Olympic City

Barcelona Travel Blog

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Acres and acres of sunflowers

We didn't need to stop long in Algeciras, nothing beats a good night's sleep and a hot shower to return you to some sort of respectability.  Our next stop was Barcelona where we thought we might score a job as hammer hands at the Olympic village.  We'd heard things were behind schedule and they were needing to get the job done quickly.  The other thing we were hoping to find was Kate.  We knew she was heading to the city and we figured we may catch up with her at the YHA.

The train trip was great.  We actually hadn't spent much time on the train during the day so it was nice to be able to see the Spanish landscape fly by.

Be sure to wash any Spanish fruit!
  I was facinated by the countryside covered in sunflowers as far as the horizon.  The big blooms were heavy with seed and I guessed it wouldn't be long before harvest.  Where there were no sunflowers there was olives, oranges or paddocks housing bulls.  I was excited to see these beasts, so different from the cattle we have back home, they really looked like the bulls of bullfighting fame -all muscle and horns.

We shared our carriage with a young man from Italy.  We exchanged pleasantries with him when we first took our seats opposite him.  Nearing the end of journey, as we rolled into the fringes of Barcelona, two plain clothes Policemen entered the carriage, flashed a badge and asked to see our passports.  I gave him mine and flashed my own Police ID back at him.
Even the statues dance in this party town!
  Although we didn't speak a same language I could see he was pleased.  He motioned with a finger at Darryn and I asking if we were travelling together.  I confirmed we were and he returned our documents then focussed on the Italian.
I felt a little guilty about it afterwards but the two cops gave the Italian a thorough search, checking his documents, his pockets and asking several questions about his intentions whilst in the city.  As they turned to go the boss gave me a wink and a thumbs up making me feel certain that this most efficient turn-over had been for my benefit more than to get the job done.
  The Italian didn't have that impression and smiled at us saying, "It's the clothes".  I was very pleased he thought that.

I really loved the city.
The Olympic stadium ready for action.
  The whole of Barcelona had an historic feeling about it and the YHA was a great place.    Darryn and I got settled into our room, did some laundry and tried to find out if Kate was here.  We didn't find her and in fact we never saw her again.  She and I wrote for several months afterwards and she was as disappointed as we that we didn't catch up and continue our travels together.

We went out to explore the surroundings.  The weather was hot and although I said I loved the historic feeling of the city, one thing I could have lived without was the ancient sewer system beneath the streets.  I know it was ancient because where-ever we walked in the centre, we couldn't escape the smell.  It wasn't overpowering but I have a very sensitive nose and it was obvious to me.
Wonderful window dressing.

The next day we left the YHA straight after breakfast and headed out the the Olympic stadium in search of a paying job.  We had to walk quite a distance to find it and when we got there we found the gates were locked and it seemed deserted. 
  We did manage to find out that it was the village built to accomodate the sportsfolk that was behind schedule and they were already starting to arrive but by the time we'd walked across the city to the village we were hot and bothered, too hot and bothered to contemplate work that's for sure!

We spent a couple of days in Barcelona.  There was plenty to see and the whole place, like Seville and Madrid was alive and celebrating.

Shopping in Barcelona was an experience.  Not that we were there to do any shopping other than the "window" variety, but the window displays were spectacular, each one a work of art in it's own right.
One of many many booth style pet stores.

One thing that I found very curious, moreso than the surprise we had in Bordeaux when we saw live hens being sold at the farmers market, was the odd little pet stalls that lined one of the main plazas in Barcelona's city centre. 
  When closed these stalls looked no larger than a bus shelter but they could be opened out to reveal a huge array of pets from chirping birds to silent mice, each a complete menagerie in it's own right but only a hop, skip, and a jump to the next with more than a dozen spaced evenly along the street.  Surely there couldn't be this sort of demand for pets.  It made me wonder if perhaps there was a more sinister need for a canary in this town.

The place was awash with tourists and this of course meant everyone was out to get some of those tourist dollars.
A busker in front of a closed pet shop.
  Street performers were everywhere but one of the most lovely things Darryn and I came across was when we wandered around the Gothic Cathedral. 
  Somewhere in the narrow streets behind the building we heard the sound of beautiful Spanish guitar. 
  Appreciating any music as much as I do we followed the sound to where we found a man playing in a courtyard.  His music was being amplified through a little amp beside him but the accoustics of the stone walls of the buildings surrounding the plaza made the whole scene magical.

We didn't bother chasing work down in Barcelona after all.  We stayed there for just a couple of nights before we jumped another train and headed out of Spain.  I suggested to Darryn that we go to the South of France but we didn't really have the cash for that.
An Olympic advertisement and Spanish guitar.
  He decided he was ready to go back to Pilning and work.  I didn't have too much money left myself but I was too close to Switzerland not to go there.  I have a Swiss passport since my Grandparents came to NZ and there in Auckland they had a family, including my father.

We took the train through to Lyon at the end of the day.  There, sometime in the night, Darryn left me trying to grab 40 winks on the marble floor of the very busy train station as he caught a train back to England. 
  I had decided to get myself a five day travelpass for Switzerland and see as much as I could before I headed back to the UK.

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Acres and acres of sunflowers
Acres and acres of sunflowers
Be sure to wash any Spanish fruit!
Be sure to wash any Spanish fruit!
Even the statues dance in this par…
Even the statues dance in this pa…
The Olympic stadium ready for acti…
The Olympic stadium ready for act…
Wonderful window dressing.
Wonderful window dressing.
One of many many booth style pet s…
One of many many booth style pet …
A busker in front of a closed pet …
A busker in front of a closed pet…
An Olympic advertisement and Spani…
An Olympic advertisement and Span…
photo by: fivepointpalm