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I Shouldn't Be Alive: Spain & Italy...in August...in a wheelchair!

I Shouldn't Be Alive: Spain & Italy...in August...in a wheelchair!

Old Sep 27th, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Great report! You had a lot of patience with the woman in ice CREAM store. I think I would have said, what part of CREAM don't you understand!? Even if the employees there Could speak English, I wouldn't have blamed them for pretending they couldn't.

CindyP.
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 03:09 PM
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Day 6 - Barcelona

We wake up early and make the long trek to La Sagrada Familia. Our hotel is really well placed in the city, but Barcelona is much bigger than Seville so everything is more spread out. Its about a 40 minute walk to the cathedral, but its really easy because its so flat and there are curb cutouts and crosswalks everywhere. Barcelona, in my opinion, is such a pretty city. Its very clean and there are trees dispersed all throughout. As we walk along we notice that unlike Seville, most shops and restaurants don't have any steps to enter - this will be easy!

We make it to La Sagrada Familia and I can't believe we're here. The first Barcelona sight I ever learned about was this church and that is when I said to myself, "I've gotta go there." As we get closer we see a huge line and we regret not leaving earlier, oh well. We head around the building to the end and get in line. We weren't even standing there for 5 minutes when an employee approaches us and tells me that we don't have to wait in the line. I'm not sure how they even knew we were there, but they quickly usher us to the front. Both of our admissions are free and a gate is opened for me to go through. There is a relatively steep ramp to get to the entrance of the church, but it isn't a problem and Mike pushes me up easily.

Before we even consider going inside, we spend 20 minutes taking in all of the details on this side of the exterior. Its unlike any church or building I've ever seen and I'm amazed. I love all of the different figures, let alone the detailing on the word-engraved doors. Michael is equally in awe and studies everything almost as closely as I do. Its starting to get really crowded around the entrance area so we enter. Lets just say that the interior doesn't disappoint either. The church is huge and makes me feel so small. There is so much detail I'm overwhelmed, but everything is breathtakingly beautiful. I love how each section of stained glass is a different color theme - one giant area of all blues, the next all oranges and reds, etc. I feel like a crazy tourist snapping so many pictures, but I can't help it I want to remember every detail.

Eventually I relax and just walk around enjoying everything, I don't want to get so caught up in taking pictures that I don't actually see anything. For as big as it is, there are still areas that are devoid of people and we don't feel rushed or crowded. We take our time and easily spend over an hour in this area of the church. We filter out of the back and decide to go down to the museum area. The ramp to go here is extremely steep - unsafely so. Mike holds on to me, but even then there are instances where my tires lose traction and I slide a little bit. Despite this, I'm just so happy that I get to see this section (which I was very skeptical that I'd be able to get to) that the danger of the ramp quickly leaves my mind.

Here there are lots of models of the cathedral and its sculptures. Diagrams and drawings of the initial plans and construction process fill room after room and everything is fascinating. We spend over an hour in the museum before we head back toward the entrance. I am happy to find a wheelchair accessible bathroom here so I make a quick stop before being challenged again by the ramp to go back up.

Once up the ramp we take some time to study this side of the exterior, which looks so different than the other side that you almost wouldn't know its the same building. I've always thought of this side to look like a giant candle covered in melting wax. As we take our last few glances at the church, Mike turns to me and suggests that we come back in 2020 when the construction is complete. I, of course, say yes

By now the sky looks dark and angry and I'm worried that we're going to get stuck in the middle of a downpour. We decide that its a good time to find some place to eat and let the weather pass so we walk a couple of blocks down to try to find a restaurant that isn't too touristy or overpriced. We end up at a little place that serves tapas and crepes. We're seated at a little table and given menus in Spanish. We figure things out enough to order two cokes and two crepes - both with fried eggs, bacon and cheese. I absolutely adore breakfast foods and its a rarity that I will pass them up when given the choice. We wait and look through the guidebook to decide where we want to go next. I hope that it doesn't turn into a nasty, miserable day full of rain. I wouldn't normally allow rain to ruin my day, but its a pain to roll around in it. All of the water congregates in the dips of the curb cutouts, my hands slide when trying to push because everything is wet, and its hard to stay dry with regular sized umbrellas because they aren't wide enough to cover both my head and my legs - its just a giant mess that I don't want to deal with.

Our food arrives and we put the threatening skies out of our mind. The crepes taste exactly like I thought they would, not fancy but so good. Afterward Michael insists that we order a chocolate & banana one for dessert and I don't protest. Its also delicious and we're full and content. By the time we are ready to leave it looks like the storm is going to hold off and I give a sigh of relief.

We decide to head for La Pedrera. Every single guidebook and website that I've read has stated that this is not wheelchair accessible. I was disappointed when I first read this, but I've accepted it and I insist that Mike goes in without me. He usually refuses and puts up a fight, but I tell him that he absolutely has to go in and that I don't mind waiting for an hour or so. We arrive to the building and I'm surprised when an employee tells me that I can indeed go in! I'm so happy and excited that I'm smiling from ear to ear.

We buy our tickets (both are full price) and we're taken around to the side where a giant glass door with wrought iron detailing is opened. We walk around the ground floor for a few minutes, then head to the next level. The elevator is only available for those with mobility limitations and it is the most charming lift I've ever seen. Its old and creaky, but its so cute and has so much character that I wish I had one just like it in our house. We exit and start to explore the rooms of the apartment. We go from room to room and I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. The children's room is my favorite - there is the most adorable dollhouse with such incredible detail, I would have loved this when I was little. All of the little lamps even light up!

We go through the gift shop, which surprisingly has some really cute little toys - not as touristy and generic looking as I would have expected. Next we go to a floor that is more of a museum-type area. We use a different elevator to get to this floor - a regular "modern" elevator that can only be used with the assistance of an employee. I'm so happy that this is the case, because back at home it seems that everyone congregates and piles into every elevator. I know that some people genuinely need it, but a lot of people don't and as bad as this might sound, people are just plain lazy these days. Its sad when a group of perfectly healthy people plow their way into the elevator, while people with strollers, walkers and wheelchairs stand there and have to wait to constantly take the next one. It would have taken us 20 minutes to go from floor to floor if everyone in La Pedrera had had access to the lifts.

On this next floor there is a video biography of Gaudi and models of some of his works. There are small ramps all throughout this area, making it easy for me to get around and allowing me to see every part of the exhibit. When we're finished we go back to the elevator and head up to the roof.

Only a very small portion directly outside of the elevator is accessible, as the walkways are connected by steps. I'm still so high off the fact that I got to come in at all that I really don't care that I can't walk around the roof - I didn't even think I'd be able to see this small bit of it! Michael walks around and takes lots of photos and I look around at what I can. Its amazing! Can you imagine living here and having a rooftop like this to walk around on in the evenings? I'm still beaming when Mike gets back and we head back downstairs. I get one last ride in my favorite elevator before we get back to the exit.

Casa Batllo is next up on the agenda and isn't too far down the street. I had also read that this building wasn't accessible either. I'm wondering who wrote these articles and where they got this information from, because while at first glance La Pedrera didn't look accessible, it only took a second to ask and find out that it in fact was. We get to Casa Batllo and again we're told that I will indeed be able to go in! We buy two tickets (one is discounted, though in the end I don't think it was discounted enough, as there are a couple of floors that I won't have access to at all) which include audio guides and go right in.

Right away we feel like we're in some type of Willy Wonka house. There are absolutely no straight lines and everything looks distorted. I'm really glad there is an audio guide here because so much interesting information is included on it. You know how some audio guides are really educational, but at the same time really, REALLY slow and boring? This is not one of those.

The first room has a really cool stairwell to the next floor. The windows look like tortoise shells and the walls like fish scales. After listening to the guide and taking some photos we head back out to the elevator. This lift is REALLY small. If your chair is bigger than mine, it won't fit, period. (If anyone ever needs the dimensions of my chair I can get those for you...) I barely fit in it myself and I have to maneuver back and forth over and over until I'm all in and the door will close. No one can fit in the elevator with me so Michael takes the stairs and meets me on the next level.

The detail and thought behind every piece of glass and wood is insane and would have gone unrecognized without listening to the audio guide. Where you may think one room is so amazing that it can't be topped, you are instantly proven wrong with the next one. We go through a couple more floors before we get to two that I can't go on at all. An employee tells me that the next floor I can visit is the 5th, so I get in the elevator and hit 5. Mike agrees to meet me there and takes a couple of flights of stairs. I get to the 5th and wait by the steps for him, but he doesn't come. I'm wondering where he is, surely he walks faster than this. I eventually see the blur of his orange shirt through some glass and I know he's coming, but he goes halfway up the last flight then turns around to go back down. I think he is confused because the first floor was labeled as 0 instead of 1, so he must think he went too far. I figure he'll figure it out and come back up, but he never does. Ten minutes goes by, then fifteen. An employee approaches me and asks if I need help and I explain to her whats going on. She offers to go and look for him and I describe what he's wearing and tell her his name. She comes back a few minutes later and says that she couldn't find him. I'm torn between just continuing on without him or going back down. I wait another ten minutes, but when he doesn't come I just start exploring the floor. This last level has some really cool architecture, dramatic arches and spiral stairways fill the rooms. I don't listen to the audio guide here because I don't want to lose Mike for too long, but there are some really cool areas and I'd definitely like to go back and hear what I missed. One room has lights coming out from what look like slits in the ceiling - like its just poking through temporarily and will close up any second. It is in Casa Batllo that I decide that I love all things Gaudi. Everything is just so different and unconventional that its impossible to get bored with it.

Twenty minutes later I get in the elevator and head down to the ground floor. Before the elevator doors open I see Mike standing on the other side of them. I look at him and say, "where have you been?!" He looks back at me and says, "this is a house of horrors!" I ask why he didn't ask for help and he just glares at me, really why can't guys just ask for directions when they're lost?

We head outside and exhaustion suddenly hits us. Its been a really long day and we've crammed a lot into it. Its 6 o'clock, so we start our walk back to the hotel. Once we arrive we relax for a little while and talk about what we want for dinner. To be honest I'm not super hungry - I tend not to get hungry as often when I'm on vacation, even though we're so active. We decide not to go too far and around 9:30 we head out. Before dinner we stop in TopShop so that I can browse, but unfortunately its a lot smaller than the London store and nothing catches my eye. On to a little organic market that is one street over from our hotel. I think the name of it is actually just Organic Market, and its basically just a small organic grocery store. There are counters and stations inside with sandwiches and salads made to order, as well as pasta, pizza and oriental food stations. We decide to both get sandwiches and eat light. There are so many types of freshly made breads, cheeses and meats and it takes us a few minutes to decide. We place our orders, get some lemon sodas and take a seat. The market is pretty busy with people shopping for groceries, as well as people having quick dinners. Our sandwiches come and they're really good. Its the perfect meal for tonight - we have to spread out the big, heavy dinners. We finish and relax for a while. I show Mike the pictures of the 5th floor of Casa Batllo and he's disappointed that he missed it - another reason to return one day.

After dinner we take a walk around the fountains by Placa Cataluna and down La Rambla. Its as busy as ever and we can only take it in small doses. We go back to the hotel and collapse - so tired.
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 03:41 PM
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Wow - great report, Adoc. I was pooped just reading about how much you packed into your days - what a trooper you are! You've really got me convinced that I must go to Barcelona someday and see all that fantasmagorical Gaudi architecture up close and in person.
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 04:57 PM
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Are you serious that people would crowd onto an elevator and leave someone in a wheelchair "waiting" for the next one....

MY mom had a massive stroke and was in a wheelchair for 11 years, she was not very mobil and unable to transfer herself without a lot of help. It was extremely irritating when I couldn't find a handi parking place, but honestly, I think I would have rolled her chair on everyone's feet in the elevator had they left me to take the next one.

I have to say I get very excited for you when you find out that something is accessible and you get to visit it!!!!
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 05:26 PM
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Hazel1 - haha, yeah we squeezed a lot in, but I still don't feel like we rushed it so it worked out well. The Gaudi sights are absolutely amazing and unlike anything else, I highly recommend a visit!

Susanna - yes, unfortunately I am serious. It happens more often than you would probably think, and the funny thing is that it is usually adults who do it. Kids are actually surprisingly polite and compassionate when it comes to those kinds of things. I know exactly what you mean about handicap spots too, they're a hot commodity. Whats worse is that once I find one I usually get dirty looks from people who think I'm probably using my grandmother's handicap tag because I'm surely too young to need such a spot. Quite often people will just stop and stare, as if they are waiting to prove that I'm a fraud when I get out of the car. Luckily I am pretty out spoken so those types of people usually end up knowing what I think of them, hah
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 05:38 PM
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Adoc, I had a feeling you were outspoken I like that!

As someone said so perfectly above: there is a special place down below for those folks!
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 06:08 PM
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<i>So when the attendant comes to help us to our gate I am about to tell him that I'm okay and don't need to be pushed, but he looks so proud to be doing it and I don't want to bust his bubble and take the purpose away from his job. </i>

You are very kind and tactful.

I've really been enjoying your report. I can't tell you how many times I've traveled in Europe and looked at my hotel room, the restuarant I'm in, etc., and thought to myself, "How accessible is this? Oh, two steps down. Oh, door not wide enough for a wheelchair." And so on.

Can't wait 'til you get to Italy! In August. Oh my word.
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 06:10 PM
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p.s. Hope your pet is okay!
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 06:09 AM
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Leely2 - Thank you! And yes, our little puppy is fine. She had an obstruction in her stomach and intestines because she was naughty and got into the trash. She will make a full recovery though, thanks for your concern
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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Adoc, your report is so much fun! I love all the details in your descriptions of Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Battlo - it brings back so many memories. Like you, my husband and I love all things Gaudi. I'm not in a wheelchair but I have difficulty with stairs, so I saw the same little area of the roof of La Pedrera that you did, while my DH explored and took pictures.

Your writing is very very good. Thanks for taking the time to write this.
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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wonderful reading. I am so enjoying this report.
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 12:29 PM
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Wonderful! Am now caught up. Can't wait to "go" to Italy with you next.
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 06:42 PM
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Day 7 - Barcelona

We sleep in a little bit this morning after our busy day yesterday. Once up we head out to our first stop, El Palau de la Musica Catalana. Its not a long walk from the hotel and there's only a short line when we get there. My ticket is reduced to only 3.50 euros, but I'm told that I will still get to see every area of the tour. The next English tour is in about 25 minutes so we go inside to the cafeteria and wait. We decide to get a snack to hold us over so we end up sharing a cornetto-type pastry. No photos are allowed in any part of El Palau, yet we watch as tourist after tourist poses for a picture or aims their camera in all directions. I wonder how many of them will get home and see one of the many "no photo" signs in the background. Every once in a while the security guard will catch one and point out that no pictures are allowed, but most of the time they get away with it.

The tour begins and we're taken into a side room where we're told a little bit of history before watching a short video about the construction of the building. Its pretty interesting given that we really didn't know much of anything about El Palau before today. Our guide leads us out of the room where the security guard approaches us to take Mike and I to the elevator. He is probably about our age and looks just oh so enthused about his job. He asks us where we're from and says that he wishes he could go back to the US with us. On the way up to the next floor he makes really cheesy jokes and he seems so happy to get the chance to talk to people - I'm sure it gets really boring just watching to make sure tourists don't snap pictures.

We exit the lift and meet back up with our tour group. We enter the ground floor of the auditorium, which is a lot smaller than either of us imagined it to be. Just the same its beautiful and ornately decorated. Our guide describes some of the architecture and we're amazed by the fact that none of the glass windows or dome ceiling was ever damaged at all during the war, despite the destruction of many of the surrounding buildings. The guide uses a remote to play a song on the organ, allowing us to experience the acoustics of the room. Afterward we head back to the elevator to go up to the upper level of the auditorium.

The same security guard meets us, still looking as bored as ever. He drops us off on the next floor, where we meet our group in a room designed for intermissions. We hear a little about the design of this room and its interesting to learn about the techniques used to make the building look farther away from the neighboring one than it really is. We go back into the auditorium where our guide continues her architecture/history lesson and we get a closer look at the "glow worm." Afterward we meet up with the guard one last time to go back down to the ground floor. He tells us that he still has to work another 10 hours and he looks miserable just thinking about it, poor guy. Our guide says her goodbyes and we head outside to take some pictures of the exterior.

From here we decide to go to the Picasso museum. Neither of us are huge Picasso fans, but we're in Barcelona so I feel like we should pay it a visit. Its a pretty short walk and only takes us about 10 minutes to find. Its really crowded and there are people everywhere. We get our tickets - mine is free and Mike pays full price - and go inside. We're directed to the elevator, where an employee takes us to the first floor of the museum. We enter the first room and take our time studying all the paintings. Its really interesting to see how Picasso's work evolved during his lifetime, his early work and his later pieces are so drastically different. We float around for about an hour and a half before we are exhausted of looking at art that we aren't enthused about (sorry Picasso fans!). An employee asks us if we want to visit the temporary exhibit and at first we hesitate, but we're here so why not? We take the elevator to the next floor and we are so happy we decided to stay. This exhibit is comprised with artists more to our liking - Matisse, Rodin and Van Gogh among others. We're perked up and take our time looking around.

We exit the museum and go in search of lunch. We still want to go to Barceloneta today so we want something we can eat relatively quickly. We end up at a small pizza place where we share a cheese and olive pizza. We finish and head toward the port. Its a pretty long walk and it seems like all of a sudden its a lot warmer than previous days. The weather has been pretty mild, but today is suddenly really humid. We reach the port and take a stroll along the water. The heat convinces us to stop for ice cream and I indulge in a cup of hazelnut while Mike has dark chocolate.

By now Mike's legs are starting to get sore after 2 days of nonstop walking and he feels like he is getting shin splints. We sit by the water and relax for a little while before continuing on down to the beach. Once we're back on our way we see plenty of people in swimsuits and we know we're getting close. We pass little beach shops and lots of touristy looking restaurants until we finally get to the end and are faced with the ocean. Even though its humid, it isn't hot and it still feels too cool to be on the beach or in the water. We sit on some steps that lead down to the sand and just people watch for a while. It feels like we're in a totally different city, rather than the metropolitan streets we were just exploring earlier today.

I'm just sitting there looking out at the beach when all of a sudden my sunglasses snap in half while they're still on my face! I have no idea how that happened, but I'm peeved and will now have to find some replacements since my eyes are pretty sensitive. Michael says he can fix them, but I know him and I know that he'll do something ridiculous and have me looking like a fool. I tell him this and he laughs because he knows its true.

We sit a while longer and Mike is dreading the long walk back. Its about 5:30 when we decide to finally get up and on our way. Even though its a relatively long walk, it doesn't seem to take very long and we arrive back at the hotel pretty quickly. We didn't see one pair of sunglasses on the way back and I tell Michael that I think that its a sign that I'm meant to get a new pair of Chanels that I've been stalking. Surely we would have seen at least one pair on the long walk back, right? He rolls his eyes and laughs at me while I just smile

We spend some time in the hotel and shower/lounge before going back out. Around 10pm we are starving and ready to search for something to eat. We walk around for a while with no real idea of where we're going, just looking for whatever catches our eye. We come upon a little restaurant called Sinatra and decide to try it. We go in and I love it! There are old classic movies playing on the wall and the place is designed in a very chic style. We're greeted by a friendly woman who leads us to a table and gives us two glasses of cava. The restaurant is relatively full and some people that come in after us are turned away. We order tapas of garlic bread and sliced manchego cheese as appetizers, as well as a coke for Michael and a glass of the Seduccion wine for myself. The wine is very sweet, but I like it and am happy with my choice. The bread and cheese are delicious and its a good start to our meal. For our main course I have the salmon with eel sauce and Mike orders the charcoal beef with potatoes au gratin and asparagus. We have a nice, slow dinner and rehash the day. Everything is fantastic and even though we're both full we make sure to finish it all. I'm stuffed but I refuse to leave without dessert (we're on vacation!) so I order a macchiato and then creme brulee with blueberries to share. We're so happy we found this place - our favorite meal in Barcelona! We leave well after 1am and crash as soon as we get back to our room.
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 07:10 PM
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Adoc86 - Just wanted to let you know I'm still thoroughly enjoying your report. I loved Barcelona and it's fun to see it again through your eyes. I also appreciated your pictures.I'm in the very early stages of planning a return to Spain next September, and can't wait!
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 02:20 AM
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What a wonderful report - I am really enjoying this! You sounds like such a fun person, its very refreshing!!! Cant wait for more1!!
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 05:32 AM
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Thanks guys! Glad you're still following along
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 06:41 AM
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Yep, still eagerly following!
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 05:53 PM
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Day 8 - Barcelona

We wake up around 9am and decide to have a slow, leisurely day. I want to see everything, but I don't want to be completely worn out at the end of this trip either since we both have to go right back to work. We make our way to La Boqueria market, which is only about 10 minutes from our hotel. La Rambla is bustling as always and the market is crowded and lively. As soon as we walk in we're struck by the smell of fresh fruit. Everything is so ripe and there is such a contrast amongst the bright colors. We walk around and look at vegetables, seafood, meats, nuts and candies. You can point out the tourists right away because they're the ones walking around taking pictures (myself included) and not buying anything. We spend about an hour here and the fresh fruit cups tempt me again on our way out.

Back on La Rambla its another sunny, humid day. I'm still needing some sunglasses so we take a walk to Chanel () I know, I know - its a lot of money for sunglasses, but I'm a quality over quantity girl and I like nice things. We get to the shop and it only takes me a minute to fall in love with a pair of perfect gold aviators. I make my purchase and Michael is amused. We head out and try to decide what we want to do next. I really, REALLY want to go to Park Guell, but its pretty far and after all the walking yesterday I don't think Mike's shins can handle it. Plus, I've read that its absolutely not wheelchair accessible (whether this was written by the same types of people that said that Casa Batllo & La Pedrera are inaccessible is yet to be known). I don't really want to take a cab there and back either, so we decide to pass it up on this trip and save it for next time.

Instead we walk back toward our hotel and decide to get some lunch. The Organic Market was so good last time that we decide to return. This time we both decide to order from the wok station. There are so many choices and you're able to pick every single ingredient that goes in your dish. We both go for noodles, broccoli, beans, mini corn, and shrimp all in a Chinese sauce.

We watch as our meals are made from all fresh ingredients from the market. We're served two giant bowls and its SO good. Everything tastes so fresh and I'm happy we're having a healthy meal (I still have to fit in my wedding dress, after all!). We're given so much food that neither of us can finish. Lunch in addition to one lemon soda and an iced tea comes to 30 euros - kind of expensive for just two bowls of noodles, but not surprising since its all organic.

We decide to stroll and do some shopping for friends & family. Barcelona is our last stop in Spain so any Spanish souvenirs have to be purchased here. We go in and out of lots of shops, browsing through cheesy trinkets and finding things that we wished we had the space in our bags to bring home. I buy my best friend a mosaic bull since she specifically requested one and a set of salt shakers for a lady I work with who collects them. We drift back into the Barri Gotic area and look through a lot of the shops we had already glanced through before. We stop for some ice cream - strawberry for me and chocolate and oreo for Michael. I love the atmosphere of this area and I'm not regretful at all that we haven't really seen any sights today besides the market. Its nice to have a day here and there where we aren't running from sight to sight, just a day where we can enjoy the city.

We take our bags back to the hotel and take a nap. Michael still feels like he's on the verge of getting shin splits so we take it easy - we have a full day of walking planned in Montjuic tomorrow so we don't want to over do it.

By the time we wake up we've "wasted" much of the day away, so we shower and get ready to go out for dinner. Tonight we're going to Mayura, an Indian restaurant that one of Michael's friends had recommended to us. Its about a 20 minute walk, but we find it easily. The inside has a very chic, exotic look to it with silk covered bamboo chairs and pillows covering love seats that are used as booths. There are lots of candles and the dinner and flatware is hammered copper. We're seated at one of the love seats, where a small table is in front of us. Its a very intimate setting and it doesn't even feel like we're even in Spain anymore.

The menu includes a lot of traditional Indian food, as well as many dishes with Mediterranean influences. We order the tandoori chicken as an appetizer, as well as the spinach and cheese croquettes. I think the chicken is great, but its a tad too spicy for Mike. He gobbles the croquettes up though, which turn out to be balls of spinach with cheese that are floating in some type of tomato based sauce. For our main courses I have the duck confit and Mike has the shrimp in butter & tomato sauce. My duck is cooked perfectly and is amazing! Mike loves his shrimp and cleans his plate. The naans (cheese and garlic) are also delicious, I love naans and eat them pretty often at home, but these are unusually good. It is A LOT of food and we're so full that dessert is completely out of the question. The service is very good and we're very happy with everything we ordered. This gives Sinatra some competition as being our favorite meal in Barcelona and I'd definitely recommend both places.

**There were no steps for Mayura, but I forgot to add that Sinatra does have one medium size step to enter the restaurant. There is also an upper level to Sinatra, so reservations are probably a good idea if you're unable to climb stairs**

Afterward we walk back toward the hotel, but pass it and walk a little farther. We're so full and feel the need to walk a little bit of it off. Its crazy to think that we only have one more day in Barcelona and it makes me a little sad. We stop to buy some bottled waters for our room before heading back. We end our night by planning the specific sights we want to see in Montjuic tomorrow and watching a couple episodes of The Office.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2011, 06:30 AM
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Day 9 - Barcelona

We get up around 9am and head downstairs to inquire about the best way to get to Montjuic. We're told that the best way is via the metro, but that is definitely out of the question. I know that many of the stops have elevators for wheelchair users (I've seen them on the street while walking around the city), but there is far too much risk involved in attempting it. I can see us getting on smoothly, but finding that the elevator at our destination is out of order. Plus, a lot of the lines still aren't accessible so we really don't even know if getting to Montjuic this way would even be physically possible. Instead we decide to take a cab and walk over to find one near La Rambla.

We find a cab and ask the driver to take us to Castell de Montjuic. We speed off and get to the park within 15 minutes. Once in the park the driver has a hard time finding the castle and we drive around looking for it for a while. There are signs, but for some reason we still can't find it and the driver is laughing to himself in disbelief. He feels really bad and turns the meter off so that it doesn't increase due to him not knowing where he's going. We literally drive in circles for 10 minutes before we stop for him to ask a gardener for directions. The gardener directs the driver where to go and we head in that direction. A few minutes later we're right back where we started and still lost. The driver is still laughing to himself and Michael and I can't help but join in, this is crazy! He drives us for another ten minutes and we don't get any closer. Finally Mike and I decide that maybe its best to just let us out where we are and we'll walk to the castle from here. Since he had turned the meter off its only 9 euros, but we really appreciate his efforts so we give him a little extra.

Once out of the cab we are faced with some massive hills. Luckily yesterday's rest paid off and Mike is ready for a long day of walking. I manage on the first few hills, but eventually need Mike's help, but hey what are future husbands for?

It seems like we walk and walk and walk forever until we finally find the castle, which has a giant hill of its own to climb in order to get to the base. We go inside where we find some more ultra steep slopes in order to visit the different sections of the building. Its a big angle and I can't see anyone in a manual chair making it without help. We walk around the castle, which in itself is just okay, but the views are spectacular. We can see some of Barcelona's landmarks, including La Sagrada Familia.

We spend about 45 minutes here before we exit the castle and go back down the slope. By now we're pretty hungry and we see a place selling quick lunches. We aren't sure if there is anywhere else to eat in the park or how far the next place will be, so we figure we should grab something while we can. We order two slices of cheese pizza, which are pre-made and warmed up for us, and a bag of chips all for 10 euros. Its pretty much what you'd expect, not great but it'll hold us over for a while.

Next we want to go to the Olympic stadium. We picked up a map of the park for 2 euros while at the castle, so hopefully we have better luck finding things than our cab driver did. I had VERY ambitious plans for today - the castle, stadium, botanical gardens, Joan Milo museum, MNAC and fountain light show. You're probably wondering what I was thinking and to be honest so am I. Everything looked so much closer together on my tiny guidebook map, but now that we're here we realize that nothing is close together and everything is separated by enormous hills. Our plans are instantly watered down - the hills are wearing us out early and its hot.

There are steps all throughout the park, but there are also smooth paths that zigzag around to form some walkways that are pretty flat. The zigzagging does force us to walk longer distances though and we feel it. We see a public bathroom that Michael tries to use, but its locked and we aren't sure if we'll find any bathrooms at all while we're here. We try to follow the map as best as we can, but the streets don't have many signs and we are really just guessing that we're going in the right direction. The whole time we're walking we only see a few other people in the park and no taxis whatsoever. It does worry us a little bit because we wonder where we'll be able to find one to eventually get back to the hotel, but we put it out of our minds and keep going.

We finally make it to the stadium, where we find the accessible entrance around the right side. There are hardly any people here and we have much of it to ourselves. There really isn't a lot to see - just an empty stadium, a little cafeteria area and a gift shop. Its still neat to see though and we're glad we made it. We spend about 20 minutes here before heading down to a restroom to the right of the stadium. These bathrooms are definitely not well kept as there is no toilet paper, no soap or paper towels, and its pretty dirty. I wonder if there was a Justin Bieber concert here since the inside is covered in dedications of love to Justin.

We glance down at the palau where gymnastics and volleyball took place, but we aren't sure if its open to tour and there are lots of stairs to get to it anyway (however, it would be doable since the steps are set very wide apart). We stop at another vending truck where we get some water and relax for a few minutes before moving on to our next stop.

This park is kicking our butts and we decide to finish up by going to the National Palace and Museum Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), which is actually within the palace. We follow the map toward the direction and again seem to walk forever. There are stray cats everywhere - popping out of bushes or laying in shady spots of the grass and I think it adds to the quaintness of the park. We start to see lots of escalators, which look really out of place in the greenness of the area. They all seem to lead down to where the palace is, which worries me... I think we're going to have to walk ALL the way around to get to it, since all the short cuts are via stairs. We're both annoyed because walking all the way around looks pretty far, so we decide to stop and rest on a bench for a while that's situated by a fountain.

As soon as we approach the bench I see a stray cat look at us and come running right toward me. She instantly starts rubbing herself against my legs and purrs, then goes to greet Mike. Now I'm more of a dog person, but I think its mainly just because I've never had a cat and I've never met one that showed any real interest in me. This one looks so happy to see us though and instantly wins me over. I transfer to the bench and Mike sits next to me. The cat jumps up and sits in between us and isn't happy unless we're petting her. She's black and white and has the prettiest green eyes. She is thinner than any of the other cats we've seen today and I wish I had something in my purse to give her. Mike decides that he will walk back to the vending truck to buy her something to eat, while I wait here with her. I know that cats are hunters and that she probably fills her belly whenever she wants with rodents, the little lizards that seem to be all over the park, and birds, but still I would feel much better giving her something.

He heads off and the cat stares at him and starts to meow, as if she's sad that he's leaving. She looks at me, then walks from the bench to my chair and lays on it. My black cushion instantly starts to get covered in white cat hair, but I don't care. She lays down like she owns it and starts to fall asleep while I rub her belly. Fifteen minutes later Michael still isn't back and I'm starting to wonder if he got lost. He finally shows up after a few more minutes and I squint to see what he's carrying. I really have no idea what cats eat in terms of snacks around the house, but I had figured he'd come back with crackers or something along those lines. Instead he bought her a cheeseburger (will a cat eat this?!). He explains that that is really all they had, so I open and examine it. There are a ton of onions on it - I'm not sure if they're safe for cats to eat since I know dogs can't have them, so I make sure to take them all off. In the mean time the cat is ecstatic that Michael is back and greets him for a few minutes before seeing that I have food. She isn't shy and comes right up to it and sticks her head in the wrapper. I break it up into small pieces and she smells all over it, but doesn't touch it. Honestly, I don't blame her because it looks really disgusting and I'm not convinced that its even beef. We try to get her to eat it for a while, but she wants no part of it. I dump the pieces on the ground, hoping that maybe she'll gain interest later.

We sit with her for another 15 minutes until Michael says we should probably get going. I really don't want to leave her and wish we could somehow bring her home with us. I guess the fact that she is so friendly though means that people must be nice to her. We get up to leave and she's staring at us as if, "Excuse me? Where do you think you're going?!" We start to walk and she follows us. As we get farther away she is still following and starts to meow. I feel so bad because she seems really sad and lonely. We get to a point where she stops and just watches us, I think she is accustomed to staying in this small area of the fountain and benches. She goes and lays under one of the benches and it makes me happy that she has some shelter and water whenever she needs it. I still feel sad, but Michael insists that she is perfectly okay.

We continue our walk toward the palace and I find what I claim to be a short cut. Mike looks skeptical and hesitates for a minute. I insist that this is the way and he finally gives in, giving me one of his looks that say, "you better be right about this." It turns out that I am and the palace is right ahead of us. The base of it looks out over a wonderful view of Barcelona. We go in and buy two tickets. There are steps, but there are lifts operated by security guards to get wheelchair users up. Its 3:30 already so we don't have a lot of time and decide to head to the Romanesque exhibit.

This area is really cool because the art is actually the walls of the museum. A technique was used to actually peel the paint off of a chapel wall, which kept it all intact and allowed for it to be "glued" onto a new backboard. This board is what actually comprises the walls of this section of the gallery, so it looks as though the art work was actually painted right here. We never knew such a thing could be done and its fascinating to see how well preserved everything looks. We sit to watch a video which shows the steps used to detach the painting and reattach it to a new surface. Its long, but I would highly recommend watching the entire thing.

Other areas of the Romanesque section include wooden and stone sculptures, but the paintings are amazing and are our favorite part. Around 5:30 we are just finishing through this section of the museum and we're now exhausted. We still have to go back to the hotel and pack since we're leaving in the morning, so we decide that the rest of the museum will have to wait until the next time we're in Barcelona. We LOVED this museum though and it was totally worth the search.

There are some taxis outside so we grab one and zip back to the hotel. Its early, but we're hungry rather so than go to our room we walk down the street in search of something quick to eat. We end up at a little cafe where we order two onion and cheese quiches. The food is really good and the quiche is huge! We don't hang around long - just pay our bill and get back to the hotel.

I start the packing process and I'm sad that we're leaving this wonderful city. Once I'm finished we go back out and take one last walk around Placa Catalunya and La Rambla. As sad as it is though, we're happy that the next few days we'll be primarily driving instead of walking so much.

We get back to our hotel and make sure we have everything together. We're sore all over from this exhausting day and it feels nice to just lounge in bed and watch a movie on Mike's ipod. Morning is going to come too fast!


Next...Tuscany!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2011, 01:53 PM
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Great segment! I am still following along just to see how you enjoyed the rest of the trip even though I don't have any interest in Barcelona. Loved the kitty interlude.
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