We made it to Barcelona without a hitch. The only real bump in the road was that we arrived to the hotel around 11:00 am Barcelona time and the room wasn’t ready for us to check in yet. After a long overseas flight it is tough to cool your heals waiting to get into your room. They finally gave it to us around 1:30. We quickly unpacked a few things and took a 2 hour nap.
One we woke up we were pretty hungry so we walked across the street to the El Corte Ingles and bought some groceries.
We ran out of steam pretty quick and headed back to the hotel. As we were walking Cynthia suggested we go have a look at Casa Batlo which is not to far away. We walked over and snapped some shots, but I am not overly pleased with what I got so may plan to shoot some more later.
Of course William The Sheep is tagging along for the journey
Time to get some sleep and get ready for tomorrow. Rain is forecast, but we’re prepared!
As the weather sites have all been saying for the last few weeks, today is a day of heavy rain. I’d hoped the forecast would change as we got closer to arrival, but it did not.
Fortunately, we packed foul weather gear and have been moving about. The first stop today was La Boqueria for some breakfast at The Bar Central Cafe and then to have a look around and take some photos.
It is a unique market with fresh produce, meat and seafood. Some of the seafood is so fresh it tries to crawl, slither or otherwise wriggle out of the display.
Since it is raining and we have also mastered the metro, we decided to spend the day at the museum looking at art. Not a bad choice at all. Unfortunately, I find photographs from inside a museum to be kind of boring. I love seeing the art and browsing the gallery and I do take photos, but the results always seem kinda bleh. Here are a few that I like from the day. You’ll note that two of them are not actually pictures of the art, but are of the historic building housing the art. And one is of the intrepid William The Sheep.
The sun came out today. After a full day of rain yesterday we were very happy to see it. We got up and headed out for some breakfast and then walked down La Rambla to the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia aka the Barcelona Cathedral to watch the Sardana dances.
La Rambla was bustling early. The crowds were building fast and the human statues were gearing up for a busk-o-rama day.
And the beggars were also taking advantage of the sunshine.
Walking through the Barri Gotic on the way to the cathedral we marvelled at the ornamentation on the buildings in the neighborhood
During our wandering we stumbled upon the secluded Gothic cloister which encloses the Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques) where 13 white geese are kept, the number explained by the assertion that Eulalia was 13 when she was martyred.
After communing with the geese for a bit we found our way to the front of the cathedral for the main event. Each Sunday the citizens of Barcelona gather in front of the cathedral for for the Sardana Dances. Some to dance, other just to watch and listen to the cobla.
After this it was back to the hotel to recombobulate and have a snack. The walk back was met by extremely large throngs of people jamming La Rambla
After collecting ourselves back at the hotel room we headed out and braved the metro to go see La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026.
The structure is amazing to see in person. I was particularly happy to have my very wide angle Sony 16-35mm lens with me to capture a few images. These are both done using HDR techniques that involve taking 3 separate photos, each with a different exposure setting, and blending the images together to create one high dynamic range image that brings our the detail and evens out the overall exposure.
The last day in Barcelona yesterday was good. but the weather was the pits. We saw some sights and enjoyed some good food, but the photo ops were pretty much non-existent. Despite our overall good attitude, we were a little bummed.
Today was the 3 1/2 hour train ride to the city of Valencia for the 2011 Las Fallas festival. We were here two years ago and simply fell in love.
As we left Barcelona the rain was falling in earnest and the weather reports called for rain in Valencia for at least a few days. But as we got close to Valencia the skies began to clear and by the time we got tot he hotel it was downright sunny. Huzzah!
Valencia, even without the festival, is a fantastic and picturesque city. Add to that the fallas and it becomes magical.
Sadly, due to all the rain of the last week, many of the fallas have been damaged. The artists are working fast and furious to repair them and seem to be doing a good job. Today is the day they are being officially setup so the ones we are seeing are in various states of completion and repair.
We came back to the hotel room after enjoying a nice lunch at Pappardella, an Italian restaurant we found during our last visit.
We spent almost two hours over a leisurely lunch and a bottle of local Rioja
Since leaving Barcelona this morning Cynthia has been a little sick. Nothing major, but an upset stomach and some fatigue have taken her a bit off her game. The lunch really helped, but we knew we’d both benefit from a siesta so we went back to the room and sacked out for a few hours. When we got up we headed back out. The evening weather here is pretty perfect. And the city and the fallas are very cool at night.
Now were are back in the room and considering our options. There is a huge fireworks display at midnight. If we have the energy we may head out to see that. If not, there’s another one tomorrow night. And the night after that. And the night after that.
Cynthia an I caught our second wind and we ended up going to the midnight fireworks display. It was quite impressive. There were quite a lot of people there to see it and a very large police and fire department presence.
The fireworks display lasted for a full 17 1/2 minutes. We were so close that it seemed as though they were right on top of us.
I shot a video of the whole thing with my Android phone.
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After such a great day yesterday we were a bit disappointed to wake up to rain in Valencia. Not a lot of it, but enough to dampen our spirits somewhat. We grabbed some breakfast here at the hotel and went back to the room. We were still tired from the night before and with the rain we decided to take a nap. That ended up being a great idea because we slept soundly for a few more hours and when we woke up the rain had stopped.
We set out exploring and as it approached 2pm we decided to attend the daily mascleta which is a daytime fireworks display designed for percussive effect rather than visual. Thousands of festival goers jam in to the central square to be as close to the event as possible. When it goes off it is so loud you can’t hear yourself even if you shout. The display goes for a full 5 minutes.
I recorded this on my cell phone. It does not do the event justice, but it gives you an idea
After the mascleta we went back to the room to re-organize and then went to have a late lunch at our favorite restaurant, Pappardella.
After a nice meal and a bottle of wine we took to the streets where we encountered a procession of Falleras apparently leaving some event and going back to their respective neighborhoods. This provide Cynthia and I with a few hours of photographic fun
After this we went back to the hotel room once more to get ready for the evening where we planned to go find the legendary light displays of the Ruzafa district.
In Valencia’s Ruzafa district is where you will find the legendary light displays that are set up in celebration of Las Fallas. We missed these on our previous visit to this festival so we made it a point to seek them out this time.
As we wandered the area we encountered some of the largest, most ornate fallas we’d ever seen
But what REALLY sets this area apart is the incredibly ornate light diplays
Obviously, these things attract a large crowd so it does get fairly jammed up pretty much as soon as the sun goes down. Still, it was worth a bit of jostling just to see them.
After that we were pretty tuckered out. We’re hitting the sack a bit early in anticipation of sunshine tomorrow.
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