#49 Reminiscing PB88: Barcelona (Port 14)

What is Peace Boat?

¡Hola! (Hello in Spanish)

  • Date: 2015/10/9
  • Port Name: Barcelona
  • Country: Spain
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Free day again. We are the luckiest! So we hung out in the city for a day, visited the free part of Guell Park (I’m not sure if it was Guell Park actually, but there’s a little hill with a view of the city, and the colorful Gaudi benches where Romain Duris almost had an affair with the married woman in Spanish Apartment). Then we visited Sagrada Familia of course!

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“Unfinished, of all the words you can use to describe the Sagrada Familia — Brown, pointy, weird, the one that really seems to stick is unfinished. Why? Because on June 7th 1926, the architect, Antonio Gaudi, whose beard was also brown, pointy, weird and unfinished was run over by a bus. And so, his greatest masterpiece would remain forever, unfinished. Gaudi, to his credit, never gave up on his dream, but that’s not usually how it goes. Usually its not a speeding bus that keeps the brown, pointy, weird church from getting built. Most of the time it’s just too difficult, too expensive, too scary. It’s only once you’ve stopped that you realise how hard it is to start again. So you force yourself not to want it. But it’s always there and until finished it it’ll always be…”

Yes, I’m quoting Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother. You know, before you visit somewhere for real in person, you always have these few words that you associate with one place, or no words at all. “Sagrada Familia” was the word that stuck with me for Spain since my days living in Japan. I learnt it through Japanese TV and through Japanese friends or friends of friends who’ve visited Barcelona / Spain, who are always saying “Sagrada Familia”. In the back of my mind I’d always thought it was a normal building or a little house or something, swarmed with Japanese tourists, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Sorry #katak di bawah tempurung (Malay proverb meaning ignorant).

This was easily the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. I’m glad I took the audio guide, because they explained the intentions of Gaudi and his successors in how they designed the building, an organic theme to reflect the work of God and nature, and the placement of the windows according to the position of the sun during the times of the day, etc. I uploaded a pic of the interior here, but I doubt it’ll be that much of a travel spot spoiler because it’s still being constructed, and each time you go there might be a new addition. According to Wikipedia, construction started in 1882 (!) and it will be ongoing for at least another 50 years. The exterior was also extremely impressive, with the religious carvings and sculptures decorating the entrances and walls.

Here’s a shaky picture of Sagrada Familia in LEGO! At the Lego UNESCO World Heritage Site exhibition in Singapore (taken 29th July, 2017)

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After that we had coffee in front of the building and some tapas with friends. Here’s an email I wrote to le bf:

“So Barcelona was a REALLY NICE and elegant city, I think it may have been one of the best ports so far. Marseille is the best of course for obvious reasons! But I really enjoyed seeing the people, the cleanliness of the city, just the right amount of color and noise and interesting architecture in Barcelona! I had tapas and got a bit tipsy after ONE single glass of sangria and climbed on one of those lion statues below the Christopher Columbus statue lol. See pic shared on fb”

I still got the pic with me, it’s definitely not public blog sharing material 😛

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Next Port: Gibraltar!

#23 Le Moucherotte

More hiking! Because this is what you do in Grenoble when sumer’s here: Climb different mountains every weekend to look at the city from different angles.

So previously I have climbed the Chartreuse, which is behind my house in the north. This time, we went to the Vercors mountain range on the left side of the city to look at it from the West! This is my first time setting foot on these mountains; none of my previous ski trips were on this mountain range.

Schedule
9:55 Left the main Grenoble bus station on the TransIsere Bus 5010
10:25 Got off at Pariset Station
12:30 Lunch at (what remained of) the ’68 Winter Olympics Ski Ramp
14:45 Reached the peak of 1901m
15:30 Start of descent
18:10 Pariset Station
18:40 Milkshake at Mcdonald’s
19:00 Home

Total Hike Time from Pariset Station: 4.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down

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Interesting Checkpoint #1: Les Trois Pucelles (The Three Virgins)
Legend has it that three virgins were in love with a man, but the man died and the three girls wouldn’t stop crying that they turned into three huge rocks, lol.

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Interesting Checkpoint #2: Ruins of the ’68 Winter Olympics Alpine Ski Ramp

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It was hard for me to imagine what was what, but I think the part in the middle lined with lampposts was the track, the structure on the left was the judges’ booth, and the one on the right was the audiences’ stand. So I googled it and found this picture:

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Source

Pretty cool! And look, the skiers had to carry their own skis up the stairs to the top of the piste. These are the stairs today:

Which picture’s going up and which is going down?

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Interesting Checkpoint #3: The peak, and where Le Moucherotte Hotel used to be

There used to be a famous hotel up here in the 60s only accessible by cable car and people could ski into town in winter! But all of has been demolished so what’s left is a huge patch of empty land on the top of the mountain where dandelions and other mountain flowers grow.

View of the mountain ridges continuing into the south

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View of the city to the northeast. And we can see the Fort of St. Eynard on Chartreuse below us in the middle of the picture!

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Flowers and Birds:

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These three ravens were being friendly to us because they wanted our food. Luckily for them, I had some over-ripe parts on my apple so I threw some at them and they so effortlessly flew around us to pick up the pieces. We contemplated to throw the apple core right off the cliff to see if they would dive headfirst to catch it but we didn’t because that seemed a bit mean lol.