Sunday, May 20, 2007
A BUZZ IN BARCELONA 1
Well, how I actually managed to get to Barcelona defeats me! The day I leave God decides that the skies will open, sleet will fall and the temperature will drop dramatically. So instead of an hour and a half to get to Geneva airport, it takes me over two hours and obviously the whole world had decided to park their cars in the airport car parks that day. I must have got the last space on the roof of the car park that is almost over the border in France and got totally soaked getting from there to the terminal. However...
The last time I visited Barcelona was over twenty years ago and my memories were not good...cold, miserable and dark - but it was probably during the winter and perhaps I didn't want to be there. So on landing, what a pleasant surprise to see the sun and feel the heat, especially after my really cold start to the day.
We checked into a super hotel called the Pulitzer which is just off la plaça Catalunya and if you have a few quid to spare is worth it. Modern, bright and great staff - pleasant, efficient and most welcoming. So having dumped the cases we galloped off in search of food and a well-needed drink. Walking down las Ramblas I was quite convinced I would get my bag stolen in a flash as I do tend to amble a bit and not pay attention to things like people following me or coming too close - I used to be street wise when I lived in Toulouse, but after a couple of years in Switzerland I have forgotten the rules. But obviously l'Homme was looking tall and menacing and my bag stayed with me!
It's great being in a city with someone who knows their way around - although even he got lost a couple of times, and particularly useful for me who tends not to pay attention and doesn't have a built-in SatNav system. The restaurant we had chosen had a queue snaking out of the door and we waited what seemed hours for food, but my glass seemed to be filled constantly as we stood in the street and chatted with other diners to be - our impromptu street party was as fun as the food was good when we eventually sat down. We had chatted to a young English guy who lived in Barcelona and was something in property, another chap who designed cars with a company in Spain, an American wholesaler who exported foodstuffs from Spain and probably others, but the mind started to blurr a little after too much wine and no food and a twenty hour day! There was no choice in the restaurant, you sit watching your food being cooked in front of you and wait to see what turns up. Good stuff!
Goodness knows how many different languages I heard that evening walking through the streets of Barcelona - dozens I would think. It is truly a cosmopolitan city, very alive and buzzing and over the following days we were to meet some great people who live and work in the city. But that is for another blog!
We eventually got back to the hotel at some terrible hour, having avoided the municipal workers with enormous fire hoses cleaning the streets and I still had my bag!