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Old 08-26-2007, 10:22 AM   #1
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Talking 28th July 07- Med trip report & photo diary- Romancing the Mouse - an aliens report!

Hi all,

Well I thought I would finally get round to writing my trip report. I will try to include as many photos as possible , how ever I had such a good time, there were times when I actually forgot to take photographs.!!!

I will start by saying this trip was amazing and everything I hoped it would be!! After a year and a half of planning - I booked the cruise April 06 (1st day the cruise came out) it was worth the wait.

Cast me - Helen and my DH -Dave (the quiet one )

Can I just add, please feel free to comment or ask any questions you want!

Getting to Barcelona

We live in the North of England (yep aliens) and instead of booking a flight direct to Barcelona, we flew with BA and connected through Heathrow. Now their were several reasons I did this - partly because the cheap carrier that went direct had a tiny luggage allowance and you couldn't add more in advance ( I had 10 pairs of shoes in my cases) and I also thought BA would look after us better. I had heard a few horror stories about being left in Spain etc).

Well the day finally arrived, I said goodbye to the dogs (i have 3) and we got in the taxi to the airport. I said my little mantra (passport, tickets, money) several times and only checked, and double checked my luggage about 10 times! We checked in and went to have a coffee.

We boarded our first plane on time, and then proceeded to wait on the runway half an hour before we took off. I was slightly anxious as we only had an hour to get our connecting flight to Barcelona. However it was another BA flight and I was sure they would be able to get is there somehow.

We finally landed @ Heathrow @ 8:40am and our flight to Barcelona left @ 9.25am. But we had to go through security again However this is the one time I am very glad I have back problems. -For those who dont know I have dengerated discs in my lower spine -. I had told BA of this when I booked the Flights and there was someone waiting for me with a wheelchair when we got off the flight. I am truely grateful to this person as they dashed from one side of Heathrow to the other with me in the wheelchair, - talk about rollercoaster ride. However we made it and were actually the first to board the Barcelona flight!

When we arrived in Barcelona the plan was to get a taxi and go straight to our hotel. It was quite a walk from where we got of the plane to the baggage carosel. I was also very apprehensive about pickpockets - as every guide book and trip report had warned of them. Once at the hotel we were going to put everything in the safe, but of course @ the airport we had everything on us. To help us out I had bought Dave a money belt (the type you wear under your trousers) he put it on when we were still on the plane. Dave assured me he would know if anyone tried to get anything

Because of our tight connection - I really wasn't expecting to see our luggage -but with pixiedust and magic our 3 cases arrived
We then went straight out and got a taxi to the hotel. I had been taking spanish lessons and was chuffed when I managed to speak to the taxi driver and he actually understood me The taxi ride was just under 20 Euros and we pulled up outside our hotel.

The hotel we stayed at was Hotel Cram - It was quite a trendy hotel very near to Placa Catalunya (10 mins walk). It was in the Exiample district and thier were a lot of restaurants near the hotel. When we arrived, we were able to check in and go to our room straight away. We filled our safe and then headed out for a spot of lunch and a wander.








The one thing that was different was we didn't have anyjet lag - as Mickey had decided to come to us this year!!!

Stay tuned for part 2 - Sight seeing Barcelona

Thanks for reading
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Old 08-26-2007, 04:39 PM   #2
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Well done Helen I haven't even finished sorting pics yet!!
Could you ask Dave how I'm doing at the Gym please
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Old 08-26-2007, 09:16 PM   #3
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I'm really enjoying reading this Helen. It brings back such wonderful memories!!!! I kept a daily journal too. Just too lazy to type it out.

Maryann
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:58 PM   #4
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Nice start, Helen..........keep 'em comin'.........
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Old 08-27-2007, 02:56 AM   #5
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Great start! That hotel looks really nice.

I know all about airport transfer stress. It is not fun!
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:27 AM   #6
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Talking

Thanks all for the wonderful words of encouragement!!

Lynn its so funny, yesterday was the first time Dave has been able to get to the gym the day you ask!!!

Anyway...

Wednesday 25th July - First full day in Barcelona

I have wanted to visit Barcelona for a number of years - actually it has been since I went to university as we looked at the work of Gaudi.

For those who dont know Antoni Gaudi, was born in 1852. When he was 17 his family sent him to Barcelona to study architecture. He proved to be very skillful with his hands, creative and observant and excelled @ the school or architecture. However he aroused suspicion and distrust among his teachers because of his not very orthodox ways of treating Structual shapes.

I know that the first thing I wanted to visit was Gaudi's temple of Sagrada Familia so we woke early and went down to breakfast. Dave is not a big eater and he does not like cheese ( I know he's wierd ) so did not have much @ breakfast. Me on the other hand, well needless to say I enjoyed myself

I had purchased 4 day metro tickets on line, so we were all set. I had also made a list of all the places I wanted to visit and worked out the nearest metro - so I knew in advance where to go. I was determined to not look like a tourist, and fall victim to the oportunist thief!

I found the metro system very easy to navigate and the trains were every 3 -4 minutes. The only down side was all the steps!! There were very few escalators or lifts. Still it was worth it when we exited the metro station this sight took my breath away !!!













Not sure why there was a dodgy guy dressed as zorro, but I took a photo anycase.









After the Sagrada Familia, we decided to get the metro into the old gothic part of town. It was nearly 11 and very hot. Once there we had to have a starbucks - I got a mango smoothie thingy - it was very refreshing although I did end up with Brain freeze After our rest we headed towards the cathedral. On the way we found some of the Roman part of the town.









Did I mention the dog?? No I dont think I did - well around many of the metro stations they had police with dogs patrolling. Well I love dogs and my friend @ home breeds Rotweillers, so when I saw this dog I had to have a photo for my friend. There was me in my broken spanish telling this policeofficer That I love dogs and I asked if I could take its photo. He agreed this is the dog



Anyway, we found the cathedral, and went inside. I must say I felt very good as I had insisted Dave wore a t shirt that covered his shoulders, instead of his usual vest tops. Sure enough they were checking peoples dress and we saw quite a few people turned away.
Here's some of the shots







Continued ....
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:13 AM   #7
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Talking Wednesday 25th July - First full day in Barcelona- continued

Wednesday 25th July - First full day in Barcelona- continued

Wow I thought that was getting too long so I decided to split it.

Anyway...

Once we had been in the cathedral we headed towards La Ramba. By some miracle (or the fact that I had been memorising my street map for a year) we found it.

La Ramba is a tree lined walkway running through the heart of the old city. It stretches from the port area upto Placa Catalunya. The central promenade is split into various distictive. There are stalls, and street performers stretching the length.









Just of la Ramba, is Mercat de la Boqueria


Now I am a foody, I simply love it. I really enjoyed walking around the market. The food was so colourful and fresh. There was also such a variety. Have a look for yourself ...













After going round the market we headed back up la Ramba towards Placa Catalunya. It was now nearly 2:30 and I was worn out. I was also hungry. I would have gladly eaten @ the market, but well Dave . Anyway as we headed back to the hotel we stopped for some lunch and well we had to have Paella. Which was very good.



Once back at the hotel we went up on the sun terrace, there was a small pool and about 10 loungers. However we were the only ones up there. (infact we never saw anyone there the 4 days we stayed at the hotel.

I really like the Spanish Siesta and it was refreshing and good just to laze around.

At 7pm we got ready and headed out towards Passeig de Gracia. It was only a 5 min walk from our hotel. There were many restaurants and bars on these street. along with shops,but we headed first to another of Gaudi's works

Casa Batllo - was built 1904-06. It is an amazing building said to be themed on George and the dragon. If you look at the roof, it is shaped like a dragon ontop of the building











After visiting Casa Batllo Dave and I went to a tapas bar, just over the road called Tapa Tapas. It was excellent and we ordered such a variety. I love ordering tapas and having a lot of little dishes rather than 1 big thing, -if you know what I mean.

After a couple of drinks we headed back to the hotel to crash. It was still very early in terms of Barcelona (10pm) but we had, had such a busy day we needed to chill.

Tomorrow like all good Brits we were off to the footy stadium - The Nou Camp!

To be continued ...
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Old 08-27-2007, 12:35 PM   #8
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Helen - your pictures are great. I loved Barcelona! The market was amazing and the architecture was beautiful. What memories!!
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Old 08-27-2007, 03:38 PM   #9
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Helen,

Your pictures are beautiful and I loved hearing about the places you visited. I had never had a strong desire to visit the city before but your pictures make it look very beautiful!
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:26 PM   #10
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Terrific trip report so far! We were supposed to be on this cruise but ended up changing plans so I'm vicariously living through all of you! Thank you!
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:17 PM   #11
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Helen,

Your pictures are beautiful and I loved hearing about the places you visited. I had never had a strong desire to visit the city before but your pictures make it look very beautiful!
Yes, Helen, my experience in Barcelona wasn't too good, but I did pass your hotel as we walked around.....well done!!
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:39 PM   #12
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Hi all,

Thursday 26th July
Barcelona- second full day

We got up around 8 and went down for breakfast. Again I really enjoyed all the cheeses and hams and David had a slice of toast! We left the hotel around 9:30ish and headed for the metro. The plan was to visit the nou camp and then on the way back stop of @ the magic fountain (just so I knew where I would be going for our meet).

When we got off the metro we found ourself on a very long street and there was no sign of the stadium. I felt brave though and went into a local shop, we bought a couple of waters and I asked in my best spanish where is the football stadium ' Donde esta el stad de' futbol?' To my surprise the lady understood me and what was even more amazing a understood her reply. Straight a long the road.

It took us about 15-20 mins to walk to the stadium, but then we had to walk around the outside inorder to get to the correct turnstile. Once in we purchased tickets for the tour. It was now 10:30. These are some of my photos
















We did a lot of walking and there were a lot of stairs. I found it interesting but really tiring. The weather was also hot. Once we finished the tour we rested and had a hotdog and coke. I also thought I'd better visit a restroom before our long trek back to the metro. I asked at the stadium for the toilets and they said they were closed and I had to go to the ones in the icerink - next door.
Well I set off. Now on our cruise meets thread there was a lot of talk prior to the trip about the toilets in Europe and the need to take your own toliet roll and seat covers. Well when I went into the toliets I burst our laughing - there was not even a seat to put a seat cover on !

By the time we got back on the metro it was nearly 1:30. I was pretty tired but I insisted that we got off to find out where we were going for the magic fountain meet. I was relieved to find that as soon as you off the metro ( and crawled up yet more stairs) you were met with the towers. We had said that we were to meet up there on the Friday.


We headed back to the hotel for our afternoon siesta and chill out time by the pool.

When we ventured out again, that night we went back to Tapa tapas to have our evening meal. After checking out a few shops on the way. We decided to have a couple of drinks in the hotel bar when we returned. It had really comfy seats and was a great place to chill. I needed it as I was definaly feeling all the walking I had been doing.

To be continued ...

Next Park Guell, the 4Gats and the magic fountain
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:46 PM   #13
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Another great day!

I too have experienced the strange European bathrooms!
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:59 PM   #14
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Another great day!

I too have experienced the strange European bathrooms!
Just wait until you do a trip to Tokyo (though I heard that there are some places in Europe with the same type of facilities).
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:10 PM   #15
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Friday 27th July- The day before the cruise

I was really enjoying my time in Barcelona, although all the walking (esp the stairs) were beginning to take its toll. I woke up on the Friday and my back was very stiff. I must admit I was a bit concerned but I tried to hide it from Dave.

I had planned on visiting Gaudi's Park Guell and had researched the bus you get etc. Dave on the other hand said look you dont want your back to give out before you even get on the board the ship. I hated to admit it, but he did have a point. I was a bit upset. We went down for breakfast and talked about alternative plans for the day. I really wanted to go to the park, so Dave said- well how about if we get a taxi there and back? I was really pleased - We got a taxi from just outside the hotel and it cost us under 10 Euros.
I must say I really loved the park - but I took it easy and rested a lot inbetween the walking. Heres some of my pics



















We spent about 2 hours at the Park then we caught a taxi just outside the parks entrance. We asked the taxi driver to drop us off at placa d catalunya. We figured we would go to the hard Rock cafe for lunch. Well we got there about five minutes to 12 and there was a small line of people waiting (it hadn't opened yet). I was standing looking at this lady next to me - I was convinced I recognised her from a photo on our cruise meets thread. When she spoke to her son and called him Ethan I was sure - so I went up to her and introduced my self - Yes it was Izzi. She said that it was spooky as she had just sent me a text to ask what time we were meeting for dinner tonight. We had a chat and I told her the directions to the 4Gats restaurant for later on. Then we went in and had our lunch. Dave said I can't believe you've met someone already.

After lunch we wandered back up to our hotel - past the odd shop and had our afternoon siesta.

To be continued ... coming up dismeet @ the 4Gats restaurant & the Magic Fountain
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