A Travellerspoint blog

A Guellish Experience

Barcelona

overcast 26 °C

3rd October 2013

We woke up a little earlier today and got started for the day. We tried the breakfast at the hotel today and it was not much, but was only 5 Euro. So we had just a croissant and cuppa. Don't think we will partake again though.

We grabbed the Metro into Parc Guell. It was a lot easier getting the Metro having had experience in France. It was a very long uphill climb to get to the park, but we followed the crowd and half way up the hill there were 4 escalators. We went up each one until we saw the park. Believe it or not there was even more of an uphill climb as we entered the park, to go up to the highest point atop a mound with crosses on it. From there we could see all of Barcelona, and out to sea.

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A few photographs later we descended to the park and strolled through all of Gaudi's intriguing artworks. It is very hard to explain and the pictures can do the talking, but he has a wacky sense of style. There are archways and pillars and mosaics everywhere. It is said that he collected all of the tiles for this work at dumps around the place. The mosaics are amazing.

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We went through the museum as well, it used to be Gaudi's house. He lived there for quite some years, but at a time close to his death he moved into a workshop down near Sagrada Familia so that he could be close to the work. He actually chose his workroom in the house so that he could look out the window at the progress of the SF.

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We walked from his house through the other parts of the gardens we had not seen. In one space there are a mass of Roman style pillars to wander through and then you come out to a set of stairs leading down to what I would call the centrepieces, two small buildings near the front entrance. They are completely covered in mosaics. Just as I start to take a few photos it begins to rain, quite heavily. People are rushing for shelter and we hide in one of his quirky cave like structures until it eases. Then it was time to move on and perhaps find some lunch.

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Wandering around the streets we found a few shops worth taking a look in. Eventually we got back to the Metro and back to La Rambla. At the Metro station Ethan bought a snack from this massive vending machine. It had groceries and washing powder in it. Not just the usual snacks!

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The boys talked me into having Burger King. It was actually quite good. They have extra things like Croquets and Chicken items that we don't have in Australia. We sat outside on the LaRambla strip and took everything while we ate. We had a chat about what to do next and thought that we would walk down to the wharf area.

We walked past several old buildings and then continued on to the port. We were having a lovely time just chilling out and strolling around. There were fish floundering at the surface and people were throwing crumbs in for them. There were stunning boats in the docks and people everywhere. At the end of the pier there was a shopping centre so we had a look - big mistake. We all found some clothes on sale. Everything is so inexpensive here. Heading back towards the hotel we went the long way and checked out a few more buildings and statues. Ten minutes later we were back in our room. I checked some email and wrote my blog and before long it was 730pm.

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Tonight we thought we would go to another restaurant in the streets nearby. We didn't want to be pressured into going in anywhere so we said hello to the people out the front, but if we weren't loving the menu then we said no and kept going. There is so much spruiking here. Every cafe has a person selling out the front with menus trying to get you to go in. We found a nice tapas place and went in. David & I had grilled vegetable platter and it was amazing! Loved it. The chicken paella that followed was not as nice but still good. Ethan had spaghetti bolognese and he loved it. My meal came with a Creme Catalina that was a brilliant dessert.

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Not wanting to go to the room straight after dinner we went to walk around the streets for a while. Having been down many of the lanes over the last two days, we headed in a different direction and came across a whole new area to explore. I found a nice top and bought it and we looked into many more shops.

Tomorrow is Ethan's birthday so we will be doing some special things.

Posted by JenMF 03:06 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

New Country - New Month

Paris to Barcelona

overcast 32 °C

1st October 2013

We got up very early today - 545am. The taxi came to the hotel at 615am and we were ready to leave this lovely place and head for Barcelona. Gare De Lyon is a big old station and it was very easy to see which platform and where we were to go. After a Starbucks breakfast on the go, and my first Chai Latte for the entire trip, we were on the train and zooming through the countryside - very fast! The train was very comfortable and smooth. It was at some points going 283kph. The time went quite quickly, 5 and a bit hours.

We arrived at Figurers and had to switch trains to Barcelona. I inadvertently read the arrival time on the ticket and thought that we had 1 hour. After we asked for some help on where to go, the man said platform 4, in 5 minutes! We ran all the way back to where we were and it was just on the platform next to our arrival one. We made it in time and after evicting a man from our seats, we were ready to go.

Not quite an hour and we were in Barcelona and hailing a taxi. Our hotel is 20 metres from La Rambla so we checked in and were very happy with the room. It is very spacious and modern The walls are thin and the wifi does not appear to work but it is a place to sleep. We went for our first stroll on La Rambla at 230pm, we have not have lunch so we chose a cafe and had something to eat. A little cafe on La Rambla where we sat and had tapas, pizza and a drink. IT was ok, but not excellent, which happens when you are in a rush sometimes, and do the touristy thing.

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We continued our walk to the end of La Rambla and then headed into the Boqueria market. It was predominantly a food market for meat, fruit and nuts. There were also stalls for lollies, marzipan and fruit drinks, chilli and fish. It was very busy. We went back to the room, now 6pm but not hungry at all we sat and had a rest for a while. The room is quite modern but basic. The bathroom is great - all the mod cons. The only problem so far is that the air con is centrally controlled.

At 8pm we went for another walk around the area. Some shops were open, in particular we spent some time in a ceramic and glass shop - it was magnificent. We were still not hungry so we went back to our room.

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At 930pm David said he would go and get us something to eat. He came back with arancini, a favourite of ours, and he had lasagne. When he was in the shop they were freshly filling some cannoli so he bought a couple of those as well, to share. It was all delicious.

We are in no hurry at the moment so we can sleep in and have not organised anything - it is a bit of a difference to our last few weeks where everything was timed and planned. We have 3 full days here so no need to rush.

Posted by JenMF 02:31 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Coasters, Castles, Cartoons and Cups

EuroDisney Paris

overcast 24 °C

30th September 2013

Today was our Euro Disney adventure and our last day in France. We walked to nearby Bonne Nouvelle station and took a trip to Opera where we changed trains for a 45minute journey to Disneyworld. We didn't have time to see both parks so the Disney Studios will have to be for another time. The boys are all geared up for some high speed adrenalin rides, where I will be fine with the tea cups I think!

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We walk into the park and the first thing we see is the Fantasyland Castle in all its splendour. It looks as if we have walked into a cartoon. The boys are eager to get on their first ride so we head for Frontierland. The boys went a ride called Thunder Mountain - a type of roller coaster. They said it was really good. It is not the fastest or scariest, there is one more in Adventureland that is worse, or better in their eyes. We travelled on the tame river ride - big boat circuiting the area.

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After a while we head to Fantasyland, a flurry of pink, sequins and chiffon. It is all things Fairytale including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella etc. We go straight to the tea cups and Ethan rides on those with me. It was fun. When we headed over to It's A Small World, it was closed so I didn't have a chance to go on that. We walked through a maze in Alice's area and then browsed a few shops.

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Next up was Adventureland, and the Indiana Jones ride which was the fastest and hairiest in the park. The boys head straight to it and I wait on a nearby seat. The queues are not too bad today, it is Monday and it seems very quiet. A few minutes of waiting and the boys come back out gushing about how excellent the ride was, it was another roller coaster one but this time with a full loop. We look around this land for almost 2 hours, in particular the Pirates Of The Carribean, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse and Skull Rock.

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Next up we decide to have some lunch. The restaurants have quite a lot to offer and in meal packages so it worked out quite well. We each had a meal deal and could not fit another thing in. We actually did not feel hungry until much later in the afternoon.

A short walk and we are in Discoveryland. It is the space themed land and the boys love it. First they go towards Space Mountain and line up for that one. There is only a 5 minute wait so I expect them out at any minute. I am waiting, waiting, waiting and then I see that the ride has been closed because the carriages are stuck half way up the tube. Holy Moly! I put on my zoom lens but cannot see the boys, half of the carriage is behind a wall. I ask the attendants and they are vey blasé. I wait for another 10 minutes and I am starting to worry a little bit, I see the guys with harnesses and abseiling gear climb up the ride. Next thing I know my boys are popping around the corner. "No mum we got off a while ago, we just went to look at something else". ARGH! They were inline and then were told the ride will be closing, so they never got the chance to go on it. It was fixed later, but they said no thanks! They went on the simulator StarWars ride instead. Then we all went on these great cars around a race track.

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Its was time for the parade and it was very good, albeit a bit short I thought. After that we went for a browse of all of the shops n the Main Street. After buying a few things we hopped on the train back to Paris. It was a long day, and 830pm before we got back. Around the corner from our hotel we stopped for a quick pizza and drink, before finishing our packing and getting ready for the early morning tomorrow.

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Posted by JenMF 09:11 Archived in France Comments (1)

Hot Chocolate & Gardens

Paris

sunny 24 °C

29th September 2013

With Euro Disney tomorrow , this was our last chance to see everything we wanted to see in Paris. It was a big day lots of walking, in fact 7 hours of walking the streets of Paris from one end to the other.

The first thing to tick off the list was a visit to Angelina - the best hot chocolate in the world. I must say I have been looking forward to this for the entire trip. We have our usual breakfast at Windsor Opera, our hotel, and then we walk to the Bonne Nouvelle station. It is about a 5 minute walk and has been handy. We hop off at Concorde and take the steps up to the obelisk. A shot walk through Tuileries Jardin and we see Angelina. We also see the huge line out the front for dining in. After a bit of a wait in the queue we decide that it would taste the same if we got take away and ate in the park. Ethan & I selected a cake each, to share with David, and we each had a hot chocolate. It was divine. It was like drinking liquid silk, chocolate flavoured! The cakes we chose were also delicious, reminding me of Adriano Zumbo's cakes back home. Of course I had to buy some hot chocolate to take home!

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Next on the list was a walk through the park and then down to the river. We went towards Pont Neuf and saw the mass of locks that have been clipped on by lovers around the world. I wanted to see Notre Dame. It was quite a long way but we stopped to look at the Book sellers along the river and take some photos.

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After consulting the map a number of times, we finally stood in front of Notre Dame. It was great. I don't know if I've seen too many basilicas and cathedrals, but I wasn't gob smacked. It was brilliant architecture, but I wasn't moved to go inside. We walked around the island for while, picking up some souvenirs as we went. David bought a hat, and me some trinkets.

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The catacombs was next on our list, a very long walk away but we decided to go for it. None of us were hungry after that huge chocolate fix earlier, so we kept moving. After about an hour of walking we reached the line for the catacombs. We were lined up for 5 minutes when a man told us that it would be closing in 25 minutes, and the line was 45 minutes long! Damn it, we missed seeing them. So we wandered back through the Marco Polo Jardin and the Jardin De Luxembourg which we had passed about a kilometre or two ago. We grabbed a take away bite to eat and sat in the park watching a Greek dancing group perform. It was fabulous seeing everyone get up and dance. A long walk through the park lead us back to a Metro stop and we took it back to Concorde and then switched lines. We were back in our hotel and ready for some dinner.

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We got changed and walked around the corner to Indiana, I think this is a chain but it looked like it had great food so we went in. It was excellent service, something that has been sadly lacking in this country for most of our trip. It seems almost everywhere we go the staff just take their sweet time about everything and have no urgency whatsoever. Hello! I'm supposed to be on holidays , not you!! Our previous tour guide said it is the way of life over here and we should get used to it. I think they would get a surprise if they came to Australia - the rapid service would amaze them. Anyway the food was amazing. Mexican mostly. Ethan had tacos, I had a vegetable burrito and David had a beef one. I would go there again in a heart beat, and gave a generous tip.

Off to bed for our big adventure at Disneyland tomorrow.

Posted by JenMF 08:37 Archived in France Comments (0)

Monet's Walls and Tennis Balls

Paris & Roland Garros

overcast 22 °C

28th September 2013

Our first day on our own in Paris without a tour group!

Oh wow, a sleep in. It was amazing. We didn't get up until after 9am and then went down to breakfast. It was in a different room again but we found it easily. We saw a few people we knew from our group and had a chat with them. We thought we would take our time packing up and didn't leave the hotel until midday. We bravely took the Metro to our new hotel, Windsor Opera, a lot closer in to Paris centre. It was a bit hair-raising considering it was the first time we had used the Metro at all on this trip. We got there in the end. The Metro was so busy and here we were trying to get on with 3 large cases. Next time I think we will Taxi!

Well of course we got lost finding the hotel and got turned about and around again. We retraced our steps and realised we had walked straight past the opening because it was a laneway behind an arch. We finally got there and it is brilliant! The foyer is boutique and very modern. Glass roofed atrium with two rockets in stainless steel either side of the reception door. It has an aeroplane theme, and it is done very well. The room is amazing, the best we have had yet I think. We are in a nice area of Paris, but I didn't think the rooms would be finished off as nicely as this. The decor is arty and fresh. There is wifi in the rooms and it is very quick.

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So as not to waste an afternoon, we decided to go into Paris and view Musee De l'Orangerie. Ethan was keen to see this museum as he had just finished a project on Monet and this houses one of his masterpieces, perhaps the most famous - Water Lilies. Again we brave it on the Metro into Concorde - this tim without cases thank goodness! We walk a short way to the museum and join a short queue. Before long we are in the room with the Water Lilies. There are two oval rooms, very large rooms. The walls are lined with this beautiful piece. There is plenty of room, and seats for reflection and we take advantage of that and take our time to look at the exquisite work in this painting. It is said that after the horror of the First World War, Monet wanted his work to take on this aesthetic and poetic dimension, and provide a haven for peaceful meditation. It certainly does. Also in this museum are works by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne and others. It took an hour to look at this relatively small place.

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We decided to take the Metro out to Roland Garros tennis stadium and tick that off the list. David really wanted to see it, and have a game there, but we did not bring racquets. It took a couple of Metros and some help from passersby to get us to the door. We found out that there was a museum, which we paid to go into thinking it would be about tennis?? Hmmm, it was more about Roland Garros's life than tennis so we were a little disappointed. We walked all around the block, about a 30minute walk, to try and see the main entrance. As we went we saw people playing a tournament and some coaching. It was interesting.

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A couple of Metro trips and we are back at the Windsor Opera. We think we may have some Lebanese food from a nearby shop we saw earlier, so we grab so mezza and bring it back to our hotel room. The tv goes on and after an exhausting day of walking and catching trains, we finally relax.

Posted by JenMF 07:48 Archived in France Comments (0)

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