Sunday, October 19, 2008

Barcelona: Part 2

One thing that impressed me about Barcelona was the very efficient underground/metro system. We used the trains countless times during our stay there and were impressed. The trains and stations were clean, well-lit and well-utilized by both locals and tourists. We bought the 10-pack of tickets which cost 7.20 euro, vs 1.30 euro for an individual ticket. Highly affordable and highly recommended if you're visiting the city.

This is a shot of one of the older trains. I liked the 'butt-hugger' seats for standing passengers. (I don't know what else to call them!) Smart, I thought, so even those standing can stand at ease. hehe. It was also really impressive how the trains were full even at midnight. There were all kinds of people, young and old, using the trains all day. We never once felt unsafe.

While walking around, we also noticed people riding red and white bicycles marked 'BICING'. What was this all about? This was the newest public transportation in Barcelona. There are about of these bicycle stations all around the city where subscribers and pick up and drop of bikes any time of the day. What an ingenious idea! So you can pick up a bike and ride to your destination, where you can then drop it off at the nearest Bicing station. No need to worry about finding a place to lock your bike; you could even decide to get ride home with a friend instead if you wanted to. Very cool.

So we started the day with a visit to the Palau de La Musica Catalana, Barcelona's concert hall in designed in the Catalan modernista style. We arrived on a side street and marveled at the modern looking glass covering the side of the building.

Even the street lamps were intricately decorated.

Then we realized we hadn't even seen the front of the building. It was really amazing, with the red brick and the colorful mosaic. The ceramic mosaic doesn't show up too well here as it was cloudy that morning.

Here am I at one of the ticket windows.

There were countless of sculptures adorning the building as well. We didn't get to see the concert hall, but apparently it is the only in Europe that is illuminated entirely by natural light during the day, through an enormous skylight of stained glass. The next time we're in town, we definitely want to get tickets to a show here.

Then Ste spotted a Xocoa, a chocolate museum on the now beat-up city map that we've been carrying around. We didn't end up visiting the museum, but we did visit the store. ;-)

There was a mouthwatering selection of chocolates, and lots of kids running around on a chocolate-high.

We picked out these cute little chocolate truffle-filled porcupines. They didn't last too long in the bag...

It was just really nice wandering around the city exploring the different neighborhoods.

I liked the Born district, where there were alot of fashionable looking stores including this French bakery. The next time we're in Barcelona, this is where I'd like to stay, with the tree-lined walkways and historic buildings.

More wandering in the city...

I'd describe us as the 'un-structured' tourist. We're more the leisurely, wandering type, prefering to go where the locals go, eating what the locals eat, stopping longer at spots that interest us, and bypassing the ones that don't. We probably end up missing some of the 'monumental' sites and museums, but there's only so many tourist spots one can handle. We never really do the tours either, so we're probably also missing out on the historical facts. But this is how we like to experience and enjoy a city and its unique culture.

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