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Trip Report Barcelona June 2013 Trip Report

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Just got back from a few days in Barcelona with a fellow Fodorite. Had a fab time and will post this trip report in instalments, (with pics if you are good).

Monday.

I don't like flying very much so opted to go by train. I'm only about half an hour from St Pancras, so was able to combine Eurostar with the overnight sleeper from Paris-Austerlitz. The journey was painless - had limited myself to a small leather weekend bag and no other luggage (apart from cross body bag for taking out and about once I got to Barcelona). Chatted to a lovely guy on Eurostar who was visiting his daughter in Paris - he told me she was an eternal student, flitting from one course to another, and just about to start a jewellery making one next, the fees for which he was slightly worried were going to bankrupt him. Charged all my devices (phone, camera and Kindle) using the on board plugs - probably needlessly as they all had a charge before leaving, but I do like to get my moneys worth. :-)

At Gare Du Nord I caught the metro to Austerlitz, then had a couple of hours before boarding the sleeper, to get a sandwich and people watch. Managed to tick off a number of the standard Parisian stereotypes - couple rowing and a chain smoking older lady with yappy dog in a bag. No men on bikes with onions, garlic or berets though. I'd opted for a reclining seat rather than a couchette, though knew I probably wouldn't sleep very much. Ideally, I'd have started out earlier and taken the new daytime high speed service to Sants, but the timetabling and pricing of this was delayed such that I was more or less forced to go with the overnight option. Anyway, it was no big deal and I later found there was hardly any difference in the pricing, just the extra transit time. The train, Joan Miro, was ancient and well worn but served it's purpose. None of the staff spoke French which baffled me a bit because although I was travelling with RENFE, 80% of the journey was through France. But it didn't stop me getting all the essentials like tea and toast and marmalade. Sat next to a lovely lady who helped out with a ticketing cock-up (the concierge took my return journey ticket as well as the outbound one in error), and who insisted on giving me loads of tips for bars and tapas in Barcelona, hastily scribbled on my map to get to the apartment. In the unlikely event you are reading this thank you very much for your help you lovely person!

Best bit of the journey was the last 3-4 hours, through an area of salt water flats not unlike the Camargue, then into Spain through a gap in the Pyrnees, where Hispanic architecture abruptly took over, a lot of ochre stone and bell towers suddenly in evidence. Passed a magnificent old station with soaring ceilings, marble floors and a wood panelled tea room straight out of Brief Encounter. Arrived at Barcelona Estacio De Franca just before 10:00am.

Walked through the Parc de la Ciutadella to the apartment we'd rented on the edge of Born/ Vila Olympica. An easy 15 minute stroll even with luggage. Was met by my lovely host, Ignacio, who checked me into the flat, shown below:-

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/431054

Great place on the 7th floor with a sunny terrace looking out over the city to the med, or, right, to Montjuic. Had pretty much everything you'd need including air con, not that we had it on, huge flatscreen, not that we stayed in enough to watch, and well positioned close to Marina metro, tram routes, bakers, supermarkets, newsagents and best of all a churreria!

After leaving Ignacio mailed me a list of recommended eateries and very kindly picked up a hair dryer for me which was delivered the same day. I nipped out to Lidl for some basic provisions and to await Tommy's arrival from Glasgow. (Stilldontknow/Weegie etc etc).

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