"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Sioux under General
2 Comments

 

BARCELONA – PART 1:
And so began my European odyssey. What started off as a planned cycle across Spain became a trip to various cities in Europe. Being as how my visa had been issued by the Spanish embassy, I figured it would be prudent to make Barcelona my first stop. The language difference was not a problem, and although I had learnt a few necessary phrases in order to ensure I was able to ask directions or buy food, most

people either spoke English or understood my form of crude sign language.

 

A 15 hour flight in total, with one stop-over in Dubai and not too many potholes in the air. I have learnt
to ask at check-in if the plane is full or not and seeing if my seat 
can be changed to where there is a

row of empty seats, so I can sleep. Usually works well.

 

I left SA with bad sinus and by the time I got to Barcelona, it had turned into a very bad dose of flu!

I felt rotten and the first afternoon of my stay was spent sleeping, and was glad of the fact that I

had three nights in Spain and 2 full days.

Barcelona is an interesting city, with many visitors from all around the world.

The Port of Barcelona has a 2000-year history and commercial importance

as Europe’s ninth largest container port, as well as Spain’s third largest port.

The city was founded by Phoenicians and Carthaginians, with the original

name of the city being Barcino. The Romans arrived in the 1st century B.C.

choosing various areas as their capitals and in the 3rd century A.D. Barcino

was the one. After the Romans, the Visigoths occupied the city and changed

its name to Barcinona in the 5th century A.D. During the 8th century Barcinona was occupied by the Moors and remained under their control for another 100 years until the Franks conquered the city. The region was divided into Counties during the Spanish Inquisition, the most important of which was the County of Barcelona. The Count of Barcelona, Wilfred the Hairy, gave origin to the Catalan nation establishing a hereditary system of succession. In the year 988 Count Borrell II achieved independence from the Carolingian empire for the County of Barcelona, the territory of the County expanded forming the region which would be later known as Catalonia. The city began to gain importance again during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, being seat to the World’s Fair in 1888.In the 20th century, however, political repression during the dictatorship of Franco impeded the independence of Catalonia. After the government of Franco, Catalonia recovered its political authority and the city of Barcelona became one of the most important and attractive cities in Spain. In the recent history of the city, Barcelona was the site for the Olympic Games of 1992 with great international success.

 

I was amazed at the graffiti – it’s all over the place! Almost every wall I saw had been marked,

signed or painted by some budding artist in one way or another. Flower baskets, flags and washing

adorn most balconies – just like in the movies!

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As the hotel was located near the Port, I did a bit of a walkabout in the area and the following day, did the hop on / hop off bus trip around the central area of Barcelona. Due to time constraints and short stays, this was going to be the fastest way to see what each city I planned to visit, had to offer.

Coming in to land over the Port of Barcelona

                                                                        The portal (gate) of Santa Madrona is the

                                                                        only gate that remains of the medieval

                                                                        walls of Barcelona.

Constructed in 1378, it was used by merchants, artisans and travellers alike. According to

tradition, around the 10th century, a strong maritime storm forced French retailers who

carried the relics of Santa Madrona Marseille to disembark in Barcelona.

 

Once the storm lessened, it was impossible to return it to the boat and they decided to

leave the body of the saint in the Catalan capital. From then on, he became the patron saint of sailors in Barcelona.

 

             The Christopher Columbus

             monument is placed at the site                              where he arrived in Spain 1493,

             after his discovery of America the 

             year before. Columbus was 

             presumably born in Italy; moved to 

             Portugal and later settled in Spain. 

             In the nineteenth century he was

             considered a Catalan – with some 

             historians still claiming he was born

             in Catalonia, hence the monument

             for the famous explorer in Barcelona.  

 

The more than seven meter tall statue,

created by Rafael Atche, shows a standing Columbus pointing towards the sea. Oddly

enough, he is not pointing in the direction of

the new world he discovered. The pedestal is beautifully adorned with a large number of allegorical figures. The column and pedestal are hollow, allowing visitors access to an elevator

which goes up to a platform from where there is

an excellent view over the Rambla and Port Vell. 

And the bicycles! A lot of the older streets are very narrow and bicycles are used all over. When crossing a road, I was more on the lookout for cyclists than motorists! On the

main roads, there are specific cyclist lanes. Trams

are also still very much in use. Newer roads and

hiways are wider to accommodate traffic volumes. 

The Juan Bordes sculpture “Ball” (1992), is a pedestal of artificial stone and a bronze figure of a boy playing with the water, which stands in front of the gate.

Summer in Eurpoe means the sun only sets at 9pm, so after my walkabout I headed for a small restaurant and treated myself to a local pasta dish and an ice cold coke. It felt surreal heading for bed at 8.30pm with the sun still shining, but an early night was needed as tomorrow was the bus tour day, and the bus left early.

A double decker tour bus is dwarfed by the Christopher Columbus statue

 

2 responses to “Gone fishing….or not….maybe just out to play….”

  1. Pauline Smith says:

    Looks lovely – enjoy

  2. Ursula Evans says:

    Amazing pics

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