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Trip Report Visiting Cataluña and Andorra

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Part I
We flew American Airlines to Madrid and followed with an Iberia flight to Barcelona.
Coming down we got an upgrade to business class, the service is very good in American; Iberia has too many seats in the Airbus between Madrid-Barcelona.
Iberia has the most beautiful VIP room in the Satellite 4 in Barajas. offering the best food ever. The name of the place is Velazquez , and it is the best VIP I have ever been too.

We stayed twice in Barcelona at the beginning of the trip we were fortunate of being guests in a friend 's apartment in the heart of Passseig de Gracia. Location was tops and from there on everything seemed easier and everything was very convenient.
We could not help been delighted with the charm of its mini-paseos and rows of trees, we enjoyed late in the day to stroll along doing window shopping. We walked and walked everywhere carefully taking only once a bus( going to the Mount Montjuic), only once with outmost care we took a metro from Sagrada Familia to the Raval area, and we took also a couple of taxis (which are reasonable). I am happy to say that we were not chosen by the pickpocket artists that seem to floc to Barcelona from everywhere to join the local ones. We believe that not taking the metro on a regular basis helped a lot.
We arrived on the 17 May, only to find out that the 18 May was International Museum Day...NO entrance we tried to take advantage within reason, we visited first and early the amazing MNAC, the Museu Nacional d'art de Catalunya,
this ia must for anyone visiting Barcelona. it houses many beautiful pieces of Romanic and Gothic art from nearby little villages. Mural paintings were bought and and transported from all these little romanic churches in the Pirineos between 1919 to 1923 to avoid loosing them by being exported and also of been stolen by adventures who very often exchanged real treasures for almost nothing from the local priests.
Among so many, there are beautiful pieces like the apse from Santa Maria de Aneu, with welcoming angels and their unusual wings and many more.
The museum is huge and covers the 19 th and 20 th century decorative art and paintings. In all it is a fascinating place, when we were there there was an exhibit of Torres Garcia 's work
Joaquin Torres Garcia born in Montevideo, Uruguay has in common with other great artists as Picasso to have been nurished by a wonderfully creative adopted city.
From the MNAC the views are amazing, from there we flagged a passing taxi and for
3 euros he took us to the MIro which is also located in the Parc of Montjuic.The collection
donated by the artist himself is so huge that only a portion of it can be shown at any one time.
Being lunch time we took a taxi to nearby the Placa of the Olies hoping to get into
Cal Pep ( 8 euros) , but his was impossible, it has becamed so famous that people lines behind the stools hoping to get one. Frankly, I could hardly eat with someone anxiously waiting on my back,
unfortunatelly we tried another day with same luck. It seems all tourists in Barcelona go there early. It was a disapointment.
Instead my friend took us to a more formal restaurant who specializes in rice, called Senyor Paellada, with wine and desserts etc we paid 61.78 euros for three.
it was good, but not exciting. Later we had coffee in a little plaza waiting for Santa Maria del Mar to be opened, it is closed between 1 and 4.30 PM. So we walked around and after coffee in a cafe in a tiny plaza,we stopped in really nice bar, totally empty except for a pintoresque owner and had an Orujo,...
I think the name Orujo is from Galicia, anyway it seems to be alcohol with added herbs and served cold , I am sure everybody knows what an orujo is. With the orujo came a lot of chatting with the owner which was very pleasant while time went by. Orujo was 3 eur each.
Finally we had an ice cream 2.50 eur each across from the Catedral del Mar, and eventually got in.
I have read the wonderful book The Catedral of the Sea, I highly recommend to read it
before going to Barcelona. Being at this beautiful church was awesome, I made my business to come back a couple of times during this trip.
That day we rushed to the Picasso Museum, free entrance as well, this museum is absolutely fantastic not only for thePicasso collection but because of being located in
in five medieval mansions in a row.
From there the whole Barri Gotic is at your feet, and it is a fascinating place where we came back as many times as we could. From our apartment we simply walked passing by the huge Plaza Catalunya , choosing different routes.
Next day,May 19 , we took the Bus Turistic , we hopped in right across our apartment, we did not get off at the Sagrada Familia because although it was fairly early in the morning there was like a mob waiting to get it, so we left the Sagrada Famila for the next day. It was a wise decision because we were going to be there before opeing and minimized the waiting to ten minutes. The bus took us on upper Paseo de Gracia,our first stop was Park Guel, we were on the blue route. From the bus stop it is a long walk up the hill to the Park Entrance . The park was initially a real state venture of Gaudi's friend Count Guell who planned to make this a modern garden city community of 60 dwellings. It was never completed.
The park is interesting, Gaudi 's imaginative creations are everywhere. Innvolves a lot of walking and it is full of tourists , street vendors that rushed out in front of our eyes when the police approached, and so forth.

Next we got off at the Monestir de Pedralbes, located in an upscale area, the Monestir
was founded in 1326 by the wife of Jaime II, the name of theQueen is Elisenda de Montcada, this is the same noble family that houses part of the Picasso Museum.
Everything is beautiful in this monastery, the Cloister, the main rooms, and so forth. Also the entrance and nearby buildings are very nice. It was lunch time and we looked for a place to have lunch, we found a nice restaurant a couple blocks away called Restaurante El Mato,
fixed menu was 18 euros and food was very good. Lunch for 3 added to 64 eu with wine. Across the street we cought back the
Bus Turistic , we got off at Palau REial to stroll on its park, then we got the bus again going into the Soccer Stadium of the Barcelona, ( a great team to become later during our trip champion of Europe) we choose not to step down, however many soccer fans did.

Later we switched to the red line who took us to the beach area. We got off and stroll by the beaches and many cafes, bars and music places. We got into one and had some drinks and coffee. They had music and the whole atmosphere was very lively.
We caught one of the last buses who took us back across the street from our apartment.
It was a lovely day, and we felt we put to good use the 23euro ticket.
From the bus we had a full view of the protesters that had camped in the Plaza de Catalunya. There is a lot of disspointment on all political parties going on.
Will continue

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