Sunday, March 8, 2015

High winds good excuse for escape to Barcelona

It has been a difficult couple of weeks back in the village,  a few lovely days interspersed with some really ugly weather. We knew that there had been some incredibly windy weather while we were away, and unfortunately it wasn't over. We had several days of tramuntana, the strong winds that come over the Pyrenees. Normally they bring clear blue skies, however one day the sky was full of dramatic clouds. After it rained we were lucky enough to see a double rainbow. But the tramuntana wasn't over. The winds were so strong it looked like smoke when you watched the sea. In fact one day we felt the spray at our house. You can't walk anywhere in these winds. In fact just going from the car to the Spar supermarket was almost impossible. At night the whole house shook and the constant  howling was becoming really annoying. By Thursday we were becoming tired of it all. In the morning we didn't even try to go to the Figueres market for our fruit and veg shopping. The winds were gusting to over 100 kilometers an hour. That was it. We loaded up our overnight bags, took the car to the nearby station and boarded the train for Barcelona, where we knew it wasn't windy.

Everything was going according to plan until the train stopped just before Figueres station. Something was on the line and it was going to take some time to move it. After a fifty-minute delay we were on our way once more, albeit slowly. There were some trees that had fallen down and were nearly touching the tracks causing yet another delay. Finally, we reached Barcelona almost an hour-and-a-half late. But what a joy to be there. It was sunny and warm and quiet with no gusting wind.

Barcelona is a wonderful city for walking. We always stay in El Born, which was once a medieval settlement but now is a trendy area with lots of narrow calles and cobbled streets. It is easy to walk from here through Placa Nova and the massive Barcelona Cathedral and on to Passeig de Gracias, one of the main shopping areas. We had a few things to buy that we can't get in Figueres. Once that was done we walked down several more side streets to end up in Placa Reial, a beautiful nineteenth century square surrounded by outdoor cafes. This is always a lovely place to visit.

After a brief walk down the lower half of Las Ramblas we walked along the front by the marina at Port Vell. Las Ramblas is one of the pickpocket capitals of the world so you have to be really vigilant about your belongings. On the way back to the hotel we discovered a new district with lots of little bistros, music shops and interesting little shops. that is the best thing about Barcelona, every time you go you discover something new.

Our day ended in the Market at Santa Catarina restaurant. It is huge and always packed. We ended up sitting at the bar where the six chefs do all their cooking. It is always a fun spot to eat and to watch the food as it is being prepared. Our spring rolls and basmati rice with vegetables and a mustard sauce were delicious. This was so much better than listening to howling winds.

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