Singapore. The absolute final blog.

 

Who could resist these fabulous clouds.

Naz was waiting for me at the airport and it was great to see her there. I had totally forgotten how steamy Singapore is, and I was already dripping when we got outside. I had also forgotten that Naz and Matt don't have a car, so Naz had taxied over to meet me. She then insisted on paying for the taxi to get to my hotel.

The hotel is huge by Perth standard but not by Singapore's. It is thirty floors high and I am on the tenth floor. The entrance is very grand and everyone is given the same greeting. Bags are taken to be delivered to one's room, doors are opened and the concierge offers any assistance needed.

 

The hotel. I found the room to be very luxurious with a lovely bathroom and massive bed. It even has tea and coffee makings. Plus a huge TV and nice lamps to light the room. Even at the full price it is not as expensive as some here. It is the first hotel I have stayed in where I can hear nothing from rooms above or next door.

When Naz left I showered and sorted through clothes as the clothing I had on were now all sweaty. Then I decided to try for a sleep as I just could sleep on the plane due to this darned irritable leg problem. We had planned to meet at the Boat Quay for a meal at six. I had just drifted off when the phone rang. It was the IT person wanting to know if I needed help getting on the wifi. No I assured him we had worked it out. I finally managed to fall asleep again when the phone rang. It was the concierge wanting to know if the IT person had been in contact with me yet. Yes, I said and all is working now. In all I managed about two hours sleep.

It looks much better than this in real life.

The view over the side: An artist's impression shows the Skypark that tops the Marina Bay Sands hotel towers, including the infinity pool

This is the most astounding piece of architecture I have ever seen. ( I stole the picture) it is called the Sky Park and is at the new Marina Bay Sands Hotel Towers. It is worth a google. Just indescribable even for a wordsmith like moi.

I taxied over to the Quay area, which is quite a way from here and I could not believe the difference in the buildings which I think I last saw in 2001. We had a nice meal at an Indian restaurant after which Naz and Matt gave me a bit of a tour. Matt left us around nine to take a business call and Naz and I went for a mini tour.

Not very clear but at the top you can just make out the Sky Park. This is opposite where we ate.

The Merlion.

This hotel is about four hundred plus a night.

Nice sculpture of boys jumping in the river.

Matt and Naz

One of the restaurants at the Fullerton Hotel.

This is a canal within the Sands complex.

Where you can hire one of these gondolas and be paddled through the complex.

Rodins, The Thinker.

The whole area over here is absolute opulence with all the top designers such as Channel, and all the other big names. Given that it is so very very high end nobody seems to care about a dress code so it was quite nice to stroll around in casuall bliss mixing with the posh and not so posh.

Prices in Singapore are very high, and not as it once was. My short, but too far to walk, taxi ride was ten dollars going to the Quay, and thirteen to get back. Once back doors were opened and greetings given. There is about eight lifts to accommodate the many floors. I mentioned on my way in that one of the powers points was loose. Within seconds of being in my room, a handyman was at the door, and power point fixed.

Tomorrow I shall meet Naz for lunch and a quick look at China Town. Then back to her condominium for a paddle in their pool and a visit with the kids, before heading off to the airport. Then finally back in Perth just before midnight. I am now about to slide into these beautiful Egyption sheets, with the devine soft pillows, and the blissfully silence until I wake up. Mmmmmmm!

This is really the end.

Fini

 

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Barcelona 8.45am

PS. i have just received an email from Booking.com and they have managed to persuade the hotel into dropping any extra charges. I am now booked in for the second of June. I'm very happy as I really didn't want Matt and Naz to feel obliged to put up with me. Must get packed up now.

Just so there is a photo. This is the Montecarlo Hotel.

Byeee

 

Saturday. Last day.

10.am

Having coffee on my way to metro to travel out to the Familia.

Yesterday I managed to find a black jacket at a reasonable price, which is a bit like a rain coat.

My jacket.

Thank goodness I did, as when I left to go to the show the rain hurled itself down. It was a ghastly trip to the theatre. Hundreds of people, some with umbrellas trying to get to their destinations on narrow footpaths. The umbrella men darting in and out trying to sell umbrellas, cars splashing up further water, people banging into each other wielding umbrellas, and water pouring off roofs. My shoes were soaked as were my pants. Murphy's law had it that the rain had gone when we came out. When I got to the theatre I managed to get to the ladies and dried off with paper towel.

I certainly went to the wrong show and should have gone to the Grand Flamenco but my past few days clearly indicate that I need a manager, or should that read carer? This show was exerps from various shows about star crossed lovers. I only knew this because one girl sung from Carmen, and the tenor later sung Nesson Dorma. The flamenco dancers were superb but didn't use castanets! That I was told later that would have been done at the other show. The singers, a soprano and a tenor were wonderful and brought the house down. What was fantastic for me was as the audience had a good percentage of Spanish and other Latin people they really let the performers know when they liked something. Much whistling and cheering and clapping.

 

About 8.30 now and people out and about. These stalls go all the way down the street.

10 pm after my meal.

I found a nice restaurant not far from where I am staying, and had a lovely meal for 18€. I had a very tasty goats cheese salad, which had nuts and all sorts of various salad ingredients, this was followed by grilled sole with roasted potato (1) and grilled egg plant. Before I could order my desert, I was asked to move tables as they needed to make up a table of twenty. They were very sweet about it gave me a red wine and a liquor after desert, which was chocolate mousse. It was a set menu, so I had to have desert!

Finally to bed. Peace disturbed only by the rubbish pick up.

11 pm. Saturday night.

The Metro (underground) is much like the London Underground a wonderful system for getting around, and an extremely confusing one if you are not familiar with the names, and have to change to another line. I got so turned around it's a wonder I got anywhere. Kamel at the desk told me to go to University station, but two trains go there, one which continues, and one which ends there. The problem being knowing which line! Obviously whith my track record, (pun un intended) I was on the wrong line, so back I had to go. You think I jest, but…

..you think you're on the right one but then there's so many other numbers.

The one I took must have been to the funny farm. One fellow gets on with a bag of dirty but neatly folded clothes, and promptly strips of his grubby tee shirt, to replace it with another equally grubby one. Then an old chap gets on and begins to play the opening bars of “Those were the Days My Friend” over and over, while pausing now and then to hold out a cap for money. Frankly I think he has travelled on the Metro from France. Meanwhile an extremely strange looking woman proceeds to laugh hysterically for the duration of her five stops and can still be heard as she disappears down the platform.

Surely he's the same person?

Finally I get to the church. My time to tour the tower was for 12.30. Thank goodness I booked a ticket. I do not lie when I say there was a queue for about two hundred metres, two to three people wide. They were all being told the ticket they would get would be for three o'clock! I had also paid for a talking guide thingy, to look around inside the church. The first thing it said was, “Look up to the bell tower…blah blah..take in the beautiful mosaics” ect ect. Well in order to see the bell tower one would have to A. Lie down and attempt to see that high, or B. Run across to the park opposite and look up, or C. Buy a post card.

A post card.

Then it went on to tell me to turn right at such and such to see so and so. Problem being I had no idea what each such and such was so I gave up and had a wander around before reporting for my tower visit. There are two towers and when I booked I had to pick one.

The church is massive and impossible to get any idea of the vastness of it. I took only a couple of photos in the actual church.

I had no idea he was into hang gliding!

My only attempt at the interior.

There is a lift to take us to the tower. At a certain point we alight and walk up some more steps. The steps are very narrow and room only for one person at a time. A couple of people got to the top and froze. One woman was very brave and just did not go near the look out spot. Another dick head plumb in mouth Brit, carried on about his fear, and it began when visiting the Eiffel Tower in France. Quite unsure what one is doing up here at all. Then he stood pressed against the was. I nearly drew blood biting my lip, because I wanted to say, ” why the f…. come up here then, you pommy git.” He never bloody shut up.

I shall now pop in some pictures. Many of these were taken with the iPad as I was holding it right out through the openings, except for the areas where one can actually step onto what seems like a miniature balcony. I was terrified I would drop it, but managed to not do so. The tower is 112 metres high and when, if ever, it gets finished the middle tower will be twice as high apparently. Worth googling this, it is quite unbelievable.

 

From the top, and have to say even my stomach lurched when I first looked down.

The bell tower with amazing mosaic work. Hmmm. Need to update their audio guides.

As we go up we can see all the construction going on, and on.

Looking down the lift well. Where the light is shining are openings which I think you can see better in a later picture.

These are they. From outside they look quite attractive and you can see how they look on the postcard picture. I didn't buy the postcard as the damn queue was too long.

These are the little balcony look outs. Must say he did think of every thing. There are gaps at the bottom for water to run through.

These are the openings, I don't know what they are called but I think from the outside they look like fish scales.

His religious figures are very art nouveau or something. No doubt the style is described somewhere.

No idea what the fruit is about. I think that Dali, Picasso and Goudi all got high as kites one night and came up with this design.

That shotgun Loooking thing is his down pipe design.

 

Looking down the stairwell. These girls loved the shot I was taking, so they took one too, then squeezed past me so they could look back up to give me some perspective. You can see here how narrow the steps are. Going back down the stairs was much better than taking the lift back as we got to see more on the way down.

Now I am lying down and shooting up the stairs. I just liked the look of it.

As we got near to the bottom we could see into the church.

This was a massive iron piece on one of the doors leading out.

 

Some sections were in brass.

 

 

All very grim looking.

A minute selection of some of the figures outside the entrance to the building. But the postcard picture looks like the front, and this was the opposite side. No doubt more amazing works around there too.

This was a door off to one side and it was covered with very unusual ( it's Goudi!) pieces of art work. Well it's all art, I'm just running out of adjectives.

Just a couple of sections.

I eventually left after a good two hours and the crowds outside were overwhelming. From the towers it must have looked like a massive swarm of ants. Mixed in with that is all the hawkers selling their wares. Clack clack clack as they shake castanets in our faces, the ones selling some stupid thing that distorts your voice which sounds like the chipmunks, and the ever present person selling paper cut outs of Simpsons and such which dance to the beat of music, which is on full volume. Actually I was quite taken with them the first time I saw them. Then there is stall after stall after stall selling all sorts of knaff. Here it is the Familia related as well as Gaudi.

So feeling in need of a little peace I went over to the little park across the road. This little shop, which I passed on the way, had lovely, very expensive souvenirs.

My photo of the church. This pond according to a painting I saw was once a big lake.

I'm surprised I even had room to take a photograph.

After all this activity I had a coffe and a cake then went and managed to get lost in the underground labyrinth again. I knew I needed line three but a security person told me to get on line two. Ah well I finally got back to my little nest in time for a well needed siesta.

Later on I went off towards the main plaza to check that I knew exactly where to get the Aero bus, as Kamel told me a short cut. Knowing me, a short cut can get very long indeed. I found it very easily.

That ended up being two hours as I got busy taking pictures, as last time I came here it was raining. Oh, today was sunny. On my way I saw these fellows selling handbags. The bags all on a sheet with the men all holding strings. My guess is that is so they can lift and run, so obviously the bags are off a truck, or they don't have a license to sell. When I took a picture the fellow got very irate so I pretended I wanted to email the picture to my friend to see if she would like it. I picked up a very colourful Channel and it felt like real leather, lovely and soft. He said he would drop it to 20€ but only had five minutes left to sell it to me. I resisted and scuttled off.

Irate man, ready to pull strings and run.

 
 
 

Some long exposure shots. My little camera is nearly dead, as it has been dropped so often. Fortunately not from the tower.

On my way across to the fountains a fellow was doing bubbles for his busking. Quite successful he was too.

It is now one am, but I did have a siesta and it is still bedlam outside. I shall now pop in the ear plugs and find a comfortable spot in the springs. I find there is one little spot in the bed that I can avoid the springs, but it takes I minute to find it.

I have not heard from Booking.com so it looks like I have lost out on that one. I shall check my email on Monday when I arrive in Singapore just in case. Fortunately the airport there has wifi so I will know the answer when Matt and Naz pick me up.

I might do a quick update before departing Singapore.

For now it is a definate adios from Spain.

 

Hostel Rembrandt Thursday and Friday

1.00 pm

So far today I have spent my time travelling on the train, booking into my room, finding a hotel in Singapore, booking a visit to the Basilica Sagrada Familia and catching up on emails.

On my way to the metro this morning I stopped for a coffee at a place where I stopped yesterday. As soon as I stepped in the fellow greeted me with a cheery Buen Dias, and picked up a 'grande' cup for my coffee. My goodness a cheery greeting and he remembered what I had yesterday.

My room is more like a boarding house from the fifties!

 

Shared with five others.

My foot to show how small the bath is.

But. The balcony is wide enough for a chair!

And I can people watch all day!

I actually like it here. The fellow at the desk is the most helpful person, with a really lovely disposition. He has printed out my email tickets for me, carried up my bag, and let me book in early. I shall just have to forget the exorbitant price, as even getting a room in Catalona is impossible at this time. Plus there is a little sink in the room, so I can do teeth and wash little things in privacy.

Hmmm. Looks like someone is getting a mattress on the floor.

Friday.

No blog yesterday as by the time I got in last night I was too tired to download photos and finish writing. Though I suppose by now it's all becoming a bit boring reading my daily page.

Yesterday I booked a hotel room in Singapore as I just could not stand the idea of living in someone else's home again. I had booked a room through airbnb but decided not to go there. The owner had told me there is hotel shuttle bus which stops just near his house, but after several emails asking him the name of the hotel there has been no reply. I have not yet let him know I am not coming but will do so later.

Meanwhile Naz, my friend Chris's daughter in law, emailed to say she and Matt would pick me up at the airport. That was great news as it will be lovely to not worry about getting on the right train or bus. Not long after I gave Naz the flight times the horrible realisation that I had booked the wrong day dawned on me. Yes, in my haste to get a room booked, I booked for the first instead of the second. I then spent a fruitless hour trying to contact the hotel but it was late over there so they said to ring back. There is a no cancellation policy on the hotel so if I try to change it, I will lose the price of the room. Naz and Matt have said I can stay with them if I can't change it. I really don't want to do that as I feel it's a bit of an imposition at such short notice. Matt, however, emailed me himself and said they want me to stay, so at least I will have a bed.

I woke up early this morning so I could get hold of someone on the reservations desk in Singapore, and I was told I needed to get in touch with Booking.com about not being charged the rebooking fee. I found a number for UK and spoke to a lovely girl who said she would check if the hotel had a room for the second and B.com would get me in. Some time later she emailed to say there was a room but the hotel needed $58 more as the room rate had gone up. I then gave up in dispair and said I would have to pass as it would now be too much. The lovely Tiffany said she would email them again and see if she could talk them into not charging me the extra amount. Due to the time difference I will not hear until tomorrow.

Meanwhile back to what was left of yesterday. It is very different here to Santiago. The people are so much friendlier, and speak English which makes it so much more enjoyable. Unfortunately it is very expensive. There is so much to see here, but very expensive. I just had a coffee with Nancy, from Fremantle and she agreed, and that's not converting to aus. I thought I would go to the zoo, which is not huge, but it's 27€ to get in. Nancy went to Gaudy's apartment yesterday, which she said was wonderful, but over 30€ to get in and so crowded they could hardly move.

I wandered around a bit, and had lunch at the markets, which is also jammed packed with people. It was about three thirty by now, and I decided to just keep walking.

I think she was advertising an erotic shop.

So sad to see people rummaging in bins.

They sure do love this Spanish ham here.

 

A square tucked away down a street I meandered down.

I kept walking until I reached the harbour area and it was so modern and clean it was like a different world. On the way down people were dressed as various characters in order to get money. Much like we see all over the world. I'm always impressed by their fortitude.

I had a split second to get the shot as there is a child about to run in front of me.

Street artists everywhere on this section.

The harbour area.

A funny thing happened as I was walking. A young couple with a toddler were asking police for directions. Unfortunately neither had a common language. The couple were obviously very lost and the police were just unable to understand where they wanted to go. Quick as a flash I produced my map and handed it over. The couple found their locale and the police recognised it, and all was solved. I think the young couple wanted to hug me, and one of the police actually shook my hand and thanked me. In English. I wonder if they will carry maps from now on?

 

This lovely schooner is actually open to the public for ONE EURO!

It is the Santa Eulalia, and one of the oldest sailboats “still to be seen in the Mediterranean and is part of our country's floating maritime heritage.” It was once used to smuggle flour from Barcelona to the Balearics Islands. I paid my euro, and went for a look around. Me and two others. Yay! Lots of people were taking photos and looking at it, but I don't think they read the tiny sign stating the entry fee.

On board.

I then continued to walk,and walk. I stopped for a hot dog a few ks further on, and ate that while looking back to the harbour. There was a lovely grassed area where I sat, and mainly just locals and a handful of tourists wandered about. There was even some girls doing boot camp workout, and I'm sure the instructer was Australian.

These are the bikes I photographed the other day. A great idea to hire them to get around.

The only problem with walking aimlessly is not noticing the time due to the daylight. It was about ten pm when I decided to turn back and head for 'home.' It took me about an hour and a half, walking fairly fast to get back. There was no problem walking that late as most places are still open and once in the main area the street was pretty busy.

It is now 4.00pm and the weather is not conducive to meandering anywhere, as it has been drizzling, then pouring for most of the day. I was thinking of jumping on the metro and going back to Parc Guell to buy some scarves after all. I have about nine trips left on my metro ticket. The scarves are about seven euros each here, and three for 10€ up there. Due to the rain, I doubt they will be displaying their wares today.

I was also hoping to find a cheapish jacket to wear tonight, as I don't want to go to the theatre looking like a bag lady! I actually just feel like a siesta, but I shall go for a paddle around this locale instead.

Well that's it for now. Hopefully I shall have an update on the Singapore drama tomorrow.

Buen Dias.

 

 

Day out in Catalona

At eleven last night, the 'friend' who I might add is very nice, has his television on, plus on the phone. This with only a thin wall between us. Earlier about ten, he once again sits outside my room eating his meal which was very garlicky. All I could smell was his cooking which I think clung to my clothes.

If this apartment was not so grubby and the friend wasn't staying here I would probably have stayed as it is handy to the metro. Failing that, I expect staying in Lesseps would be a cheaper option. Donato is a very nice man, and having some English would have clarified quite a few details about the area. He is also an unbelievably talented graphic artist, and photographer. This came to light only because he saw my Parc Guell pics, which he liked. Then he showed me a magazine which published his photos. He is about a million times better than I'll ever be. His art work is mainly backgrounds for movies, and they are unbelievably good. All this took forever to get to, as I mentioned 'Photoshop' and that opened up an area in common. Shame his apartment is so awful.

I left here around eleven and headed into Catalona, catching the metro from Lesseps. Lesseps looks a nice little town once I am down the hill.

 

Lesseps.

I had no trouble getting into Catalona as when emerging from the metro you are in the heart of it. It is a massive area and only a part of the city really. I found the hostal/hotel I am staying in but I didn't go in. I don't want any rude awakenings until tomorrow. Actually viewing the stairs which are about 18 inches wide as a bit of a worry.

This chappy was filling a water bottle on the corner.

As I wandered around I came to a theatre and the girl outside was handing out flyers for a Flamenco show. I decided I would go on Friday night. She said the show was on at two theatres so I could go to either. Well, I knew where this one was now, so I said I would go here. Then she said I have to buy my ticket at the other theatre. Oh, sod, off I go two blocks away, and wishing I could drop crumbs to find my way back.

 

Handing out flyers.

So, I get to the other theatre which is massive and obviously a wonderful venue.

The other theatre.

Cafe in this theatre.

Sculpture

Entrance to ticket office.

I must have been tired or disoriented as when the girl went to book me in here, I said I was planning to go to the other theatre. Why the devil I did that I'll never know. Well says she, in that case you need to buy the ticket there! I explained what the other girl said, and it appears she is new, so this girl rings her and says she must sell tickets there! Now was my chance to say I would see the show at this stunning venue, but no, off I trudge back to the first one. I finally got my ticket, and stuffed up the show as well. The show I'm seeing is a sort of opera love story with flamenco dancing. Ah, well, I'm sure it will be lovely. A pity I picked the 'humble' theatre.

I then found the market place, and could not believe the array of foods. The nice thing about Barcelona is they all speak some English. Wonderful.

There is art work everywhere. Too much to even begin to absorb.

 

 

Just a tiny section of market goods.

I had some fruit and a drink and meandered around a little trying to get orientated, and looking in the shops. I must try and pull together something decent for Friday night. Later I was having a coffee and the skies opened. The thunder was incredible and the rain swamped everything in seconds. Out came the intrepid umbrella sales chaps.

Umbrella man.

I wandered over to the now empty plaza and tried some artistic photography. I had my umbrella as I now don't go anywhere with out it.

Needs some work but I was trying to get the buildings and people or just their feet.

That was quite enjoyable even if I did look like a stalker. By now it was sevenish so I decided to head for food. The choices are endless here. But on the way…..

 

I went into the nearest restaurant and had quite a nice meal, made up of two tapas and a red wine. Sharing my table was a lovely man from Amsterdam and his nearly twelve year old daughter. It turned into a really nice dining experience as they were both really good company.

I tootled off to the metro and only took one wrong turn. When I got here, I could have done with my hiking poles. Heaven knows how the nuns get up and down.

It is now ten thirty and I have not told Donato I'm leaving yet. I might just have a shower and put the long johns on, then tell him. I hope this rain clears up as I dread wheeling the backpack down as it is. One misstep and it will zoom off down the hill.

Until tomorrow.

Buon noche.

 

A Day in The Park (Guell Park)

I left here around ten to go up to the park. I made a sandwhich with bread I bought yesterday, but it was rock hard this morning. I shall avoid using the kitchen as much as possible. There is a couple of cafés around the corner so in the morning I will try going there.

I had a quick shower, well slow really as it comes out in a dribble.

Mould everywhere in the bathroom.

I noticed as I dressed that the 'prison' opposite must be a nunnery as I saw a fellow deliver something.

Did I mention how steep it is around here?

 

So steep that this entrance has escalators to get to the top. There are three entrances but this one is close by. There are steps only to go down! Luckily a man near the top steps showed me another way around the road.

Explaining the park would take forever so if you are interested you might like to google it. So here is an overview.

The green area(no it's not an island they have just isolated the park area) is the whole park which is free to wander around in. The yellow section called the Monumental Zone is the part you have to pay to get in, so you can get closer to things. It's well worth the money, which is about six euros. They have opening times, which are about two hourly. Unsure why, as once you are in, you can stay all day? I spent a couple of hours around the park before going to the Monumental Zone. There is a Gaudy museum here too, which is where he lived, but that's ten euro. I spent most of the day here as there is much to see, though virtually impossible to photograph due to the massive amounts of people. The whole park is 15 hectares with a lot of steep sections but very doable.

There is a lot of buskers scattered about, playing violins or guitars, plus the hawkers selling awful jewellery, and quite nice scarves. I resisted buying any for gifts as I think everyone has enough. Plus, the way I'm going I might have to start busking myself.

There were quite a few playing here and there. I videod one violinist as he was quite good. Cannot put it here so I can only email a small clip.

I tried to be a little creative with pictures but have got nothing very Wow!

One thing which did impress me, well a lot did really, is the area which is known as Nature Square, which is the only part where the mountain was dug into to create an area for open-air shows. (Note: the whole place was meant to be an estate for wealthy families, but it went belly up). The area is partly held up by Hypostyle room below.

Nature square. All around this is a serpentine wall with seating.

 

The massive columns which hold up the area above. And some of the out side of the serpentine wall.

More of the columns.

Steps up the Hypostyle room. That was intended to be a covered space for a market for the estate. If you look closely, right at the very top can be seen people looking over the wall from Nature Square.

Below is a few odds and ends.

 

 

 

That's the Sagrada Familia in the background. A church Gaudi designed.

 

The place in the background is the house Gaudi bought for himself. Now the museum.

At the very top of the park/mountain is this cross. I think it just marks the highest point.

This is the view from up there. The Sagrada Familia smack in the centre.

This wall surrounds the park.

Right that's enough of that. I was thinking of going into the city tonight, but the little bus from the metro (train) stops running at nine thirty. My legs don't want to do any more hills today. Tomorrow I shall go in and spend the whole day there and get back about ten, so that I don't have to navigate this climb in the dark.

I just heated up last nights left overs. I had to use a suspicious looking frying pan as Donato has no microwave.

Oh, well one more night.

Adios.

 

Is this a bad movie?

10.30

How do I get into these situations? All I wanted was a nice room near the Parc Guell so I could see the Gaudy park and bus or train into the city at will. Well, I am near the park, but oh, my what a place. The ad on airbnb in so misleading. The apartment is a dump, and is really old but without any charm. Mine host speaks F all English though he does try to be helpful. He has a friend living here too, who at this moment is sitting right outside my bedroom door having his dinner and listening to the radio. I thought it was my own little spot. Ha ha ha.

I asked Donato about restaurants earlier and for that I need to go back down to Leseps. I need to walk down as the bus doesn't come this way, but I can get the bus back up!

It turns out that I could use the kitchen here, but I have nothing to cook, and if I did I don't think I would. The kitchen looks like a harbour for unnamed species. He doesn't even have a kettle, but a dented saucepan has been offered. I can use the existing coffee percolator if I wish. I think it came from the ark.

At about seven thirty the skies opened, lighting flashed and thunder clapped making it impossible to walk anywhere. I asked Donato if he could ring me a taxi. He looked shocked that I didn't want to walk. He had not noticed the change in the weather. Then with the help of translater and lots of guess work he suggested as I was catching a taxi I should go into Gracia which is better. Now I had no idea about Gracia, so I decided to go as it was about only four ks further than Leseps.

If only I had known earlier about this place. It is so civilised I felt like I had been transported to a different time. The restaurants are ready to serve meals at any time. I went to a lovely Serbian one where the staff were so friendly it was amazing. The food was lovely, and they had about twenty deserts to choose from. Not, flan, yoghurt or Santiago tart! The fellow there says the town is famous for its Celtic history. Will look it up one day. Then I taxied back. Twenty six euros for meal and taxis. Oh, after dinner I was given a complimentary mint tea with a small baklava. I think I could walk there, but would need to taxi back.

So, knowing I can't stay in this godforsaken place I went online searching for something in the city. Well except for hugely expensive places everything is booked out. I ended up booking three nights for 110 a night. Hotel Rembrandt and I have to share a bathroom! God, I miss my little Hotel Windsor. Then I read more reviews as the first one sounded great. Sadly it has terrible reviews. I went back and searched some more and found a hostel with a six bed female only dorm. It looked good and the reviews were all plus plus plus. Right, that was much cheaper so I went to cancel the above hotel only to find there would be a cancellation fee of 90€, seems I can't win. Well no matter how bad it is, at least I can get out and about while there, not be stuck in a room with nada to do.

Tomorrow come rain or hail, I am going up to the Parc Guell to see the amazing Gaudy creations. I shall take a packed lunch and disappear for the day.

Hopefully tomorrow I will have a happy day to report. ( the friend who is staying here is very sweet, but it's a little disconcerting having him right next door).

Bye bye 😦 😦

8.35 flying to Barcelona. Monday.

So far 'fiasco' is the only word which comes to mind at the moment.

I got to the line to check in and after two or three people had been checked, and I was next, the girl points to the next desk and leaves. With that, a fellow at the end of the line dashes down and gets to the desk in front of us. The little lady next to me was rolling her eyes, and starting to panic as she kept saying “Valencia Valencia.” Her flight was boarding. The girl now serving had a face to turn milk sour, and ignored her. Finally I pointed to me and the other two close behind me and said to misery guts, “uno, dos,tres!” Then pointed to the rude man and then the back of the line. She just shrugged. With that every one in my queue joined in with pointing at rude man. One fellow even started to yell at him. He totally ignored us and continued loading his five pieces of luggage onto the conveyer belt.

Naturally I let the little lady go before me, and she was very effusive in her thanks. My turn and my little occy strap got caught as I was trying to take it off my back pack when misery guts shot the conveyer belt forward. Then she reversed it, but didn't turn it off in time and it nearly shot onto the floor! The young Spanish girl next to me grabbed it in time.

There was no gate number on the ticket and as I was peering at the departure board, the girl from the queue came up and said I needed gate 15. She then commented on the rude man, and that she had felt like hitting him. I said I had felt the same. She then commented on the girl serving us and at that she was also very rude and,” not good job for her I think”.

Once on board I have the aisle seat, and a giant had the middle seat. When the person came to claim the window seat, the giant virtually spread across both of us. I actually could not move my right arm. He then calls the stewardess and gets moved to a fire exit seat. Phew!

Here is the inflight menu.

 

 

Hopefully I can go two hours without a snack. I have a Kit Kat in my bag. So far the head steward has advertised the food menu three time.

Now close to ten and the advertising for food, perfume, cosmetics, etc has been called every ten minutes. In all my flights, both short and long I have never heard such spruking! It is at top volume too.

2.30

Boy! I must have killed a China man. The directions to where I am staying were a little vague. 'Get off the airport train and take the metro L3 and get out at Lesseps station. Walk five minutes to house.' Firstly no idea where to get off the airport bus, as four stations are preceded by the word Barcelona. An American fellow said to get off where he did as I could get the metro anywhere. Then I had to find the metro which was a good block away from where I got off the train. Finally get to Lesseps and there is about six roads going off in all directions. I asked a woman in a bedding shop which was Albigesos street. She pointed and said I would never get there in five minutes and that it was very, very steep. My pack is now on its little wheels, but still heavy. There is a bus, but the idea of catching a bus after traveling for three hours already, was not an option. I caught a taxi. Steep? My god, it was ridiculous. The taxi was in first gear and the street went around several bends. I finally got here and no one home. Fortunately a friend of mine host was coming out, so he rang Donato and he came back in ten minutes. I then had to carry my pack up three flights of stairs. No offer of help.

The room itself is all right, though very dated, but I seem to be in the middle of nowhere and no little shops nearbye. Donato has pointed up the road to where there are shops around the corner, and now it's raining so I shall have to get out the boots and umbrella again.

Up and down the street.

Uninspiring view.

I chose this area as it is supposed to lovely, but I guess that's around near the actuall Parc Guell itself. Frankly I don't think this fellow should have put that on as part of his address which on airbnb he has it as “bright room Parc Guell”

I shall visit the park tomorrow (Which Gaudi designed). Then I shall make a decision on whether to stay here. Things might look brighter then. The lack of cafés around here will no doubt decide me.

Chaya just Skyped me, and has suggested I move into Barcelona where they stayed. It was in the old city but very nice, and close to all attractions. This room of course is paid for and I won't get a refund, but better I think, to be happy. I have emailed the fellow where they stayed to find out the cost of a single room.

I will end this now, and update on progress tomorrow.

😦 😦

 

Last day in Santiago 5.00pm

I was going to catch the bus up to the Cidade da Cultura but I missed the one that takes people as far as the car park, and the next one,an hour later dropped off about a kilometre away. I was glad about that, as I had only my sandles on as it was a sunny morning. The taxis are only allowed to drop off in the car park also, and it's quite a climb even then.

Walking up.

 

Looking back to car park.

This place is enormous. The whole complex must cover two football fields at least. The towers in the distance are part of it. I have no idea what they are for.

 

The exhibition area is housed in this building and the entrance is on the other side. Today it was free to get in, and even so there was only about 12 people there. I cannot imagine why a place of this magnitude was built in this city, with its small population. I googled it when I got home and it makes interesting reading. “In 2013' after more than a decade of construction the project would be halted”. There is much more but that will do to give an idea of what a white elephant this is.

It is virtually impossible to photograph without wide angle lenses, and a helicopter! They had no postcards showing the buildings but maybe I can get some later when I go for a meal.

The exhibition was very impressive as they had works from all over the world, which embraced contempory and ancient artifacts/art. It was called Fresh Water and had “assembled seven hundred art works” with one theme on each of four floors. Even then there was vast empty spaces. The works were all to do with water, whether water powered, or collecting it and some were ancient examples and some were modern.

An ancient marble bath.

 

A advertisement made up of tiles.

 

An old painting of slaves washing for diamonds.

A scroll six metre long detailing the Yangtze River . ( I think. Too much to remember).

A painting of the Suez Canal . For mum.

Completely forgotten what he represents. Looks like me when I missed the train.

About six metres of water carrying vessels

Models of Meteorology weather thingies.

One of the last complete fire fighting hand pumps

A painting of the Alhambra gardens.

A bronze sculpture of a fellow with flipper feet?

A jug?

In all it was a pretty impressive display and I'm glad I went, but I just wonder who had the crazy idea to build this massive place, which no one seems to go to? Manuel, on the desk, just rolled his eyes when I mentioned it. Then made the well known crazy gesture and said: “government!”.

I had actually taken lunch with me, thinking I would sit in the sun and admire the view. Silly me, it was bucketing down when I left. I had my lunch in the lounge room here instead.

Supposedly, the brief when the design competition was announced was for the building to represent a new peak on Mt Gaias. Actually from the distance it represents a freaking space ship.

Meanwhile Chaya has just Skyped from Turkey where she and Sherrie are wandering around. Currently in Instanbul and heading to Anatolia, ( I think ). Maggie should be heading to her brother in Singapore about now as she has just had three days in Ireland. Di and Gil are making headway towards Finisterre, and I'm about to sort out my things to see if there is anything I don't need before going out.

8.30

It is very easy to forget that it is daylight until ten pm, and even then it is not really dark. So here I am about to eat. It's not easy to get a meal as such, because most places serve only what is called Raciones, which is small portions much like tapas. If you ask for a 'menu' it is thought you mean the pilgrim menu which is the set three: entree, main, desert and wine. Only those that cater for the pilgrims have those and they are usually close to the albergue areas. If you want a meal you ask for carda or plata. Very confusing. I hope Barcelona might be a little different.

On the weekends here they open up the fair ground. It is like our Royal Show in miniature except it is every weekend. It really does seem strange to see all the little tots out so late.

 

I thought aliens had landed.

Kiddies out having fun. Yes, she's meant to be blurred.

This was at eight pm, perversely the sun is now shining.

Not sure what they represent. The one in blue looks like a beggar.

I went looking for beggars with a few odds and ends, but they must have Sundays off as there was nary a one. I gave my bits of food to the Anthony Quinn look alike who seems to live on the steps near the cathedral. He was most appreciative, and I need to add these were sealed items, not half eaten!

There were no postcards of the spaceship on the hill. Hopefully I can snap one off on the way to the airport in the morning. My flight goes at 8.45 so I shall be up with the sparrows.

As I got back to the hotel just before ten, Manuel was taking out rubbish. Poor devil he and two others do 12 hours shifts. ( not at the same time).

I didn't mean to blurr him! See out light it is?

Well that's it from Santiago. Tune in for the Barcelona adventure.

Buon noche

 

 

 

 

Santiago day trip

11.00 am

I managed to find the station, though Manuel must think I have legs of steel if he thought five minutes would be all it would take. I got here in plenty of time for the 10.40 train, but neglected to factor in the agonising slowness of the way things work here. Plus the complacent indifference of the ticket sellers does not help. I watched helplessly as the minutes ticked past and the queue got no shorter. Then the boarding light flashed on and off, and still I'm no closer as the lady in front of me gets about a hundred tickets. Finally she is served and the fellow puts up a closed sign. Boarding light goes out, and I change queues. Finally I get my ticket but must choose a return time. I of course cannot understand what she is saying, so as always, she thinks if she shouts and jabs at the computer screen I will understand. I guess it worked as I pointed at 17.00 and crossed my fingers as all but the times were in Spanish. I now have a ticket for the 11.23 train returning at five. Well I hope that's what I have. The ticket cost ten euros fifty five cents. As I was heading for the station cafe to wait, I saw an automatic ticket machine. I consoled myself with the fact that I would have had no idea how to use it.

The trains are super fast and incredibly modern, with toilets, vending machines, and if not lucky enough to get a table seat, there are drop down trays on the back of the seats. They seem not to have special short trip trains, so the same trains are used as would be for long distance travel. This trip is half an hour and 74 kilometres.

 

Crappy station.

FOUR O'CLOCK. (Writing on the train. Photos inserted later).

The train on the way in was packed solid so I had to stand. There were dozens of older teens dressed up in the most bizarre outfits: fairies, monsters, green hair, girls with beards and even one or two Spider-Man outfits. I later found out that there is some sort of Manga fan club meeting in town which is why they were all dressed up.

There was a young couple canoodling next to me, and after a while the young man, whose name was Sergio asked if I would like to sit down. He promptly put his girlfriend on his knee, and said that was just his excuse to get her closer. Her name was Marta and she is a nurse. They were a lovely pair and he had good English, so was very helpful.

When I got to the statin in Coruna I was surprised at the size of the place and wondered how on earth I would find the coast. The population is over 246,000, as opposed to Santiago which is just over 95,000. Here was i thinking it was a small sea side town. I asked direction of a man in a little kiosk and he pointed out the bus stop. Well I got there and was faced with various numbers and names. I asked an older gentleman if he could help me. He said we needed the number 5 bus, and had perfect English. It transpires that he is a retired physicist and he studied in Japan where he had to learn English to speak with the lecturers. Two number 14 busses came, but no number 5, so when a 12 came along we both got on, which meant a short walk to the beach. When we got there he insisted on showing me how to get to the beachfront. What a lovely man he was, and the only reason he was at the bus stop? He had driven in, but his wife came and took the car as she needed to go somewhere out of town. How lucky was ?

Just a few steps from the train station in Coruna.

Coruna station.

The weather was very different to Santiago, it was a little overcast when I got there, but nowhere near as cold. Plus it was much more open, not closed in like Santiago as the roads were much wider and it all seemed cleaner.

I spent a few hours just wandering along the beach front. The area I was in has apartments all around the beach front, and they seem to go for miles in both direction. There is a path, or promenade, around the whole area which would make a fabulous walk. There were very few people walking on it though, just a handful of dog owners.

Area I headed for.

To the left of where I spent most of my day.

To the right.

Where I spent most of my time, sans windbreaker and jacket. It was obviously a popular little spot for a dip as there were clothes hooks screwed into the rocks. One woman donned her bathers and didn't go in the water at all, but stayed on the steps the whole time. The local lotharios strutted their stuff but only one went for a splash around.

Ain't I cute?

Not sure why she bothered.

I might have got a bit too close here.

I decided I would go back earlier than planned, so after a coffee in a cafe near the beach I asked where would 'bus go station' and showed my train ticket. No bus on Saturdays I was told. Oh, well back to where I got off the bus, but unsure which side of the road I should be on. Then along came a number five, I hopped on and showed my train ticket, and he nodded and off we went. A helpful young fellow on the bus told me where to get off. While I was waiting for the bus I heard birds squawking and blow me down a bird was feeding her young from a rubbish bin! I could not get close enough to get a good shot, so haved cropped this one to give the idea.

Canny bird.

I got to the train station and here they had people on the gate. My ticket wouldn't work, so I was sent off to get the time changed. Dear God, what a system! Back in I trudged and changed the ticket for the next train, and I got a 45cent refund. Why one cannot just buy a return ticket is beyond me. I suppose I will never know why I got a refund.

The lovely seats. I got a table.

 

Space age train.

7.41 pm.

I shall now wander off in search of a meal. It is so cold here compared to Coruna.

Midnight.

Finally, a fair shot of the front of the cathedral which is under repair.

Amazing the nearly deserted street.

I had a fabulous night tonight. I went first to the information office and got details on how to get to the Cidade Da Cultura. I keep seeing this amazing building high up on thr hill looking like some sort of space craft. It is open on Sundays and is free entry . I found out where to catch the bus which is near my hotel. Apparently this is a good time to go as they have art works from all over the world.

I was going to find somewhere to eat but every cafe and restaurant had the football match between Madrid and Real Madrid playing. I decided then to go to the tapas bar which is so nice.

When I got there I overheard a fellow (Randy) saying to his mate that he might try to pick up some random woman for thr night. I said, as I walked past, ” yes, good luck with that”, and his friend, Kemton, laughed and that was that, we. Exams instant friends.

Under the counter they have hooks to put bags on, and as I put my bag on the hook I touched a fat man's leg. I said sorry and he muttered something in American English and just ignored me. I must have pulled a face as the next minute Kemton came over and made jokes about the fat man. I said maybe I have a third eye or something as usually if someone has the same language it garners instant conversation. Not with the fat man, he just steadily ate his way through dish after dish, cumilating in a large creme brûlée. By now Elizabeth, Kemton's wife had joined us and we all got on so well, We .just laughed the night away. Randy, which is an apt name, has supposedly found real love on the Camino, which did not stop him from ogling every girl in sight.

Elizabeth was an absolute delight to know, and she and Kemton gave me lots of information on Barcelona, and I now feel very comfortable about where I am staying. Kemton and Randy are cyclists and also tour guides for cycle trips around the world. Elizabeth rides too, but not all the time.

I was telling them about the tomb we saw at Suso, and they said there is a tomb everywhere we go. Yes, I said, I think there is one under my bloody bed. At that stage every thing was funny, so we all hooted with laughter. Elizabeth has a delightful laugh. I then said maybe the fat man was practising taxidermy on himself. We all fell apart at that one. By then we had had tequila shots, red wine and Pacharan, which is a delicious apparative, which no doubt made everthing funnier than it was.

Cindy was also one of the group and I think she sampled everything, some of which I wish I had tried. She, like me, had trouble getting on the stools, and that was before said drinks. She was a hoot with her prawns!

Cindy giving a puppet show with her prawns.

I went to pay for my food, and drinks, but Elizabeth and Kemton, who are from Seattle, had paid it for me. I protested but they said it had been such fun being with me that they wanted to pay. How lovely of them, but I don't think I was worth that much. Kemton said where else in the world would people fromSeattle meet someone from Perth, if not on the Camino, and they were paying so shut up! They were such a lovely couple, and Cindy plus Randy were also fun to be with. They said if ever I got to Seattle I must visit them. Maybe I'll win Lotto!

Cindy, Elizabeth, Kemton and Randy (at the back).

Elizabeth gave me a rose when we parted. She is such a lovely person.

The rose with my apparitve.

I really enjoyed tonight and I am glad the football was on or I would not have sought the peace of the tapas bar. (Thanks, Carol).

It is my intention to go to the cultural centre tomorrow. I just hope I wake up in time!

Adios.