Sunday, October 25, 2009

Red eyes, blue skies

Travel Diary Day 2
Saturday, October 24

I learned a valuable lesson right at the beginning of this vacation. Never begin two weeks away with an overnight flight.

We arrived in Barcelona at nine in the morning, exhausted, none of us having been able to sleep more than a few minutes on the overnight flight. And of course we couldn't get into our hotel until one.

So fortified with coffee and other caffeinated beverages of choice we left our bags with the hotel clerk and set off to explore the city. We walked about 8 blocks to get to the Barcelona Bus Turistic: "Get to know Barcelona like nobody else." For 21 euros, which is quite a bit more in dollars, you can ride all day on three different routes that take you to many of the major attractions. You can get off and explore, and then get back on and ride to the next stop, or stay on for the entire day. The best part is that they give you headphones and you can plug in at your seat and hear about what you're seeing in eight different languages. We chose the union jack picture and got our travelogue in Brit-accented English.

The bus is a double-decker with an open top, and the weather was perfect for riding in the sunshine and seeing the lovely balconied buildings and palm tree, with the Pyrenees rising in the background. Of course it seemed that everyone else agreed. It took a half hour of standing in line to finally get on the bus. And then we got off at the first stop to marvel at Sagrada Familia, a church that has been under construction for hundreds of years and is still a wonderful work in progress.

Once we got back on the bus, we managed to get upper-deck seats and all dozed through the remaining almost two hours of the circuit. Then we dragged ourselves back to the hotel and collapsed into bed at mid-afternoon.

But what a lovely city Barcelona is. Next time I'm here I hope I'm awake.

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