Saturday, May 05, 2007

Barecelona then Portugal

I took an overnight train to Barcelona, getting there the morning of May 2. It was a first class bunk, just a bit roomy then the 2nd class ones really (in case you're wondering, the rail pass that I won is a 1st class ticket).

I know I said I was going to Bilbao, but I discovered that Spain is much bigger than I thought. My apologies to Spain, I should know better to assume everything is close since I'm forever telling people that Toronto is no where near the "east coast of Canada". So I stayed in Barcelona for a couple of nights. It won't rank as my favourite city in the world, since it's very packed and grubby, but it does have a lot of neat old winding streets. And palm trees, and warm weather.

I wandered around La Rambla where human statues in bizarre costumes perform - a Edward Scissorhands look-a-like snapped his scissors at me when I gave him a few coins. I went to the Market de Bourqueta for fresh fruit.

I spent an inordinate amount of time booking a ticket on a train to Lisbon, my next stop. I won't go into that, but lets just say that they could organize the train ticketing system better, and open more than 1/4 of the ticket windows.

I went to La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral under construction for over a century. It's unusual in design with natural influences, like columns that ressemble bones and trees, stair cases that are single helixes, and bunches of fruit on tops of the towers. I tried to find a park designed by the same guy, Gaudi, but with no luck. The park was supposed to have been part of a town but Gaudi never finished that either. He seemed to have trouble actualizing his ideas, or completing them. I can identify with that.

I went up to Park Montjuic and it was there that looking down on the city that I felt really disturbed. It's such a heaping of buildings, most of which aren't all that pretty. It felt stiffling looking at it. It's funny, on the street the buildings don't look too bad with their terraced windows and plant pots, but from a far it looked terrible. So I'm off mixed feelings on Barcelona.

I left there yesterday afternoon, first on a train to Madrid where I had to ride in 2nd class (gracious me!). It was actually quite comfortable, with a Lindsay Lohan film (can't remember the name - she's really lucky, then she loses her luck via kissing to a previously unlucky guy and has to get it back) that was all in Spanish so I couldn't really understand it and it was probably better that way.

Got into Lisbon this morning and had to ride from south of city to north of city to change trains. The entire city seems to be concrete apartment buildings in pale stone colours, with graffiti everywhere. It didn't seem pleasant, and after having enough of grubbiness of big cities, I was glad of my choice to go down south to Lagos, in the Algrave region. I don't know if I'll go to Lisbon to spend time at all, maybe just an afternoon before getting my train back to Madrid.

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