The overnight train from Granada to Barcelona was surprisingly comfortable, and we all managed to catch some sleep on the bunk beds. After our experience in Granada, we were already on high alert for pickpockets. Nevertheless, we were grateful for all the kind advice we received: the manager at Urban Suites Apartments warned us to be extra careful in trains, and two passengers in the trains told us separately to carry our bags on our fronts rather than our backs.
As a result, we avoided a near pickpocket experience in the Metro. One man was entering a train ahead of us but deliberately stopped so we couldn't move in past him. We all knew something was up as there was a bunch of gypsy kids hanging around behind us. We managed to squeeze past the man and emerge with everything in its rightful place.
D and WK were not impressed with La Pedrera so they decided to skip Casa Batllo, which I thought was the better of the two Gaudi houses. We then took a little walk around Parc Guell. D liked the idea of the park, but not the aesthetics. I liked it better when I first visited Barcelona. Somehow, for me, Barcelona in general was a bit disappointing compared to my last visit seven years back.
Here are some general reactions to the various sights:
- Sagrada Familia - everyone was impressed
- Placa d'Espanya - ugly and chaotic, I thought
- Montjuic - a pleasant walk
- Olympic park - strangely impressive, maybe because there was no one there
- La Rambla - touristy!
HC and I took a walk down the beachfront and had a conversation about what she enjoyed about teaching chemistry, while the boys were out on a tour of Barcelona Football Club stadium. You can tell I'm not a football fan.
We had beers every evening before bed in our Urban Suites apartment. D and I had a discussion about art on the first night. His take: popular equals good. My take: good art is not always popular. We talked until it was late and we were tired.
After discovering a programme on TV called Watt Zap, which was basically an endless cycle of sports bloopers clips, it became our standard background entertainment over beer every night, providing us with hours of mindless fun.
I found the food slightly underwhelming, perhaps because I'd recently had so much good food in San Sebastian.
- Zarautz: I enjoyed the mananico - quail eggs, Iberian ham, elvers and fried potatoes - in particular. 'Zarautz' was actually a dish of foie with quail's egg.
- Cal Pep: Most things - especially the seafood - were disappointing. D liked the tuna salad: "This is the best salad I've ever eaten." The tortilla was sublime.
- Pinotxo: Very expensive breakfast.
- Shunka: Used to be the best Japanese restaurant in Barcelona, but this time it wasn't as good and appears now to be run by Chinese.
- Somorrostro: The suckling pig was nice.
- Promolocomo: A surprising find near Espanya station, this pizza takeout served cheap and good pizza.
We also had some local street fare one morning, where we had a breakfast of pulpo, pork slices, chorizo at street market near Placa d'Espanya.