May 5, 2018
Today we took a bus to estación de tren and then rode back to Madrid at 9:30. Very tough to leave this gorgeous city with blue skies bidding us farewell… We transferred to another train there and headed off to our final destination in Spain – Barcelona. We are disappointed to know that the weather forecast calls mostly for rain – but perhaps they will be wrong… And besides, we know how to have fun in all circumstances and we aren’t going to let a little rain get in our way!!
We mostly have entertainment type plans here. Bill will call the shots on historical and tourist type attractions we will visit as I saw much last year when I visited. We do have on tap reservations at the Sagrada Família later in the week.
This means I will likely be spending less time here on the factoid bent I have saturated readers with this past ten days! This is probably a good thing!!! My blog of May, 2017 has some scoop if you care to check out the archives.
The train ride was smooth and enjoyable through lovely agricultural countryside and a very relaxing two and a half hours. We spent some time trying to figure out a bus (didn’t preplan this one) and determined it would be multiple routes so opted for a taxi. It only ended up being 8 euros so it felt like a deal! Rather than be dropped at the hotel we got off at Plaça de Catalunya and walked the ten blocks – as our hotel is tucked away off the beaten track and tricky to find (though amongst tons of stores and restaurants). I stayed at the same location last year and chose to do so again for familiarity sake.
We unpacked and headed over to St Josep La Boqueria, a Huge open air market. I remembered that it was closed on Sundays from last year so we thought to make it a first priority on this Saturday – for viewing, for a late lunch and to stock up on some snacks.
Wow were the crowds out!!!!! So many people on La Rambla which is a tree lined street popular with tourists and locals alike. It stretches 3/4 of a mile connecting Plaça de Catalunya uptown with The Christopher Columbus Monument on the waterfront. It was extremely crazy with folks in the market, too! We decided to table the shopping and get down to the eating!!! The market seated food options had a great vibe but diners were wall to wall and we retreated to Caruso, an Italian joint, for pizza. It was just ok and the wine marginal but we were hungry.
It suddenly started pouring down rain so we were very happy to be right where we were, observing those outside in all different levels of preparedness or lack thereof. By the time we had finished, so had the rain! We got lucky earlier, too, as we could see the rain against the train’s windows when approaching the Barcelona station and the sidewalks were wet with standing water, but we didn’t get rained upon.
We bought some cheeses, figs, a gigantic avocado, a baguette of bread and of course, some wine.
We took our afternoon break at our hotel and again the skies broke open. What a lovely sound against our closed windows!!
We had some inroom tapas of our own design, prefunc’d with a glass of vino and spent our Saturday night with theBarcelona Four Guitars, a wonderful performance at The Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music).
“This concert hall is designed in the Catalan modernista style and was built between 1905 and 1908 for the Orfeó Català, a choral society founded in 1891 that was a leading force in the Catalan cultural movement that came to be known as the Renaixença (Catalan Rebirth). It was inaugurated February 9, 1908. In 1997, the Palau de la Música Catalana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, more than half a million people a year attend musical performances in the Palau that range from symphonic and chamber music to jazz and Cançó (Catalan song).” From Wikipedia.
Please check out the Wikipedia article -its a fascinating look at the architecture during that time period. I soooo loved being at this theater!!!!! It was right up there with seeing some of the renowned monuments we have seen, and truly, it IS Very historic!!
As for the concert, it was so Fun and delightful!! Bill pulled this rabbit out of his hat and what a great surprise!!! This is what was noted at their website: “Humor and virtuosity: a Spanish guitar concert for the whole family. The maestros Manuel Gonzalez, Xavier Coll, Ekaterina Zaytseva and Belisana Ruiz, accompanied by the enigmatic Jose Luis, invite you to an evening of humor and virtuosity, full of surprises. Four internationally-acclaimed guitarists, each one with a uniquely different background, combine their impeccable interpretations with moments of sympathy. A unique concert that brings together both the pleasure of smiling and listening to great masters of all times.”
They were EXTREMELY Talented classical guitar musicians and I was filled with JOY The Entire concert with a Big Ol’ Smile on my face!!!! They played several pieces from the opera, Carmen and also a piece from the Nutcracker as well as others I recognized and that you probably would as well! For the encoré we found out that one was an amazing operatic tenor and another allowed us to hear the Massive pipe organ played masterfully in a haunting Dracula piece!!!!
Bill and I were up way past our bedtime but we mustered and stopped in for late night drinks, some tapas (since we didn’t have dinner) and people watched. Crazy what goes on after dark!!!!!