Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hunting for Lizards

Despite in hindsight remembering that I knew Parc Guell had awesome views of Barcelona, I failed to remember at the time it was up a massive hill. Not so steep, but the climb went forever.

We had already walked around Barcelona a bit that morning. We caught the bus to Placa Catalunya and went to Hard Rock Café. I went to every Hard Rock Café I was near in the USA and we’re doing the same here, this time getting a pin from each one. Afterwards we made our way to Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Gaudi and still unfinished. Courts was saying before we got there that maybe if they buckled down and just did the work it would be done by now instead of forecast to take many more years to complete. When you see the level of detail though, you can see why it might take awhile.

We spent a few minutes taking photos and holding on tightly to our bag and then we started the 2 or 3 km walk to Parc Guell. Like I said, it turned out to be a massive hill, but it was worth it at the top. Oddly enough we ran into a Kiwi guy, Tom, who we had met in the madness of Benicassim. 40,000 people there and god knows how many in Barcelona and there he is, calling out to us. It was Tom that first introduced us to the activities of the street vendors at Parc Guell.

In every city we’ve visited there have been huge numbers of street vendors, pestering us to buy this that and the other. They get in your face, won’t leave you alone and generally make a nuisance of themselves. In Barcelona they wait for you to come to them, while their friend picks your pocket to get the real income of the day. In Parc Guell it’s a bit different, because they’re not allowed to be there. All their stock is laid out on sheets and when they hear a whistle, it all gets thrown into the middle of the sheet - no matter how breakable it is – the corners of the sheet are pulled together and the vendors are off running.

The whistle is from a lookout, letting them know when the cops are coming. Cops are everywhere too, because they know the street vendors are there. They’re constantly patrolling the park, whistles are constantly sounding and vendors are constantly running. When we were walking down from the summit of the hill we saw 6 or 7 of them running through the bushes, their white sheets slung over their shoulders.

I don’t see the point, surely they don’t make that much money from it that it’s worth the rigmarole of running, setting up, running, setting up. One of them told us if they get caught the cops take all their stock, all their money and fine them. If they’re caught multiple times they can be arrested. But still they do it and other than the incredible view and weird mosaics, they kind of make the character of Parc Guell.

The park isn’t as chock full of mosaics as we thought it would be from the photos but it’s very cool. Paths wind up several levels of the hill and there are look outs across all of Barcelona. The mosaics that do adorn the park are really cool, even if it took us noobs a good couple of hours to find the famous lizard that marks the gate. In our defense, we didn’t know how close he was to the gate and he is up a hill behind two other mosaics.

All in all the climb was worth it, and on the bright side, the way home was all down hill!

Penelope_nz's Barcelona, Spain photoset Penelope_nz's Barcelona, Spain photoset