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micheledunlop’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 17 Jun 2007

Location: UK

From Madrid I took the overnight train to Barcelona. I was in a 4 berthed cabin and the other occupants were very businesslike travellers. No sooner had the train started, the jarmies were on and lights were off. I decided to do the same, but woke up again with a raging painful throat and a cough.
Landed in Barcelona arrived at the Hostel Centricpoint way to early to book in so left my bags in store and went off to view BCN as they call it.
Gaudi houses are right near so visited the Casa Batillo which included viewing the attics and chimneys. I loved it all especially the attention to light and ventilation, but really the whole whimsical lot. Next I happened across Ls Pedrera –Casa Mila and enjoyed more the same. I had heard a bit about parabolic cures in Portugal but was fascinated to see the chain hanging and the cures exposed. The attic of this place is like wonderland and I wished yet again that my nieces and family were all with me. We could have had fun there. These are must sees for BCN, E16 to get into the first one and E8 for the 2nd which includes the audio information.
Later in the week I visited Parc Guell, loved the busking and also aspects of the park that make it so famous. It is not clipped lawns, but trees and over growth, and then of course the created wondered to help people enjoy the place.
Well at 11 am went back to Hostel Centricpoint and found an enormous queue of happy backpackers out the door and along the street, playing cards, eating, chatting and waiting to book in. I assumed that they did not have bookings and had to wait and see – but no, like me most had confirmed bookings and were just waiting to be ‘processed’. Did not mention that Hostel Centricpoint has over 400 beds. I came back at 1pm and 3 pm, not so happy waiters were still queuing and then finally at 5.30 pm I decided to join the line which by now had made it too the steps of the hostel . Finally it was my turn and then was informed that there was a mistake in my booking and I was booked at their other hostel. After some time I was put into a taxi and off I went. Well it was not promising, graffiti on the walls, shared showers and loos with those of the other gender , kitchens with no equipment - the receptionist had no idea that I was coming. Decided to bunk down for the night (as long as the bed is clean I can cope but definitely need warm showers every couple of days) I assumed that with a full hostel - Centricpoint could practice age discrimination but I shared the room with a dancer from New York still in her dancing best so guess it wasn’t that. Whatever – don’t go to Centricpoint, there are plenty of hostels in Barcelona with enough computers for their receptionists and systems to cope with their bed numbers. Perhaps they sent those who looked least likely to complain.
Next morning tried booking elsewhere through Hostelworld and Hostelbookers and so on but they need more that a few hours for it to work, so went through the hostels on the back of the map and phoned (by then had purchased a Spanish SIM card) and the friendly voice at Hello BCN gave me a bed. Well run, good systems, breakfast. I ended up staying the rest of my time in Barcelona there and could have stayed on. Good location.
You could stay in Barcelona for a month and still be holidaying well. I was finding the weather a bit too hot, I have too cover up from the sun really well and so I was sweltering under my hiding from the sun outfit. I think travelling in Autumn and Winter and working Summer and Spring might be my thing. Anyway went on a day trip to Monserrat and would recommend that as a stay over place to get the most out of it. Lots of walks around the place to do and I think early morning or evening would bethe nicest for that. You can get a ticket that covers most of the exhibitions/buildings as well as the transport.
One of the Aussie guys in my room did a day trip to Girona and F??? (birthplace of Dali) and really recommended that. Lots of folk spent days at the beach (I live near one in NZ and Aust. so beaches not really my priority unless walking along in the evening or morning) The Aussie guy( he was a cool and enthusiastic dude) had also visited the Catalan museau on the waterfront – good value for gaining understanding of the Catalan cry to recognised as a people . E3 to get in and if you cannot see it all at once (I can never stay in anything all day and take it in) you have 50 days to use your ticket.
Other things – loved the Fundacio Joan Miro - big kick when I finally understood an entry in Wearable Art WOW (around 2005) as I had never heard of Miro before and there was the idea for the costume on the wall. One roommate highly recommended THE PALAU MUSICA CATALANA and so off I went. It is stunning and the entry ticket includes a guided tour – but it is very fast. I would suggest that to pay E35 and attend a concert there would give greater value for money. You have a longer time to appreciate the creation, maybe catch up on the history from a pamphlet, google or the museum before you go,. There is a range of concert types available every night. .
I had my computer, camera and wallet stolen whilein Barcelona, hence no more photos for a while. I never usually have them together and the ery onceI did they were kidnapped. Saw the burglar using the computer while I was on Skype and sent a message, they have them on CCT TV but to no avail. Too many thieves and pickpockets in Barcelona for the system to deal with. We travellers are the ones who have to help stop it but being more careful.

After Barcelona went to Zurich.