Day 1: From Ottawa to Barcelona

"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression 'as pretty as an airport'.

Airports are ugly.  Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort.  This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk [...] and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs.

They have sought to highlight the tiredness and crossness motif with brutal shapes and nerve-gangling colours, to make effortless the business of separating the traveller for ever from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveller with arrows that appear to point at the windows, distant tie racks, or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky, and wherever possible to expose the plumbing on the grounds that it is functional, and conceal the location of the departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not."

~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Sara, Roisin and I flew out of Ottawa on Sat., Sept 10 at 2pm, hung out at Pearson airport for a few hours, and then flew to Barcelona, arriving Sunday at 8am.  I'm happy to report our luggage did too, without a side trip to Murmansk. My plans to sleep on the overnight flight were thwarted by the world's most uncomfortable seat, combined with people constantly walking by (I had an aisle seat), and a suprising number of people using the overhead lights to read, and the fact that it was freezing (the water in my water bottle stayed cold!).  Sara and Roisin had similar struggles with sleep, so we stumbled in a sleep-deprived haze out of a crowded and confusing  airport, into blazing sun and surprising heat for so early in the day. 

After some breakfast at an outdoor cafe, and a shower and change of clothes, we felt human again and set off to see the sights.

First stop, Parc Guell.  We spent a few hours wandering through Antoni Gaudi's whimsical park, carved out of a hillside, filled with stunning mosaic-covered benches and pagodas, beautiful flora and hill-top views of the city.

Mosaics covered the ceiling of this pagoda-like structure.

The view from the top of the park.

We climbed to a high point --  a large stone cross perched on top of a hill. 

Barcelona is a very tourist-friendly city, despite the spray-painted sign behind us!

By this time, it was late afternoon and we were hot, sweaty, tired and hungry, so we stopped for ice cream and then hopped the metro to get down to the waterfront.

There we stopped to say hi to Chris (statue honoring Christopher Colombus), wandered along the pier, and found a nice spot for dinner.

Hands down the best grilled clams any of us had ever tasted.  Fish and seafood paella was also very tasty.  And the sangria!!

After dinner we wandered through the cobblestone alleys in the Gothic Quarter -- beautiful area -- hope to see it in daylight before we leave.

Then up La Ramblas where we stopped to watch some streetdancers perform.  Then to Placa Catalunya where our hotel is located. A couple of drinks at a nearby bar, a stop at the fountain in the plaza and we were ready to call it a night. A fabulous first day of our vacation!


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