Monday, September 8, 2008


Even though the Hotel Arts is expensive as all get out, they do put out a nice breakfast buffet - and at least it was included with the suite. Neither of us woke up very early today. It was definitely early to bed and late to rise for us.

I can't believe that I've been eating so many meals outside - dinner last night, breakfast and lunch today. It helps that it is really nice here. Very comfortable, plenty of shade umbrellas, nice sea breeze and no bugs.

It turns out that the Bus Turistic has a pickup spot right across the street from our hotel. So we got an all-day pass for 30 euros each and headed out. We got off at Placa de Catalunya - which is a very large plaza/square that happens to be the northern beginning of La Rambla - a long, interesting shopping street that we have visited each time here. The area was loaded with street performers. Quite crowded since there are several cruise ships in port.

As I remembered, there is a bus pickup point at the southern end of La Rambla - next to the Columbus statue. So...we reboarded the bus, plugged in our headsets and rode the entire circuit. The tour is similar to some of the bus-type tours in many US cities - except most of the US doesn't have sections that date back to medieval times, back to the time of Columbus, or that have the fabulous architecture of Barcelona.

We saw some of the somewhat bizzare buildings designed by Gaudie, the medieval Gothic Cathedral, and many of the buildings that were built for the Barcelona Olympic Games. The total bus tour was about 2 hours - and that's just the blue line. They have another - the red line - that visits sites north of the city. Even on a good day, trying to do both tours is a bit much for us. We re-did the blue line - Jill was a little funky the last time here - so it was mostly new to her. We'll do the red line next time.

Oh, and we also learned that the residential area surrounding our hotel was leveled and built as housing for the athletes for the Olympics. Afterward, the units were sold as apartments. So...the Olympians had a very nice housing village right on the Mediterranean.

On our way to the bus stop by our hotel, we spotted some restaurants and explored when we were done with the bus. Went to an Italian place called Gino's. Jill got a chicken parmisan that she said was quite good. I had the special of the day which included a tomato/mozzarella salad, a handmade pizza (bacon, tomatoes, green onions, gouda, ham) and chocolate drizzled cream puffs.

We've been paying a fortune for bottled water. After lunch, Jill found a little convenience/tourist shop with 1.5 liter bottles for just 1.35 euros - got two.

So...after a good day sightseeing, a good lunch and plenty of water to rehydrate - guess what? Nap time.

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