avinguda Paral.lel, a budget hotel and exactly what I asked Raul to book for me.
There’s still an “old” and a “new” part: the block at the back has much smaller rooms, and look more dated compared to the rooms in the block facing the Avinguda Paral.lel, which are the rooms you see on hotel booking sites.
I was quite happy with my room, nr. 521, at the backside. The only thing I could complain about was the bed: it was 1.50 metres wide, but only 1.70 metres long, so I had to lie down diagonal in it or my feet would be hanging over the end.
Still, the room was clean and if you ask me that’s more then enough for a young guy without company who would only be in there to sleep and shower.
On several “hotel review sites” it stated that the walls in the old block were thin, so I took earplugs along. That was a wise decision since across the hall were 4 German guys around my age who apparently loved going out all night and get wasted (I couldn’t blame them, I have been to Lloret some years before doing exactly the same).
Getting a bit off track here, so let’s move on ðŸ˜‰
I knew Barcelona had an ARTicket and wanted to get one since this holiday would be mainly cultural (I’m not a beach/resort-holiday type, it bores the shit out of me).
The museum closest to my hotel, and one of the 7 you could do with the ARTicket, was the FundaciÃ³ Joan MirÃ³. So, with me installed in my room after a quick unpacking, calling both my parents I had arrived safely and prepping my bag with a map, a “to visit” list, water and sunblock, I went out, took the Funicular de MontjuÃ¯c and just went right ahead to the MirÃ³ museum, got the ARTicket, and visited it!
And since it was already after 2 PM, so at the hottest part of the day, being inside a climatized museum was bliss!
The museum building itself (designed by Josep LluÃs Sert) to me had an interesting play with lines against the completely cloudless and intense blue sky.
The collection of MirÃ³ himself was of course my main interest, and the gigantic Tapestry of the Foundation is really something remarkable. There’s many halls devoted to him, spread over 2 floors and a sun terrace on the roof.
I like his more simplified pieces, where people are merely becoming lines, and where there’s mostly some primary colors creating the shapes.
On top of the main collection there are also 2 smaller areas devoted to temporary exhibits.
“The nature of things” by Olafur Eliasson (winner of the 1st Joan MirÃ³ Prize in 2007) held many installations playing with, reflecting or distorting light. There were a couple you could just keep watching, being so simple but beautiful to watch it was almost hypnotising. There also was a room which held a large table filled with white Lego blocks, as a never ending morphing artwork, since the people could use the Lego blocks as they please.
“Kawai!! Japan Now” in the Espai 13. (a nice size basement hall for small temporary exhibits) was funny and confronting at the same time, “showing different tendencies Japan experiences today”. In the biggest part of Espai 13. there were all these mass-production artifacts, covered in transparent glass marbles of all sizes, pretty cool to see, sorta like bubbles you get when you put a cherry in a soda or champagne.
Next to that was a small area (more like a corridor or a passage) holding 3 holographic rifles… not sure what to think of that, and it was a real clash with the fun and happy feeling you got when you looked at the objects covered in “glass bubbles”…
The entire museum can be done in about 2 hours, faster if you’re not into sitting on a bench now and then, gazing at and taking in the art (which is something I love doing).
Afterwards, I just went down the hill of MontjuÃ¯c, passing the MNAC, but leaving that for an other day since I noticed it was way too big to view it before it closed (the ARTicket allows you to visit each museum on it’s list only 1 time within 3 months after purchase).
The Mies van der Rohe Pavillion was just at the bottom of the hill, a bit to the left. It was cheap to enter it, and noticed it was open for a couple more hours, so went up the hill again to go see the Olympic Stadium building (from the outside, not inside), the massive Europa square in front of it, and the dominating Torre TelefÃ³nica. After hanging out there, chilling a bit to have a drink (I had to purchase some more water, it was hot outside!) and of course, gazing at some hot Spanish guys behind my sunglasses :p.
I’m really thankful (and I assume many people will be too) that MontjuÃ¯c has many escalators to go up or down this hill. But… I noticed a really nice statue on the monumental staircase in front of the MNAC, and… if you see a hot ass, don’t you wanna go look at it? I sure did!
I went back to the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion and finally visited it.
I just sat down by the pond behind the shady blind wall of the pavilion as I got a call of Raul, YAY ðŸ˜€
Next I walked towards Parc MirÃ³, since I thought “it’s just down the street”. Well, take it from me, in Barcelona, the streets are long :p
I did found a cash machine while walking towards the park, one called TeleBanco, and noticed it had a list of symbols, including the one on my debit card!
A slow and relaxing evening followed after the MirÃ³ park.
I took the Metro towards PlaÃ§a CatalÃºnya, strolled down on La Rambla and simply had a pita at Pita Inn (I think, could also have been Pita House) which was funny to eat cuz you had to enter your own vegetable toppings (in Belgium they do whatever vegetable you mention in it for you).
I continued my stroll until I reached the small street going to the PlaÃ§a Reial, where I wanted to have a drink after that pita. I went to the only corner still having a bit of sunlight, and was very lucky that a couple was just leaving as I arrived, and took a small coffee.
After half an hour, the sun wasn’t shining into the enclosed square anymore, and I figured it would be behind the hills surrounding Barcelona soon, so quickly continued my stroll towards the Rambla del Mar to watch the sunset, followed by a quick visit to MareMagnum (a mall, but I left quickly since it was waaaay too tempting with all the nice clothes, shoes, boots, and other nice stuff we don’t have in Belgium).
Still not in the mood for bed, I searched which metro to take towards the Temple Expiatori de laÂ SagradaFamÃlia , cuz I was interested to see that at night. Wasn’t easy to get there as they’re doing some improvements for the disabled in all metro stations in the city, and at one stop where I had to transfer onto an other line I had to make a detour of a full block to reach that other line… oh well, it’s good for digestion I s’pose.
After looking at all sides of the Sagrada FamÃlia, and quickly grabbing a burger in the nearby McDonalds before it closed, I took Metro Line 5 back to my hotel, showered and had no trouble sleeping ðŸ™‚
End of Day 1
Flickr photo set of Day 1