Monday, July 30, 2012

Saving Spain's Economy

July 27-30, 2012
Barcelona / Gava Del Mar
ME Hotel Barcelona/ AC Gava Del Mar

Barcelona is quite simply one of the best cities in the world. The sun, san, history, food and people all contribute to it's greatness and it's been a great four days here and I sad to say adios.

As you might remember, my bag didn't make it with me on my flight so I had about 24 hours minus pretty much all of my clothing and toiletries. Not a problem as there was a huge mall just 1/4 mile from my hotel so I found the cheapest clothing store possible and got 1 day's worth of gear. This set me back about $13 so as you can imagine, I wasn't buying Ralph Lauren... but I was good for a day.

My first full day in Barcelona was spent exploring. I had a subway pass, good walking shoes and 85 degree weather... what else could I ask for.

One of the great iPhone apps is the Nike Run App which measures how far you run (or walk in my case). Today I put in 11.13 miles and it was plenty! I started the day walking the 10 minutes down to the beaches of Barcelona (more on this later), then I found my lunch spot of choice, McDonald's which was huge but vastly understaffed, slow, and dirty. After a quick lunch I continued walking passing by tons of outdoor cafes, tourists galore and just basically a lot of things going on. After about 4 miles I found the subway and took a ride to La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. This is one of Gaudi's most famous works which started 100 years ago and is projected to be completed in 2026. It truly is a remarkable piece of architecture, incredibly huge and the details are amazing. I snapped by photos and was on my way.

The next stop was Las Ramblas... the pedestrian walking street.

There was a subway station right next to La Sagrada Familia but I was feeling adventurous and fancied a walk... not quite so sure I wanted such a long walk. After about 3 miles I found a few more photo ops, and finally found another subway station which I took the 3 stops to my desired destination.

Las Ramblas is your typical pedestrian street, with vendors selling everything, people everywhere and probably a few pockets being picked...not mine though! I was staying strong, the feet were happy and I was getting closer to the beach area which meant I was getting near home.

The walk continued... and continued... and continued and finally I reached my hotel. Just a tad under 5 hours and over 11 miles... I think I had my exercise for the day. But I needed dinner so the 1/4 mile walk back to the mall was in order and thus Day #1 was in the books.

Day #2 meant that my time in the city was over as I was moving out to the first little beach town south of Barcelona, Gava Del Mar. Two free nights courtesy of Marriott's summer promo were in store so I was on my way. A couple of metro stops and a train got me to the Gava Train Station about 40 minutes after departure. Being that my hotel was about 4 miles from the train station I had to break down and get a taxi... after yesterday's walk I was in no mood to pound the pavement again, especially with my bags.

Arrival at the AC Gava Del Mar was about 2:00pm and I immediately hit the beach which was just 100 yards from my room. I decided to take a short walk up and down the neverending beach front...short being about an hour and in that hour I saw some sights!

Spain is currently facing a huge financial crises. I've pegged the problem to three things:
1. People spend all of their money on cigarettes... smoking is everywhere!
2. People don't eat dinner until 9 or 10pm... I'd enter empty restaurants at 8pm and then as I was finishing up the flood of people would be entering... tough to go to work early in the morning if you don't finish dinner until midnight.
3. Swimsuit stores only sell the bikini bottoms... if they sold the tops also just think how much more money they'd make?

So during my walk it became clear that tops were indeed optional and it didn't matter if you were a beached whale or a prime catch, toplessness did not discriminate.

After about 2 hours at the beach I retired to my room and watched some Olympics in Espanol before heading down to dinner at one of the outdoor cafes. Dinner was lousy, overpriced and the waiter was indifferent... I think he wanted to be on the beach, smoking and looking at topless women instead.

My final full day in Gava Del Mar was another beach day. Today I expanded my walk to 90 minutes, thus I was able to see even more beached whales and even a few dinosaurs as well. Not a feast for the eyes, but par for the course. It was a very relaxing two days in Gava Del Mar, nothing to do but relax... the way vacations should be. The Spaniards loved being outside whether it be at a sidewalk cafe, riding a bike, just walking hand in hand or laying in the sand... I didn't mind it so much my self.

I'm reaching the home stretch with some long haul flights in the near distant future... Today I'm scheduled to fly to Franfurt where I'll stay for the night before heading to South Africa on July 31st (tomorrow)... this might change though so stay tuned!

Adios Espana!

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