Taking the Overnight Train
Barcelona Travel Blog› entry 10 of 13 › view all entries
We got a cab from the hotel to Barcelona's Estacio Franca, the main train station (which also serves France, as the name implies). After arriving, we waited about 45 minutes before our train arrived and we were able to board.
Our private sleeper room in the Elipsos Trenhotel to Paris was certainly small - like a cruise ship cabin, only about 1/10 the size! The seats were down, but shortly after we went to the bar/snack car for a drink and snack (we had gotten dinner reservations at 11:30), the staff had moved the bunks into place.
THe train was very crowded, with mostly Americans travelling to Paris (or beyond). We arrived in the dining car at dinner time. The food was pretty bad - Rob actually sent back the tuna he ordered and switched to the veal steak (which was about the consistency of leather). Needless to say, we skipped dessert.
We headed back to our "cabin" for a night's rest, which also didn't work out so well. Either we didn't know how to work it, or the climate control was not working well, and the room quickly turned into a sauna. We both got very little sleep overnight that night. However, after rising and washing up in the tiny washbasin, that didn't bother us too much, as at just before 9AM, we pulled into Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris!
We awoke on our last day in Barcelona, and after packing up and dropping our bags at the hotel desk, we found the streets on Monday to be nearly a whole different city than over the weekend we had spent there. The streets were bustling with people, and the shops that appeared closed for good were all open on Monday. Apparently Spainards spend a good deal of time off on the weekends.
We headed out for a day of shopping and sight-seeing. The Passeig de Gracia near our hotel had a good mix of both - we wandered in and out of stores, all of which offered big "rebaixes" (discounts or markdowns in Catalon), as does most of Europe in July. We walked past Gaudi's Casa Mila (which we had seen before).
After the tour, we headed to a nearby restuarant fora late lunch. Unfortunately, this didn't turn out to be such a great dining experience - the paella was not so great, and the tapas weren't nearly as delicious as we had in Sitges.
We continued our walking tour to the museum of modern art in Barcelona. This museum is just outside the Gothic Quarter, and houses a very large collection of extremely modern art. The building itself is new, and represents very modern architecture itself. We then took our second stroll along Las Ramblas, which was busier than the first time (on the weekend). We stopped to watch some "buskers" (a group of young guys performing acrobatics on the stone-lined streets!)
We ended our tour of Barcelona with a trip to Park Guell, to the north of the city. Park Guell is a public park designed by Gaudi, which was commissioned by a wealthy Barcelonite (Guell), in an attempt to draw more of the upper class to reside in the area. It didn't really work; the neighborhood is not really any different than most of Barcelona. However, the park is an astouding representation of Gaudi's work. The entrance is flanked by two fantastic buildings which look like gingerbread houses. There is a plaza overlooking the entrance, and beyond it, the city. The views of the city are breathtaking!
After our trip to Park Guell, we headed back to the hotel to collect our luggage and head to the train station for our overnight trip to Paris.