Today, after a very early start Elaine, Jo, Tom and I caught the train to Alicante. We were off on the start of our Barcelona three day trip. All was going well until the announcement that the train we were on was breaking down so we had to swop trains at Valencia. So we were a little late arriving at the station at Barcelona and somehow instead of going through the exit barrier then we somehow scanned our tickets to go further into the station and then we were stuck there as the scanner would not accept our tickets to let us back to where we should have been. I blame our self appointed tour guides, Tom and Elaine. Rather than risk getting lost on the metro system we took a taxi to the hotel and the driver did his utmost to scare us all to death. He drove at a break neck speed, changing lanes with gay abandon. He went through one stop light and almost killed a man pushing a shopping trolley across the road just a bit further on. Elaine is only that silent when she is reading or fast asleep and Tom, who was sitting in the front passenger seat was clutching hold of the top of his seat belt as if his life depended on it. €16.80 later we arrived at the hotel and the journey instantly forgotten, all we heard from Elaine and Tom was them congratulating each other for their great choice of hotel they had made.
Like kids we excitedly explored each others rooms and then the terrace on the roof of building to see the great views over the city. In no time we were down to the ground floor so we could get out to enjoy the surrounding area. The hotel is situated in the heart of the Gothic area on the main road that runs parallel to La Rambla and is just around the corner from the Cathedral. Barcelona is a beautiful place and as Christmas is almost on us then all the streets are beautifully lit with fabulous decorations and as the day turned into night we had the added bonus of the most fabulous sunset as we explored the port area with the boats and the city lit with the vivid reds and oranges of the night sky. We dined in an Irish bar on Steak and Guiness Pie and then continued our meander around the bustling streets and lanes.
Part of our walk was to find the tourist information office in a square where we would find our guide at 10 o/c tomorrow for an exclusive tour for the four of us. We will recognise him because he will be on a Segway. Yes, can you just picture in your mind the thought of Elaine spending 2 hours touring the busy streets of the city on a Segway tour. The thought is just too delicious and even Elaine’s daughter Lou has messaged us that she wants a video of her Mum’s reaction when she is on such a machine. I will point out here that the initial idea was Elaine’s and the idea was eagerly taken up by all four of us as none of us had ridden a Segway before. It was decided that we would have the tour early so that we could find where we would want to walk to later on in the day. Elaine and I found a video on how a Segway works so at least we have an idea. Roll on tomorrow.
When the four of us were in a charity shop in Al Compello Elaine took great delight in teasing me in front of Tom and Jo that a floral waist coat was just my taste in must have clothes. I went back and bought it and gave it to T and J to bring it in their luggage. Before going down for breakfast I made an excuse to go to their room where I donned the awful garment. Elaine came along and was busy rearranging Jo’s silk scarf. Meanwhile I stood there and the three of us were laughing at the fact that Elaine had not noticed my get up. Suddenly she noticed and her reaction was brilliant and the room echoed with peals of laughter. After a great full English breakfast we headed out to our meeting point to meet our guide. Spot on time, kilian came round the corner on his Segway. He led us around the corner to the office where we were given a safety chat and handed our crash helmets. We were then given our Segway and had to lead them around another coner to a quiet square where we were to learn how to ride the thing. Somehow I got volunteered to go first and was show how to go forward, how to stop and how to turn. Each of us went through the same process until we were all looking pretty competent. Elaine took to it immediately and you can see in the picture her first few moments of her training.
So off we went and every so often we would stop to learn something more about Barcelona. Everything went really well and we were all handling our Segways with ease. We went all over the Gothic area, all around the old port, across major roads and in and in amongst all the pedestrians using the walkways around the city. Here I must point out that the Segways we had would not be able to go up a kerb at the edge of a pavement. For the. whole route there were slopes up and down kerbs and the way to make a segway go forward is to lean forward and to make it go faster or up a slope then one just leans further forward. I was at the back of the group and was the last to cross a particularly busy road junction. I leaned forward to go up the slope but not far enough. I almost made it to the top when it stopped and then it started to roll backwards. The poor Spaniard who was riding his bicycle right behind me was sent tumbling to the ground. I apologised and helped him up and by that time had quite a crowd around us. He said he was ok and went off on his way. After that the others would not follow me but there again wanted to so as not to miss any other of my miss adventures. What an amazing few hours and we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. After that we walked around visitng parts of the city not seen on our tour. We went to the Christmas market and was intrigued to see many of the stalls had Christmas figures in all sizes like baby Jesus, camels, wise men and everything required to make your own model Nativity scene. It must be the thing to do here as so many stalls sold nothing else. What is the big thing here about people squatting down, going to the toilet. We saw lots of stalls selling figures from every trade and profession squatting down having a poo and the politicians here did not get away with it as there were similar models of the too.
In the evening we had a meal and then went to a packed bar to watch Barcelona play in a Champions League match on the large screen television amongst avid Barcelona supporters. Egged on by Jo, it all went very quiet when Elaine cheered when Paris Saint-Germain scored first. Luckily Barcelona scored soon after and we got Elaine to cheer and clap quite loudly.
During breakfast this morning Elaine had gone up to the food area when there was the most enormous crash and the sound of breaking glass. My heart sunk at the thought that she had caused the commotion. How relieved was I when Elaine appeared from around the corner where she was making toast in the toaster and it was another woman who had knocked a whole tray of glasses off the shelf onto all the food layed out below. Whilst we were out for the evening or while we were at breakfast someone has been in the room and taken my backpack and my Canon camera with all my precious Barcelona photographs. The hotel manager said they will check the cctv cameras on our landing and let me know. Bad enough to lose my favourite camera but the loss of the photos is the hardest to stomach. We took a taxi to the station and we will be 5 hours and 20 minutes on the train and then we have the journey from Alicante so we will be late getting back. Great three days.
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