Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Adios Altea, bienvenu Barcelona

With Richard and Elizabeth at the seafood restaurant by the beach in Calpe

Our last few days in Altea were more of the same, lovely dinner party at home on Wednesday, at Jane and Michaels on Friday, and a last trip to the fish restaurant in Calpe on Saturday. With floor painting, wall painting, climbing and chilling between times.

She made me post this photo! In Elizabeths old clothes painting the floor
Jane, Michael, Jackie, Elizabeth, John, Isabella, Carolyn, John and Amy
We readied ourselves for leaving on Sunday by packing, checking the car over and sadly over filling it with oil, the penalty of the car being on a lateral slope made it look completely empty! Sunday in Spain, means everything is shut, so nowhere to buy the special fancy tool to release the drain valve on the fuel sump. Is it really a problem? Who knows but the handbook states too much oil may damage the engine or the catalytic converter, hmm, not really worth the risk then. So, would we be leaving on Monday after all? I contacted to see if we could postpone our booking, beginning to be a bit of a habit this, before meeting Jane and Michael at a bar on the seashore, all feeling slightly discombobulated. Pleasant drink, particularly as we were joined by Carolyn, John, their son and daughter in law and four year old granddaughter Isabella. Four that very day and very keen on trying out her new bike!

Barcelona from Montjuic 1992 Olympic Stadium hill. Spectators for the diving and swimming events had this view as a backdrop
Jazz-jive dancing in the street on La Ramba, Barcelona. Yes, we joined in!
Back home, still no email from, so gave them a call, eventually after much tooing and froing we were informed we were unable to move our reservation. So bright and early Brian and father set off to he garage, no joy, with Sunday and Tuesday being national holidays many people were taking the day in between too. Fortunately the local DIY shop, suppliers of floor varnish and balloon whisks, had a set of the special screwdrivers required. So with the correct tool, job done in 10 minutes and off we set for Barcelona, only 20 mins after our planned departure time.

The olympic stadium on Montjuic hill
After a good journey, though what would I know? I didn't drive, we arrived in Barcelona, despite the predictions of hideous traffic. Checked in and were out on the town by 16.00. Down the Ramblas to the sea, then a quick trip to the Sagrada Familia the famous church designed by Gaudi and still under construction, for the last 125 ish years. Thought we'd see it lit up, sadly not, and it was a longer walk than we realised. 8 miles we'd done by the time we got back to the restaurant we'd eyed up, near to the hotel. After a hearty menu del dia  of paella, sautéed rabbit and creme caramel for me, and bean and bacon stew, fried mixed fish and creme caramel for him we returned to the hotel, not bad, with beer for €10 each.

View from our hotel room balcony. The Sagrada Familia basillica is just in view.....
Here's an enlarged section. See the tower cranes over
We had decided already to do the open top bus tour, recommended by everyone, which we are really glad we did, saw the city which has some beautiful buildings, not just the weird and wonderful Gaudi ones, which are quite amazing, though strangely reminiscent of the house with 100 rooves , and the crazy house in Dalat, Vietnam. We also had a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia which was very interesting and very worthwhile, it is an amazing building, indescribable, even by the pictures. We were fortunate that the sun had come out showing the colours through the stained glass windows in an amazing way. They are hoping to be finished in 2026 as this would mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death, but really pigs might fly, even the more realistic 2046 would seem a tall order.

Gaudi's famous La Pedrera
His even more famous Sagrada Familia basillica
Whilst waiting for our tour slot time of 3:00pm for the Sagrada we whiled away 15 minutes walking round the building and parks offering great views of the Sagrada, taking photos. Ignoring the masses of pigeons we were drawn to the noise from the palm tree tops, not pigeons but lots of very noisy parrots who have made the area home, even though it's in the middle of a city. No photos though, they were just too fast!

We finished off the bus tour, cold by this time, and hopped off to see the flamenco show we had planned. Wow, talk about energy, and thighs of steel, amazing, though an hour was probably long enough, any longer and I'd have had a headache, and you'd think they would have a headache, though as this was the first of three shows for the evening perhaps not. Back to the same restaurant as last night, not something we do often, but we were really beyond making a decision, and it has been very good. We both went for a half menu, rather not than a full and were still both very full.

The west side of the Sagrada. Started in 1882 by Gaudi's tutor, continued by him and extravagantly modified from the original idea of a parish church until his death in 1926 and continued to be built today mainly to his design. They would like to complete it by 2026, but this is considered too optimistic. 2046 is thought more realistic
A model of what it should finally look like.the huge central steeple yet to be built
We set off this morning to return to Richard and Judith's in the Dordogne having spent £40 in tolls on the way to Barcelona we are doing this one toll free, it's been very pretty so far, though very windy and slow over the Pyrenees, BUT there was some snow, and the odd very carefully pisted ski run. Did mean I had to stop typing though!

The interior with sunlight shining through the windows
Stop Press: Have just arrived back at Richard and Judiths house in the Dordogne, France after a long but picturesque journey through the Pyrenees. The heating is on, we’ve cooked dinner, watched Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two and are now sitting with a glass of wine – all is well with the world!

An attempt to show the scale of the interior.Apparently the columns are supposed to resemble trees with branches and tree canopies at the top
Modern Barcelona
The superb flamenco show. There were about 12 of them and about the same number of us in the audience!
Man at C&A, Barcelona style
Nothing needs to be said
Snow in the Pyrenees today as we drove over. This was very near to the border with Andorra, several ski resorts had pistes that looked groomed and, if not open, ready for skiing. Jackie saw some skiers on one

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