WE (i.e. Retired Bloke, The Current Mrs Feeney and The Daughter Who Left) are just back from a three-night stay in Barcelona.
We wanted to be right in the heart of the city, so we selected a hotel on The Ramblas. It was three-star, and had the usual mixed bag of reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. Customer satisfaction was three and a half stars out of five.
We booked in early Sunday evening. Our rooms were in the back of the hotel, which was disappointing. The curtains were closed in RB and Mrs F’s room. I swept them open to reveal this splendid view.
A quick discussion concluded that, for a number of reasons, it would be best to allow the curtains to remain in the firmly-shut position for the duration.
It wasn’t what even the cheeriest optimist could accurately describe as the most promising of beginnings. Fortunately, it proved not to be a harbinger of things to come. While the hotel was undeniably worn, or well-used, it was clean and – given its location (which was every bit as conveniently central as we’d hoped for, if a Flamenco restaurant and a striptease club are the neighbours you long for) – remarkably quiet in the night.
We spent our first full day lapping-up the architectural delights of Barcelona’s pivotal role in the Modernist movement, including, of course, the genius that was Gaudi.
On our second morning we went to one of the city’s fabulous food markets. The lack of natural light (I presumed that the summer sun would make the market unbearably hot under a glass roof), the ranks of spotlights on each stall, and the flair with which the produce was displayed, made walking around the market on almost theatrical experience.
We moved on to the city’s Gothic quarter, where we ended up having a drink in a tiny plaza, sat literally in front of the steps of a church, with centuries-old balconied apartments on the other three sides.
Just as I was thinking you couldn’t make the situation more of a cliche, a bearded man in a black suit and hat arrived on a bike, sat down on the church steps, and started softly playing classical Spanish guitar. There are moments when life feels very good indeed.
A few more, random images from what was – despite the unusual aspects of our chosen hotel – a very enjoyable visit to a vibrant and fascinating city. We will go back. We’ll just do a little more research on our hotel choice.