Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Far East 2009

The Rain in Spain can really be a Pain

(I hope you sang that to the tune from My Fair Lady! )

Being keen to make the most of daylight hours, I'd set my TV alarm for 0715. It looked as though I was first into the Executive Lounge for a light Continental breakfast. I'd designed a little sight-seeing programme the previous evening before going to bed and, as the weather forecast was now merely saying 'chance of rain', I was keen to get started as soon as possible. After a quick return to my room to get organised, I set out for the nearest metro station in the chilly, but perfectly bearable, morning air. The surrounding area was like a ghost town and I felt a bit like the sole survivor following some kind of catastrophe. The feeling continued in the metro system, with its deserted platforms and mostly empty trains.

Soon enough, I emerged at Barcelona's Number One attraction : Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia. It looked as imposing and quirky as ever, despite nearly all views being intruded upon by a collection of large builders' cranes. I was obviously not keeping myself informed - at the time of my one previous visit, no decision had been made about whether the structure should be completed. The very quiet conditions proved ideal for visiting purposes. The highlight, having taken the lift up to a viewing platform, was the walk back down the winding spiral staircase, with multiple viewpoints along the way. A stunning start to my day in Barcelona!

Next, I made my way on foot towards the Arc de Triomf and the Parc de la Ciutadella. As I did so, I started to think that a public holiday in January wasn't such a bad time to be visiting the city. The relative quiet appealed to me, as did the fresh conditions - not unpleasant at all!

My route then took me through the narrow alleyways of the Old Town. I arrived, more or less randomly, in a small square where the highly unusual style of one modern building was more than a little familiar. Without a doubt, it reminded me of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, which of course was designed by a Catalan architect. This must have been another of his buildings.

I was beginning to feel the cold in the well-shaded, narrow streets and decided that a coffee break was in order. Although it was only 1130, I further decided that it might as well be my lunch break. Around noon, I resumed my walk through the Old Town, noting that the active cathedral, just like the Sagrada Familia, was largely obscured by cranes and scaffolding. Still, there were plenty of other attractive buildings that were worth photographing. As I was about half-way through what I wanted to see in the Old Town, it started raining, lightly at first, but then with growing intensity, turning intermittently to hail.   Soon, the comfortably cool temperatures became much more wintry. I persevered for a good hour and a half, taking shelter when the rain became too heavy. I completed most of my planned route in the Old Town, arriving at the familiar Placa de Catalunya.

My plan had then called for a metro ride out to the Placa Espanya, a walk up to Montjuic, a cable car ride down to the harbour and a final metro ride back to the Hilton. I decided to take the first of those steps, even though I was far from optimistic that conditions would improve. Upon arrival, I took one token photo, but there was no let-up in the weather, the light was poor and the streets were almost at the stage where they had standing water. There was only one sensible choice: to call it a day as far as sight-seeing was concerned. I decided to go with the one sensible choice.

Back at the Hilton Diagonal Mar, I dried out a bit and took the opportunity to catch up on this diary prior to heading for Happy Hour at the Club Lounge and dinner in the Lobby Lounge. Watching a DVD in my room completed the day's entertainment.

Tuesday 06 Jan

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