A good last day...

Hospital de Sant Pau Travel Blog

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Hospital de Sant Pau, the entrance.

Our last day in Barcelona, let’s not let it go to waste. We haven’t got any big plans today, but the Hospital de Sant Pau is on the other side of town and this is supposed to be worth a visit.

We decide to take the underground, this way we are faster and we don’t have to bother reading the map every block or so. There are a lot of people using the underground at this time and there aren’t any free seats. Luckily the day has only just begun and we’re not tired yet. We get out of the damp hot underground very close to the hospital, now it’s just a matter of finding the entrance.

The grand staircase leads to this corridor.
The complex is placed diagonally on the 19th century grid of the city, breaking with the building plan of that time. When we walk in, a young mother walks out with her new born baby in her arms. Is there a more positive way of entering a hospital?

The vestibule of the hospital is a beautifully decorated place, with lots of colours and symbolism. It has a grand staircase, leading to an upstairs corridor, which is also magnificently decorated (try finding a modern hospital that looks like this). Somewhere on the ceiling the year of completion can be found, 1910. Most of the hospital is off limits to casual visitors, because patients are still being treated here, but the gardens are always open. We ask for information at the info stand and the ladies present are more than willing to help, sadly there English is very poor and the brochures in English are out of stock as well.

The vestibule of the Hospital de Sant Pau.
The idea of the hospital is that treating patients doesn’t only mean physical health, but mental as well. That’s why the different medical departments are all in different buildings, connected by underground tunnels. In between the buildings the gardens do their relaxing work. It is rather strange, one second we are looking at the Byzantine-like building style, the next the signs for the bloodbank jump to the eye and doctors in white walk by, talking (probably discussing something medical, my Spanish is too bad to understand and I can only let my imagination do its work) or patients are sitting in the sun in their wheelchairs.

When we leave the compound on the other side, we get to some kind of university, where a medical seminar is being held at the moment, so we can only go into the vestibule.

It is very strange, a hospital in Byzantine style.
We have a quick look around, it’s nice but not spectacular, and go back out again. Back onto the hospital grounds, slowly making our way back to the vestibule.

This part of the city hardly sees any tourists and it shows when we start looking for a place to lunch. No large terraces, no flashy dining places, just small, smokey places where even the Vietnamese waitresses speak only Spanish. Half of the dishes on the menu are sold out, the waitress more or less decides what we will be eating. Our sandwiches are cheap, but far from the best we have eaten the last week. And the noisy buses roaring by don’t improve the abiance either.

With our bellies kind of fillled we walk to the nearest underground station and struggle to find the entrance, this particular station has only a small elevator that can hold a maximum of six or so people, that leads to the platforms.

A patient relaxes in the sun.
Near Plaça de Catalunya we see the light of day again. From here the four of us walk to La Rambla, where we split up. My parents go back to the appartment, Trudy and I want to visit a couple more things.

Next to La Rambla, in a smaller street on the right when heading for Port Vell, is Palau Guell. It is being renovated at the moment and that is why only the underground stables are opened for visitors. When we get to the villa, however, it has already closed its doors entirely, due to the time of day (it’s around four in the afternoon). We buy some drinks in the supermarket next door and subsequently we walk to the Palau de la Música Catalana. We have already seen this from the outside earlier this week, but we would like to do the guided tour as well.

Want to donate blood? Follow the red sign!
Upon getting there we see some expensive cars parked in front of the building, some of them having a crown on the license plate. That spells little good. And indeed, when I ask one of the policemen present if we can go in or not, he points to the back of the building where the entrance tickets are sold. This isn’t an answer to my question, but we don’t try any further and go to the ticket booth. Here we are told that we cannot go in, because of some important visitors, “Just come back tomorrow” she says. Since this is our last day we leave, slightly disappointed.

We walk in the direction of our appartment, taking the most insignificant streets we can find, and somewhere in the middle of Barri Gotíc, all of a sudden we stand in front of Els Quatre Gats. This establishment is amongst the most famous ones of Barcelona, because Gaudí and his fellow modernistas (and let’s not forget Picasso in his early days) used to come here quite often.

Palau Guell, closed unfortunatly
Nowadays it is still very popular. It’s not cheap, but it is supposed to be very good. We only take a tiny peek inside and take some pictures of the building before we walk on.

Back in the appartment I set out on a mission: I have to arrange a taxi for tomorrow morning (four thirty am) to bring us to the bus terminal near the Arc de Triomf. We have found the phone numbers of some taxi companies and I simply start with the first one. After three companies I give up, no one understands what the hell I am talking about! Shouldn’t people operating the phones in companies that provide services that are likely to be used by foreigners, speak at least one foreign language?? Even when I try to speak Spanish as well as I possibly can they refuse to meet me halfway. I am at a loss and call the person that rented us the appartment and ask him for a taxi company where someone speaks English, and I’m very glad he can help me.

The Bridge of Sighs, somewhere in the Barri Gòtic.
With the taxi finally arranged I can start to regain my calm again...

Early in the evening we have diner in a tapas restaurant very close to our appartment. I haven’t got the exact adress, but it is on the corner of Paral-lel and Carrer de Blasco de Garay. The reason I mention this is that whenever you visit Barcelona you should certainly go to this place. It has a magnificent ambiance, hams are hanging from the ceiling, locals are dining here and the tapas they serve are more authentic than we have eaten so far. There is only one waiter who speaks a tiny bit of English, but in this case it only ads to the atmosphere. The food and the Sangria are cheaper than at, for instance, Tapa Tapas and just as good at least. Pity we didn’t find this place at the beginning of the week.

After diner we go for a little walk, nowhere special, just to be outdoors for a little while, before watching just another match of the European Championships (there’s only one tv in the appartment and my dad likes to watch soccer).

The 4 Cats, the favourite hangout of the Modernistas and Pablo Picasso.
We walk to a little parc on higher ground in the city that gives a nice view. We stay here for a little while, talking about what we’ve seen the past days. When we come back in Carrer de Blai where our appartment is, we see a large group of people in the pedestrian zone. We can tell they belong to some kind of a club, because they are all wearing a red bandana with a logo on it. Suddenly they start building human towers of up to the height of four people. When we went out I left my camera behind, because we were supposed to go out for diner only. Quickly I dash off to get my camera and I manage to get back in time to shoot some pictures. This club is called Castellers del Poble Sec and they are training for a festival that is held every year. The towers (or castles) they build are called Castells and the bigger they get, the better it is.

As said we end the day with watching soccer and packing our bags and call it an early night, because we will be going home ridiculously early tomorrow morning.

The Castellers del Poble Sec are practising for their performance on the annual festival.

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Hospital de Sant Pau, the entrance.
Hospital de Sant Pau, the entrance.
The grand staircase leads to this …
The grand staircase leads to this…
The vestibule of the Hospital de S…
The vestibule of the Hospital de …
It is very strange, a hospital in …
It is very strange, a hospital in…
A patient relaxes in the sun.
A patient relaxes in the sun.
Want to donate blood? Follow the r…
Want to donate blood? Follow the …
Palau Guell, closed unfortunatly
Palau Guell, closed unfortunatly
The Bridge of Sighs, somewhere in …
The Bridge of Sighs, somewhere in…
The 4 Cats, the favourite hangout …
The 4 Cats, the favourite hangout…
The Castellers del Poble Sec are p…
The Castellers del Poble Sec are …
No idea who this man was, but if h…
No idea who this man was, but if …
Hospital de Sant Pau
photo by: Stormcrow