This amazing tour gets more and more exciting as we get into our sixth day and head to our next country, Spain. Today on the Topdeck Mega European Tour we will be departing Avignon and heading towards the Catalonian city of Barcelona, but before we do that we will make a stop at an historic Roman UNESCO World Heritage listed aqueduct called Pont du Gard.
Previously we started our 49 day Mega European Tour in the capital of the United Kingdom and England, London before heading south towards the French capital of Paris. After spending two nights in paris the tour continued onto Switzerland and the small village of Lauterbrunnen where we spent another two nights amongst stunning waterfalls and we were able to experience the highest train station in Europe at Jungfrau.
After an amazing time in Switzerland we headed back into France and continued south to the historic town of Avignon where we depart this morning to continue onto our next country, Spain. We will be here for another two nights in the host city of the 1992 Olympic Games and will experience all the impressive sites this city has to offer.
Avignon to Barcelona – 06 May, 2012
With our departure from Avignon we take the short trip down to the Roman built aqueduct at Pont du Gard that comprises of three levels and was built in order for the Nîmes Aqueduct which is about 50km in length to cross the Gard River. We arrived there before everything had opened for the day so we were the only ones around, this was great as it allowed us to take our photos without having random people in them.
Other than seeing the three level aqueduct bridge at Pont du Gard, there really isn’t much else to see but having said that it is defiantly worth a visit just to take in the amazing achievements the Romans accomplished for their time. It is also another story to add to the many we keep hearing about the Romans and how they influenced the way in which each European country operates now in the modern era. We were able to spend a considerable amount of time here and after we finished looking around it was time to get back on the coach and continued our journey to Barcelona.
On arrival in Barcelona we went straight into our driving tour to check out the main sights of the city, our first stop was Sagrada Familia a church in the centre of the city that was originally meant to be under construction for 200 years and is still being constructed to this day. Personally before coming to the city and seeing pictures of this building I thought it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen, however now having seen it up close and personal… that opinion remains the same.
Apparently construction is scheduled to come to a halt in 2016, the building has been way over designed with too much detail and clearly visible is the old architecture and then the more modern styles and material in construction. Don’t let this however put you off visiting as it is still a must see building if visiting Barcelona, truly an amazing example of not knowing when to quit.
We continued on our driving tour of the city with our next stop being Montjuïc Castle which overlooks the city of Barcelona near the port district where the 1992 Olympic Games were held. The coach stopped for us to get out and basically sprint to the top of the hill while it parked on the side of the road, we had to be quick as the bus couldn’t stay there. At the summit the castle overlooks all of Barcelona, its beach, port and is the final destination of on of the city’s cable cars.
This was then the end of our driving tour giving us an idea of where everything is for our free day around the city the next day. It was now time to check into our hostel for the next two nights which was in a pretty good location, called the Urbany Hostel our room had a view of some of the skyscrapers in the city.
Tonight we are getting ready to go out for dinner to a traditional Spanish restaurant which was included as part of our Topdeck tour with tonight also including an optional extra, a Flamenco Show. During dinner it was also an opportunity to get a taste (and certainly not the last taste) of Sangria.
The Flamenco Show went for about 45 minutes, it was fantastic and you can really see the passion the performers have for what they are doing. Once the show was over the night was ours to do what we wanted, many people wanted to go out and go out we did. Hitting the first bar we had one drink before making our way to a nightclub the hostel recommended.
However only being in Barcelona for a few hours meant that finding this place took a couple of hours on foot before giving up and catching a taxi, we then realised we were walking the wrong way the whole time and were nowhere near where we were trying to go, but it was still good fun and a laugh.
Our small group that set off were the first from our tour group to arrive and eventually the rest joined us later on, some left at about 3am while I stayed until about 4am. It’s fair to say the next morning I had a bit of a sore head and an unexplainable tear in my jeans over my knee and a sore knee, this made the free day walking around Barcelona all the more enjoyable. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I remembered that I was giving one of the girls a piggyback and got down on one knee to let them jump on me, that could explain the tear in my jeans.
Barcelona – 07 May, 2012
Reluctantly this morning we made it out of bed at around 9am for some breakfast before heading out to explore the city. The first thing we did was to catch a tram to the end of the line down to the port which was entirely built for the 1992 Olympic Games. From here our goal was to walk up the mountain where we were yesterday and to have a look at the Olympic Stadium. My impression of Barcelona is that it basically hasn’t got over the fact it hosted the Olympic Games and wants to keep reminding tourists all about it, I feel like saying well Melbourne hosted it in 1956 but we don’t keep banging on about it.
It was a really long walk, especially when you for some reason tend to do all your walking in thongs, what can I say… I’m Australian after all. After walking for about 2 hours and seeing the sights along the way we made it to the top and checked out the view and the Olympic Stadium. Compared to Australian standards this stadium is tiny, and to think it hosted an Olympic Games.
We then headed down the hill and passed the Montjuic Museum where out the front the fountains put on a light show at night, we didn’t get to see it but I have heard it is a must do experience so I was a little disappointed at not being able to see that. Down this road is also a bull ring that has been converted to a shopping centre, it also has a strange looking lift outside the building where for €1 you can go to the top for a view of the city. Bull fighting has been banned in Catalonia, the region Barcelona is located within and for this reason bull rings are no longer required.
From here we made our way over to Placa St Jaume where we met up once again with Fat Tire Bike Tours, our third bike tour on this trip (one more Fat Tire Bike Tour to go in Berlin, and then we get a free T-Shirt). Our guide for the day was Bill from Adelaide, I think I have met more Australian’s (including our tour leader and bus driver) and Kiwi’s on this trip than Europeans.
The bike tour then took in all the main sights around the city and provided all the history behind all the buildings and the people that make up Barcelona. At the end of the tour we went to the beach for some Sangria, the problem then being we had to attempt to ride the bike back to the starting point of the tour, a little difficult when you just drank half a jug!
We then caught a taxi back to our hostel and went out to dinner to a Spanish restaurant a couple of blocks away from the hostel. The owner of the restaurant didn’t speak a word of English, but he looked after us really well. For €18 we were presented with an array of delicious food and of course… more Sangria, not bad for using lots of hand gestures.
After dinner it was getting close to midnight, yes a very late dinner and by now it was most defiantly time for bed. Back on the coach again tomorrow morning for another long trip back into France to the French Riviera, Nice and Monaco.
DOWNLOAD: Topdeck Barcelona City Guide