Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Barcelona

We weren’t sure how far it was from the ferry to the place where we had to get the key for our ‘loft’ in Barcelona, but a policeman at the port area said La Rambla, the street we were looking for initially, was only ‘past the monument.’ Okay, we thought, we’ll walk to the monument. And then we walked up La Rambla (Barcelona’s most famous street) and then, when we were going to catch a bus to Caller de Portaferrisa, which runs off La Rambla, a woman told us it wasn’t worth getting the bus; only five minutes’ walk. So we walked some more - with our rucksacks on our backs and our heavy smaller backpacks in front. And finally we found Portaferrisa, and then had trouble finding the little lane called Caller de Roca, for which we’d been given precise instructions. It was so little that we missed it altogether. Finally found the office for the people who run the ‘Loft’ system, and then we had to walk for at least another five minutes (rucksacks, backpacks, sore feet) with one of the staff to the apartment we would be sharing with whoever else was staying there. (The Loft is a group that rents out unused loft space - or areas high up in buildings - maintains them and offers them at very cheap rentals.)
Finally got there (rucksacks, backpacks, sore feet and sore backs) and found that we had to climb five flights of stairs! The lift doesn’t work anymore.
At least here we have a kitchen to cook our own meals, and though we’re sharing bathrooms, there are two of them. We had our first ‘home-cooked’ meal since we left Switzerland, and used some Mexican sauce which turned out to be very hot (though not as hot as the next level up apparently).
Anyway, Barcelona seems a pleasant place: the traffic isn’t nearly as frantic as in the Italian cities, and people actually stop at pedestrian crossings. In Italy it’s a challenge as to whether they will. (The motor scooters are the worst culprits for trying to run you down.) Even the Metro doesn’t seem as crowded - though we got literally shoved onto the train tonight by an enthusiastic feller, who laughed at our surprise - along with his friend. You couldn’t get mad at him.
La Rambla is a long pedestrian street with single-lane traffic up either side. There are buskers all over, especially those ones who act as statues, and it’s full of life even late in the evening. Unfortunately, the McDonald’s doesn’t sell milkshakes, which is the only disturbing thing we’ve discovered about Barcelona so far.
The place we’re staying in is only a few minutes from La Rambla, and there are little shops everywhere, plus clothes hanging from the balconies, tv aerials covering the roofs, dogs barking, people relaxed and pleasant (apart from a bit of fisticuffs we saw about to happen this morning), and at least two internet shops within spitting distance. On the ferry we’d had to pay 7.50 for half an hour for the privilege of using their internet; in the street near here it’s one euro an hour.
And this morning, as I was going to pay the bill for the room we’ve got, I got caught up in the making of a movie. A man ran out of a building and handed a bag to a guy on a motor scooter. This fellow had horns on his helmet (!) As he drove off, another scooter with a driver and a cameraman raced behind him. There were the usual twenty or thirty crew scattered about, and one person who looked like an actor but didn’t actually do anything. I might have been in the shot of the scooter taking off, but they looked as though they were going to shoot it again, so I might not get into a Spanish movie after all.


Dom said...

You'll always be the star to me, dad.

Bevetal said...

Met Manuel yet ? (He's from Barcelona!)

Mike Crowl said...

Gee, thanks, Dom!
Nope, haven´t met Manuel, though there are plenty of lookalikes...