Yippee yay, we were headed to Barcelona for a couple days! We flew out of Bergamo's Orio Al Serio airport early Friday morning. This is the low-cost airline, Ryan Air's hub out of Milan, and it's about an hour away from where we are and to avoid the morning traffic, we had to hit the road before 6am. (Needless to say, we were pretty tired by the time we arrived).
Here's a shot of what I think is the French Riviera coast from the airplane.
It was only an 1 hr 10 min flight. Next thing we knew, we were landing in Gerona. We then got on a bus that took us into downtown Barcelona. That took another hour but it wasn't bad. The bus was comfortable and we got to see some scenery. From the bus station, we hopped on to the Metro (underground) and headed to our hotel. We grabbed a small bite to eat, took a quick nap and we were ready to hit the streets.
Our hotel was just a 5 minute walk from the Hospital de St Pau metro station. This is the Hospital de St Pau. It was built between 1901-1930 and is still a working hospital. It was designed by a Catalan architect, Luis Domenech i Montaner, who heavily influenced Catalan's Modernisme.
Just down the street from the hospital is La Sagrada Familia, one of the legendary Gaudi's masterpieces which he started in 1883 and is still a work in progress until today.
It's quite a breathtaking sight. The detailed finishings, the towers that soar up into the skies, capped with the whimsical looking spires, the nativity scene and the many sculptures. It was alot to take in. And boy, does Gaudi have some imagination.
From here we walked on towards Passeig de Gracia, which is a beautiful wide avenue lined with lots of high end stores. I loved the ornate street lamps and benches all along the street, great for resting our weary feet and people-watching. ;-)
At the end of the street was Placa de Catalunya, a huge square with fountains and statues, right before where the Ramblas starts.
The Ramblas is a pedestrian-only street where you can find loads of locals and tourists almost all hours of the day.
It's pretty interesting. There are small shops selling all kinds of small pets (birds, hamsters, bunny rabbits), flower shops, newspaper stands...
And lots of street performers entertaining the crowds. There were some pretty creative stunts out there.
At the end of the Ramblas is the harbor where Barcelona meets the sea. Look at what a beautiful day we were having...
This was an awesome looking bridge called Rambla de Mar, continuing the Rambla over the harbor waters. When we got there, we saw the crowds of people standing in the middle and wondered what was happening.
Turns out that parts of the bridge/walkway slides open every hour or so to let boats through. How cool was that! I really liked the graceful wavy look of the walkway.
There were lots of people out and about. Check out the cute looking buoy floating nearby.
The whole area around Port Vell was nice. There's an aquarium, shopping center, marina, and restaurants there. And for those of us who couldn't afford our own boats, there were lots of nice ones to look at and admire.
Especially this 178-foot beauty of a sailboat all sleek with decks of shiny teak. We stopped here to gape for quite a bit, along with many others.
Wow, what a great first day. The sun was going down and we had walked for hours! I really enjoyed the sights and the atmosphere with all the locals and tourists around. We took the convenient metro back to our hotel and rested up for the evening.