Welcome to the A to Z challenge, a blog post everyday of April apart from Sundays, covering every letter of the alphabet. My theme is travel, that thing that we haven’t been able to do over the last 12 months, so it seemed appropriate to reminisce about past travels we’ve taken, looking forward to when we can travel freely again.
Today we’re visiting the the capital of Catalan, the capital of Hungary, and a town mentioned in The Arabian Nights.
Barcelona is in the coastal Catalan region of Spain and is perfect for a short break. I found a really good deal for a hotel that was really close to Las Ramblas, the place for all sorts of activities, only to find that when we returned to our hotel the first day after dark, it was smack bang in the middle of the red light district, and even though we were walking hand in hand, my beloved was propositioned by one of the ladies of the night – it’s all part of the travelling experience.
One of the undisputed highlights of the city is the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s incredible basilica that began being built in 1882, and is still unfinished. It is totally awe inspiring from the outside, but even more so on the inside. I’ve just looked on the Basilica’s website, and of course more has been done since we were there, and in 2010 it was consecrated by Pope Benedict for religious worship. We definitely need to go back one day to see the progress, and it would be lovely to attend a service surrounded by all that beauty.
There are so many of Gaudi’s incredible buildings to see, including Park Guell, Casa Mila, and Casa Batllo (pictured left). If you’re short for time then prioritise the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo as they’re both incredibly intricate and well worth exploring.
Funny story about our trip to Barcelona, we got chased by a waiter after we left a restaurant because I hadn’t quite got the hang of the currency and hadn’t left enough – after that I made Ken check I’d put enough money down whenever we ate at a restaurant. There are many other things to see and do whilst in Barcelona and we took the chance to take a bus tour to the Monastery at Montserrat where there is the statue of the Black Madonna and usually incredible views, but the day we went there was very thick fog. We also took the time to visit Camp Nou, the home of the Barcelona Football Club – my beloved wanted to see it. It’s apparently the most visited museum in Barcelona, and the tour of the stadium is really interesting. Pictured is my beloved looking very happy at Camp Nou, and me looking very pale as I had a stinky chest infection.
As we boarded the plane that would whisk us away to Budapest we were joined by not one, not two, but three stag parties who I think had started drinking several hours before the flight. Despite this, they were very well behaved and provided quite a bit of harmless entertainment for the journey. When we landed, one of the groups dragged the poor groom to be into the toilets, and when they emerged they’d dressed him in a lycra leopard print onesie which left absolutely nothing to the imagination – we didn’t see any of the stags again, so hopefully they had a fun filled weekend.
The main street with lots of shops and restaurants is Vaci Street, and the Bohem Art Hotel where we stayed is really close to this. There’s a really nice vibe along the street and it leads to a square where there are lots of food and craft stalls, and even live music to entertain.
I couldn’t resist taking this photo of Ken as the hat was the same shape as his beard – he looks like he’s escaped from somewhere.
On the edges of the city is Memento Park which is like a graveyard for communist statues that used to reside in the city. After the fall of communism the statues were uprooted and turned into a tourist attraction. I would definitely recommend this as it’s a fascinating space, and the statues are huge. There’s a bus from the centre of town that takes you there.
Here’s the obligatory picture of me harassing a local cat – this gorgeous little one was living amongst the statues and was really friendly.
There were lots of rickshaws available if you fancied it. This was our favourite – the back end of a car which surely is quite heavy to pull around. We never actually saw it being used, the lad was always just sat there waiting for a hire.
This is me putting my hand in the Danube river – it felt too important not too, as all my life I’ve heard about this river and now I was actually able to touch it. I think my beloved was hoping to get the comedy shot of me overbalancing and falling in the river.
What would you think if I told you that I have taken my beloved to Bagdad and yet we’ve never set foot in Iraq? The Taswegians amongst you will know the answer to this because there is a settlement called Bagdad in Southern Tasmania. The Our Tasmania website gives the clear explanation as to why there is a place called Bagdad, alongside Jericho, and the river Jordan. They were named by Private Hugh Germain who apparently carried only two books with him, the Bible and the Arabian Nights, and he took inspiration from the exotic sounding places within.
This map shows the location of Bagdad. Interestingly, at the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, the town’s website was overwhelmed by people concerned about the inhabitants.
Thanks for stopping by and make sure you visit other bloggers who are crazy enough to be doing the challenge with me – Click Here to visit the master list of participants.
Stay safe and have a lovely day.
Previous A-Z posts:
2018 – B is for Beaches
2017 – B is for Battlefields
2016 – B is for Blessed