The cathedral bell just tolled 8:00. Robin and I have been awake for perhaps an hour. With some free time on my hands I decided to post a brief update on our travels. We have been both blessed and spoiled since departing Manresa for Barcelona. First of all the train from Manresa could not have been more convenient. On Wednesday we went to mass at the cathedral in Manresa in a beautiful chapel just below the main alter. It was pretty well attended, for a daily mass, with an ancient priest as presider. No early retirement for him. After mass we gathered our gear, and made the short walk to the train station, bought our tickets, and crossed under the tracks to the far side where our train awaited us. Ten minutes later we slipped quietly out of the station. A hour and fifteen minutes later we pulled into the station at Plaza Catalunya. This train was a local and had made several stops on the way into Barcelona. Plaza Catalunya was not the end of the line but was close to our hotel, the Hotel Montecarlo, so off we jumped. We quickly got our bearings and walked down La Rambla two blocks to our hotel. The trip couldn’t have been easier. In we walked and were told that our room had been upgraded to a suite. The young man at the desk, who spoke excellent English, seemed quite happy that we would get to enjoy a larger room. As we opened the door to 308 we we’re shocked to find ourselves dropped into the lap of luxury. We had spent nights on this pilgrimage where our room was not much larger than just our bathroom. Robin loved the huge spa style tub. So, another unexpected gift. Makes me kind of wonder. La Rambla is the main artery through the old part of the city and was surprisingly bustling with tourists even in February. Despite all this activity, and the fact that our hotel was right on this street, we have slept soundly never hearing a thing. Admittedly our room did not face the street. It is a perfect setting for enjoying the city, with all kinds of shops, restaurants, bars, and sights right close at hand.
One of our must see things was the Sagrada Famìlia Basilica. This is a wondrous creation envisioned by native son, Antoni Gaudi. The grounbreaking dates back to 1882, but much work still continues today. I believe I heard that the estimated completion date is now, 2030. The genius of Gaudi is evident throughout this amazing church. His attention to detail, his engineering skills, and his artistic vision has all come to life in a structure unlike anything else in the world (I would guess). If you want to visit it is recommended to purchase your tickets online. You don’t need to print them as they can scan your phone at the entrance. We also took advantage of the local hop on, hop off, bus tour. It was a great way to get a feel for the city. A one day pass is 27 euros per person. Beyond those two things we just roamed through the old part of the city enjoying a coffee here, a glass of wine there, a few tapas, even an actual meal, and then more people watching at night. Barcelona has great tourist infrastructure, and whether you speak Spanish or not is not an issue. It is easy to get what you need. It is a beautiful city with lots to see, and do. We will be catching a taxi at 3:30 am to head for Amsterdam where we will connect to a direct flight to Portland. We should be home by noon on Saturday. We have had a wonderful time in Spain, but it is now time to turn homeward bound, and we are now ready. So, goodnight from Barcelona, another city that seems to do well with little sleep.