Day 18 - Barcelona

Had breakfast at home this morning, croissants and fruit and coffee before walking through El Raval which is more of an alternative part of town. Found some cool graffiti, watched skaters, watched some students making a short film and just wandered the streets until we crossed La Rambla into Barri Gotic where the streets are a bit narrower and older. We had a quick look at the market but there was too many tourists. Saw a pickpocket, a young girl posing as a tourist with a backpack...she gave it away by being too young and on her own.

We picked up some ham and salami bocadillas and had lunch in a plaza/piazza/placa, avoiding tourists and sitting in the sun. There was what I assume was a Euro League game between Barcelona and Copenhagen in town today so there were a lot of tourists and people wearing jerseys. We thought about going but assumed a big game like that would be sold out.

Instead we hired bikes and headed for the beach. It was cool in the morning but by lunchtime it was really nice in the sun. We had jeans on so didn't swim but we rode the boardwalk from the southern end all the way to the north a few kms away. If we had known it would be this nice, shorts would have been the go. I don't know what more to say, but it was such a nice area it puts Bondi to shame as a city beach. A wooden boardwalk with cycle paths, restaurants & bars next to the beach, palm trees, clean sand...no dirty concrete, buses, cars or graffiti in sight. The cycleways are awesome, usually with good separation from cars and the city is flat. Oh, and no helmets...so much nicer.

We actually got a bit of out the city which was nice, even discovering that they have a tram system. Rode down a big tree lined avenue back towards the city which is shared between bikes, walkers, roller bladers (or fruit booters...hi Con) and flanked by tram tracks on each side. If we're talking traffic lane equivalent: 3 car sized lanes for people, 2 for trees, 2 for trams, 2 for cars. A much better balance, I bet the avenue is packed with people riding to work in the morning.

There is a system called 'bicing' where residents have a swipe card that enables them to unlock and pick up a bike from one of the many, many racks of bikes scattered around the city. Then you drop it off to wherever you want, I assume there's a website that tells you where some bikes are. Awesome idea.

We went back to Paral-lel to try one of the food places that was closed on Sunday night called Quimet & Quimet. It's a barn door on a quiet street and the floor space is about 4m by 6m, with a bar on one side. The other 2 sides were floor to ceiling wine bottles on racks and in fridges. It was pretty busy and we spoke to the lady who runs it and if you don't know what you want she just prepares plates for you. It was really high quality rustic style food and we got a meat plate, cheese plate, veggie plate and bread plate. I would have taken photos but it looked too good and I was too hungry.

It's standing room only with a few bar tables and an American couple, Kyle & Katie got talking to us and we spoke to them while eating. We also met 2 Canadian girls Megan and Annie who were really nice, and we all had a bit of a talk over home made beers and wine. When the place closed we walked through El Raval to a bar called Shilling which is quite big, has a marble bar and one side is a wall of wine bottles. We had a few beers there and then went to the bar we had gone to last night (Ginger) for one last drink. I think there was half a bottle of alcohol in my mojito. Got home about 3:30 but time flies in Barcelona, I didn't even notice!

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