2005-12-26: Boxing Day
26th December 2005 - Spain Day 2
This morning we woke after a night of listening to traffic roar around under the hotel. We had another big breakfast. Yesterday the venue was playing a break beat music, this morning it was more of a jungle beat. We are still wearing the same clothes from Christmas Eve and I'm considering the inside-out, back-to-front solution for wearing the same underwear. The airline has a recorded message in Spanish and French that I think is telling us they are shut for the holidays.
Barcelona behind me
Castell de Montjuic
Our destination today was the Parc de Montijuic, or the mountain that we avoided yesterday, the one with an old fort on top and the old Olympic games venue. There is a tram that takes you up the hill. We knew the ride was going to be steep because the train doesn't have a level floor, instead it is stepped. There is an exciting moment in a tunnel when you see the lights from the downward tram coming at you (especially as the trams are automated), but the track split for both vehicles to safely overtake). From the tram we had planned on taking the cable car to the top but this was closed for repairs. This left us with walking or the bus. Edyta didn't want to walk and the next bus was 30 minutes away. I didn't mind the idea of taking this bus as the route is displayed on the bus stop, so you know when to get off. To kill time we walked around some gardens in the area, including the Olympic diving pool (and now a restaurant venue). From across the road we then saw the bus arrive either really early or really late. In either case it took off without stopping, meaning we didn't make it to the bus as didn't another couple who had been waiting too. Stinking buses, lowest forms of public transport. We relied on our legs to walk up the mountain. This wasn't too bad as we got to walk through a park with interesting little musical pads you could leap on. We also found a fountain that was actually turned on.
No break dancing allowed
We made it to the top and decided to walk around the base of the fort there (Castell de Montjuic). We got a good view of Barcelona stretching out from the coast to the mountains in all directions (including the massive ports on the far side of the mountain from the city). There are some 3 million people living here and it is obvious, buildings stretch for ever in all directions. The castle was free to enter (or at least we weren't stopped to pay) however all of the rooms bar two where closed. One room was the cafeteria, the other a room displaying old machine guns, automatic rifles, a few flare guns and small anti-tank guns. There were more stray cats over the mountain and more of the hanging santas that decorate all of Barcelona (these are santas that appear to be climbing ropes, not those with a noose around their head - with the exception of one santa that seemed to have strangled himself in his own rope).
A fantastic fountain (when on)
The closed national museum
Our trip down the mountain took a long time. We walked it but the maps weren't clear on how to get down and we kept finding old locked Olympic facilities blocking us. We were trying to get to magical fountain (Font Magica) and the Catalunya National Museum (Palau Nacional & Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya). After a long walked we finally made it to the imposing building. However it was shutting, which seemed odd as there was still an hour to go for opening times listed on the wall. We then had a bite before going to the base of the fountain to look up at it (though turned off it isn't all that impressive - a 5 euro DVD lets you see it actually on). We went back to La Rambla area for the afternoon. This time we went into the El Raval side, or more correctly the derelict immigrant area.
We went past an old Roman church where we found a store selling fish shaped cakes, so we had one. This meant spilling icing sugar on our only clothes. Then we found an old monastery that was now used by people (homeless?) to hang out in. It was being patrolled by police who must have been looking for someone because we kept seeing the same officers for the rest of the afternoon. Before this there was another old church that had a public toilet (one of the pay types). Edyta pressed the button to enter and it locked itself and said occupied. I guess it didn't want her business.
We went back to the hotel hoping to find our luggage but there was no sign of it (someone else's bag had shown up instead). Edyta is now planning how to spend the $1100 we should be compensated. We went out looking for tea but ran into the Spanish siesta problem. Nothing is open before 7pm (especially as this is still a public holiday). We found a McDonald's, a cafe, a German hot dog and a puff pastry store. The Spanish just crowd into pubs, order tapas (small servings of olives, bread, etc.) and then keep eating that all night before going to get tea at 10pm or so. We found a restaurant that was open and just starting to serve food (though we still seemed too early for them). By this time I noticed my watch was showing London time again instead of Spanish. That probably explained why the museum was closing early, we were on the wrong time. Edyta had a chicken meal, I had what was described as Ox tail but seemed to be more the meat around its' spine.
That night I watched Cast Away on the TV, in Polish. At least Tom Hanks doesn't say much in the movie.