2 October 2014
Today the weather was playing nice and we had a full morning to explore the city. We started our adventure with a walk down to the Gothic Quarter. It was a fun maze of small alley’s and beautiful stone buildings.
Wandering down the alleys and into a few large open squares we found our way to Santa Maria del Mar.
The building was so imposing surrounded by the much smaller shops. Once inside you could tell that this church was built for royalty. While not as ornate as some of the churches we had seen in Italy, the stone work, chandlers and ceiling arches made my neck ache. If the church wants to make an extra buck, they should really place a few reclining lounge chairs around so you can take in all the detail.
We continued our little afternoon expedition thru the area by exploring the Born neighborhood. We made our way thru a market just before the actual neighborhood and just followed the roads up, down and around. It instantly became my new favorite area in this city. And there was still some much that we could explore there, but our time was running out and we had to walk back home to grab lunch and collect our bags. It just goes to show that even with a third visit to a city there is still so much to find, see and experience. Maybe on our next visit to Barcelona I will feel more confident in saying that I have truly explored the city.
Our last meal was at the same place we had our first on this visit at tasqueta de blai where we enjoyed our last tapas and got our fill of pork before we head back to a Muslim country.
Feeling like a pack mule, we walked up to the street to the airport bus. As much as I love traveling, I would like to get rid of my heavy bag and/or it is time to start to get rid of some of my clothes. On the brightside it wasn’t humid. It was an uneventful ride to the airport, but little did I know that we were in for quite the adventure to Morocco.
As we sat on the plane waiting for all the passengers to board I sat in shock. We have been on a few flights in the last 10 months but this one takes the cake as the most bonkers. I should have realized in this moment that we were heading to a country I just might not understand at all. I have never seen so much carrying on luggage in my entire life. People were carrying so many large bags and the overhead bins were almost spilling over before the plane was half full. Plus the kid next to me was a nervous wreck, wiping his sweaty palms on is jacket over and over and checking is phone every 10 minutes or so. For the first time flying I was a little on edge myself and closely watching every action of the kid next to me.
Upon arrival we waited in the long lines to clear immigration, where they still do everything manually, before getting our bag and making our way to the train. As we stood in line, or really in more of a cluster, where I made sure I held my space, it was a quick reminder again that we have left Europe and it really time to pay attention to how the locals act and try to blend in as much as possible. We got our tickets just in time to make it on the train. Once at the city center we left the station at found our way to the tram. Just our luck with only paper bills the tram ticket machines only accepted coin. It was a quick oh crap moment until a very nice gentlemen noticed our predicament, as we looked around the machine with a paper bill in hand, and he offered to change our bill for coins and told us the cost of the first and second ticket. And a few minutes later after going thru some very nice looking neighborhoods and a few that had me making sure I knew where my things were located, we were at our hotel.
Not wanting to travel too far for dinner, we found a restaurant close by that also happened to be across the street from the French embassy. The service was great, the building was stunning (I am seriously going to have a problem not taking a picture of everything) and the food was tasty. It was a very different pace from what we had just seen in the airports, but I guess this is how the fancy people see the country.
Today’s Travel: The walk to the gothic quarter and the born neighborhood before walking back home and to pick up our bags and walk to Plaza Espanya to take the aeropuerto bus and catch Veuling flight # VY7340 to Casablanca
Accommodations: Park Suites Hotel & Spa. My mother always said if you have nothing nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all. Well, sorry mom, I have to say this hotel was pretty much a dump. The thing about this city though is every hotel is ridiculously expensive and they all have poor ratings unless of course you are spending a 300+ a night. When we walked into our room I instantly wanted to gag as it smelled like a two pack a day smoker had spent the last 5 years living in the room and every day the cleaning staff sprayed and horrible floral scent to try and mask it. It also reminded of a place that might have been nice looking 5 years ago when it was brand new but the shody craftsmanship was starting to show. But it was just one night and it was close to the mosque and in a relatively nice area of the city.