The Monastir de Pedralbes is worth a visit, so they say, unfortunately it was closed when we came by.
Our next target is Camp Nou, the famous soccer stadium that is the home ground of CF Barcelona. But before we get to the holiest of Spanish soccer fields, there are two more stops to make.
The first is the Monastir de Pedralbes, the only surviving medieval monastery in Barcelona. It was founded in 1326 by Queen Elisenda, who is buried in the church on the premises. The bus stop is close to the monastery, but the entrance is slightly hidden behind a corner that is overgrown with a huge plant with brightly coloured flowers.
As we walk through the entrance it is like going through the gates of a small medieval city, complete with a narrow cobblestone street and old houses (although with electrical lanterns). The modern day cars are the only reminder of the 21st century. The monastery is supposed to be beautiful on the inside, but after walking around and searching for over 15 minutes we still haven’t found the entrance to the building. Those nuns sure know how to hide themselves!! A Spanish couple asks a warden where to go in, but they get for an answer that the monastery is closed for visitors on Mondays. And tomorrow it will be closed as well, since tonight is the Nit de San Joan, the shortest night of the year, celebrated with fireworks and alcohol.
The Palau Reial lies in the middle of a beautiful garden with statues and ponds.
After a short while of sitting in the shade we walk back to the bus stop again and go for a rather short ride.
We get off the very next stop at the Palau Reial - Pavellons Güell. Quickly we flee into the relatively cool shade of the overgrown walkways of the gardens of the Palau Reial. It is still very warm here, but compared to the scorching sun burning on the tarmac of the bus stop it feels like a cold Coke with a lot of ice cubes. We walk pretty much straight to the mansion that was designed by Gaudí for Eusebi Güell. It has served as Franco’s official residence as well, but nowadays it houses two museums. The gardens surrounding the palace are cramped with ponds and statues and it makes you feel very far away from the busy city centre.
The magnificent dragon gate, the entrance to the Finca Güell.
While my parents remain on a bench in the shade, Trudy and I try to find a shortcut to the famous “dragongate”, the entrance to the Finca Güell, the country estate of Count Güell which was also designed by Gaudí.
Our presumed shortcut, however, is closed by a much less adorned, but very effective gate, so we have to go the long way ‘round. But when we get to the gate houses of the estate, with the wrought iron dragon gate between them, it certainly was worth the walk. I have always had a weakness for mythical creatures, and dragons are by far my favourites of all beasts.
The gate houses of Finca Güell.
After we get back to my parents in the garden, we hop on the bus again to go to Camp Nou soccer stadium, which is also one stop away. From the outside the stadium isn’t much to look at, apart from it being huge. My mom and Trudy stay outside, me and my dad go in for the small tour. I’m not much of a soccer fan, but I can be of some use as an interpretor for my dad, since he doesn’t speak any English. And of course it is more fun going the two of us. Inside the stadium we are on our own, there are no guides, so we can take our time wherever we want.
First we go down some steps, into the belly of the monstrously large stadium. We can go and have a look in the dressing rooms, that are clean by not exorbitantly luxurious. When making our way to the holy grass we walk by the small chapel that was consecrated by the pope when he visited the stadium. Walking out in the open again, standing on the edge of the soccer field, the vastness of the stadium strikes us. This building can hold up to 120.000 people!! On the opposite side of the pitch yellow chairs spell the words Mes Que Un Club, meaning: More Than A Club. And it is, Barça, as FC Barcelona is lovingly called, ís not just a club. It’s a lifestyle. The club has some notoriously fanatic fans that so much a breath Barça. Right in front of our feet the logo of the club is painted on the grass, that looks pretty green despite the heat.
The press box seats 260 commentators at once.
Slowly we make our way to the top levels of the stadium, and on our way there we get to take a peek in the room where press conferences are held and we see a prize cabinet that can make many clubs jealous.
High in the stadium is the press box, made almost completely from glass, to give the 260 commentators that can sit here the best view possible.
FC Barcelona is Mes que un club: More than a club.
We rest for a while on the quite comfortable chairs and then we go down again, into the Museu del Futbol Club Barcelona. Here are photographs, trophies and memorabilia from the entire history of the club on display. I find it rather amusing, a true soccer fan must really love this. My dad sure is having a good time!
The small tour has taken over one and a half hours, so the ladies will probably be tired of waiting now. We hardly see anything of the shop that is an obligatory part of the tour (there’s no other way out), because we are already looking for our two damsels, who shall appear not to be in distress at all.
They’ve been chatting, watching people go by, sitting in the relatively cool shade, so time flew by for them as well.
Camp Nou from across the street.
Before we get on the bus again, I take a picture of the outside of the stadium, unfortunately the wide angle mode of my camera isn’t wide enough to squeeze the entire building onto one photo, but it’ll have to do I guess.
From Plaça de Catalunya we proceed on foot. Down La Rambla towards our appartment. We spot a covered market on our right, only 50 metres of the boulevard, where all kinds of fresh food are sold. When ever you go there: don’t buy anything from the first stalls! The stalls a little further back sell the exact same goods at half the price.
And I must say, the ice cold fresh fruit juices (myriad different mixes and flavours) are delicious. If you don’t feel like eating or drinking, just go in and look at the spectrum of colours.
At Mercat St. Josep you can buy the most delicious fruit juices.
Now we call it a day, we have a meal in some döner shop that is not worth mentioning (neither the restaurant, nor the food) and then we go back to the appartment to watch a match of the European Soccer Championship.