It has become quite late tonight and we do not wake up until 10:30. First we have breakfast on the roof terrace where we have a view over the roofs of the old city and the harbor in the distance. We are centrally located in Barrio Gótico, the Gothic Quarter, the center of the old town. Through the many narrow streets we see from the roof only the roofs of the houses and here and there a church tower.
In the distance we see Montjuic, a hill in the southeast of the city. In the west we see Tibidabo in the distance, a mountain we want to visit this week. We have little planned for this week, only a few things that we have not seen or done before and of course a lot of walking through the older parts of the city.
But after breakfast we first drink coffee on our favorite square, Placa Reial. We also have a favorite terrace, but there it is always windy and because it is still fresh today we try another one. The coffee is twice as expensive and the service is not that smooth and nice. But we still have a lot of terraces to try out on the square and we will probably sit there much more often. Right next to the Ramblas, it is usually an oasis of peace (except last night when we did not get through the crowds) and artists regularly perform there. A wonderful place to recover.
Then we take a long walk through the old city and we just wander around without a fixed plan. I like especially the mazes of narrow streets and unexpected squares very much. Although we walk 10 times through the same street, there are always new details that we have not seen before. And of course we end up on the Rambla, a long boulevard that actually consists of five Ramblas. That is why the boulevard is also called the Ramblas.
Early in the morning it may still be extinct, but usually the Rambla is a busy place, with peddlers, animal shops, kiosks, terraces, flower sellers and of course many artists. Originally, the Rambla was a kind of drainage of water from the city, a river bed that allowed the water to flow from the mountains to the sea in heavy rains. The Rambla runs from Placa Catalunya to the old port and is almost one and a half kilometers long.
The Rambla is best known for the living statues, artists with make-up who remain dead still. Nowadays you will find those artists in many other world cities, but the tradition seems to have originated here. It strikes us, however, that the art of standing still is diluting a lot, because most artists have become rather mobile.
At the Avinguda del Portal de l'Angel we see a thermometer against a building indicating that it is still 25 degrees, but it feels cooler, perhaps because the sun is not shining. We love warm weather, so we don't mind if it gets a few degrees higher. In the gigantic department store El Corte Inglés at the Placa de Catalunya we do some shopping and can immediately hide from the drizzle that starts to fall.Then we walk back to our apartment to relax, we already have done a lot of kilometers walking. And that is also the advantage of an apartmentcompared to a hotel room: we can go there whenever we want, it is spacious and we can even make food if we want to. But for hot food we usually go into the town, which is much more fun and often not too expensive.
In the evening, after a walk to Parallel metro station, we continue to the Plaça d'Espanya. From here a wide boulevard runs from the two so-called Ventian towers (Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina) to the Palau Nacional and the hill Montjuïc. From Thursday to Sunday (in the winter only Friday and Saturday) there is a light show in the evening at the Magic Fountains, the Font Magica. We had already looked more often but then we were there on the wrong day and there was no light show.
It is indeed a beautiful spectacle and there are thousands of people watching it. Yet we can walk around undisturbed because the boulevard and the adjacent squares are quite large. Next Wednesday the final fireworks of the festival La Merce will be held here and then there will be a lot more people.After a while we sit on a terrace near a public toilet with about 6 toilet boxes. There we are surprised to see how a male in appropriate work clothes, an aerosol can and cleaning cloth in his hand, permits people, opens a door (which apparently can not be locked) and cleans every toilet after use within 5 seconds. He remembers flawlessly which toilets are unoccupied and only someone is startled when a visitor ignores the instructions of the cleaner and just opens a door. A detail that strikes me most: never before have I seen women leave a toilet so fast, probably because the door can not be locked, is my theory.
We only started out late today, but we feel totally at home here. And now we only hope that the weather forecasts are not correct, we have already had enough rain and cold weather on holiday this year ...