Barcelona, Spain, has always called to us to explore more than one day as a port stop on a cruise. We eagerly arrived around 9 a.m. local time and caught a taxi from the airport to the Hotel Turin where we were to stay for three nights. Thankfully our room was ready for us and we could indulge in a shower and brush our teeth before setting off to begin getting better acquainted with this beautiful Spanish city.
We began where we had ended on our last visit—La Rambla, the main street that is a tourist must see. Traffic moves on either side of a large pedestrian walkway that is shaded with trees and filled with vendors selling everything from souvenirs and newspapers to flowers and tapas, the ever popular snack of Barcelona. Tapas are small plates full of food that are like ordering several appetizers instead of a meal. It was top on our list of things we’d missed on previous visits and since we were getting hungry, we stopped at one of the outdoor cafes and ordered a couple of plates—mussels and coquettes.
At the south end of La Rambla near the sea is a large statue of Christopher Columbus who is held in high esteem as a world explorer. He towers above the street pointing out to. . .where? If you notice, in the larger picture, the sun is on his back in the afternoon so he’s facing east and pointing slightly south of that. If he truly thought that was where the New World was to be discovered, we would still be awaiting his arrival. In all the times we have visited, we never knew there was an elevator to the globe upon which Columbus stands where you can look out upon the sea and the city. Unfortunately when we did locate it, it was out of order.
After a short nap to try to adjust to jet lag, we scoped out a restaurant for dinner. We found a highly recommended one, the Arcano, in the Gothic section of Barcelona. But when we arrived, we discovered dinner was not served until seven. With the promise to return, we set out to explore the Cathedral we had passed along the way.
The Cathedral is the central focal point of the Gothic Quarter which was all built on the old original Roman town. Inside we found niches all along the side walls dedicated to various saints and heavily decorated with gold. It was interesting to note that no longer do you light a candle inside the cathedral. There are now small electric candles representing tea lights that are lit with a donation and the flick of a switch. Outside in the cloister area where materials were not flammable, we found large candles lit in front of several saints. There was also a large fountain with a pond full of white geese who strutted through their territory honking for food to be tossed to them.
After exploring the cathedral, we sat on the steps for a bit and watched the activities on the square in front. There was some sort of book fair going on with a dozen or so booths full of books and a program that we could only guess had something to do with how books affect people’s lives and education. Even if we had learned some Spanish, it would have been difficult to understand as in Barcelona the most common language is Catalan.
Seven o’clock arrived and we sat down to one of the nicest dinners we have had abroad. Since the Arcano restaurant was a little difficult to find and off the main street I wondered what it would be like. The interior was finely designed to suit the large stone arches of what must have been the foundation of some very old, if not ancient, Roman buildings. Surprisingly the prices were not at all bad considering the atmosphere and the wonderful food we indulged in. Well worth the walk from our hotel and the hunt to find the place.
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