Breakfast started on the Rambla in the dapled morning sunshine. The trees are quickly shedding their leaves as autumn approaches, the sky is beautifully blue again with a light wind definitely giving a colder feel to the day.
First on Misha’s very organised tour today is Mercat de la Boqueria.
The first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates from 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. The current name is believed to derive from the Catalan boc, meaning “goat”, therefore a boqueria would be a place where goat meat is sold. Later, the authorities decided to construct a separate market on La Rambla, housing mainly fishmongers and butchers. It was not until 1826 that the market was legally recognized and construction began on March 19, 1840 under the direction of the architect Mas Vila and officially opened in the same year. The inauguration of the structure finally took place in 1853. A new fish market opened in 1911, and the metal roof that still exists today was constructed in 1914.
The market was such a feast for the eyes and nose. Many of the stalls today are places to eat but several still sell the local cured Jambon and olives alongside fish and meat.
We amble up to Placa Catalina which is the start of the various hop on hop off bus tours. We choose the Barcelona city tour company and purchase a two day pass at €39 each. This company offer two routes. The orange west route and green east route.
Today we take the orange route which will eventually drop us off at La Pedrera formerly known as Casa Mila. Our route first takes us round to the Olympic stadium. Originally built in 1927 for the 1929 International Exposition in the city, it was renovated in 1989 to be the main stadium for the 1992 Summer Olympics.
We decide not to get off the bus here even though it is a free attraction as there doesn’t appear to be much to see, and instead carry on to the beautiful Palau Nacional, now an impressive art gallery.
It is here we hop off to take the escalators down through the gardens to view the Font Magic (a water fountain which is best seen at night)
and then hop on again and round to Camp Nou. The famous Barcelona football stadium.
It is here that most of the passengers exit and once again with a quick shuffle and light footwork we manage to score the ultimate goal of the front seats at the top of the bus.
A few stops later and we arrive at Casa Mila. This was the last private residence designed by architect Antoni Gaudi and was built between 1906 and 1912. The building was commissioned in 1906 by Pere Mila and his wife Roser Segimon. At the time, it was very controversial because of its undulating stone facade and twisting wrought iron balconies. There are several structural innovations including a self-supporting stone façade, an open plan floor, underground garage and a spectacular roof-terrace where the chimneys are said to be the inspiration for the storm troopers in star wars.
It is popularly known as La Pedrera or “open quarry”, as a reference to its unconventional rough-hewn appearance,
Continuing on down the Passelg Gracia on foot, trying to get our 10,000 steps a day completed, it is very noticeable that we are in the affluent area. All the shops are Cartier, Prada, Channel or Gucci etc – definitely only window shopping here.
By now it is after 1pm and tummy’s are rumbling. We check the menus of a couple of restaurants and actually dismiss Txapela as its illuminated menu on the pavement looks terrible. But you should never choose a book by its cover. Luckily we take a peak in the main cafe area and it looks so authentic with stools up at the bar and a wonderful display of tapas on the counter. A glass of cava each, we just about manage to limit ourselves to 3 tapas dishes each. They were just so amazing.
Forcing ourselves onwards it is only minutes later that we are staring up at the weird but wonderful (I seem to be using this word a lot this holiday) building of Casa Batllo.
The house was bought by Joseph Batllo in 1900 a well know family in the textile industry. It was in 1904 that Gaudi was commissioned to renovate the house with no restrictions and was completed in 1906. The Batllo family continued to occupy the house until 1954 when an insurance company acquired it from the children following the death of both parents.
An audio and smart phone technology guides you around the house, explaining the design and function of each room.
There are no straight lines anywhere and some ideas such as the use of small shutters like fish gills in the internal doors to control the temperature are just brilliant. The use of light and colour is wonderful. Once again there are just so many photo’s that we have taken trying to capture it all.
Two hours later and tired legs we make our way back to the hotel for a rest and shower for an hour before we head out again for dinner.
After last nights disappointment we decide to ask the duty manager for a recommendation for a good paella. Without hesitation she gives us the directions to 7 Portes (doors) down in the harbour area. This is also one recommended in the on board flight magazine. We are very fortunate to get the last table not reserved, with many people being turned away after us.
7 Portes started as a cafe in 1836 and it wasn’t until 1929 when it became a restaurant. In its 180 years many famous actors, musicians and politicans have enjoyed this traditional restaurant. What a difference. A lovely meal enjoyed by us all and then a walk back through the tiny lanes of the Gothic quarter to the little cafe for what is becoming a bit of a habit. Coffee, churros and hot chocolate before retiring.