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Ruins on the Rampage – the real story!

October 23, 2009
The Stunning Ruins

The Stunning Ruins

The Skipper has already started a couple of comments on the long-awaited visit of the Stunning Ruins. However, as he is not actually a member of this glorious band it is down to me to provide a full, fair and true account of our exploits over the past week.

Kath & Terri arrived at middle day last Friday. Duncan & I decided to go on the train to the airport to meet them. This turned out to be just as well as the journey was by no means straightforward. Indeed the Skipper (henceforth to be known as the Griddled Kipper) was heard to mutter that the reason the train fare was so low seemed to be because the passenger is actually required to walk much of the journey!

After a late lunch, the three Ruins set off for Las Ramblas. However after a short while we branched off down a little side street & had a happy time pottering around the old town. We stopped for a drink at a very quaint bar which we have totally failed to find again since. Duncan was waiting with a delicious chilli con carne when we eventually returned to the boat.

Next day the 3 of us set off once more for the airport to meet the 4th Ruin, Maggie and conduct her through the rabbit warren of the metro system. This time, after lunch we decided to visit the Museum of the History of Catalunya. We only managed half the museum before closing time but it was very instructive. We then took Maggie off to introduce her to the delights of the old town and all the little winding streets and bars and shops before returning to the long-suffering Skipper/chef who was waiting with a tremendous paella.

Next day we went to Mass at the Sagrada Familia. Mass was held in a side chapel which has been largely completed. The service was conducted in Catalan which made it tricky to follow what was going on and provided plenty of time to admire the stained glass windows and magnificent ceiling. Afterwards we went round the rest of the cathedral & visited the museum which was fascinating. The building is most impressive and will be amazing once it is completed but that is not scheduled until 2030. The inside is still a building site and there is much yet to be done on the exterior facades. We have decided that we shall need to return when we are all 70 to check on progress.

The Passion Facade of the Sagrada Familia

The Passion Facade of the Sagrada Familia

After a late lunch in a nearby street café we took the metro back to the Arc de Triomf and strolled back through the park to the marina. After a pause to relax & recover, we then escorted the Kipper out for a tapas supper. We spent some considerable time searching for a suitable venue but eventually found a splendid restaurant where the waiter treated Duncan and his hareem with immense respect and admiration! The three other Ruins very kindly treated us to this wonderful meal and we would like to thank them all very much indeed and it was a brilliant evening.

The Serpentine Bench at Parc Guell

The Serpentine Bench at Parc Guell

 

Casa Museu Gaudi, Parc Guell

Casa Museu Gaudi, Parc Guell

On Monday we set off once more on the metro, this time to Parc Guell where there are some fabulous Gaudi buildings and also the Casa Museu Gaudi. It is set on top of a fairly steep hill so external escalators have been provided for much of the climb but nevertheless we were fairly breathless and pink in the face by the time we arrived at the park entrance. We loved the way he created beautiful mosaic work with broken fragments of glass and ceramics. Geometry and nature are blended to produce flowing curves and styles that we all admired enormously. Eventually hunger drove us in search of refreshment but the visit was well worthwhile and highly recommended to any visitor to Barcelona.

 

One of the Gaudi buildings at Parc Guell

One of the Gaudi buildings at Parc Guell

We decided to take the bus back to the centre of town and were rewarded by passing two other famous Gaudi landmarks. The bus obligingly stopped at lights just by La Pedrera, giving us time to admire it and then drew to a halt at Casa Batllo where we decided to alight and take a few photos. Still in search of nourishment, we strolled down across the Placa Catalunya and on down the Ramblas where we finally stopped and a splendid restaurant calling itself the Paca Vaca. All we could eat of self-service salad and rotisseried meats, a beer, ice cream and coffee for less than €10 per head – bargain and delicious what’s more!

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo

After a splendid meal we continued on down the Ramblas and wandered into a rather fine church, Eglesia de Betlem, where all the side chapels on the right of the nave were very old and ornate, whilst those on the left hand side where simple and modern. We then made our way to the cathedral which had a very spooky-looking dark medieval choir stalls and a fine vaulted roof. By the time we got back to the marina it was dark and this time the Kipper had a wonderful chicken stew waiting. We had vaguely thought of taking him out for a drink after dinner but in the end we were all too tired so we stayed and had one or two drinks on board before falling into bed.

On Tuesday Kath & Terri had to return home so Maggie & I went with them to the airport & after fond farewells we decided to try taking a bus back to town. We alighted at Placa Espanya where there is a fine view up to the Palau National & Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Unfortunately the only way to photograph this satisfactorily was whilst crossing a fairly busy road and I regret that the result was somewhat blurred so we have not included it in the blog. However we then took a fairly long walk down past the Parc de Montjuic to the harbour.

J aloft

J aloft

Wednesday began rather wet so we had a slow start but when it cleared up the Skipper persuaded me to climb the mast! I was hoisted aloft in the bosun’s chair to rearrange the lazy jacks (ropes that keep the mainsail in order.) Not being fond of heights this was not something to which I had been particularly looking forward but in the event it was not as terrifying as expected.

Task completed, M & I then set off for the Picasso Museum. We stopped off en route and the extremely imposing Correos to buy some stamps and were impressed by its wonderful ornate, domed ceiling. We decided not to take a photo however, as it was rather dark inside & also we were vaguely worried that someone might just get upset. We enjoyed the Picasso Museum though we decided we must be philistines as we really preferred his early work to the very avant-garde pieces for which he is so famous. We were pretty tired by the time we’d been right round the museum and went to look for a coffee shop, having decided that the one in the museum was too pricey. However, as is often the case when looking for something in particular, we totally failed to find a café and had to settle instead for beer and olives and some of the delicious tomato bread which seems to be a speciality of this part of Spain.

Heading back towards the harbour and the marina, we stumbled across the Chocolate Quarter – of course! If there was a chocolate quarter to be found we were probably the best qualified people in existence to discover it. There is a musuem of chocolate which was sadly shut; however the school for pastry chefs was still in full swing and we were fascinated to see lots of trainee chefs wacking some sort of dough with immense force and enthusiasm. We could not work out exactly what they were making but thought you would enjoy the photo:

Trainee pastry chefs at the Chocolate Museum

Trainee pastry chefs at the Chocolate Museum

En route back to the boat, we felt obliged to stop and buy some chocolate novelties as a souvenir of our day and to sweeten the long-suffering Kipper.

Yesterday it poured with rain continuously so we relaxed and played games and read books, venturing only as far as the bread shop for basic provisions.

Maggie at the helm today!

Maggie at the helm today!

However today dawned bright and sunny so we took Maggie out for a short trip up the coast. The wind was unpredictable and we thought we might have to motor most of the time but eventually it picked up and we had a very good sail.

When we returned to the marina, she and I set off on bikes to explore a bit more of the harbour and also went up to Puerto Olimpico so she could compare it with Port Vell. We both decided it was very nice but Port Vell is probably in a better position, right in the heart of the city. Everyone was out, walking, cycling or roller-blading and even quite a few trying to surf ‘though it has to be said that the surf here is fairly tame. Now it is time to stop this, select some photos and prepare and evening meal. Tomorrow Maggie flies back to UK and we shall miss her very much. It has been a brilliant week for me and hopefully a Stunning Ruins reunion to remember!

The long-suffering Skipper!

The long-suffering Skipper!

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3 comments

  1. Hoorah, Stunning Comadres, this is a wonderful summary of our fabulous trip.
    Delighted to hear Maggie got her sailing trip after the Landlubbers’ departure; very sorry to have missed J up the mast though. Will require an action-replay during next Stunning Ruins visit.
    Life is very quiet back in autumnal Northumberland, and the wind today would make very interesting sailing conditions. Missing life on board the Rampage, but it is a comfort that the floor has stopped moving.
    Hope your Christmas plans are becoming clearer. xxx


  2. Seeing as we never left the marina whilst Kath was on board, I can only assume that the alcohol was to blame for her warped perception of reality.
    The Grizzled Skipper


  3. I’m just back from the American Football at Wembley and have finally got onto the blogg and read the rambles! You missed out describing the attempt at mini-skittles – just as well – there is something strange about ex-convent girls bowling at miniature nuns!

    Hope the Kipper has fully recovered from our visit.
    Thanks so much both for all the hospitality etc. Where to next, Ruins?



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