Report of a long weekend in Barcelona.
29 October 2008 to 2 November 2008.
Day 1 – Wednesday 29 October 2008
Amsterdam – Barcelona
Because I had some leave left and it started to freeze in The Netherlands since the “summer” has passed, it was time to pack my bags and fly (with Transavia in a Boeing 737-700, PH-XRW) south to a sunnier place for a long weekend, I decided to go to Barcelona.
After working all day I drove home. I parked the car and changed into something move comfortable for Schiphol Airport.
As I already checked in via internet (front row seat) and I didn’t have to check in any bags, there was no stress or rush to reach the gate. After passing customs (they kept my deodorant, bastards!) I had something to eat before going to the gate. Because I would be walking a lot the next couple of days, I went to Burger King.
When I finished the meal, I bought a new deodorant (roll on, nasty things!) and next I walked to the gate. Because I am fast a walking person the “Mind Your Step” warning wasn’t fast enough when I left the escalator. Once at the gate I didn’t have to wait very long. As I was the first to check in online, and I wanted to have a chat with the captain I were first in line. When I boarded the plane, the captain didn’t feel like having a chat with a passenger and didn’t give me a copy of the flight plan. But he did write the departure and approach for me on a piece of paper. Better something than nothing at all!
Once I sat down, I turned on the GPS and TomTom (without an active route) so I could track the flight after takeoff from the Kaagbaan (24). A couple of other passengers nearby found it very interesting to see. Unfortunately it was dark outside so I couldn’t see any landmarks. During the flight I listend to some music and read a book about Barcelona. Before I knew it the throttles of the engines went to idle and the plane started to descent. The Barcelona airspace was reached well before schedule, but as the airspace was rather busy a circle in the holding pattern had to be flown. After doing the circle the plane descended through the clouds and on the righthand side I could see Barcelona. As the weather was clear enough I could see the famous church of Gaudi: Sagrada Familia.
After touching down (no one clapped fortunately) I got off the plane pretty fast and I walked towards the train. The first thing I noticed was that the ticket machines weren’t very internationally oriented, it wasn’t self explanatory. I felt like an old person trying to figure it out. As I had no idea what ticket was required to get to the centre I walked to the ticket office. As the employee behind the counter didn’t speak English very well, only a little, I did my best to explain what I wanted. I received a ticket for 10 trips by bus/train/tram/subway.
The train was already next to the platform, when I passed the entrance gate the train just departed. While at Schiphol Airport there is a connection to Amsterdam Central Station every 10 minutes, the service in Barcelona is only once every 30 minutes.
So I waited on a bench, read some more and listended to some more music.
30 minutes later I boarded the train and headed towards the centre of Barcelona. I had to change trains at Barcelona Sants Estació, I changed to subway line 5 in the direction of Horta. Changing trains was pretty fast, good directions and a sign on the platform shows you how long it takes (in minutes and seconds) before the next subway will arrive. During my entire stay in Barcelona I never had to wait longer than 4 minutes for a subway. Nice timing! After 10 minutes by subway I arrived at my stop.
The name of the stop corresponds with the impressive building I saw when I emerged from the station: Sagrada Familia.
The first highlight of Barcelona I already had seen from the airplane, much more impressive when you’re standing in front of it! The church was illuminated with some spotlights (unfortunately only in 1 colour) and left a good impression on me.
After a 5 minute walk I arrived at Hostal Lazza, a small and simple hostal. The hostess didn’t speak one word of English, but showing her some prints of the booking and doing my best to explain everything I managed to obtain the key. I was shown to my own room, where there was bed, a shower of my own and my own toilet available. This on the contrary of the dorms where people usually stay in a hostal, because the prices are much lower than those of a private room. But I must say that this wasn’t very expensive either!
Once I settled in I went out to explore the neighbourhood.
I bought a couple of bottles of water at a very expensive snack bar across the Sagrada Familia. I had to pay 5 euro’s in total for 2 bottles of 1½ litre of water. But you’re thirsty and eager to gaze at the church.
After gazing enough at the church I walked towards the Hospital de La Stana Creu I Sant Pau, soon I regretted leaving my camera and tripot at the hostal.
The hospital was as beautiful as the Sagrada Familia, but then in a different way.
From the courtyard of the hospital there was a nice view on the Sagrada Familia. One of the things I noticed was the piece and quite in the complex, almost no one was around and the only sound I heard was the singing of some parakeets in a nearby tree.
When I finished looking around I went back to the hostal (via a different route) to get some sleep.