Unfortunately, unlike the Ed Sheeran song, I’m not on my way home, very far from it, but enjoying every second of exploring this beautiful city!
Sunday the 13th of May, and I was inconceivably brave enough to rent a bike and explore the city in a little more detail. For anyone that is aware of my track record with bikes, you’d know that it’s AWFUL. And would ask me to seriously question my life choices in deciding to rent a bike where they don’t offer helmets, and the driving is downright insane. But hey, there was another from the hostel that wanted to do the same thing- so safety in numbers, right?
Of we ventured to explore the Plaza de España, Museo d’arte Catalunya, Estadi Olímpic and the grounds surrounding the Castillo de Montjuic, followed by the castle itself. And believe me, it was a climb. I truly believe that I spent more time pushing my bike from halfway on than actually riding it, but hey, it’s all exercise, no?
The Castle changed in function many times since the first structure, a simple light tower/beacon, was built in 1073. Since then, it has been a fortress during the Revolt of Catalunya (1640-1652), a Military defence base (1688-1697), back to a fortress during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), a prison during the War of the Pyrenees (1793-1795), occupied by Napoleon’s troops in 1808, operations base for the bombardment of Barcelona during liberal revolution (1833-1843), a prison for much of the rest of the 20th century, a War base during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the site of the execution of Colonel Escobar and President Lluís Companys in 1940, and has remained a military museum since 1963. All in all, pretty important in the Barcelona’s history!
Another fun fact (well not so fun)- the hills surrounding the Montjuic Castle were home to the Grand Prix at one stage. However, given the hills are so steep and so windy, after a tragic accident that killed numerous spectators and one driver, the Grand Prix was moved to another location.
After the climb, the descent was far easier and far faster, but with buses, motorbikes, cars, pedestrians and other bikes, I was crossing my fingers and pumping the brakes hard! I only almost got taken out by a hop-on-hop-off bus once, so all is well! A quick pitstop at the most DELICIOUS Tapas Bar; “La Tasqueta de Blai” for Sangria and Pinchos and we were on our way to the next stop, Park Güell!
For those unaware of what Pinchos are, they are slightly different from the more commonly known Tapas. Pinchos are small servings of food always served on toasted pieces of baguette/bread. There are all different types, and everything I’ve had has been delicious, from prawns to chicken to roasted veg and even some weird kind of salmon cream thing. You can’t go wrong with pinchos!
PARK GÜELL! What an interesting site. Set on yet another climb overlooking the city, (on the OTHER side of the city from Castle Montjuic, through too many roundabouts), sits this unique but slightly unfortunate city escape. The Park was imagined by Eusebi Güell, a wealthy Spanish Entrepreneur, as a place for the bourgeoisie to escape from the tight confines of the growing city of Barcelona. There was meant to be up to 60 plots with houses for families set in the hills of Park Güell, but unfortunately, the idea did not come to fruition. Firstly, it was too far from the city proper, and without appropriate transport to get there, it was a chore (believe me, I rode and climbed on foot!). Secondly, around the time of the start of the First World War, people weren’t interested in taking a gamble on a new property. As such, a lonely three houses were built on the land. Güell, after seeing the work Antoni Gaudí- a meagre table, decided if that was what he could do with a table, imagine what he could do with a piece of land such as Park Güell. Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to design the common areas, which makes up most of the Park Güell that we see today.
Buena. Although I did get lost a few times on the travel home from Park Güell, I lived to tell the tale! Let’s just say if it weren’t a Sunday, this may have been another story!
Hasta Luego Amigos