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Barcelona, Hola, Barcelona!, Travel

The Old and the New: a trip to the Harbour

To explore the city of Barcelona is to straddle the old and the new. Today I got to sightsee along the harbour where I visited my university, before heading to the ‘old town’ to soak up some history.

I am sitting in the courtyard of the Museu Frederic Marès, in Barcelona old town, breathing in the city. The Esglesia Catedral de la Santa Creu (Barcelona Cathedral) rises sharply on my left, with black spires piercing the sky. Sharp points danced pirouettes around the spires, forking sharply outwards, adding to the gloom of the silhouette.

I have landed slap bang in the centre of ‘old town’.

A Catalonian Breakfast

I started the morning in a traditional Catalonian fashion. My housemate introduced me to a tradition local to the Catalonian region. She toasted some bread, prepared the ingredients, and I operated the Nespresso machine. In a few minutes, we were seated on the terrace with a fresh cup of coffee and breakfast.

She started by slicing the tomato in half and scraping it over the bread. Afterwards, she added salt and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. You can top it with anything, but the best is cold meat or avocado.  I opted for the avo. It was delicious.

Downtown to the Harbour

I had my mission for the day. I wanted to visit my future university, Harbour.Space, where I will be starting late September. After I hopped onto the L3 metro-line (I am proud to say I navigate public transport with ease now), I landed in Drassane – the port stop. I filed onto the promenade and enjoyed the 1.5km walk along the harbour.

I had only seen photos of the university up to this point, but when I saw it, I was stunned. It looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. The structure cut into the water, mirroring the massive cruise ships anchored alongside it. It was built on a private port. After I spotted the hyper-modern structure from across the harbour, I suppressed the urge to run to get a closer peek.

The hypermodern design of Harbour Space University.

The hypermodern design of Harbour Space University.

The view of the Barcelona skyline from the deck of the university.

The view of the Barcelona skyline from the deck of the university.

This two-storey space ship has everything. After a quick tour of the interior, I was marched up onto the roof. It offered a 360° view of Barcelona. From the deck, I could see the whole harbour, the cathedrals and even Park Guell, where some of Gaudi’s work lives. This dramatic skyline twisted into beautiful shapes with towers and spires of the old town. I couldn’t  believe this would be my space for a year.

Wandering through Old Town

Once my tour was complete, my tour guide told me about an excellent (and affordable) restaurant nearby. This waterfront area is bursting with tourists and is very expensive. So he set me on a quest to find Runbanroll – an affordable urban restaurant with great Barceloneta street food.

It was cheap, and I was spoilt for choice. After forking out the last of my pork, cauliflower and broccoli dish I set off to see the sights.

I headed North up La Rambla street and tracked into the alleyways. They reminded me of the souq in Muscat or the underground Camden Market in London. The buildings rose tall on either side – squeezing the pedestrians into a narrow space. Stores competed with brightly decorated windows and friendly smiles. I kept a firm grasp of my bags – wary of pickpockets.

Picking my feet through the side streets off La Rambla.

Picking my feet through the side streets off La Rambla.

Shops along the alleyways in Old Town.

Shops along the alleyways in Old Town Barcelona.

After getting lost in the web of side streets, I fell in love with a store: Ale-Hop. They had everything. Imagine Typo had a clothing and shoe section, along with Oculus Rift gear and notebooks. I had been struggling to find my travel journal, but I found my soulmate in this store.

The Barcelona Cathedral

I pottered in the side streets a bit longer before stumbling onto a large courtyard where the midday sun struck me hard. Looming ahead of me was the Barcelona Cathedral. I marvelled at its finer details and took the time to circle the structure.

The stoic structure of the Barcelona Cathedral.

The stoic structure of the Barcelona Cathedral.

It has a long history in Barcelona. It was consecrated in 1339, but before that, it served a range of other purposes, from being a basilica hall to a church. This gothic cathedral is now the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.

All I could do was stare. It had warped gargoyles – both mythical and real – standing guard. The attention to detail was astounding. To think that the building had been constructed some 700 years ago, before modern technology, yet still stand stoically in exquisite detail, amazes me.

By Soninke Combrinck, August 30, 2017

Soninke Combrinck

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Hi, I'm Soninke
My name is Soninke, but I am more affectionately known as 'Sunny'. I am a food obsessed, coffee loving travel bug who wants to save the world. Tag along on my journey as I try to navigate this crazy thing called life.
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