Arrived in Barcelona, land of dance

Bulla ‘N ‘Barna festival

I’ve been to Barcelona once before: the trip started off well but my then husband and I soon developed some kind of gastrointestinal illness and were hotel bound the rest of our visit. I always vowed to someday return and explore all that I had missed. Therefore this visit is a little bit of a make-up trip. My immune system feels good so far so looking forward to the next couple days in Barcelona.

I arrive in town late enough to check into my hotel to freshen up. I really have nothing on the agenda today except go watch the Sardana dance and maybe try to visit la boqueria, one of my favorite places.

I am staying once more in a nicer hotel. I like this chain, Room Mate Pau.

I wander around my hotel.

During my last visit to Barcelona I fondly remember catching the Sardana, the traditional Catalan dance. My current visit is timed just right for me to catch the dance again.

Now I head to La Boqueria via some of the Gothic Quarter.

First I stop for a pizza and a beer. I cannot resist the pizza with mortadella on it, a topping rarely seen on pizza.

Stopped by La Boqueria but most of the stalls are closed but nearby is a street party called Bulla ‘N ‘Barna put on by four local dance schools. They are doing the traditional dance of Ball de Bot. I stay here for a while to watch and buy my first vermouth in Barcelona. It is so much fun to watch all the dances.

I end the afternoon with a stroll down Las Ramblas. It is nice to just stroll with no destination in mind. Tomorrow I finally get to see the famous Park Güell.

Last hours in Girona

I am leaving Girona today to head to Barcelona. It is a quick train ride – less than an hour. Barcelona hotel check-in is later so I have some free time in Girona this morning. I take a morning walk and order a breakfast and a coffee. There is a flower market down the main shopping district. It seems like this market might have had more vendors in the past, perhaps another covid casualty?

There is a laundromat close to the hotel. This is a great opportunity to clean all my clothes one last time this trip. There is a nice view out the back window. I drop my bag with clean clothes back at the hotel to hold while I go out.

The Cinema Museum or Museu de Cinema has caught my eye so I decide to visit.

The museum starts with an introductory movie then you follow a series of interactive exhibits that build chronologically with the technical advancements.

The first exhibits are about the use of shadows.

I learn how they discover how to take images and make movement appear.

There are so many different cameras and projectors on display.

After the museum I walk around the city and notice a foam party in the park. Kids are digging it (no pictures out of respect).

I couldn’t resist one more stop at the Rocambolesc. I later discover this is an international chain so I have a feeling I’ll see this place again.

I stroll back to my hotel to grab my bag and head off to Barcelona. I will miss Girona. I like this quiet non-crowded town.

Day trip to Figueres

Dalí Theatre-Museum main atrium

Today I am taking a day trip to figueres. The draw in this small city is the El Teatro-Museo Dalí, an interactive art museum created by Salvador Dali. The museum contains traditional art pieces and some interactive pieces are coin activated or that you have to view at different angles to see the “trick” (for lack of a better word). It really is a sight to see. I spend most of today exploring the museum.

During this trip to Spain I have been booking tickets for major attractions in advance because I have feared things would sell out, but I didn’t really need to pre-book the Dali – Museum since there are tickets still available when I arrive and I end up waiting around a while for my start time – in this case I wish I would have waited until last minute.

While I am waiting I step into a nearby church and wander around the Teatro building.

Finally its time for my entry. I get to begin the wonderful Dali playhouse.

When you first enter the directions take you straight out to a courtyard where there is the first interactive exhibit. The museum quite busy inside but if you are patient enough you may get some alone time with certain exhibits. There is an order to the museum but no one really stops me when I decide to backtrack to revisit exhibits that were super crowded earlier. This exhibit, the rainy Cadillac starts a rain shower inside a Cadillac filled with mannequins when one puts a coin in the exhibit.

Naval Car. rainy cadillac

In the corridor circling the courtyard there are a number of sketches I found interesting.

In the large hall there is a picture off in the distance. When viewed up close it looks like a ladies behind from far away it looks like President Lincoln. The effect is hard to see with photos so I included a video.

There are a number of small galleries with other works of art.

Also Dali is entombed on site. You can find him in a darkened room.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Mae West room. From certain angles the room looks full of mismatched nonsense. If you climb up a set of stairs and look in just the right spot, all this nonsense forms a Mae West likeness. Initially I waited in a long line to see this effect. I later returned to the room almost empty. It pays to wander back and forth through this museum slowly.

Also in the Mae West room and other interactive rooms …

Example of artwork looking differently when reflected in metal
Photographs of Dali

Like I mentioned earlier there is no time limit so I walked through the entire museum a few times. Eventually I am tired and hungry so I find a place nearby and order an enchilada like dish.

I head back toward the train station. I’ve seen all I really want to see today in Figures.

Example of the reflection of a painting in the metal

Its been a long day. When I arrive back to Girona I don’t have it in me to walk back to my hotel from the train station. I decide this is a good time to rent a bike for the trip. It is easy enough to rent the bike and I take the same path that I walked previously. The only problem is finding a place to return the bike. The return station isn’t quite as close to my hotel as I would like.

At little later I grab a quick meal nearby. I head back to my room and enjoy the free champagne and try to figure out the room lighting system one last time. Tomorrow I make my last hotel change for this trip when I travel to Barcelona in the afternoon.

Girona

I am up early this morning in Granada. I have a flight to Barcelona and then shortly after taking a train to the city of Girona. I planned to take the cheap airport bus that arrives outside my hotel just a little down the street but that plan fell through last minute. My hotel had an outdated bus schedule because when I arrive at the bus stop this morning I realize I must have missed the bus and another doesn’t come for two hours. Since I will not make my flight on time if I wait I head back to the hotel and have them call me a taxi.

When I arrive at the Barcelona airport I don’t quite understand the instructions I have written down. Last time I was here was ten years ago and even then I was flying home and recovering from some sort of a norovirus/food poisoning. I take the wrong train initially and end up wasting a fare since I basically go to another airport terminal and then back again. Eventually I discover I have to take a regional train into Barcelona Estació Sants and switch to take my train to Girona. Luckily there are many trains daily to Girona so I don’t have to stress about missing one. Barcelona is highly connected by trains and metro stations. It is complex for a new traveler to the city, at least in my opinion. I am used to traveling in cities so I eventually wrap my head around the system after a day or two.

The ride to Girona is quick at around 40 minutes. At Girona there are two train terminals. They are pretty close together but it is real important to know the appropriate one to be at.

My hotel is a 20 minute walk from the train station. There is a foot and bicycle path that follows under a regional train. It is shaded and has some interesting art work along the way.

I chose Girona as a location to visit because it is a smaller city and I like visiting cities that aren’t popular and crowded. There are not too many must see things in Girona but it is a nice relaxing way to spend a couple days.

I cross a foot bridge to enter Barri Vell, a gothic quarter. I have a view of colorful buildings reflected in a river as well as a large basilica greets me as I cross the bridge. My hotel is practically around the corner from here.

The hotel I chose, Hotel Museu Llegendes de Girona, is a nicer hotel. I didn’t have as much luck locating a decent discount hotel in Girona. The hotel is a strange art museum/hotel. My room is simply designed except the lighting system – there are so many buttons in the room and only in one place are marked what they are; but not clearly though. I have a nice but complicated room.

After check in I walk the medieval streets of Girona. It is not crowded in this town and that is why I like it.

I decide to go for the fancy avocado toast plus halloumi for a late lunch. It feels slightly healthier than what I’ve been eating lately.

Federal Cafe

After lunch there is more wandering around town.

I stop at the famous ice cream chain Rocambolesc and try one of their creations. Very interesting flavors.

I walk down to the shopping district and do some window shopping. I am not a big shopper in general and especially when I am traveling but I eye a brand of shoes I must have. I note to myself to look them up online later (Update I did and there are a little more than I want to pay).

I see that there are old city walls that circle the city. I climb them and get a view of the city in the late afternoon. I almost have the walls to myself.

I find small gardens after small gardens hiden down alleys surrounded by old churches. I spend some time in Jardins dels Alemanys. I try to identify the fruit tree there with some other visiters of the park.

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I arrive at another very large church. There are very loud and active birds around that I stop to admire. I turn the corner and realize this is the famed church that was used in the Game of Thrones, a show I never really watched.

I walk up to a garden that is supposed to have a John Lennon memorial but I can’t find any such thing in the garden. I want to do a tapas crawl but I am tired from waking up early. I stop by a café for a quick drink for the evening then I head back to my hotel. Tomorrow I take a day trip to Figueres to visit a Dali wonderland.

Wandering the caves of Sacromonte

This morning I walk the streets of Albaicín (Granada) on my way to wander around Sacromonte. I was introduced to the neighborhood last night when I attended a zambra flamenco show. Today I am heading up to a cave museum (Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte) for a lesson on the history of this intriguing neighborhood.

I first read about these cave homes through a fictional book series. In each of the books the protagonist has an adventure in different cities throughout the world. In one book a woman visits the hillside cave town of Sacromonte in Granada. From then on I decided I needed to see these caves in person. A summarized version of the history is that they were inhabited by Gitanos, or what some people refer to as Roma gypsies- but the word gypsy is not really a good way to describe the group of people of this heritage because of all the negative meaning associated by its use. We know now that Romani or Roma people is probably a better way to describe this ethnic group that settled in this area in the 15th century. They brought with them their distinct culture that is reflected in this part of the city.

To get to the cave museum I turn down the street I visited last night for my zambra flamenco show – another distinct Sacromonte thing. The mostly white washed buildings are built into the hill. I climb up a couple of groups of stairs to eventually get to the museum at the top.

A few feet from the entrance there are some poems on the wall.

Granada is hot but the inside of the caves is a comfortable temperature. You see why they were used.

Some of the caves are decorated as they would have been used for living. Individual caves are also used as mini-museums of their own, for instance there is one where they talk about the history of flamenco and another where you learn about the plight of the Romani people in Spain; It is very hard to read how they were mistreated as a group over time. There are also caves that show different skills like weaving and pottery.

Outside of each cave there are plants with diagrams explaining their medicinal use.

I walk along the side of the hill of the museum and get a spectacular view of Granada. Along the hill sides you can see it is almost desert like with plants you typically see in dry and hot climates.

For only 5 euro I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth. I am glad to have marked this off my to-do list.

I walk back down into another part of Granada in search of an authentic tapas place. Again the streets are quiet. It is the warmest part of the day. Most people probably are indoors at this time.

When I get to the major business district of Granada I admire the shades installed along the shopping street – they are very much needed in hot Granada. I need to send a photo of these to urban planners in Florida (hint hint….might be a good idea).

I finally find an authentic tapas restaurant, La Sitarilla, and it serves free portions with each drink you order. I probably could have sat there for hours trying a good number of dishes; but I only try two today because the servings were a good size.

There are still more things I can do in town but I have already visited everything on my must see list. I head back to my hotel to chill there for the rest of the evening.

I finish my evening with the dessert I have been eyeing (Casa Ysla Pastelería) and finishing off the bottle of wine I bought a couple days ago. Tomorrow I fly north to begin another adventure there.