Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day 6 in Barcelona, Day Trip to Lleida

I woke up around 7:30 am debating whether I wanted to go on a day trip to Lleida or stay in Barcelona. I got up, ate breakfast and decided to go to Lleida, a chance to see something new.  After breakfast, I went to the Barcelona's main train station and bought a ticket for the 12:10 pm train to Lleida. I went back to my hostel to wait for the departure time, I was happy I returned when my ATM card arrived in the mail.  I was hoping it would arrive today, I did not want to change plans for my trip to Morocco tomorrow.

I took the express train to Lleida, it only took an hour to get there.  I was expecting to see a lot of scenery, one of my guidebooks described, instead there was not much to see looking out the window.  I figured the route must be different for the high speed rail.  I did see Lleida's ancient fortress rising above the city, the fortress is now home to a Cathedral and the King's Castle. As the train approached, I wondered if I made the right decision to visit Lleida.

My first stop after arriving in Lleida was the tourist information office. The office was empty, the woman working seemed surprised to see me walk in.  I told her I was visiting Lleida for the day and could she recommend some things for me to see.  The woman got a map, pointed out the historical sights in the city, told me how to get to them, and gave me a handout with the hours for all the sites.

I walked along the main road into the city, to the square marked on the map. I looked around for the way to get to the Lleida fortress, I found an escalator and went up it.  The escalator got me closer to the fortress, but not to the top of it, the woman in the tourist office told me I could take an elevator, I looked for that next.      
I saw a machine to pay to use the elevator, there were two Spanish women with kids standing near the elevator, they let a woman in business clothes pay and pass through.  I went over to where they were standing, they rang a buzzer, said something in Spanish, and the door opened.  The looked at me and said something to me in Spanish, and motioned for me to come in with them.

The women were singing to some music playing on their radios as we went through the door.  They said something else to me in Spanish, I responded in English, they told me they did not speak English and went back to singing and dancing.  They pressed one on the elevator, they kept telling me something, finally they said Cathedral, I said yes.  The Cathedral was on the 2nd level, I pressed that and got to the top of the fortress.

Lynnae after getting off elevator at top of Fortress

The fortress is the center of Lleida, I spent about an hour walking around the area, taking pictures, looking at the view of Lleida from above. Lleida seemed hotter than Barcelona, based on the guidebook's description I thought the city was in the mountains and may be cooler.  There were no tourists in Lleida's ancient fortress area, I think I was the only person walking around with a camera.  When I saw someone, I asked them to take a picture, one man seemed surprise by me speaking English, asking, "You don't speak Spanish?" I said un poquito, he smiled.  I went to Seu Vella, Lleida's Cathedral, I looked at it from the outside, I could see it had a nice courtyard, I did not pay the 7 euros to get in. I did not pay to go inside the Castle either, the outside view was good enough and the description said only one room was preserved.

View of Lleida from Fortress 

Lynnae in front of Lleida's Castle
Aside from the fortress with the Castle and the Cathedral there was not a lot to do in Lleida, which was fine with me, was nice to get away from the lines at the typical tourist sites for a change.  I walked back to the main part of the city, I went a different way than where I entered.  I found what appeared to be the Black section of Lleida, a group of Black men and women and children were outside a row of apartments or town houses.  I then went to final destinations on my map, the New Cathedral, and hospital that is now a museum with archaeological artifacts from Lleida.

After that, I walked past Lleida's river, had lunch and bought my train ticket back to Barcelona. I had an hour to wait until the train after I bought the ticket, I found a fountain in the city and sat down, planned to read my kindle but did not, just zoned out for awhile.  

Fountain in Lleida 
I took the slow train back to Barcelona, it took twice as long as the train I took to Lleida earlier today.  The train ride was 2 hours, this time we did  pass through the scenic mountainous area and some beautiful coastal areas too.  I saw some small Spanish villages, it was a nice ride back to Barcelona.  I had an uneventful evening, met some new people in my hostel from Turkey, got a late dinner, and talked to my hostel mates.  Tomorrow is my last day in Barcelona, I have an night flight to Marrakesh, Morocco.  I plan to see Camp Nou at Barcelona's football stadium and go to Gaudi's Park.  Hopefully I can fit it all in. 

Day 6 in Barcelona, Day trip to Lleida Photo Album 

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