The urge to write

As you might have noticed, there was a sudden increase in the number of posts during my vacation, and as soon as I went back to work I stopped posting again. This is not only due to my vacation being way more exiting than my every day live, but also due to the fact that I had nothing else to write. When I am at work there always at least a report or even a paper to write, so typically, by the time I done with work, there is no urge to write left ;)

There is of course an obvious solution: write blog posts in the morning!

Back to France

I am back in France for less then 24 hours, but I already miss Barcelona. Or at least, the nice sunny weather I got to enjoy the last few days. When I finally came home yesterday, only 2.5 hours too late, I was welcomed by heavy rain.
The 2.5 hours of delay were due to a stop and go of our train in the Rhone valley. We had been diverted on the ‘classic’ route due to an accident, and there was too much traffic on the classic route for normal speeds.
And because all the problems were out of control of SNCF there’s no compensation.

Yesterday I went to La Rambla and the historic city center.  La Rambla was already quite busy when I went there in the morning, so I can only imagine how busy it gets during the afternoon and evening. The cathedral was much less busy and quite interesting. The best part of the day was a visit to the Museum of the history of Barcelona which is basically a tour through an excavation site. It includes a cloth cleaning and dyeing factory, a garum factory and a wine factory.

After that I skipped the Picasso museum  – the queue was too long – and went straight to the cultural center of the Born. This is another excavation site, focusing on the time around 1700. The area near the Born was heavily affected by wars and then completely destroyed to make space for the citadel. It was quite a nice  but very empty museum.

Yesterday I visited the best known construction site of Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia. It really is huge. They claim it will be finished by 2026, but given that they will have to demolish a few currently inhabited houses, that seems very unlikely. I had booked a guided tour, which turned out to be mostly focus the architecture. It was very informative and pointed out lots of details I would have otherwise missed. Afterwards I went uphill to the modernist hospital of San Paolo and San Creu. By comparison, there were next to no tourists there. The hospital site is very beautiful,but I would have liked some more insights into how it was used as an hospital. Then I went even further uphill, through residential areas, to Park Güell. There were lots of great views on Barcelona along the way. In Park Güell, there were once again hordes of tourists. But Gaudi ‘s architecture really is unique and interesting! Afterwards I walked back to my hotel through the neighbourhood of Gracia which also has some really nice streets and plazas.

I’ve been on my feet all day yesterday. I strolled around Passenger the Gracia, enjoyed the great architecture and did some shopping. Then I met with a former colleague for lunch at a tapas bar. They offered tapas with an international touch and they were delicious. The place also got pretty full while we were eating.
In the afternoon I visited the historic shipyards (sadly under reconstruction) and the museum of catatonic history. The latter was a tad disappointing. Now I am of to la Sagrad Familia.

I managed to arrive at my hotel without any problems. The room is a bit on the small side, but otherwise quite nice. The hotel is on the Rambla de Catalunya and the building is really amazing. Yesterday, I had dinner at a small Mexican restaurant. I had tortillas with mashed black beans, shredded pork lettuce and cheese. It was really good. This morning I plan to stroll a  bit through Eixamples. From what I saw yesterday evening, there’s some great architecture around here.

I am currently on the train, somewhere between Lyon and Nîmes, heading towards Barcelona for a four day vacation. I got the idea some time in early winter. I don’t know how much longer I will be living at a place from which I can reach Barcelona by train  in just a few hours, so I decided to use the opportunity. General consensus pointed towards May as the best time to travel, so here I am!

The train is quite nice. I got first class tickets (preferente) at an affordable price, so I have plenty of space and the seat is quite comfortable. No WiFi though, and the LTD signal is not robust at all. But I kind of expected that and downloaded a few books and newspapers in advance.

I’m looking forward to seeing Spain!


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