4/27/10 Here we are in our cozy little apartment in the El Born district in Barcelona, where we have been enjoying wonderfully warm, sunny weather ever since we arrived Sunday evening. Our 2 week trans-Atlantic cruise ended Sunday morning in Southampton, where it was rainy and cold when we disembarked. Happily, flights had been resumed several days before so we were able to take a bus to Gatwick and catch our Easy Jet flight to Barcelona. That is about the worst airline we have ever been on and they really nailed us for extra baggage too. We were happy to arrive and catch the Aerobus to Plaza Catalunya and then we walked down to our apartment. It is very small, but has most of the necessities and we have been able to cook some of our own meals, which helps with expenses. Here is a picture of Elaine sitting in the dining area of the apartment:
This is the same apartment we stayed in for one night when we joined our friends Carole and Dick Schneider here just before we all took the Navigator of the Seas back to Galveston in Nov., 2008. The El Born district has many old, tall apartment buildings with shops, restaurants and bars at street level. There are lots of very small streets which are too narrow for cars, so it makes walking around here delightful because of all the pedestrian streets. It also means staying here is more enjoyable because it is quieter.
Yesterday we had to get set up in the apartment so we went to the nearby Santa Catarina market to buy some food. There were wonderful displays of fruits and veggies, meat stalls, pastries, and just about anything else we could want.
We bought salad makings, some of the delicious Spanish green olives, a couple of great cheeses, and some fruit. Everything else we needed came from the nearby supermarket.
Today we did some walking around to get set up for our train ride to Montserrat tomorrow, then we took the bus to Park Guell. This was a park where the most famous architect and artist in Barcelona, Anthony Gaudi, lived for 20 years. He made some decorative benches and pavilions and several very fanciful buildings. Here are a few pictures of some of his creations in the park:
Part of his decorative benches:
One of the buildings at the park entrance:
Another park building:
It was hot and we needed a rest so we sat down at an outdoor eating area and had a beer and a sandwich. A delightful couple from Peru named Lucy and Armando came and sat with us. We had an enjoyable time discussing travels in their country, and other parts of the world, because they spoke good English and had been to quite a few places. It reminded us that one of the joys of traveling are these little incidental interludes with new friends. Here is a picture of them with Elaine:
Another interesting part of the park experience was seeing lots of small green parrots in the palm trees and listening to them squabbling. Here is a picture of one of them sitting on her nest:
Of course, while we were on the transAtlantic cruise, we had some fun times in ports also. One of our favorite port cities is Funchal, in Maderia, which are islands belonging to Portugal. The island has a mountainous interior so the city goes up steeply from the waterfront and forms a kind of a bowl. We took a bus to the area where they offer rides down the steep streets in a wicker toboggan controlled by several of the local men who run alongside.
Some people take a cable car to get up there, and there is a nice botanical garden up there too. Here is a picture of us with David & Diane after we got up there:
There was also a big flower festival going on during our day there, and here is a picture of Diane with some of the flowers:
There was also a nice flower arrangement with lots of the different types of flowers:
Lisbon was the next port and we enjoyed walking around for a few hours. We spent a week here a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed everything, so we didn't need to rush around trying to sightsee this time. The last port was Vigo, Spain, which was new for us. It specializes in good seafood and here is a lady in the market who shucks oysters:
There were lovely flowers in the park, and here we are with some of them and a fountain behind us.
It was a nice little town but we were glad that we weren't going to have to get off there and make our way to Barcelona, as we thought we should if air flights hadn't started up again from England. Whoever would have thought that a volcano in Iceland would have such a huge effect on so many people and in such far-flung places.
We will be here until next Monday, and the weather is supposed to be nice until Saturday, so I'm sure we will have lots to tell you gain next time.