Trip to Mexico Dia 3 Boats, buses and Estadio Azteca futbol

This trip occurred in 2014. I had written these posts a long time ago on a different computer which I just gained access to again.  I hope you enjoy Mexico as much as we did. It is a wonderful place to visit and live. 

 

It was nice to develop a bit of a routine on vacation. The view from the balcony was a great way to start the day, as was the delicious eggs and beans they served. I’ve become more grateful for good coffee because most of the time on the road, you drank instant coffee or cheap, Robusta coffee, which is bitter. Most places had milk so I was able to improve the taste, but it wasn’t like what you get from a coffee shop back home. Just about all the coffee you drink in the US is Arabica beans, which are naturally sweeter. They probably should just serve Robusta coffee due to how much milk, cream and sugar most people add.

 

We agreed to check out boat rides on the advice of friends. It took about an hour and two trains to get far enough south to the canals. The specific district was named Xochimilco and they had gondola style boats to take you through the waters to see small islands. People apparently lived on small parcels of land in the middle of these canals and some had decorated their land exotically.

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If you’ve ever heard or seen pics of doll island, this is where we were heading. Some guy had hung hundreds of plastic, baby parts all over his land, giving an already creepy area a near hell like status. We all noticed this area felt a lot different than the City. Much smaller, a bit less people and we stuck out as tourist a lot more. We found the launching pad for the boats and discovered that all were available, no one had rented a boat yet so we’d be the only ones out on the water. Also no one would know we went out at all except the couple guys milling around the dock, drinking beers. After discussing with locals the logistics and cost, we all felt significantly spooked to forget the whole affair. It wasn’t tourist season, they explained but they had one guy that would take us out. Would he take us back is what we all wondered.

We got out where we switched trains, it was hard not to notice the immense futbol stadium, Estadio Azteca from the window. I’d never seen a live futbol match and had heard how crazy but fun they were. We investigated and were subjected to many scalpers the entire way to the ticket counter. The match was later in the early evening so we had several hours to kill. We picked up tickets and headed back to the train. We had another top site to see, El Angel, and it was closer to where we were at now vs. Zocolo.

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This stature was the symbol for Mexico City and appeared on TV shows and other programs to indicate where they took place. The statue itself is a tall column with an angel on top, rising up in the middle of a huge four way intersection downtown. Crossing the street to get to El Angel is not for the slow or faint of heart, cars are constantly whizzing by from all directions and traffic signals are a suggestion at best. You just saw an opening and ran for it. You can walk around and through the base. I learned that tickets were available to enter all the way to the top of the statue. A special pass and permission from the police was needed so we weren’t able to see the view.

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We continued walking, ultimately to another train station, but with the goal of seeing things along the route. We took a break inside a wonderful park. Trees, futbol, and food were all around our table as were what seemed to be a gallon bottle of Coke at another family’s picnic. Further up a steep roadway was a castle that now housed the City’s history museum. Chapultepec Castle was its name, but they charged admission for a tour. We didn’t think we’d have enough time to see the castle, eat and train back in time for the game. A wise choice we realized upon arriving at the train station. Every car was packed and we had to wait for a couple trains before we could board. It was shoulder to shoulder all around, adding extra heat to an already hot environment. It seems the heat got to one person as the train sat a long time at the station. A police officer showed up and side carried a guy who had passed out off the train. I’d say we sat on that car sweating for about 20 minutes before I realized what was going on.

On the train to the stadium, I was near a young girl who put on makeup the entire ride. In the time I boarded to the time we got out at the stadium she went from a little girl to woman. I wasn’t sure what her profession was, it could have been anything as most products are pitched by women, seductively dressed in short, short skirts and full make up. Didn’t matter what it was, phones, gum, trinkets, they all used females as saleswomen. Many guys would stop and talk, maybe some would buy but these ladies dressed to receive your attention. I sure hope she was just selling something safe, like phone plans.

They take tailgating to another level in México! Hundreds of people milled around out front of the stadium grilling meats and corn, selling beer and playing carney style games. We stood and watched while we waited in the security line to get inside. I noticed they made everyone raised their hands and patted everyone down, searched purses and confiscated items. I saw several guys’ belts taken, likely due to their big buckles, but they let me keep mine. We kept walking around and around, up and up, on a concrete ramp until we were at the top level where our seats were. Stepping out into the arena was a sight I’ll never forget. I’ve never seen so many people inside one place and the noise, my god it’s the loudest thing I’ll ever hear! Thousands of people cheering and singing different songs at the same time at the top of their voices, a band played along with both. Sheer cacophony!

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We made our way to our seats, in a not too crowded section, there were a few empty seats around us, making getting in and out much easier. The game was already underway, as was drinking. There didn’t seem to be any limit on beers, so long as you could physically say what you wanted, they sold you a beer. I bought one and settled in to watch the spectacle unfold. The premium box seats were at either goal and surrounded by a chain link fence. In fact, chain link fences were all over the stadium. It separated sections and fans of different teams. These games were not for sitting in the opposing teams section, they would probably beat you up or physically remove you. The air was thick with tension, that was for sure. Behind each goal was a section just for police in riot gear. Surrounding the ledges on most sections were more riot police, with shields and batons. The home team was called the Americas.

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Things were going well during the first half, but it was 0-0. During halftime some very loud, drunk guys behind us began walking around to others in our section. They chanted a lot. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I hoped they were just singing special fight songs. I decided to turn my attention to the cavalcade of people parading onto the field.

They turned the goals into breadboxes to advertise a bread company, many banners and other sponsor swag was on display. I couldn’t believe there was a way to get more ads at a sporting event, but yet here it was. Everywhere you cared to look had an ad for something on it. What’s this, a couple guys were walking down seats into my area. They said in broken English, ‘drink cup,’ and preceded to hand a cup with a hole in the bottom. My friend translated they wanted me to chug beer from their cup. I put the cup with a hole to my lips, mind you they’d been going around to other guys for awhile so my lips weren’t the only ones to have been here, and poured beer rapidly into the cup. I chugged as fast as I could but didn’t fully get it all down, a bit dribbled onto my beard and shirt. Everyone around me cheered! I was relived and humbled, most people are friendly if you give them a chance, and I wish more people, including myself at times, realized this.

Things intensified on the field after the halftime break. The Americas fans chanted ‘puuuuuuuuuto,’ whenever the opposing team’s goalie kicked the ball. They were calling him a pussy, thousands of people, kids, everyone. After a bit I noticed a commotion behind the goal. Several people were yelling down to another section. I saw beers fly, well I hoped it was beer, more than likely it was pee in a cup, raining down onto most people in the lower section. A man tentatively scaled the chain link fence but didn’t make it all the way to do anything, just yelled up at them. Surprisingly, no one intervened.

The Americas scored the lone goal of the game to win and the place erupted with cheers.

We rushed out as soon as the game ended though a lot of people didn’t move. Once we made it outside the stadium, the reality of the situation was driven home. Several police surrounded a bloody headed guy, his arms behind his back. They made it to some stairs and he took a deliberate tumble down them. For sure, if you were arrested for intoxication, fighting, the police here ensured you felt your mistake physically. A bit later we saw another guy get batoned to the ground, not sure why. I began to worry about the train situation. How long would we have to wait, there were thousands of people? Luck was again with us as we didn’t even break stride and walked onto an express train that would take us towards Zocolo. I felt a great relief as the doors closed and we pulled away from the chaotic scene at the stadium.

It was quite the end to a great stay in the City. We had decided to split up our trip between Mexico City and Guadalajara, the most time spent in the City, three days, four nights. Our flight was very early and we had to leave even earlier to catch the train to the airport. That was the rub, car traffic was unknown. The train left very early, but its arrival time was much more accurate. I was as happy and as tired as could be when I laid down onto the top bunk that night. I’d survived and had a great time in Mexico City, a place several people discouraged me from visiting due to the violence. I felt that danger is everywhere, in whatever city you live in, there is somewhere that you could get shot, stabbed or kidnapped. I figured if any of these happened, doing it experience a new city is the best place for it vs. just making a wrong turn into a seedy area at home.

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Dream trip Day 76 Rugby, Kafka’s head, drinking with the locals

Began the day with a nice walk down Národní Street and taking a right at the Lego Muzeum for coffee.

I received the largest cup of coffee I’ve ever had, probably more like 2 cups sized vessel. I’m already nervous about spilling hot coffee on myself as it is, what with the small handle and all.

All the coffee I spilled went into my saucer and not on me so I was all good.

It sprinkled rain as soon as I left so I ducked into the restaurant portion of the brewpub I was in the night before.

Always stick to your gut if you feel lost and just turn around. I stumbled into the basement and encountered a table of Czech men who immediately stopped eating once they saw me.

They just stared saying nothing. I was surely lost and definitely in the wrong place.

“Pivo, beer?” I asked.

Men continue to stare for about 10 seconds.

“You are in a private place. This is a private group. Not allowed.” One finally said after even more staring.

I held up my hands and backed away as they continued to stare at me.

I knew going down those stairs felt like a bad idea!

I was soon in the main restaurant where I walked to the bartender. He was much friendlier.

“Please sit down, it is better for you.” he said, motioning to a waiter. He extended his hand to a table nearby. “Sit please.”

Ok so no standing at the bar here. I always feel weird eating at a restaurant with waiters by myself.

Scanning the menu, I decided cold and rainy weather called for soup, specifically beef noodle soup and a beer.

Within 5 minutes I had a beer then a large bowl with small reservoir in it appeared. It was like a sombrero sized hat bowl!

The waiter had a ramekin of noodles he dumped into the bowl, then with a small kettle poured steaming broth over the noodles.

It was quite peppery soup and the noodles were delicate, handmade. I felt more and more refreshed with each bite.

At most tables were racks of big pretzels that people snacked on while sipping beer. I hope they realize this isn’t like chips and salsa at a Mexican joint. They will charge you for these snacks, but there isn’t a sign advising their cost $.

Some places would add all manner of hidden charges to you bill so you had to be vigilant looking at your bill before paying.

I’d seen a couple of arguments from groups with their waiter and the manager over these hidden fees. It’s what places do to tourists, they know you’re not coming back so they try to squeeze as much money as they could out of you.

It was really the only surprising practice I saw in a lot of countries. It really bummed me out, but hey, sometimes these fees were due to rude behavior or demands by the table.

I had no fees on my tab so I gave my waiter a few korunas tip.

To my great pleasure, the sun was out drying the streets.

Taking a new route, I came across the other Kafka statue in town, the Head of Kafka. It was a wonderful installation of his head in sections that took about a minute to separate and then reassembled.

It reminded me of that liquid, terminator robot and was quite pleasant to watch.

I had a tip from a friend about a great Mexican food place a short walk away. Hey weird I know, but I missed spice, sabor. Very few things I ate had any spice aside from black pepper and I missed heat.

I crossed the city square, passed an Irish Pub I had thought about checking out. It was full and loud on the patio. My sign to avoid.

Finally I located the spot. I was the only one in the joint so I joked with the waitress a bit as she instinctively lead me to the outside patio.

“This is where you want to sit, it is nice day. You’re fine, its slow for lunch, order whatever.” the waitress advised me with a smile.

Chorizo, eggs with tortillas arrived soon after and yes there was spice, finally.

I asked for green sauce, too, as the dish came with red salsa. I was happy dipping tortillas into the sauces and feeling some heat.

After my satisfying meal I walked back through the Jewish Quarter to further investigate some of the sections we didn’t hit on the walking tour.

Clouds blew in once I arrived to the cemetery hill, which was only accessible for a fee.

Most of the placed I wanted to see in this part of town had a fee to enter so I just walked up and down the streets admiring the free views of houses and synagogues from the outside.

I was a bit salty about fees after hearing about the Prague Library, Clementinum, one of the most beautiful places in the world, was only accessible via high tour fee, no photos inside and extra if you wanted to climb to the top.

Enough negative reviews on multiple travel sites convinced me it wasn’t going to really be worth the money and I felt if you paid anything then you supported the velvet rope exclusivity and gave it credence as a practice.

Thunder made me pause a moment under a bench to research a pub to wait out any oncoming rain.

Ah ha, one was only a few blocks away so I fast walked in that direction, arriving just as raindrops fell on my head. Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling.

This was a very cool Irish pub. Instead of futbol on the telly as I was used to, today a  rugby match was on. So violent and without pads!

I chatted with the friendly barman who was indeed Irish. We were joined by a very pretty girl with mohawk dreads that reached her waist.

They swayed back and forth like a pendulum as she walked around the pub serving pints or ducking outside under the awning for a smoke.

We talked about the city and why he lived there vs Ireland. His wife liked the city, he thought it was just ok. They planned on retiring back home once they saved enough.

The only other people inside were a couple chaps playing darts and watching the rugby match after their 3 throws.

It rained outside while large plates of roast beef and potatoes arrived for the workers to eat. I stopped asking question so they could eat and watched the rugby carnage unfold.

There were many autographed photos of famous visitors all over the wall near the bar.

What made these pics more interesting was they all seemed to be taken around closing time so lots of big smiles or narrow eyes haha.

After the rain I walked back to my side of town taking in the fresh ozone smells that follow a good downpour.

I was in search of a locals watering hole that was completely Czech. The guy that told me about it said they don’t try to speak English so be prepared to say pivo (beer) and další (another).

A wooden door was the only indication I’d arrived to my destination. What I found unique about Czech pubs was usually only 1 beer on tap. Definitely made it easier on me and less wait times since you didn’t have to stand behind a dude asking for local recommendation or what types of hop were used.

An older bartender didn’t respond when I asked for a pivo, he methodically and gracefully placed my glass under the tap until it overflowed, then he plopped it down in front of me, beer spilling all over.

After taking my money he used a squeegee to push the beer into a sink.

I stood off to the side with a good view of both the entrance and the tables, all of which where full.

Overseas it was very common if 2 people are seated at a 4 top table for 2 others to join them. Rarely was there an empty seat or strangers in a pub.

Most people talked to each other including people they may not know. No one had their phones out like I saw in the UK and US.

I overheard an Australian couple talking about their trip. They mentioned a tower on the west side of town that was inside a lush garden.

I knew what I was going to do tomorrow thanks to them and tried to join them for a pint when another couple sat down.

They were the only people speaking English in this pub and I had missed my chance.

May as well get another glass.

The bartender saw me walk up and held up 1 finger and I nodded, “Další, prosim.”  

He had been doing the same thing for so long he had his process down cold: pour beer into glasses, then set onto bar for waitress. Pick up used glasses, dunk them into sanitizer, then water, and place onto drying area. Repeat. He was a graceful machine.

I alternated watching him and the couples at the tables smoking away.

After my 2nd beer it was onto a noodle joint for some dinner. Duck breast with noodles and peanuts in a spicy red sauce.

There was small store near my hostel with a large beer selection and I decided to try to meet some people in my hostel vs sitting in another pub. I’d done that all day thanks to the rain.

I selected a couple local beers I’d not seen before and took the stairs up to my hostel.

There was a couple trying to book a flight and were immersed in their computer.

A few guys had a small  bottle of some liquor which they passed around, finished, then headed out into the night in the span of 5 minutes.

Perhaps this Asian girl…no headphones on, chatting on her phone.

I stared outside taking a slug off my beer.

Song: Dvorak  Slavonic Dance, Op 72, No 2 in E minor

Beer: Staropramen

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Dream trip Day 48 Goodbye Andorra, back to Barcelona by bus

I was greeted to the faint sounds of cat paws at my door so I played with kitty for a bit to start my day. I do like playful cats that bat at anything you dangle in front of them and this kitty seemed to never tire.

I decided on Bfest at the little French bakery, the one with the pretty waitress.

Sure enough she was there smiling away whilst she made coffee. But since she made the coffee I had to talk to an older lady with a morning scowl on her face.

It took pointing at several items before she selected the sugar-coated croissant I wanted. I knew I said croissant correctly so I do not know why she indicated at a scone like item, then a kolache like pastry before she started pointing at croissants.

This occurred at several places and the servers seemed put out by it even though I know I ordered correctly, they seemed to create this narrative that I was being difficult, but I felt they were deliberately misunderstanding.

Just because we don’t speak the same language doesn’t mean we cannot communicate or figure out what each other needs.

I watched as the fair lady made my coffee and smiled at me when the waitress picked it up.

‘Laut?’ She asked me. I said Si, and nodded. The waitress then poured in about 1 second worth of milk and delivered it to me.

I’m used to having control of milk pouring but I was soon to learn that was a luxury in Europe. No self pour, milk is a premium.

I watched the busy cafe fill up and empty with ladies having tea, couples talking over coffee and a large family with kids, coffee for all.

Occasionally I snuck a glance at my favorite lady, she was smiling. She wouldn’t be a 10 in anyone’s book I don’t feel, but sometimes you see someone who has that magnetism, that look of familiarity, that rare combo of features that flip your switch, that’s what she had.

I got another coffee, I didn’t have anywhere to go for another couple of hours so why not.

As I was leaving I glanced back at the lady I fancied and noted she was still smiling.

I walked around the block a couple of times, took the long way back to the apt.

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I was only a 5 min walk to the bus station and had a bit over an hour before my bus was scheduled to leave so I played with the cat for a bit.

I usually am not a cat fan, I get ignored by people all the time so getting a pet who pretty much ignores you until you want to be left alone isn’t my dream, but I liked playful cats.

I gave this cat one last cheek rub and was out the door.

I’d learned the stressful way that the bus I was on took physical tickets vs scanning an app. They even counted via number card that you received with your ticket.

Again with the confusion by ticket lady, I stated I had a ticket to Barcelona and was ready to give her my confirmation # so she quoted me a price.

I showed her my phone and read the confirmation numbers. Finally she understood and duly printed off a ticket.

I moved over to the side with the river once the bus took off as there were maybe 10 people riding vs full bus on the way in.

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Andorra is gorgeous, nestled near a river flowing between two mountains.

It is very spread out chain of small towns, it seemed, as we drove by a long cluster of houses, apartments, then green space, soon followed more buildings. This stretched for miles before it became large farmhouses.

Some farms even had a small brick structure, sort of like churches on them that are now derelict. I presumed a big farm family or two gathered to worship or hold small gatherings, parties.

Driving into Barcelona is an interesting experience. Seeing the city creep up with manufacturing plants warehouses and then suddenly you’re sitting in traffic in a neighborhood.

We note the source of the traffic as we soon pass by a wreck on the opposite side of the road which was very fortunate for many reasons.

The pile up behind the wreck stretched for miles, it took several minutes driving at highway speed before I saw the end of the line of cars.

We pulled into the bus station, conveniently connected to the train station where I procured a ticket to El Clot station.

Quite a packed station so of course it’s impossible to navigate. Spread out a bit people, that’s all I ask. Large groups of people standing in a circle block the way through so one platform is super crowded while there is plenty of room next to it.

I’ve adopted the tap on shoulder as I pass through, taking my backpack off too so I can get through narrow spaces of people.

I get on the wrong train as a result of my haste to get away from the crowd as I see the train is heading towards the port or west but I need to head east.

A simple fix, just get out at next station and find the right train. Easy and there’s one coming in the next 5 min.

This gives me enough time to give a guy directions to downtown station and how to find a landmark.

I think he was Belgian. I’d finally become that guy who knew his way around more than 1 city in another country. A good moment.

I knew my way round the El Clot area, a bit north-east of town, I stayed at the previous hostel since it was near the bank where my ATM card was held.

This part of the trip was a bit unplanned as I had about 10 days to kill before some friends would be in town, but I couldn’t do anything until I retrieved my cash card.

It was quite fortunate to come back to Barcelona as it’s a major airport hub so I could fly most anywhere in Europe pretty cheap.

I showered and headed out for food and to catch another soccer match. Fast stir fry noodles were all over the city and most are quite affordable.

I hit up the old standby, Irish pub for an after dinner pint.

Place wasn’t too crowded but felt like it as the back bar was closed for a private party so I fit myself into a small spot near the bar for the first half.

Most places in Europe don’t have AC and mid July in a packed bar you need one or at least fans, I was sweating!

I don’t think I bothered to finish the half, I had it with the stuffy heat and was greeted by the much-needed ocean breeze as I hit the street.

I figured the craft bar spot would be better and I was right on: AC and an empty chair at the bar. Score!

I finished the game and had a couple pints before calling it an early night, had to be at the bank as early as I could.

I walked to the hostel, it was only 20 min walk down a well-lit thoroughfare so I felt safe.

Beer: San Miguel Fresca
Song: DNCE   Cake by the Ocean (the metro had screens playing a clip of this song. Over and over and over)

 

Dream trip Day 45 Hanging with Alex, beach, burritos n beer

I’d gone asleep presuming I’d have until noon before I’d leave but not so. A loud knock on the door?

‘Quien es?’ I ask behind the door.

‘Your 9am wake up call his here! We are cleaners can you open the door?’ Came the reply.

Gone were my plans of a leisurely morning coffee and shower. I packed up quickly and headed over to the hostel.

It was very close to the apt, literally straight down a street near our apt. Picked up a coffee along the way.

Was able to actually check in and get a room despite the early hour, they said they had an open bed.

Joined Alex in the lobby, we were off to meet his friend and perhaps get some lunch.

His friend took us to a small cafe and told us to order moscatel, a local wine drink. It was good and I’m not a big wine fan. It wasn’t sangria but wine, spice and fruits.

Our friend had to leave after a couple of glasses but showed us vegetarian spots.

We settled on a Middle East place and I saw moussaka, a dish I’d heard of but never had.

Turned out it was eggplant and mushroom dish, vegetarian, it tasted good as did the jasmine rice. Big fan of jasmine rice.

It had looked like rain all morning but cleared up quite nicely after lunch. Beach time!

It was fairly expensive to rent an umbrella once on the beach, but Alex wanted one so he wouldn’t burn.

We took turns swimming and watching our stuff. Off to one side a woman is tanning topless, I note.

The beach is filled with small time hustlers: Mojitos, cerveza, massage? Wait wtf, yes an older lady was offering a beach massage though I didn’t see anyone take her offer.

So many guys walked by that saying no grew tiresome so I just laid down for some rays and wound up sleeping a bit.

When it was my turn to swim, I slowly waded in up to my knees before stopping. A bit chilly.

I look around and slowly eased in a bit at a time while children and parents splashed.

I resolved to just jump in water next time, get it over with vs this drawn out acclimation process. It’s the worst.

Floating in the water is one of the best things in the world. I smile wide, I did it, really did it! I’d gone on a long vacation and was swimming in the ocean in Europe on a Sunday.

After sunning and drying off awhile we had to pack up. A match was on later.

Back to the hostel for showers and change of clothes.

Metro to the one place we’d know the game would be on: Irish pub by La Famila!

Another bit of a blowout and this place isn’t serving food as they are packed and have a tiny kitchen.

We turn the corner and Alex spies a burrito joint, yep here it is. How we missed this place I don’t know as we walked by it many times.

A shockingly delicious burrito, a bit spicy even, awaited us, even got some cold AC here. The Irish pub is old and doesn’t have cold air though it sure needs it.

A couple of doors down was the craft beer Barcelona bar so I took Alex in.

We had a couple pints, Alex even got a shot at last call, I had to use the restroom so I missed out.

We taxi back to the hostel, I made an argument it was a nice, short walk, Alex countered we’d walked enough the day before. Indeed.

I waved goodbye and said farewell. Good times with this guy in 2 countries.

Once again I would be alone.

Beer: San Miguel

Song: Aphex Twin   Alberto Balsam

Dream trip Day 44 Gaudi Park, walking uphills, scenic city views

We agree to meet Alex in front of La Familia round noon 30. Train up to Gaudi Park for its scenic view of the city.

We follow signs to the entrance and see hills and stairs at nearly 45 degree incline, fortunately there are escalators we can use most of the way up.

More stairs and we are at the top.  Might have had a good view but lots of trees block the city below.

One apt nearest the park has a message about consumerism and US for all to see: occupy and resist.

Find Gaudi’s house, museum. Seems the city wasn’t doing anything with this area so he redesigned it, now a major tourist stop.

Truly amazing views of the city from atop the park. You really gain a scale of how big La Familia is as it’s by far the largest structure in the city.

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Back to the metro to the far south, near the port for more views from sea-side.

We are heading to Park Grüell and Montjuïc castle, more walking uphills and we missed that there was a bus that drops off at several points along the mountain.

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seasea statue

We get lost after ascending a hill and find ourselves walking near a highway.

Back up through a garden, round restaurants until we see gondola cars like you’d see at a ski resort.

We take a break, it’s got to be 90 and we’ve been walking up hills all day. Time for water and an ice cream.

We take refuge under a tree but soon a couple of girls seated near us run away and point up: a group of birds are roosting in the trees and shitting at will.

We still aren’t sure what it is we are going to see when we reach the top but still solider on.

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Cool views are about it as far as free attractions go once we reach the top. There is an old fort with admission but only Jeremy goes in to wander around.

The three of us find a bench and discuss Brexit and how English politics works. I learn MP literally means Member of Parliament, duh me!

We decide to head down to a small cafe for refreshments.

We learn how expensive the ride down in the gondolas is and it doesn’t end at the bottom either, stops about half way down so likely better for ascending trips.

Jeremy joins us and we all enjoy a beverage and a cool breeze for a change.

Jeremy locates the bus stop and sure enough a red bus swoops by to take us down the mountain!

We pass by the Olympic village that we thought was on the top of the park. Didn’t look like too much to see but you could walk around inside the stadiums.

The bus drops us off near La Rambla and we are in search of a bar to catch the evening match.

Usually we have no set destination for dinner or to catch games and while it can be frustrating, most of the time we stumble on a great place like BrewDog, a Scottish brewery. They have several pubs throughout Europe, including Barcelona!

Got a seat next to huge screen and ordered burgers.

After returning from a restroom break I find a guy in my seat who then moves and remains at my feet the rest of the match. I’m shocked neither he or I kick over his beer resting near both our feet.

Alex is in town another day so we decide to meet up at his hostel in the morning.

I figure I’ll stay at his hostel for the night too, seems close and inexpensive.

Jeremy and Si have very early flights, sad to see them leave.

We make a stop at the store to get a couple of beers.

The night ends watching a whodunnit murder mystery about an accountant at a resort. I don’t stay up to finish it but seems like he did it.

Song: Michael Bloomberg and Al Kooper  Fat Grey Cloud (Live)
Beer: Five AM Saint

Dream trip Day 43 FC Barcelona, Alex joins, more futbol 

Our friend Alex, who I hung out with in London, asked to join us in Barcelona as he had never been.

We texted and agreed to meet up when he was in town later that day.

Took the metro a long way to FC Barcelona stadium. It’s a huge complex.

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There are several restaurants and memorabilia shops leading into the arena.

A short wait and we had tickets. Self guided tour, just stay in the marked areas.

We enjoyed some grilled sandwiches before we entered the stadium.

The stadium is covered in the saying, mes que en club, more than a club. This phrase is no marketing ploy, the organization essentially begins as a political group who enjoyed playing futbol.

Over the years they’ve pushed for an independent Catalonian state, helped schools teach Catalan as well as youth soccer clubs. These are more like foster homes as many players are from rural, poor areas and move into the dorms.

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What can I say, they had an impressive interactive history museum and I hipped myself to all this knowledge!

Oddly, there was a German bar near the stadium so we had a pint.

The beers are served by a lederhosen clad waiter who notices our FCB bag and mentioned that the club president is a regular, was just there a few hours ago, actually.

The day wears on but haven’t heard from Alex, so another beer.

Alex has landed but not at his hostel so we head back to the apt to meet him once he is ready.

He is staying close so it’s easiest to meet at La Familia as it’s a metro stop as well as something you have to see while in the city.

Post up at our fav Irish pub for the game and find Alex.

Beers and conversation flow.

The game is a blowout, 4-0 at half.

At the half we go in search of food to an Italian spot nearby.

Many discussions about futbol, Brexit and our previous destinations ensure over pizza.

Back to pub for last call and discuss the next day’s activities.

I become separated from the group and engage in a long talk with a local.

I made it about 1 min talking in Spanish as he asks me about why I’m drinking the most hipster beer in Barcelona.

‘Because Moritz is cheap!’  I replied.

We laugh and switch to English, the others join.

Things are jovial for a while, then turn dark as he talks about Spain, his soon to be born son and of course, immigrants.

He has decided to take off to Asia I think, out of the country as he is concerned about lack of jobs and Muslims, how is letting in foreigners in a depressed economy a good future for his family? He believed his kid may have to learn Islamic  customs and hey what about the hajib, maybe he will have a daughter someday? What about Christian traditions? Oh like nuns habits, where they cover their heads? But that’s different…

No movies tonight, been a long day.

Song: Freddie Mercury  Barcelona

Beer: Moritz

 

Dream Trip Day 40   Valencia to Barcelona, Santa Familia, craft beer

We had an afternoon train so breakfast was croissant and coffee.

Located a different train station than the one we arrived at as this one had a much faster train for some reason, guess it was an express vs local ?

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Turned out train wasn’t a time saver after all. Just outside a city we stopped to pick up people, but waited longer than usual.

An announcement in Spanish states roughly an hour delay.

We were allowed to exit and I overheard the conductor explaining a car hit a train ahead so we had to wait until the wreck was removed from the tracks.

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Seems my Spanish is improving, at least my comprehension.

Si and I explored looking for beers, followed some guys to a pub in the station but you had to exit the platform to enter.

Elected not to risk missing the train and found bev car that sold us cold beers.

The train took off just as we sat down so I’m not sure if the guys in the pub made it back in time.

Rolled into Barcelona and it was hot.

Negotiated the stunning amount of people around the Santa Familia cathedral.

Still impressively large, still under construction.

Our apt was a few blocks away and we located it with ease.

A cool local met us at the door arriving via motorcycle.

Our apt was one of the few I’ve seen with AC. It’s usually open a window for ventilation.

Decided to locate dinner and walked for blocks, even locating what seemed to be an authentic Mexican spot that was full.

Just sat down at the next spot on a corner with empty table, they were all tapas so likely all fairly similar.

Ordered diablo sausage which was small, chorizo bits, in very greasy, red oil along with potato and cheese balls.

Jeremy once again had fried peppers and papas frites.

On the walk back to the apt we saw ‘craft beer Barcelona,’ we had to stop.

Had a few pints and likely since they were closing up, they gave us a plate of empanadas.

Santa Familia at night is quite a spectacle, probably because it’s finally quiet and you can see most of it as there are few tourists out.

Beer: La Rambla

Song: Micah P Hinson  Yard of Blonde Girls

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This was outside our hostel in Valencia. Translates to: Eat good meat, drink old wine, and your skin will shine