Day 15 - Istanbul to Barcelona

Really early start and 2-3 hours sleep meant I was feeling ordinary this morning, but I was kinda excited about getting to Spain. Left Istanbul with good memories and hopefully I'll be back there again one day. Highlights still unmentioned are being fully checked out by a woman in a full burka and working on our upcoming coffee table book 'Cats of Istanbul'.

I always had the impression that Spain, and Barcelona, were a place full of old white buildings, dodgy characters, an enormous language barrier, mosaics everywhere, churches everywhere and for it to be a really foreign feeling place. Barcelona is none of the above. Modern buildings, clean & wide streets, narrow alleys, open spaces,good coffee & a thriving alternative sub-culture. By lunchtime we had got to our apartment very easily and quickly, it's right near Placa de Catalunya which is sort of the centre of town.

The apartment is one of the places we splashed out on and its a modern New York loft style apartment in an old brick building, 4 stories up and faces away from the street so it's quiet. It's got wooden floors, brick feature walls, fancy lights, cool furniture...we're really slumming it. It's a great home away from home though, a bit different to a 8 bed hostel dorm room no air con or heating.

We forced ourselves out and just wandered the streets all afternoon. It was a good 5-8 degrees warmer (25) than Istanbul, and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect for walking, eating Spanish bread with ham and tomato (their ham kicks ass by the way, it's almost like prosciutto and you could eat a leg of it in a sitting). Also sat and had a coffee which was amazing.

We had read about 'La Rambla' which is one of the main streets full of shops, restaurants, pickpockets, beggars, tourists and street performers. Even Lonely Planet says it's a must do. In the words of Uncle Tony: 'What a crap'. Complete waste of time and we walked the 1.5km fantasising about pushing performers off their plinths & smacking vacant minded, overweight tourists in the face and pointing them in the direction of the real sights.

La Rambla leads you down to a harbour which is kinda nice, especially on a sunny day. Think an oversized Darling Harbour without restaurants and shops, and not shit. Some huge boats owned by some very rich people and lots of people (including locals) just sitting around making the most of the warm autumn sun.

We had some restaurant recommendations so we got the Metro to Paral-lel only to discover they were both closed as their weekend seems to be Sunday & Monday. We found another legit place that was full of locals and sat on the street with Estrella beer & tapas: calimari, fried potato, chorizo, paella & more ham. Also got complimented by the waitress who thought I spoke Spanish because my pronunciation was good (thanks Mark!). I've taken the reigns with speaking here, in Turkey and Cyprus Andy and Tony had it.covered, so I took a back seat. It's been great to get back into speaking another language again, I gotta learn one properly one's too fun and so rewarding when you get it right.

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