Thursday 4 to Monday 15 December
Barcelona was an important stop on our travels. We were there to support Hayden while he defended his PhD. Ev & Steph had also joined us, from Australia, to give added support to Hayden.
But it was also a place to stop and rest after an exciting and tiring journey through the Silk Road.
Barcelona has become familiar to us after spending nearly 6 months living here in 2012.
This time we stayed in Urgell, just a little to the left of Barcelona.
You really can’t talk about north, south, east and west because all the maps of Barcelona are oriented to put the coast at the bottom of the map, which in fact very nearly faces west, so in Barcelona the nomenclature is up, down, left and right in relation to the coast.
Urgell is a pretty, upmarket part of Barcelona with wide streets and nice bars. It was still difficult to find restaurants for an evening meal. It is assumed that you eat in the afternoon and snack in the evening. The bars, however, were great.
Steph hadn’t spent much time in Barcelona before, so we set out on the tourist route.
Our first day was a walk around the gothic quarter and a stop for tapas. We rambled down the Rambla and trekked as far as Barcelonetta to watch a colourful sunset. We then wandered into El Born to see how the old market had been renovated and then dragged two weary jet lagged people home for a meal and a long sleep.
The next day was Bruce’s birthday and his choice was a day on Tibidabo. We had been there before but this time the view was amazing. Sadly the blue tram was taking a winter break but the cable car was great.
We’d never been to the top of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor (Church of the Sacred Heart) before, and on this clear windy day the view was spectacular.
Ev & Steph took off to visit the magnificent Sagrada Familia and other Gaudi treasures the next day, whilst we took a long walk into Barcelona for some much needed shopping.
Thursday was bright and sunny so we took the opportunity to show Ev & Steph our part of Barcelona – Montgat. We took the familiar walk along the beach path from Montgat to Badalona, then found our favourite pasta shop where Steph translated the choices for us. Then we walked down to the ramblas and sat in the warm (December) sun to enjoy a tapas and a beer.
Home and a quick change to head out to Cerdanyola. This was Hayden’s special day – the culmination of four years research, the day he would present his findings and be judged on its worthiness. There was a certain confidence in the air. There is no doubt that Hayden had applied himself to the task, but the panel had every right to reject his defence. They didn’t and by 8pm that evening we were congratulating Dr Hayden Duncan Stainsby.
Hayden’s commitments that evening were with the panel, so Ev & Steph and Bruce & I enjoyed a late dinner in Barcelona.
The next day we farewelled Ev & Steph as they set off to visit some of their numerous European friends. We spent our last couple of days soaking up the comforts of a bed in one place for more than two nights.
We don’t speak Spanish (or Castillian as it is known here). We don’t speak Catalan, which is the language of Barcelona. But we have become so familiar with Barcelona, that it was just like coming home.