Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei


Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park


A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City

Central Barcelona (part 1)

Day One

Immediately after work, we took SBB train from Neuchâtel station to Geneva Airport station. Got the return ½ fare 2nd class train ticket cost CHF 44 prior traveling and this ticket has a validity of 10-days.

Took evening flight EZS 1405 at 1850 hours and reached Barcelona Airport at 2015 hours. At first we were lost in the airport terminal as we couldn't find the direction to the airport train station. Based on our gut feeling that we decided to follow the route of most passengers, luckily we managed to get to the station. Along the way we got the T-10 tickets at EUR 7.95 before getting onto the Rodalies R2 line. After several stations, we got off at Barcelona Sants railway station to transfer to Metro L3 line, and alighted at Liceu station after 6 stations. As it dark at night, we took almost 15-mins to find the hostel "Hostal Ramos".

Dinner at Genové 1911 restaurant

Once we've checked in and did some wash-up, we then walked along La Rambla for our meal. We decided to have our late dinner at Genové 1911 restaurant (photos below). Perhaps it was rather late; there weren't many customers in the restaurant, except us.

We ordered a Fideuá (left photo below) and Seafood Paella (right photo below). Many online reviews felt the restaurant was overrated and expensive. I agreed that the meal was pricey at EUR 13.85 per person. Even to my surprise was the glass of coke light I've ordered cost an outrageous of EUR 4.72; with that price I could have bought a carton in Singapore. Perhaps we never eaten tasted the Fideuá and Seafood Paella, the food actually tasted great.

After our fulfilling dinner, we went back to the hostel to have a good rest.

Day Two

Woke up at 8 am in the morning, and after some wash-up we then walked to La Rambla for our breakfast and day tour.

La Rambla

La Rambla is a popular pedestrian street stretching 1.2-km connecting Catalonia Square and Christopher Columbus Mounument at Port Vell. The street is often crowded during the day and till night, with many tourists and locals. It is full of kiosks selling newspapers and souvenirs, flowers and birds (left photo below). Here was where we bought our Barcelona Bus Turistic at a Tourist Information kiosk.

Nearby is the popular and famous La Boqueria Market (right photo below). The market is now an international name of reference where many great prizes were won. For photography enthusiasts, the colorful products in the market definitely will make good pictures.

One interesting building to look out along La Rambla is Casa Bruno Quadros. Better known by tourists as 'House of the Umbrellas', it was built in 1891 where its exterior decorations include umbrellas, fans (left photo below) and even a Chinese dragon (right photo below).

Pans & Company

Had our breakfast at Pans & Company in one of its outlets located along La Rambla (left photo below). Ordered a BBQ burger with fries and coke at EUR 6 (right photo below). Taste was typical as the other fast food restaurants.

Catalonia Square

After our breakfast, we then proceeded to Catalonia Square (left photo below). Also known as Plaça de Catalunya in Catalan, it is a large square in central Barcelona. The plaza occupies an area of about 50,000 square meters and well known for its fountains and statuses. Surrounding the squares are several hotels, theatres, and banks such as Banco Español de Crédito (right photo below).

In addition several shopping malls and branded flagship stores, such as Zara (left photo below), are located near to the square. Large billboards are also easily spotted on these shopping malls (right photo below).

We boarded the tour bus of blue route at the Catalonia Square. After several stops, we alighted at Tramvia Blau-Tibidabo station, which was our first sight of the tour route.


Before reaching the Tibidabo, we had to take the Blue Tramway or Tramvia Blau in Catalan located near Plaça Kennedy. Inaugurated in 1901, the Tramvia Blau is one of the existing three tram systems (left photo below) in Barcelona. We bought our return trip at EUR 4.30 (right photo below) from the tram operator. Do note that Tramvia Blau is managed by a private company, thus it does not integrate with public transport network. In short, we could not use our T-10 card but to pay cash.

Tramvia Blau would only complete first half of the journey to Tibidabo. The other half would have to be completed by taking the funicular. The lower station (left photo below) connects with the upper terminal station of Tramvia Blau at Plaça del Doctor Andreu. When combined with two cars, the funicular is able to sit at least 110 passengers (right photo below). Cost of our return trip was EUR 4.

Tibidabo is a mountain at 512-meters high, and affords spectacular views over Barcelona city and its surrounding coastline. Iconic buildings such as Sagrada Família and Torre Agbar could be seen from the viewing platform (photos below).

At the summit of Tibidabo stands the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor in Catalan (left photo below). The dome is crowned with a large sculpture of the Sacred Heart (right photo below).

The crypt façade consists of three semi-circular arches on columns with a larger semi-circular arch above them which is decorated with a mosaic of the Holy Trinity (left photo below). The tympanum is richly decorated with sculptures like Virgin of Mercy (right photo below), Saint George, and Saint James.

Besides the church, there is a amusement park (photos below). It is the oldest amusement park in Barcelona and still has most of the original rides, some of which dated to the turn of the 20th century.

Monastery of Pedralbes

The Monastery of Pedralbes, or Monestir de Pedralbes in Catalan, used to be a monastery but now it becomes a City History museum (photos below).

Founded in 1326 by Queen Elisenda de Montcada, the monastery was built on the former site of a white stone quarry. In fact the name came from "Pertas Albes" in Catalan which means white stone. The building is decorated with the emblems of the Kings of Aragon and the House of Montcada (photos below).

We didn't visit the museum due to the tight schedule.

Palau Reial de Pedralbes

The Palau Reidal de Pedralbes (photos below) used to be the residence for the Spanish Royal Family when they visited the city from 1919 until 1931. The building now houses two museums: one devoted to the Textile and Clothing and other showcasing ceramics from Arabic wares.

Comparing with the building's exterior, the most impressive part was its staircase leading to the 2nd storey at the main entrance (left photo below). A beautiful chandelier hangs right from the flowery decorated ceiling (right photo below).

We first visited the Ceramics Museum. Founded in 1966, the museum displays major works from Spanish ceramics in various periods (photos below). Due to the wealth of its collections, the Ceramics Museum enjoys international prestige and is regarded as a leading center for the study of traditional and contemporary ceramics.

These ceramics are chosen for their singularity and their artistic merit (photos below).

Another exhibit is the Textile and Clothing Museum. Open in 1982, the museum allows visitors to take a journey through the history of textiles, from the 16th century (photos below) right up to the modern day (bottom photos).

Admission is free to both museums, and opening hours from 1000 hours till 1800 hours (Tues to Sat) or 1000 hours till 1500 hours (Sun). The museums are closed on Mondays. New Years day, May 1st, jun 24th and Dec 25th and 26th.

Barcelona Football Club

We then got off at Futbol Club Barcelona station, which is a must for all football lovers. Fans were already queuing on a hot Saturday afternoon to enter the Camp Nou stadium to watch live matches (left photo below). To us, the more interesting place was the FC Botiga Megastore (right photo below).

The store covers a surface area of over 2,000 square meters selling all the official FC Barcelona merchandize (photos below). The blue and red colors of the shirt were first worn in a match against Hispania in 1900. Since then these two colors have been put into the design of the team's shirt and other related products.

Casa Batlló

Alighted at Casa Batlló-Fundació Antoni Tàpies station of tour bus blue route. Casa Batlló is a renowned building in Barcelona and a masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site list for 'Works of Antoni Gaudí' was further extended to included Casa Batlló in 2005.

The local name for the building is 'House of Bones' or Casa dels ossos in Catalan, as it has a visceral and skeletal organic quality. The building seems to be designed to avoid straight lines and much of its façade is decorated with mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles in shades of golden orange and greenish blues (photos below).

Fundació Antoni Tàpies

We then walked over to Fundació Antoni Tàpies. It is a cultural center and museum dedicated to the life and works of the famous painter Antoni Tàpies (left photo below). The building seems to be sandwiched between two side walls of adjacent buildings. Thus to increase the height and emphasize its new identity, Antoni Tàpies created the sculpture Cloud and Chair, or Núvol i cadira in Catalan which represents a chair jutting out of a large cloud (right photo below).

Casa Milà

After one station of tour bus ride, we alighted at Passeig de Gràcia - La Pedrera station. Popularly known as "La Pedrera", Casa Milà is a most unusual building constructed between 1906 and 1912 by the famouse architect Antoni Gaudí.

Since 1984, Casa Milà is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for 'Works of Antoni Gaudí'.

Casa Milà is currently the headquarters of Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera and houses a cultural center that is a reference point in Barcelona (photos below).

The façade of the building is made of large blocks of limestone cut to follow the plot of the projection of the model adjusted to align in a continuous curvilinear texture. When viewed from far, the floor seems to be winding in a pace similar to waves (photos below).

Spanish Square

Spanish Square or Plaça d'Espanya in Catalan, marks the gateway to the great park of Montjuïc, the setting for the 1929 International Exhibition and the 1992 Olympic Games.

The monumental fountain stood in the middle of the large roundabout. It was designed by one of followers of Gaudi and was unveiled in 1929 for the International Exhibition. This fountain represents Spanish rivers and some principles such as plenitude, health and heroism, representing homage to Spain. There is a cauldron on top of the monument where a flame is lit sometimes at night (photos below).

Surrounding the Spanish Square is the pair of Venetian Towers (left photo below). Designed for the 1929 International Exhibition, the towers are 47-meters high and 7.2 meters at cross-section. They serve purely ornamental function just to mark the entrance to the exhibition district, which start from the grand avenue leading up to the Palau Nacional (right photo below).

Palau Nacional

The Palau Nacional is a palace on Montjuïc completed in 1929 for the International Exhibition. Montjuïc is a hill located in central Barcelona. Since 1934 it has been home to the National Art Museum of Catalonia, or Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Catalan , with abbreviation "MNAC".

With a ground surface of 32,000 square meters, the Palace is constructed in a classic style of architecture inspired by the Spanish Renaissance. It has a rectangular floor plan flanked by two side and one rear square sections, with an elliptical dome covering its central part (photos below).

Great view over Barcelona can be captured from outside the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc (photos below).

Columbus Monument

The Columbus Monument is a 60-meters tall monument to Christopher Columbus (left photo below). Located at lower end of La Rambla, it was constructed for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in 1888 to honor Columbus first voyage to the Americas. Standing at 7.2-meters, the bronze status of Columbus is depicted to be pointing towards the New World with his right hand, while holding a scroll in the left (right photo below).

The pedestal consists of a column, hung with a device bearing an anchor, stands on an octagonal base. From the pedestal stood four bronze winged victories or Phemes take flight towards the four corners of the world (left photo below). Against the base between the buttresses are four statues, including the Catalan cartographer: Jaume Ferrer de Blanes (right photo below).

Dinner at Man Go restaurant

We continued our tour bus route from MNAC station and exchanged to green route before alighting at Platja del Bogatell-Cementiri del Poblenou station. While walking along Bogatell beach, we found the Man Go restaurant (left photo below). This restaurant offers open air dinning (right photo below) where occasional sea winds could be felt.

Ordered a plate of calamari and mashed potato balls (left photo below) and a large Fideuá (right photo below). We really liked the Fideuá so much that we ordered it for the second time on our second day. Taste was great for the food, and the total cost of our meal was EUR 20 per person, which was slightly pricey compared to the day before.

We strolled along Bogatell beach after dinner (photos below). Bogatell beach is due to the urban planning schedule during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic period to enable the seafront to be accessible and to include beaches as part of green spaces into the neighboring districts.

We boarded the tour bus and exchanged to red route before alighting at Barri Gòtic station. This was our final stop and end of tour bus journey as it had passed 9 pm when we reached the station. Perhaps this was the advantage to travel during summer period where the Barcelona Bus Turistic service will operate till late night at about 9 pm.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia

Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, or Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia in Catalan, is known better as Barcelona Cathedral (photos below). The roof of the cathedral is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of both domestic and mythical animals.

The cathedral was performing restoration during our visit and thus we didn't explore its interior.

Hard Rock Café Barcelona

We then took Metro to Catalonia Square. Our main purpose is to visit the Hard Rock Café and to get some souvenirs. The café is just located opposite the famous Francesc Macià monument (left photo below) at No. 21, Plaça de Catalunya (right photo below).

After gotten our souvenirs, we then walked back to the hostel to have a good rest.

Copyright © 2010 ·Travel to relax, eat and shop ...... All rights reserved.