Monday, 3 May 2010

April 30th 2010 – May 3rd 2010

Gava (Barcelona) – Tres Estrellas – ASCI 2010-1603

The site is surprisingly quiet, given the location. It is close to Barcelona Airport and is located between a very busy dual carriageway (C31 going into Barcelona) and a Beach. But neither road noise, nor aircraft noise appears to be a problem. The selling point is that you can get a bus (every 30 minutes) from just outside the gate into Barcelona.

After getting ourselves set up and having something to eat, we walk along to check exactly where the bus stop is, what time the buses are etc etc. It all looks to be pretty straight forward. There is a “working girl” with her plastic chair set up just a few yards from the bus stop, so that at least should provide some entertainment while we wait.

Saturday, and I need to revise my view of the aircraft noise. Presumably, the wind has changed direction, and Jumbo jets are thundering overhead as they take off and head over the sea to gain height. Fortunately we are going out for the day, so it will not bother us. Hopefully the wind will have turned by tomorrow!

We head off for the bus, there is quite a queue or people at the bus stop, mostly from the Campsite.

No sign of the “working girl”, must be too early for her, or maybe she gets weekends off. If she does, I don't suppose she spends the weekend in bed, that would be a sort of busman's holiday wouldn't it?

The bus arrives, 1.40Euro each, for what turns out to be a 45 minute bus journey, not bad compared to home. There is another English couple on board, Kathleen chats to them. Buses here work pretty much the same as at home, ie you press the bell when you get to the stop where you want to get off. This means you have to know where you are going. Aware that we have to find our way back here, I occupy myself with noting landmarks as we travel, including what turns out to be the all important kilometre number near the bus stop.

At some point on the journey a woman in a sophisticated electric wheelchair gets on the bus. This is quite an operation, since the driver has to deploy a slide out ramp, so that she can “drive” the wheelchair onto the bus. This is all done from his cab, but not without much shouting, which seems to be the Spanish way.

The wheel chair looks as if it has been in the Monte Carlo rally, with mud spattered all over the wheels. I cannot help but notice that her shoes also look very scuffed and worn. I glance at Kathleen, who I can see has noted the same thing, and I just know she is thinking the same as me, “how do you wear out your shoes if you are in a wheel chair?”

Our temporary English acquaintances are planning to take the tour bus, none of that simple stuff for us, this is an adventure, and we intend to do it from the map, using our own heads.

We take a chance and get off the bus at what looks a likely stop, Rotanda de Universidad, if that means anything to you, no, I thought not. The lady in the wheel chair also gets off here.

It turns out to be a reasonable choice, we are only a short distance from the “traditional” Gothic Cathedral, which we visit first.

As always seems to be the case when you want to take a photograph, major renovation is underway, complete with large crane.

The lady in the wheelchair is also there, she appears to be well known to the half dozen or so beggars arranged at the door.

We do the tourist thing of wandering around looking at the interior, the woman in the wheelchair is in there too, is she stalking us for having unkind thoughts?

One of the things in the Cathedral is a very ornate horsedrawn carriage. The information notice tells us it is connected to the Sagrada Family, and has something to do with a place called “El Rocio”, which we visited in Southern Spain some four years ago.

Kathleen notices there is a mass in progress, in a side chapel, and she has only missed the first ten minutes. She is able to go to mass, and in a cathedral, so that is double points, she even drags me along, so that is a triple word score. It also means the problem (challenge, sorry), of finding a church, is out of the way for another week.

After mass, we settle in a café for a coffee, and use the opportunity to study our street map.

We decide to explore the area surrounding the Cathedral, which appears to be a network of narrow pedestrian streets and alleys, whilst around the outside perimeter of the Cathedral are a series of quiet cloisters.

In one of the cloisters at the side of the Cathedral, there are some fountains, and a pond with goldfish and geese. Not sure what the significance is, presumably there were a source of food for the priests and monks in past times.

Next we head toward the Port area, but enroute we encounter a very noisy but good natured demonstration.

A few hundred people are marching with placards, and accompanied by a “band”, which seems to consist almost entirely of very loud drums.

The role of the chap at the far right of the picture, with the beard, seems to be to walk backwards and pound his drum as hard as he can, whilst the women in the middle ranks do a sort of Salsa rhythm dance, and those at the back, who have even bigger drums, make a LOT of noise.

I suppose even if their protest is unsuccessful, they may be able to make a claim for industrial deafness.

There is also a chap “locked” in a sort of makeshift prison cell, made of cardboard, painted to look like iron bars, again complete with placards.

Obviously the placards are all in Spanish, but as far as I can tell:

the chap “locked” in the prison cell is a protest against the banks, bankers and third world debt,


the rest of it is a demonstration by the Spanish equivalent of Unison, protesting against the credit crunch, privatisation and public spending cuts.

I am not sure the protest will do them any good, but it certainly seems like good fun, and given the low profile police prescence, they are not anticipating any serious trouble.

We make our way to the former harbour area, most of which now seems to have become an upmarket marina complex, which seems to be the pattern in most cities with former dockyards, these days.

There are some very large and expensive looking boats berthed here, probably owned by Bankers, and third world leaders, maybe the protesters will come to the Marina?.

A craft market in full swing (what joy).

Fortunately it is getting near lunch time, so we do not stay too long.

Next we head for La Rambla.

Although I have heard La Rambla mentioned, by just about everyone who has been to Barcelona, I have no idea what to expect.

It is a long, tree lined, colourful, pedestrianised street, with hundreds of people strolling about.

There are stalls selling everything from live chickens to Messi football shirts, as well as pavement cafes.

The surrounding streets are narrow and quaint, with numerous bars, shops and eating places.

We choose a café for Lunch. Kathleen not being the most adventurous eater has Tortilla (ie omelette with potato in it), whilst I have Calamari, accompanied of course by the inevitable bottle of wine.

It is great fun to sit eating our lunch and watching the street scenes unfold. There are acrobats, jugglers, and people pretending to be statues.

This couple were sitting next to us, and had enormous glasses of beer. They must have been at least a litre, but perhaps more, and they appeared to be there for the duration.

The "entertainment" is totally informal. Someone just stops walking along, and begins juggling with Indian Clubs, or perhaps a little group of two or three begin doing acrobatics on the pavement.

Obviously they are doing it for money, and a collection is mounted at the end of the display, but it is all very low key, and if they begin to pester the diners and drinkers too much, the waiters shoo them away, but no one gets uptight, and it is all very jolly.

There is even a little group of hustlers with the three matchbox trick.

At one point two policemen on motor scooters arrive to arrest them. They are too quick for the police and spirit away their equipment to an accomplice, who disappears in the crowd, then the other two pretend to just be strolling along with the crowd. Their pockets are searched, but nothing is found of course. The Police depart and within ten minutes, they are back fleecing gullible passers by.

After lunch, the plan is to visit the unfinished Guidi Cathedral, via the city park.

As we stroll through the myriad of small streets, we hear violin music.

In a small courtyard off the street we are walking along a young chap is giving an informal violin recital.

In one corner of the square are steps to some civic building, and he has an audience sitting on the steps listening.

We join the small crowd of listeners on the steps and enjoy the music for a while.

At one point a small council street sweeper / refuse van enters the square.

The driver realises he is disturbing the performance, does a U-Turn, pauses in front of the musician drives in a little wiggle, and exits the square, allowing the "concert to continue undisturbed.

The musician bows to him, and the audience applaud.

Kathleen goes across to make a request (Meditation), but he did not have it on his backing music, so could not play it. Instead he talks her into buying a CD of his Violin music. We listen to it when we get back to the van, it is very pleasant.

Eventually, we continue on our way to find the Gaudi Cathedral.

First we come to the very impressive Arc de Triomf, which is at the start of a long avenue leading into the Parc de la Ciutadella (city park).

I am not sure quite what the reason is for this beautiful arch, there is no plaque or explanation as far as I can see.

From the history I was taught at school, I do not know when the Spanish last had a victory to celebrate, it must have been before the Armada.

Unless of course you are talking about football.

Perhaps they built it just in case, but then again, given the manyana culture here it seems unlikely.

One complaint about Barcelona, there appears to be a shortage of public toilets, either that or they hide the signposts to them.

As we make our way toward the Guidi Cathedral, we pass a petrol station, with a toilet visible.

Unfortunately it is locked, but the kindly young man sweeping the forecourt takes pity on a desperate pensioner and loans Kathleen the key, without expecting her to buy a gallon of petrol.

Guidi’s Cathedral is unlike anything we have ever seen anywhere.

Unfortunately because it is not finished, there are cranes and scaffolding to spoil the view.

At one side it looks like a traditional Cathedral, but as you look at it from left to right, it becomes a sort of fantasy building of rounded towers and features which look as if they have been made of slightly molten candlewax.

Over the main door, is the story of the crucifixion starting with the last supper, then the Garden of Gethsemene and the stations of the cross in sculptures.

I don’t want to turn this into a toilet blog, but for any future deperate visitors, there is a public toilet opposite Guidi’s Cathedral.

It highlights a problem however with public toilets.

When you enter the toilet, the light comes on automatically, but it only stays on for a limited time.

If you have been waiting a long time and your need takes longer than the light timer, you are plunged into darkness.

A tip, flushing the toilet puts the light back on! Easier for a man, than a woman of course (think about it). So our new term now is “a one light wee, or a two light wee”.

All we have to do now is find the bus stop to get back to the campsite.

I manage to navigate us back to the general area where we got off the bus, but we cannot find the bus stop. Kathleen so far has been “very good”, and has shown patience in waiting for me to consult the map (she has left her glasses back at the van, so I am in charge of the map).

The concern is that after 19:00 the buses run less frequently, and it is now 18:15.

Kathleen cannot keep up the being patient, and starts marching on ahead, so we circle the bus stop several times without actually finding it. But success at last, we arrive at the bus stop, just as “our” bus pulls in.

We even manage to get off at the correct place, thanks to my noting of the kilometre number (I am just too smart).

We may not have done the standard tourist thing, and I am sure we have missed numerous famous museums and grand buildings, but we have had a wonderful day, in Barcelona. It is a great place, I would recommend a visit.

Sunday, is a lazy day, to recover from all of the walking of yesterday. The wind has not changed direction, and jumbo jets continue to thunder overhead as they climb over the sea.

The teabags, get only one mention.

Sunday overnight, the weather changes, it pours with rain all night.

Just for those of you who thought we never have a bad day, Monday is such a day. We have to pack everything up in pouring rain.

It would never have been a pleasant drive around Barcelona, but in pouring rain, with a cloud of spray thrown up by the heavy lorries, it is even more dismal.

The rain continues for the whole journey.

We arrive at our next site, still raining.

Sant Pere Pescador - Aquarius - ACSI 2010-1660

This site was recommended to us about four years ago, when we were making our first ever Campervan trip to France, by a couple called David and Kay.

So far the recommendation appears to be well founded.

But the rain has not let up for a minute, it is now 20:45 and still pouring down!

Sorry it is such a long post to read, but we have had no WiFi for several days, it is free here!


  1. what a great post ken, made me laugh out loud and it doesnt matter if you didnt see it all, you obviously had a good day

  2. Thanks Elsy, pleased you enjoyed it!

  3. The Cathederal is magnificent.My typing is as bad as my skyping.Hope the weather lets up soon xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Maria