Barca – east side (geographically speaking, don’t worry, I’m not trying be ‘street’)

I’d planned this week as far as: a) having a day at testing and b) having a couple of days in Barcelona. And I’d planned today as far as getting myself into the city. I’m now on the train but have no kind of itinerary once I get there. So I’m thinking Open Top Bus Tour – it’ll give me some bearings as to what’s where and I can then explore more of the areas I like tomorrow.

There are two tour bus routes – the green goes round the east of the city and the orange does the west. That’s one today and one tomorrow then. So I buy a two-day ticket and head east.

Gaudi’s answer to Letchworth?

Despite the somewhat dubious ‘English’ scripting on the bus guide’s audio, I tolerate it as far as Parc Güell, but at this point I have to alight. My degree Dissertation was based on the sustainability of Garden Cities, so the concept of an unfinished Gaudi variation on a hilltop overlooking Barcelona, is something I want to see.

So I nip into a little shop for a tuna & olive flatbread a bottle of aguia, and I’m off up the steps to Parc Güell.

Not what I expected! It reminds me more of Portmerion than Port Sunlight! Lots of steps, landscaped borders, and stunning hilltop cottages; Bournville isnt a chocolate button on this place! The views are stunning and, if it wasn’t for the shoals of tourists (most of whom seem to be French) it’s be a peaceful, tranquil spot.

Wired for sound

Anyway. I hop back on the fun bus, this time surrounded by a group of excitable Americans, who decide that, because they’re separated by the aisle of the bus, it’s necessary to recite the audio commentary across to each other. In true British fashion, I keep quiet and pretend I haven’t noticed, quietly chuckling at the older couple I’m front who are becoming increasingly annoyed at the Kentucky Posse. But after a couple of minutes I clock one the the American girls looking at my headphones, and I can’t let them suffer any longer (the girls, not the old couple in front) and I show the Americans where to get their headphones, how to plug in and find their language, and Bob’s your Aunty’s live-in lover – the Americans are suddenly silenced by education.

Gothic district

Before the fun bus returns to where I found it, I decide to hop off again (narrowly missing the grand opening of a new Prada store… They’re recruiting apparently… ?Could tell them I’ve just resigned…? Perhaps not.) Desperate to avoid La Ramblas, I go exploring through the narrow (but very tall and dark) streets to the east. Luckily the sun’s not yet over the yardarm, otherwise I’d be sitting in of many amazing little bars by now – they’re all about 6 feet wide, 30 feet deep, and have wine selections bigger than La Sagrada Famìlia. Focus Rebecca. If you hit the tinto now, you’ll never find L’estacion let alone the hotel So instead, I seek Te.

Caelum

This is apparently Latin for Heaven and it’s one of the most peculiar yet pretty places that I’ve ever enjoyed an Earl Grey. Hidden away in the narrow streets, this little cafe seats about 20 around 7 little square white tables, and has a decidedly French feel to it. The plethora of cakes, sweets and other beautifully-wrapped delicacies are apparently prepared in convents across Spain. There are cistercian cookies, benedictine preserves and chocolate covered figs soaked in Conyac. The walls are bare brick, giving it a chilly feel, but the candles on the tables and dark wooden floors somehow take the edge off and it feels very cosy. I really want to buy a cake but the impressive display says ‘non self service’ so I’m assuming I have to ask – there’s no menu so does one just attract Señora’s attention and point? Ah hang on, an elderly French couple have wondered up and Señora is explaining what’s what… I earwig… I’m suddenly starving… What is it with this place and cakes?! I’m all over this!

I’ve gone for Pumpkin; I expected it to have the consistency of banoffee but it’s much softer and even the coconut on top works deliciously – I now see why they call this place Heaven!

My plan at this point was to find a nice little cafe *tick*, where I could comfortable watch the world go by *tick*, hadn’t considered pumpkin cake but *tick* that one too, and I’d think about everything I need to plan/do over the next three months #fail… I’m too busy people watching, and the thought of anything remotely sensible / life-changing right now is just far too much effort! Later. For now I’m going to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy my Te e Pastìs

Boxy xx

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