Barcelona photo gallery

I spent a good minute or so trying to come up with a snappy caption / title for this post. Failed. It must be the weather. Pouring down outside. My brain is rusting. I am turning into the tin man. Oil can please, Dorothy. So today we will follow the Barcelona brick road a little further and explore further what lies over the rainbow. Let’s start with some of the beautiful mosaics that decorate the water fountains – very Macau.Fountain mosaic Water FountainPlus a little metro art – did Stephenson’s “Rocket” make it to Barcelona?Metrotileart And then some architecture and the like:Windowsnflags Ball facade Guitar shop Port de Barcelona On the next one I was tempted to go in and ask if Rafa was at home.Farmacia NadalSome more urban art….. is that a Banksy in there?Hello Sailor Clothes Bobby rat

And we round off with some black and white, one of which may look familiar.Norton Fortunately for this poser the likeness was rather good and she did not end up looking like 007.Portrait painter Shadow and figure Walkersv2In an ideal world I would award medals for stamina to those of you who have stayed the distance. This being WP-land however there is no gong, just my heartfelt thanks.


Barcelona – some impressions.

I had never been to Barca before and a few things struck me immediately. In contrast to many Asian cities there is a distinct dearth of skyscrapers. We climbed up to both Montjuic and Park Guell and the vista is one of predominantly low rise buildings. This is from La Sagrada Familia.View from LSFThere is a labyrinth of old, narrow streets and alleyways yet finding your way around seems easy enough. There are plenty of landmark buildings by which to orientate yourself and in the popular tourist areas everything is reasonably well signposted. I love exploring the old parts of any town and Barcelona was no exception. It is ethnically quite diverse and I like that.

I was surprised at how little English I heard although we got by well enough without Spanish or Catalan. There were plenty of Russians, Germans and Chinese. We met some very pleasant folks from the US and enjoyed their company at dinner one evening.

The Catalan flag was everywhere and you can feel the sense of identity. And of course memorabilia for FC Barca can be found all over the place. Sadly we did not make it to the Camp Nou.

I don’t think I have ever seen a city with so much graffiti. Every door and wall seems to be a target for urban art.Alice

ExistenceAnd there are buskers and sadly beggars in abundance. Some of the buskers are very good and I threw a couple of Euros in the hat for a few of them. One young girl was an excellent violinist and I was happy to listen to Harpo for a while.HarpoI was quite irritated by the number of people who would pose with these performers then give nothing. They didn’t get off so lightly with the street artists, who dress in strange garb and move only when a few coins are donated. It looked hot work and I am not sure how rewarding it is. Nevertheless I would rather see people do this and make an effort than to simply sit and hold out a plastic cup. Some of these performers seemed quite mature. Unemployment makes no allowances for age.

I have already mentioned the number of smokers in an earlier post. I don’t make a moral judgment but in many countries smoking is in decline and it was in stark contrast that we coughed and spluttered our way along.

The architecture is wonderful. I love the old buildings, interspersed with the oddities that Gaudi created. If La Sagrada Familia is synonymous with Barcelona today it is with justification. We spent a few hours here including a trip to the top of one of the towers. It is an extraordinary building – still under construction – and the way the light bathes the interior is quite enchanting. We did visit the Casa Batllo, another Gaudi building and it is certainly a curiosity. I had 2 issues with it. It was extremely expensive to go in compared with virtually other tourist site. Perhaps  the reason is the fact that it is in private ownership. Secondly, it was very crowded and we were there in March. We chatted to the hotel manager about the crowding as early as March and he said it was a school break week. Nevertheless, if this is what Barcelona is like in March I don’t want to go in peak Summer. It must be unbearable.

Despite my frustration with Casa Batllo, here are some images that hopefully illustrate why it is so popular. You will have to excuse the slightly awkward perspectives and angles. You take what you can get in a crowded house with little room to manoeuvre. I need a tilt-shift lens.Casa batllo arch Casa batllo bluelight casa batllo door

Casa Batllo roofOne of the best things about Barcelona is the ease of getting around. It is largely flat and the public transport is superb. We bought a ten trip ticket and it was good for the metro, the buses and even the funicular railway up to Montjuic. There are also plenty of good places to eat at reasonable prices. We liked Bar Lobo near our hotel and Tapas 24.

I will continue the tour of Barcelona soon but leave you with a shot I liked from Park Guell, which, in contrast to Casa Batllo, was excellent value for money and highly recommended. But go early to avoid the crowds.Park Guell school group



BAck from the dead.

The heading is not a typo. The saga of our return from BArcelona on BA bears telling if only as a lesson to others not to listen to the voice of authority.

We checked in at the airport in good time. We had had a very pleasant stay in Barcelona. We thoroughly recommend the Casa Camper as a hotel. Now though we had to negotiate a very tight transfer at Heathrow. When we reached the lounge the problems started. Delay! Not good on a flight connection of just over 90 minutes. Still, BA’s man on the spot, Juan, was helpful. He explained what might happen and the contingencies. We could expect someone to meet us off the plane and try to rush us to the gate for our HK flight. We did not have to change terminals.

In the end the delay was over half an hour and we calculated we had max 45 minutes to change planes. Still doable but maybe not for the luggage. On our flight to LHR the Purser was possibly the most unhelpful person I have ever encountered on a flight. She started by telling us three things I already knew.

The connection was tight.
Heathrow is a very big airport.
Heathrow is a very busy airport.

So big and busy in fact that there would be nobody to help us make the connection. Shortly afterwards she happily told us that the news was not good, even though she seemed pleased. We had already been taken off the flight. No chance to make the change over. We would not be accepted on the flight. I asked if by chance our onward flight might be delayed. No she retorted. It will leave on time. Had she checked? I know what my guess is.

After I pushed again she told me that we would have to circle in the stack over Heathrow and she estimated we would have max 10 minutes to change. Not possible. Go straight to Zone E. Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200 or your luggage. A few minutes later the pilot announced we had clearance from ATC for a direct approach and would land in 20 minutes. So I calculated (again) about 35-40 minutes to make our connection. We were willing to rush. A rare offer from us.

The witch from hell Purser calmly explained that we had been offloaded like a bit of luggage and would not be accepted on the flight. Implicitly the attitude was “stop bothering me with your problem you piece of garbage”.

We landed and I had a decision to make. Go to Zone E, wherever that was, or ask the friendly looking gentleman at the entrance to the channel for transit whether I could try for the flight. 35 minutes was worth a go, he said. Top bloke. So Mrs. Ha and I went to the transit point only to be told that the gate was already closed. Despondency. One minute later the lady said she had spoken to the gate and they were willing to take us. We ran up the escalator, negotiated security, went down the wrong lift, back up the wrong lift, along the corridor, down the right lift – are you still with us? – and waited for the train to take us from Zone A to B. I have no idea what happened to E. We then rushed to Gate B44 and found……..

we were still listed on the flight and our onward flight was delayed. Go and sit in the lounge. Put your feet up. Have a drink. We had never been taken off the flight.

That flight finally took off late enough for our luggage to make it onto the same flight as us. Amazing. The crew of BA27 were brilliant. Complete opposite of the hell-Purser on the short haul leg. The man in charge told me he had seen us listed on the manifest as ‘possibly needing assistance with the short connection’. Oh really? Well that was a surprise although it was exactly what Juan had said he would put on the system. So the score so far…. Barcelona Juan 5, Linda from hell -10, cabin crew of BA27, +10.

We landed late of course but my luggage came through quickly. The cabin crew boss from our flight even came across to see how we were doing and we had a chance to thank him again.

Mrs. Ha however was not so lucky with her case. . I thought I saw her suitcase but although similar it was not hers. Soon alarm bells started ringing in my mind. The similar suitcase had been round the carousel 4 or 5 times. I wondered, just a little, whether somebody had taken Mrs. Ha’s case by mistake. Another BA star to the rescue. Ivy, I think her name was. She started checking the system and pretty quickly confirmed my hunch. Mrs Yeung had left the airport with Mrs. Ha’s case full of goodies leaving us with her cast off. I bet her first name was Linda.

Well 2 hours later the cases were swapped over and I just about resisted the temptation to hurl Mrs. Y. from the 6th floor window of HK International Airport. She seemed to think it was Shirley’s fault for having a suitcase like hers. She stomped off in a state of high dudgeon. We did get home eventually but of course jet lag kicked in and we were wide awake at 3am. I have downloaded a few shots and here is my first offering to cheer me up, if not you. The angles are as I shot them. I was not drunk.

Barcelona Cathedral

Diagonal light

Sagrada Familia

SF tree effect


And for you B&W junkies…. All the young dudes.

All the Young Dudes

And to prove that you can enter a red light district without realising it….. well it was mid-afternoon, there were no lights on and I blame Mrs. Ha. I was just following her. We are not good navigators!