Saturday 23rd December
Our campsite for tonight: Campo de Fotbal, La Colonia Guell (20 mins to centre of Barcelona)
Wanted to stay in the centre of Barcelona for Xmas but were scared off by comments in our camping APP warning of break ins and vandalism to motorhomes day and night so opted to stay out of town and travel to the centre by train instead.
Good decision, as the campsite is only 5 minutes walk to the train station and from there only 20 minutes into the centre of town. Secured Ziggy and took most of our electronic and computer gear with us in our backpacks. Ziggy has security alarms and extra door locks but from what we have heard, not much puts off these thieves.
First obstacle was working out how to buy tickets and where to get off but with the help of a local, we purchased a single ticket each, one trip, two zones at a cost of €3 each and 20 minutes later arrived at Pl. Espanya right in the heart. Once out of the Metro station, we stood with mouths open and took in the absolutely fabulous surroundings. First step was to find a tourist office with maps and brochures and from there hit the tourist trail.
The Complex de Arenas was on one side of Pl. Espanya and on the other the magnificent Museu National d’Art de Catalunya. Loud music attracted us toward the museum which is at the top of the third level overlooking the entire centre square. Several steps took us to the second level which is a square on its own and here stilt walkers and floats themed as “Arabian Nights” floated” around the square led by costumed musicians.
Armed with maps now, we walked all day taking in some of Barcelona’s best attractions including Casa Mil or better known as La Pedrera (the Quarry) – A masterpiece building designed by Gaudi between 1906 and 1912 for a wealthy businessman and his wife. It has breathtaking wavy facade of stone and iron balconies. The most outstanding spaces of this building are the rooftop, and interior courtyards. A huge attraction.
Next another half hour’s walk took us to Sagrada Familia, first built in 1883. Gaudi was commissioned to continue building this temple and today, it continues to be constantly added to. Tall cranes appear high above the temple where construction is continuing with no fixed completion date. This has to be the most gob smacking building we have seen in our travels and we have seen some absolutely amazing ones. Rates as one of the top 10 cathedrals in the world. We stood in awe of this building for so long and took photos from every angle.
Finally totally exhausted, think we must have walked 20kms today, we opted to catch a taxi back to Pl. Espanya where we ducked into a very busy restaurant and bar and sampled some more tapas and were entertained by a local group having an early Xmas party. Getting dark now, we headed back to the Metro and took the train home.
Sunday 24th and Monday 25th December
Felt a little uneasy about staying around Barcelona for Xmas though we could have spent another week sightseeing here. Wanted to find a place in a medium size town to camp and enjoy the local festivities for Xmas but the first place we selected was fully booked out when we arrived. Our next choice was Gerona. The campsite was closed on Sundays and public holidays so we headed back to the coast to a small seaside town.
Our campsite for two nights: Autocaravanning Palamos, Palamos
A really great campsite set on three plateaus, the top one having views across to the sea. The office was closed for midday siesta but the sign said to park and to check in when the office reopened at 5pm.
All three plateaus were booked from Xmas day onwards, so no luck there. Found a spot which was not marked with a number but was in a great sunny location away from the others so we happily moved in and spent the next two days relaxing, drinking and eating some of those great prawns we found and froze a few days before. Decorated Ziggy with tinsel, put on our Santa hats and set the twinkling lights ablaze. The cava (Spanish bubbly) was excellent. Sent away all our Xmas emails, skyped and spoke to our girls and grandkids and celebrated a truly wonderful Xmas with my driver, my best friend and the love of my life.
(PS – we found out later that all the emails we sent to addresses that ended in bigpond.com or bigpond.net did not get through for some reason??? – don ‘t know why – one of the many vagaries of comms we have found in Europe).
(The Photographer somehow managed to lose or delete all the photos taken at Palamos including the Xmas day shots)
Tuesday 26th December
Left Palamos on Boxing Day and headed back to Gerona. Still a public holiday here so no supermarkets or major shops are open today.
Our campsite for tonight: Parking Vayreda La Devesa, Girona (or sometimes known as Gerona)
An inner city motorhome park which was a little difficult to get into because of the narrow one way streets and with cars parked on both sides left Ziggy and my driver with only one or two cms to get through.
It was seriously cold and windy so rugged up and headed into town using the Spanish map given to us by reception. Garcon tried really hard to interpret it for us but he had no English and we had no Spanish so we thanked him, smiled and set off.
Saw a massive market on the way in so firstly headed toward this. Nearly every person selling and buying were Muslims and we found out later it was a special Muslim Market only. Went for miles and miles selling fresh fruit and veges and clothes etc.
Wasn’t difficult to follow the map and soon we saw the steeple of Basilica De Sant Feliu in the distance. We came by the Riu Onya which is a waterway splitting the commercial area we were in from the Old Town. Wow – the buildings on both sides were three to five storey apartment blocks, all painted in different subtle colours and looked just stunning and picturesque – reminded us a little of the area near the Ponte Vechio in Italy. We stood in the middle of the first pedestrian bridge and saw several other bridges criss crossing over the river – all different and most with fairy lights strung across them. Beyond the last bridge we could see the town’s massive Xmas tree.
The Historic Old Town, a medieval city, showcased buildings dating from the 10th to the 13th century. So many wonderful old buildings including the Basilica, la Catedral, the Archeological Museum just to mention a few were just so interesting. The Xmas spirit was certainly here with buildings and shops all decorated with Xmas lights.
Tucked in behind the Rambla de la Libertat (the colourful row of up to five storey apartments mentioned before) were outdoor restaurants eager to capture the tourist dollar. We spent our tourist dollars with a meal (paella of course, but nowhere as good as the one we had a few days earlier) and a large beer to wash it down with.
It was now too cold to stay longer so we very quickly headed home. Though this campsite is in the middle of the commercial city, it was very safe and quiet and would highly recommend it.
Girona was our last stopover in Spain and we have so many wonderful memories to take home with us from this country. We found the people eager to assist and super friendly. We had absolutely no issues with feeling unsafe at any time.
Thank you Spain and Portugal – we had a great time.