Barcelona. 16th May 2014

Our second day in Barca was spent mainly on a Bus.

We caught the 1115hrs free bus from the Site into Plaza de Catalunya where in need of a pee I mistakenly let Jaki loose in a women’s fashion store. Big mistake.

“It’s very cheap in here compared to home”. Was supposed to console me?

We crossed the street which anyone who has been to Barca will know is no mean fete and after my earlier encounter with the Balloons I was taking extra precautions to reach the central Island that is home to thousands of pigeons

There are two tour buses that operate around Barcelona. They both offer the same sort of experience and cover roughly the same route though the Red Bus, Barcelona City Tour offers two routes (Green and Orange) where as Barcelona Bus, Touristic offers three routes.

The ticket was €27 per person per day but there’s a reduced rate for two (consecutive) days of €35 pp. I think both firms charge the same fare so not much competition.

The tickets can be bought in a variety of ways. There are two ‘Tourist Information booths’ on the Plaza one for each company and they will sell you a ticket for the tour or a street map of Barca for €1. There is always a queue so patients is needed.

However, you can also buy a ticket whilst queueing at the Bus stop (which avoids queueing twice) from a guy in company Logo. He accepts credit cards and cash.

The third option is to buy the ticket on the bus from a staff member positioned just inside the door.

You’d think getting on a bus would be quick and easy but not in Spain. Here they make an art form out of complication and duplication.

The queue to get on the bus is slow and in the heat, uncomfortable especially when you have to stand on top of the extraction vents from the underground car park.

The delay is caused by the selling of tickets on board. Explaining the process to people in a dozen different languages, confirming one day or two, taking the money, giving change and handing out maps, earphones and vouchers takes an age.

Why not: Purchase ticket, get in queue, show ticket, mount bus, find seat, set off. Piece of piss!

We chose the Orange Route but for no apparent reason and it took us to the Harbour up to the Olympic stadium, on then to the MNAC which is the Art Museum and well worth a visit. Infact this whole area is worth a full day on it’s own.

The tour went on to Camp Nou which was a very popular point for people to get off, before making it’s way back toward the centre again.

The stops 16/17/18 overlap with the green route and if you hop off here you can get on the other route without having to queue. We got off at stop 17 La Pedrera which was again covered in scaffolding and draped in covers as were all the Gaudi buildings. They are all getting intensive restoration work so there was little to see, which might have been some thing they told us about before we caught the Bus?

Not so much Gaudi as Baddie, they were all bandaged up.

We walked through to Sagrada de Familia which was also hidden behind scaffold and canvas, stopping on route to eat roast Rabbit and Veal steaks at a road side Cafe. We then hopped back on the bus for part of the green route up to Hospital De La San Paul, Parc Guell and eventually back to Plaza Catalunya .

We were an hour early for our return shuttle so Jaki just ‘had to’ revisit the fashion shop of this morning leaving me sat in a Chesterfield arm chair watching women try on tatty junk jewellery. Sadly when Jaki returned she had in fact purchased some tatty junk jewellery, how did she slip by without me seeing her?

The trip was useful in that it gave us an overview of the City, how big and how diverse it is. It introduced us to areas of the City we might want to visit next time, but it isn’t without it’s limitations.

The seats are cramped and I was jostled by many a fat bottom trying to waddle up the isle whilst the bus was moving.

People could not get the system of using the front steps to get on and the back steps to get off which caused mayhem when both groups met half way up or down the stairs from the top deck.

We also had the ‘Sneezy’ Bus first time and the ‘Coughing Bus’ second time.

Taking photos is difficult as the seating is cramped, there isn’t very good visibility and the bus doesn’t stop at strategic scenic points to allow for photos. I tried in vain to take a shot of the cruise ships in the Harbour from Jardins de Miramar but all I got was trees.

A lot of the main tourist attractions were covered up for renovation so there wasn’t anything very inspiring and a lot of it I found a bit dull, though I have taken this trip before so perhaps it’s familiarity.

At the end of the day we had seen some thing of Barcelona, enough to know we want to come back. But to do it properly you have to stay in the City and come out onto the streets at night.

Next time?

Walking or cycling around Barca is by far the best way of seeing the City

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