Thursday 12th August, Marseilles, France.

My one day in Barcelona was spent largely getting ripped off. Barcelona's infamous pickpockets and muggers seemed to give me a wide berth, content to let their fellow citizens skin me more legitimately- two Euros for a can of soft drink from a store, seven Euros for a slice of toast with a bit of sausage and some peppers on it, ten Euros to connect to the internet with my laptop. Even the grungiest of backpackers hostels were commanding twenty-five Euros for a single space in a crowded bunk room. (one euro equals roughly seventy English pence, $US1.33 or $AUS1.66)

I seem to be developing a fascination with Spanish pharmacies..Young girl chasing pigeons in a small local Barcelona park.

In between being ripped off, I roamed the streets in search of different ways to get ripped off. Unable to find a greater rip off than sixteen Australian dollars for an hour of internet access, I settled into a bit of sightseeing. Barcelona is an interesting city just to wander around, with its old narrow lanes and pleasant (but slightly grimy) city squares, called Placas. The primary tourist attraction in the city seems to be La Sagrada Familia, a huge, extravagant cathedral that has been under construction for over a hundred years. Eventually it is to have eighteen towers, each standing over 100 metres (330 feet) tall, the tallest reaching 170 metres (550 feet), but its construction has arguably yet to reach the halfway mark!

Sagrada Familia...

La Sagrada Familia is just one example of the visionary (read eccentric) creations of Antonio Gaudi. As you wander the streets around La Rambla, other Gaudi buidings stand out of the norm with their surreal curves and bizarre chimney pots.

People grasped any spot for a kip..Bimbos! Get your bimbos here!

As I've said before, Spain is not really an 'early to bed, early to rise' type of country. You don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the average Jose. In fact when I left Manuel's place at seven-thirty this morning, the local twenty-four hour internet cafe wasn't even open yet. As a result of Barcelona's apparent lack of accommodation, there were hundreds of people sleeping rough around the city, not just homeless people but tourists asleep in rental cars, groups of girls crashed out in parks and gardens after a night of dancing and drinking, and backpackers dozing in Placa Reial. Beer cans were strewn around the statues, and the morning streets stunk of urine. Merchants were setting up their stalls in the pedestrian strip that divides La Rambla, and truck drivers did their early rounds, dropping off Barcelona's daily delivery of bimbos!

La Rambla, early in the morning..Morning sun behind the Barcelona bus station.

There was plenty of time before my 9:30 bus, so I strolled slowly up La Rambla to Placa Catalunya, stopping to take photos and watch as Barcelona slowly awoke. I couldn't be bothered consulting my map, preferring to just to practise my Espanol by asking passersby for directions to the bus station. My Spanish could obviously do with improvement, since I ended up a long, long way away from the bus station. But never fear, I found the station with time to spare, and at 9:30 boarded the Eurolines bus to Marseilles, France. Seven and a half hours away were my two skinny nieces and two little nephews....

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