Montserrat is a spectacularly beautiful Benedictine monastery about one hour North West from Barcelona. The natural beauty surrounding the monastery is simply breathtaking. Noticed lots of hiking paths, next time!
A wine tour lunch & tasting session followed.
Covered a large area today, such great weather for it!
The neo-Gothic bridge on Carrer del Bisbe is known locally as the ‘Pont del Bisbe‘ or ‘Bishop’s Bridge’ and was constructed in 1928 by Joan Rubió i Bellver.
Took the cable car to Montjuïc Castle which is an old military fortress, with roots dating back from 1640. It’s a stunning location with far sweeping views across BCN and the port.
Just in time for pintxos & a beer I got down to another barrio Poble Sec. it’s a bit like Hardware Ln (Melbourne) meets Nth Fitzroy.
More strolling around landed me back on La Rambla & seeking out a place for dinner. Remembering a recommendation I headed into Les Quinze de Nits under the portico of the Placa Reial and was not disappointed.
The skies cleared after a night of steady rain, rolling thunder & the odd flash of lightening. The sun appeared mid-morning after a leisurely Saturday morning brekky with my hosts.
Completed my journey along La Rambla covering the lower end toward Barceloneta & the marina. The Olympics left a plethora of infrastructure in Barcelona including the Maremagnum Mall at Port Vell.
Following a seafood lunch in Barceloneta & a beachfront stroll I returned via another area known as El Born, which was very charming & houses Picasso museums.
A full day, here’s how it went.
Firstly got to say, the Barri Gotic area of Barcelona where I’m staying is marvellous. Central, charming, gothic & interesting. I woke to a simple but lovely breakfast with my hosts Ron & Tadaaki. A quick wardrobe change & I was out on La Rambla which is exactly 1.2 kilometres long and nearly everyone who visits Barcelona walks along it. La Rambla was laid out in 1766, following the contours of the medieval city walls that had bounded this part of Barcelona since the 13th century.
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often simply referred to as La Boqueria, is a large public market in the Ciudad Vieja district of Barcelona & only 100m from my accommodation and one of the city's foremost tourist landmarks. It’s not cheap! But it’s amazing to visit!
Then just 5 minutes away I visited the Palau Güell mansion which was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell and built between 1886 and 1888. It is situated on the Carrer Nou de la Rambla, in the El Raval neighbourhood of the city of Barcelona.
Beer o’clock so headed to the Placa Reial. This square is so beautiful, it's no wonder it was named "royal" (reial Catalan for royal). The elegant ambiance of the Plaça Reial is accentuated by a fountain, streetlamps and palm trees, and it is one of Barcelona's best-loved porticoed square. I loved it!
Strolling again & exploring this quarter was brilliant. The shopping amazing! Churros & hot chocolate for arvo tea before getting ready for my evening at Casa Batllo (House of Bones). Sadly the rooftop concert with Reyko was cancelled due to rain but I still thoroughly enjoyed viewing the Gaudí designed casa.
I’m in love with the Spanish rail system. Fast, smooth, comfy and well priced. Barcelona has impressed me already. Great Airbnb, excellent location in the Barri Gotic area and signs of St James looking out for me everywhere, even in my apartment building!
Last catchup, last drinks, last icecream, last of Madrid. With my pending trip across to Barcelona tomorrow I took one last lap of Madrid, catching up with my Camino buddy & roommate Meg & her hubby Pete.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family at the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. The palace has 135,000 square metres of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms. It is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area. I chose to do the extra tour of the kitchen and was not disappointed.
Next to the palace is of course the cathedral!
Once again, a speedy train journey of 30 minutes and I arrived in the charming city of Toledo.
Toledo is an ancient city set on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. The capital of the region, it’s known for the medieval Arab, Jewish and Christian monuments in its walled old city. It was also the former home of Mannerist painter El Greco. The Moorish Bisagra Gate and the Sol Gate, in Mudéjar style, open into the old quarter, where the Plaza de Zocodover is a lively meeting place.
Enjoyed Jaffa-style moist cake with a coffee then headed to the Damascus steel knife trader. Few hundred euros later I’m armed but evidently not dangerous by Renfe train security standards!
After a 30 minute speedy AVANT train trip from Madrid I arrived in Segovia.
Segovia is a city in the autonomous region of Castile and León, an area my Camino took me through some weeks ago.
The city is famous for its historical buildings and for three main landmarks: its midtown Roman aqueduct, its cathedral (one of the last Gothic to be built in Europe), and the castle, which was an influence for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle. The city centre of Segovia was declared World Heritage by the Unesco in 1985. A truly gorgeous town to visit.