My recent trip to Barcelona featured ‘water‘ in a variety of forms:
Next a walk along the city beach front in La Barceloneta, looking a lot smarter these days to keep pace with the Hotel W, rising – seemingly – out of the sea, sleek and shiny and majestic – and expensive! – , and costing around 220 euros a night. But us ordinary mortals can still enjoy the simple pleasures – paddling in the sea – it’s certainly a good way to cool off from the heat wave that has swept through most of Spain this summer, with sweltering temperatures of 40º plus from Madrid down to Sevilla.
This is the giant thermometer in Portal de l’ Angel, just down the road from Plaza de Cataluña in the centre of Barcelona, marking 29 º – positively chilly in comparison, you might think – but this was taken at 10 o’clock at night – so not much respite even after sundown!
Next it was time for a turn round Ciutadella Park , which this year has attracted a bunch of Bob Marley lookalikes, lounging on the grass and occasionally getting to their feet, wreathed in clouds of smoke (no idea what that is!) to sing a bit of reggae (other years it’s been bongo drummers or fitness instructors bellowing at their charges – prefer the reggae myself.) The park is a great place for locals and tourists alike to ‘tomar el fresco’ – take the cooler evening air – and get a bit of exercise, if you must! It’s only a small park but it has everything you’d expect – benches, flowers, shade, ice cream stalls, a few oddballs, but best of all a lake with some very exuberant fountains, shooting sprays of cooling water up into the air.
Continuing with the water theme, one day we took up an online offer to loll by the pool at the plush Catalonia Barcelona Plaza hotel, near Montjuic. They were offering non residents access to the swimming pool on their fantastic, panoramic roof terrace (four poster sunbeds, no less!) and some great photo opportunities from a vantage point high in the sky. though I don’t suppose they are too keen on the neighbour who provided the view below – if you look carefully, you will notice quite a lot of buildings in Barcelona with shanties like this one on the flat roof – of course, you’re not usually high enough to see them but they’re there, and unfortunately for the powers that be, once they’ve been there long enough they acquire squatters’ rights and are very difficult to shift. This one’s definitely got an air of defiance about it – maybe the occupier is another victim of the ‘crisis’ – or maybe he’s an ex-bank manager!
I stayed with the water theme for the middle weekend of my stay but spent it ‘down country’ in Deltebre – a village in the Ebro Delta, about 2 hours train ride south of the capital, in an area which produces a lot of the rice grown in Spain – Valencia is the other main rice growing area.
The Ebro delta is a refuge for many species of water fowl and, as it turns out, THOUSANDS of dragonflies! I was hoping to see more birds but we would have needed to stay longer and plan better – I realised that it takes a determined and knowledgeable guide to track down the more spectacular breeds – so next time I’ll go prepared.
Nonetheless, it is a beautiful area away from the madding crowds.