Barcelona, Spain 2006
Text & Photos by Syd & June Burns 2006  

Barcelona  12 / 19 June 2006

Syd & June Burns enjoy
a drink on the Ramblas


Syd and June Burns of Penrith, England, share their days of sun and fun exploring Barcelona, Spain.


Monday 12 June.

The day was set fair for the short trip to Newcastle airport where we flew to Barcelona by Easy Jet. The parking facilities at the airport were first class-- experiencing no problems in getting June from the car to the awaiting w/chair friendly bus.


Easy Jet is a budget airline with no frills but really knows how to look after the disabled passenger. We were handled with great care from booking in to disembarking and return. At Barcelona airport, a pre-booked car soon had
us safely into the Ambassador Hotel, which is just off the main street called
Las Ramblas.

 

Ambassador Hotel entry
with a steep ramp.
The busy Ramblas provides food, drinks, colorful mimes,
wall to wall people and more.

One of Gaudi's distinctive
architectural designs.

Gaudi's La Sagrada
Familia Cathederal
.
June poses with
one of Barcelona's
colorful mime "statues."

Barcelona's beaches provide
beach buggies for disabled
users and lifeguards to
assist people into the water 


The hotel is bright and shiny having been originally built for the 1992 Olympics of which it hosted the American basketball team. It is a hotel that really caters for the disabled but only if they are accompanied. The floor is marble with  the ramps being rather steep and very slippery. I got the knack after a while, but at first I was skidding all over the place with a helpful staff getting in the way. All the disabled rooms are next to the lifts (elevators) very practical but the ding dong, when one of the three lifts arrived really got up my nose for the first day. It wasn't long before I never even noticed it. The Ambassador has a bad reputation for thin walls and the funny is that you could be in bed with the next door guests. At least in our disabled room that never happened. Another downside is that there is no coffee making facilities, which was rather a blow. We soon cured that. The bathroom was standard. All the right grab rails and mirrors were installed in the right places. However, as usual our bath board was needed. June found that there were no obstructions at all, other than the need of the bath board. The bar was superb and being World Footy Cup it was filled with an across the board group of people. The bar rest room was superb and presented no problems.

 

After dumping our gear, we wandered along Las Ramblas, which must be one of the most fascinating streets we have ever walked. It was crowded with people and there were jugglers, card sharps, statue people, and sections that hosted artists, cage birds, flower stalls, with performing artists of every type. Of course there were street cafe's, bars, restaurants making a place where you could spend forever without seeing it all. This being our first day/night we wandered aimlessly ending up at the sea front in a Tapas bar. Tapas being, small amounts of food chosen from a menu of an almost infinite variety from fish to steak to veggie to some concoctions that I wouldn't like to name. Once upon a time they were on the bar for free before commercialisation took over. Still, Tapas is wonderful. I must say here that all the locals and tourists helped us along the way and we experienced nothing but good humour and charm, even if we did run over a toe or two. Full of food, we wandered back to the hotel to view the final stages of a footie match with a few drinks and then bed. A superb day.
 

Tuesday 13 Jun
Woke up to a bright bright shiny day. Breakfast was very civilised 7.30 until 11. No rush there. A good spread although as usual the cold breakfast is always better than the cooked one on the continent. We both attacked the cooked
breakfast and gave up. Scrapped that and went on to cheeses, salmon, croissants, but never had the nerve to have champagne or something like that to start the day.

We decided that we would really do the touristy bit and departed to the old Cathederal of La Seu. We viewed the entrance with dismay as it was all steps. Oooooooooo not good. I wandered off to find a security guard and then by
magic was directed down a side street whereupon a great door opened and a ramp was produced and hey, presto we were inside. What an awe inspiring place. Even though we are not religious, we were really impressed. A few hours were spent looking around and then we were away to buy the coffee perc, coffee and a couple of mugs. We stumbled on a delightful market, which sold nearly everything. What a joy. Another few hours spent wandering around and we decided to have a late lunch on the front street Las Ramblas. Eating out in the open is something special, and we had a fabulous fish meal. It was lovely to sit, eat and watch the world go by.

Wandering around the sea front, we then walked to the beaches. I am sure the beaches run almost into France, with the walkways so easy for the w/chair and the pusher. Board walks and level paths. Now here we found how well the disabled are looked after. Every kilometre there was a disabled toilet with easy access across from the beach. It made the difference from a long walk to one governed by a pee stop. This stretch was made for a long walk later.

After a mile walk, we moved off to return to the hotel and discovered a huge square called Placa Reial. We sat, having a few beers and watching jugglers, musicians, acrobats, who of course came around with the hat after the performance. We gave to some and shooed the bad ones away. On the next table to us appeared a group of Brazilians who were bedecked in their national footie colours. They all had instruments of one sort or another and the sang beautifully. It was late when we got back to the hotel but then got caught up with Irish revellers in the bar. A fantastic day. My bald head was glowing.
 

Wednesday 14 June
Decided today that we would go down and explore around the beaches. A glorious day and the walking was good. We spent a lot of time people watching and topping up the sun rays. We both had good books, so it was a most enjoyable time. The loos were good so that made life most pleasant. There were food and drink outlets all along the beaches, and they were really accessible. Being well and truly toasted, we made it back to the hotel glowing, deciding that we would go across the street to a small cafe and spend the rest of the evening there. A wise decision as the food and the company were superb. Had a few drinks in the hotel bar before bed.

 

Thursday 15 June.
We bought a two
-day bus pass for the tours around the city. There was a red route which went around the north and the blue which did the south. You could get on and off as many times as you wished in the two days. We were supplied with tour maps and guides also there were people who could speak many languages giving a running commentary. How easy it was to get on and off. There was a hydraulic ramp that came out from the centre doors, so rolling on and off was perfect. So where did we go first, we decided on the La Sagrada Familia Cathederal. It was the architect Gaudi's masterpiece. Still not finished I may add starting in 1882. The size alone is a startling 8 spires that rise over 300 ft. They were described to us as billiard cues. Access to the entrance for the chair was easy and I was delighted to get in free as I was the pusher. We mainly saw the modern building as we have seen so many oldies. Another wise choice and it also housed the Museum which showed the drawings and models of the structure charting the history of the place. It was great to have no restrictions on taking any pictures. Several hours were spent there before catching the bus to Parc Guell. We were told that there was a walk to the entrance of the park and it was steep. The bus dropped us off at the end of a road and there before us was one of the steepest roads I have ever encountered. With more than a huff and a puff it took us a good 30 minutes of hard pushing to reach our goal. I must say we had plenty of offers The park was built by Guell for the aristocracy and then donated to Barcelona. It contains amazing stone structures and winding paths. After staggering through the ornate gate there to our delight was a restaurant which sold not only food but wonderful cold beer. Ohhhhhhhh, what joy. June and I just sat for nearly an hour to recover. Well, that was our excuse. The park was fascinating and gave us lots to do and see. There were places that June had no chance of reaching so I took the pictures for her. One area that gave us a lot of pleasure was in a cave like structure and two young men playing jazz. Time passed so quickly that it was a drag to leave and face the return descent of what to us was the north face of the Matterhorn. It was more scary going down the hill than going up. With a lot of muttering we reached the bus stop just as the bus pulled in. We continued the trip around the city completing the red route but had no inclination to discover any more by foot. The temperature was hot, hot, hot. Finishing the day off really quietly with a good meal and watching the footy in good company.

Friday 16 June
Off to the Blue Route. First stop was the, Place de Espanya with it's striking 47-metre-high twin towers. At the top of the hill was a great palace the Palau Nacional. Most imposing but I was amazed that the whole area had been purposely built for a great exhibition in 1929. It looked so old. There was plenty to see and drink. During a meal the skies darkened and the rain pelted down with thunder and lightening. We beat a hasty retreat and sheltered under a bridge. The deluge caught up with us, covering my ankles with rushing water. Suddenly it went off, blue skies and it was terribly humid. Off to catch the next bus to the Poble Espanyol, the Spanish village. Created for the Exhibition as a sort of artificial Spain-in-a-bottle, with faithful reproductions of Spain's various architectural styles punctuated with boutiques, workshops, and studios, the Spanish Village takes you to architecture and Spanish living throughout the ages. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the warren of shops and bars. The pictures really doesn't do it justice. We had a meal in the arty farty section of town of which we decided to spend the next day exploring. It was late getting back to the hotel, so we had a few drinks and called it a day.

Saturday 17 June 25

Wandered off to the north of Las Ramblas to see the posh shops such as Gucci, Pierre Cardin, Yves St Laurent and all the prices that would make your eyes water. It was interesting and fun as we live in a backwater. It made for an interesting day and the food and drink were superb. Especially around and about the buildings and sculptures of Gaudi. People watching is a great past time. We stayed long enough to have our evening meal on the street front then joined a group of Irish people to watch the world cup at the hotel. Another happy day.


Sunday 18 June

 A whole day at the beach. We walked forever. What a joyous day. Everything worked out well. It was 3 hours down the beach and 3 back. Even the beaches had special architecture. Some good, some totally horrendous. We were amazed, there were nudist beaches right in the open. Some of the people should not have been exposing themselves. They were flattering themselves. Still it made for a fun day. We had a meal on the beach and then finished off in the Gaudi area again. Arriving back there was a party atmosphere at the hotel with quite a few of the guests going home the next day. We joined in and even got a free round of drinks from the barman. A late night.


Monday 19 June

 Up late, had breakfast, packed, a good flight home just over two hours, and the roads were very quiet on the drive back. We can put this down as a really great holiday. Need a rest now. Note the yellow beach buggies for the disabled and there are plenty of lifeguards to get anyone into the water 

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Click for Syd & June’s other adventures:

London, England 2006

New Zealand Part I

New Zealand Part II

East Coast Of America (Boston to Richmond and return)

Chicago and Las Vegas

Tenerife

Palma Mallorca

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