A weekend of wintry sunshine

The temperature may be continueing to slowly drop but the sun did its best this weekend to shine through and keep me warm throughout my explorations.

I rose saturday to the beautiful sunrise that i have come to expect ( i love that i can see the sunrise at 8:30am, at home i would have to rise at 5!)

After running myself stupid at the gym i had a nice relaxing time plucking away at my guitar (funny story – left the keys to the case 20 000km away in Australia so after several attempts to smash off the lock – my case is past its prime anyways – i transformed into a criminal mastermind and after a few minutes of taking to the lock with a bobbypin i cracked it! i was quite proud so say the least and very excited to see my guitar again)

After lunch i headed into town for a little wander. I passed an innovative street performer who literally performed in the middle of a busy street

and again oggled at the human statues of la Rambla

Feeling a tad peckish i slipped into Mercat de la Boqueria and was met with a sensory extravaganza – everywhere i looked was fresh, delicious food. Its certainly an ideal way to discover why Mediterranean cuisine is internationally known due to its ingredients. The best products from Catalonia ALL in one place! Gleaming fruit and vegetables

The freshest seafood (What we call ‘Pippies’ back home and use as fish bait are considered gourmet here!)

Amongst the many stalls the most common were those specialising in tempting meats, bread, chocolates, nuts and dried fruit

After snacking of some yummy fruits i walked to the Monument a Colon which is Statue of Christopher Columbus at the end of La Rambla. As he famously embarked from Barcelona, the statue commemorates the discovery of America. It is apparently supposed to be pointing at the New World, but is actually pointing in the wrong direction. Woops.

I was able to quickly take in the ocean view

Before rushing back to Cataluyna

to board my train to Cabrils as the sun set

I went out with a friend (who has already become like a brother and I consider his family my 2nd family after knowing them for just over a week – such is the warmth and generosity of the Spanish people) to a discotheque in Mataro where i had a great time and made more new friends whilst slightly improving my spanish!!! It’s funny how well people respond to hearing im from Australia, the common response is “Ooooooo AustraliiiAAANA muy bien! hahaha – so thanks Australia : ) you’ve helped me make many new friends!

Sunday i rose and after a lovely breakfast headed back to Barcelona, taking in the beach views which were extremely tempting though the obvious barrier of – ITS FREEZING COLD – kept me on the train and out of the water

I hopped off at Arc de Triomf again and this time was able to stroll at a leisurely pace (it was raining when i last visited) and stopped to watch the conglomerate of eldery men playing their sunday Botchy

whilst others read in the suns warmth

Thanks to the fine weather i was also able to wander through the citadell park

where locals and travellers alike chilled out in their own ways – practising Tai-Chi

Perfecting cool skills

Relaxing with friends and even sleeping!

I walked down to the zoo (might have to visit another day)

and then zig-zaged my way through streets and alley-ways

to Barcelona’s Cathedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia where a service was being held. The Gothic cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona and was constructed throughout the 13th to 15th centuries. It is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona and in a secluded Gothic cloister thirteen white geese are kept, the number explained by the assertion that Eulalia was 13 when she was martyred

As i exited i was met with sound of joyous music and the sight of several circles of people performing the traditional catalan dance – the Sardana.

During the reign of Franco, the speaking of Catalan was banned as well as any of the Catalan traditions, one of the main being of course, the Sardana. The Sardana therefore, is considered by Catalans to be a powerful symbol of national unity and identity, which captures the spirit of Catalunya. People join together holding hands and dance with very small, precise steps, slowly round and round whilst others join to make the circle continuously bigger.

All this to the merry sounds of a ‘cobla’, a small group of musicians playing brass instruments who are lead by the ‘flaviol’ a type of flute whilst the tambourine sets the rhythm.

Side note: Many of the best moments i have had so far during my travels have been like this in terms of its purely a matter of the right place at the right time! As much as i plan the general things id like to do so i can fit alot in, i keep flexible and spontaneous if something grabs my eye and 95% if the time it leads to many more wonderful experiences – the other 5% i get horribly lost… but that can also be fun

As if i wasn’t happy enough, just around the corner from the Cathedral was an extremely talented busker – i was so impressed i bought his CD

After a spot of shopping i finally reached home just in time to feast of some baked cod accompanied by tomatoes in a garlic and basil dressing – simple and delicious

Feeling again full of energy i decided to make the most of it and take on a mountain. literally. Camera as always in hand with some scribbled down directions thanks to google maps i headed out and up to Tibidabo. At 512 meters it is the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola and rising sharply to the north-west, it affords spectacular views over the city and the surrounding coastline. There is an amusement park, a telecommunications tower (Torre de Collserola), and a Catholic church, the Temple de Sagrat Cor, at the top, all of which are visible from most of the city.

All this i knew before leaving and was very eager to get there! Apparently it should only take around 30 minutes but 45 minutes later, heart pounding in my chest and the top no where in sight, i was beginning to regret google maps – particularly when i asked a cyclist how to reach Tibidabo and he pointed in the opposite direction to where i was walking! SO i walked. I walked past UP houses.

I walked UP through forrests.

I walked UP and UP and UP! After 30 minutes of this when i had come to the flat part and was making my way around the very wide mountain side

my bum was burning so i took the opportunity to stop and properly take in the beautiful view.

Thanks to the techonology of the Tomtom given to me for christmas (clever Hollie only realised at this point that she had it with her!) i learnt that despite my average speed of 6.5 km/hr it would still take me another half hour along the track i was walking to reach Tibidabo. Looking out to the setting sun and tucking my hands in my pockets away from the chilling wind

i made the tough choice to leave it for another day and head back. I WAS SOOOO CLOSE! But navigating my way back in the dark really didnt appeal to me or my sense of personal safety. So the score is Tibidabo 1 Hollie 0. But i WILL be back! To both my relief and annoyance, i also found a shortcut on my way back which, had i only known, would have probably saved me.. oh i dont know… about ONE HOUR! But anyways, i enjoyed the fresh air AND i discovered a perfect new spot to sit, read and ponder – the chair pictured below : )

I returned home slightly ashamed and since then have more or less been working on this epicly long blog – particularly since the photos can takes AGES to load and i take ALOT of photos. Needless to say after my adventures i will sleep well tonight and i hope as always that you have enjoyed reading of my latest experiences! I also just want to thankyou for visiting the site, especially those dedicated regulars as in the past few days i’ve been getting about 100 page views a day! The total number of views is currently at 1,330!!!! I cant describe how great it is to know your interested in what im doing and it really is the best motivation to keep exploring this great city and making the most of my time abroad!
Until next time, yours truly, HG



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2 responses to “A weekend of wintry sunshine

  1. roland

    I know Barcelona but I enjoy the way you discribe your week-end you still make good photos.
    Go on!!!

  2. sally

    loved your weekends adventure. amy and tom came over today so i could at last access the computer. I love the adventures you just happen upon, as you say it is the most rewarding part of traveling. also glad the tomtom is of use. keep up your wonderful journal of your gap year lots of love Mum

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