Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 1 in Barcelona, Free Walking Tour, exploring the city's historical sites

I woke up at 5 this morning to be sure I made the bus to take me to Rome's Ciampino (CIA) airport to catch my flight to Barcelona.  The directions the hostel staff gave me lead to a dead end, I eventually found the bus stop I needed and caught the bus to Rome's main train station.  After asking for directions, I found the bus to Rome's CIA airport. We arrived at the airport a little after 7 am, more than enough time to check in for the flight, get a croissant for breakfast and get in line for the cattle call.

I flew one of Europe's budget airlines to Barcelona, Ryan Air. Ryan Air is similar to Southwest Airlines in the US, no assigned seating, budget airline.  I have only flown Southwest airlines once that I can remember, so it is difficult for me to compare it to Ryan air.  From what I can remember, Southwest Airlines is a little more orderly than Ryan Air. Ryan Air did not have sections designated for boarding, passengers simply line up, board a bus, and drive to the airplane. When the doors to the bus open, people scramble in both directions, front and back, to board the aircraft.  I had never experienced anything like it, I will have to get used to it if I plan to stay in Europe and fly places for a low price.

Arrival Board with Roma/CIA 
The atmosphere was festive on the flight to Barcelona.  A few times passengers cheered when the crew made announcements in Spanish.  To me, it sounded like the crew was announcing scores from a sporting event, maybe soccer, I cannot be sure.  I dozed off a couple of times but  woke up, there plane was too noisy to stay asleep.

I had no problems catching the train to the stop nearest my  hostel after arriving in Barcelona.  I had to ask for directions to the street I needed to take to get to the hostel and the direction to walk in, once I was on the path, it was an easy walk to my home for the next 6 nights.

I relaxed for awhile, tried to take a nap after checking into the hostel, then at 3pm I went on a free walking tour of Barcelona. The tour covered some of Barcelona's historical sites, I got to see more Roman ruins, including columns and remnants of the Roman wall.  I will explore some of Barcelona's museums later this week and learn more about the history of this city.  I was sleepy during the free walking tour, did not hear everything the tour guide said, and he did not project his voice much.

Lynnae at Placa Nova site of Roman Ruins
We saw some Salvador Dali work at the entrance of a museum during the walking tour.  We saw the old Jewish Quarter, our guide explained Barcelona says they have the oldest Synagogue, Prague makes the same claim.  Our guide explained that during the Spanish inquisition the Jews boarded up their windows and made wooden planks to visit each other, extended from their windows.  Our tour ended near the harbor, some went for drinks afterwards, I started my walk back to the hostel. I was tired, little sleep last night, and did not get a good  nap in  on the airplane. I considered spending time exploring the harbor and looking for the beach, but decided that could wait until tomorrow.  No big rush, I am in Barcelona for a week.

Lynnae with Salvador Dali Egg

Entrance to Synagogue in Barcelona's Old Jewish Quarter
I had a mini crisis after the walking tour.  I went to the ATM to withdraw cash and the ATM did not return my card.  I tried everything I could to get the machine to return my card, did not work.   I went back to the hostel, the man at reception called the bank's' call center, there was nothing they could do.  They recommended I call my bank, cancel the card.  I called home and my mom called the bank, my new ATM card should arrive before I leave for Morocco later this week.  I had made it through my trip without a major theft, until today, when a Spanish Bank stole my ATM card. I consider myself lucky, I have met many people who have been robbed, laptops and cell phones stolen, etc.  

The rest of my evening was uneventful, I got dinner, everything should be worked out with my ATM card, walked around Barcelona a little after sunset.  Tomorrow, I may go find the beach, I do not have a plan yet, there is a lot to do and see here.  Being in Spain makes me want to study Spanish, I may consider taking a month of language classes before getting certified to teach English or taking the teaching job in Istanbul, I have not decided yet.

Day 1 in Barcelona Photo Album

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