Saturday, June 20, 2020

Cycling Europe 2019 Day 21: Park Güell & Barcelona Flea Markets

                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Europe 2019 Day 21: Park Güell & Barcelona Flea Markets
Portugal, Spain & France: Day 21 Saturday, 16th November - Barcelona
This is part of a cycling tour of Iberian Peninsula (Portugal & Spain), covering Barcelona:
Cycling Distance: N.A.     Level: N.A.
Time : 11:30 am to 5:00 pm
Time Taken : 5-1/2 hrs. (including Metro rides, visits to flea markets, park attractions, lunch and lots of photo opps.)

This is page 18 of a 20-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D20 Barcelona 2          |          Other Days     |     Go to D22-25 South France >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions & Cycling Lanes!
     On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.
     There are beautiful cycling lanes in the Barcelona, but do note that sometimes during peak hours taxis and delivery vans also use these lanes, especially at the city centre.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    It's a non-cycling day, with taking the Metro to visit flea markets, then to Park Güell for more of Gaudí.

3. Weather
    Morning temperature iBarcelona morning averaged 12°C. Afternoon & evening temperatures averaged 15°C & 12°respectively.
    It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC WeatherAccuWeather; and for more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

4. Travelling by Trains, Buses & Trams
    For regular travel on the Barcelona Metro and buses (and even some funicular trains) one can opt for the Hola Barcelona 3-day Travel Card at €23.70 per pax which allows for unlimited trips during 3-day period from first activation. This card can be bought online with a 10% discount.
    OR opt for the T-Casual ticket at €11.35 per card. This is also know as the T-10 card and it allows for 10 trips per card, the best thing is that it can be shared by several users. Friends can share a card but bear in mind it's a total of 10 trips per card (meaning if 10 friends share, they can travel for only one journey. Limitations of this card is that it does not include for travel to the airports, and there is a limitation of each travel journey being limited to 75 minutes. The single trip fare to or from the airport to the city is €4.40.
    For tourists who often travel in a group, the T-10 card is recommended as it can be shared; buying two T-10 card to share among six is much cheaper than six 3-day Travel Card.
    Full-sized and folding bikes are allowed onto the Metro trains; folding bikes need not be folded in the trains.
    E-hailing Uber is available in Portugal but not in Spain, where taxis are aplenty.

5. Places of Interest
    At Barcelona were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:
  1.  Encants Flea Market (Mercat Fira dels Encants) (GPS: 41.40086, 2.18625) at the Glòries Square.
  2.  Agbar Tower/Glòries Tower (Torre Agbar) (GPS: 41.4034, 2.18959)
  3. Park Güell (GPS: 41.41449, 2.15269) located at Carmel Hill to view more buildings by Gaudí.
  4. La Casa Trias (GPS: 41.41532, 2.15259).
  5. Gaudí House Museum (GPS: 41.41447, 2.15361).
  6. Austria Gardens (GPS: 41.41435, 2.15270).
  7. Dragon Stairway (L'escalinata del drac) (GPS: 41.41371, 2.15281).
  8. Casa del Guarda (GPS: 41.41357, 2.15320).
  9. Antic Forn de Vallcarca (L'Antic Forn de Vallcarca(GPS: 41.41149, 2.14592).
  10. Flea Market (GPS: 41.40057, 2.16803) at boulevard near Monument a Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer.
  11. Sagrat Cor Church (Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) (GPS: 41.42207, 2.11878) sitting atop the Tibidabo Hill.

6. Meals
a. Breakfast: self-made at hostel.  -
b. Lunch: Paella rice, mixed grilled vegetables and tapas from Stop & Mos, and Peixet als Encants at the Encants Flea Market (GPS: 41.40086, 2.18625).
c. Dinner: Cafeteria Los 4 Vientos (GPS: 41.39819, 2.16873) of pork chop and 1/4 grilled chicken.

7. Accommodations
    Four nights aPrimavera Hostel (GPS: 37.17224, -3.59256) located in the L' Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona which we had pre-booked through; different types of rooms: two-bedder & three bedder room (at about €25 per pax per night); beds in 4-bedder & 8-bedder dorms (at about €14 per pax per night). Do pre-book earlier as this hostel is a favorite.
    Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 330, 08037 Barcelona, Spain.
    Phone: +34-931752151
8. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    We bought pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three on-line through Lazada. As some of us stayed for a shorter period, we got two plans with cost ranging from RM30 to RM70 for a 20 days 4G and a 30 days 10G plans respectively. These plans include their "Feel At Home" package which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countries (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!

9. Communicating with Locals
    In Spain, except in rural areas, many young locals can speak some basic English and communicating with them shouldn't be a problem. This is especially the case in hotels & restaurants. In Barcelona, it would be good to pick up some Catalan as it will warm one up to the locals as most of them speak this instead of Spanish.
     When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour, do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.

10. Navigation
     Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS units. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty.
    Kevin was using a Beeline navigation unit that synchronized with pre-planned routes on his phone app. Sin & me were using the Garmin GPS units and had pre-plotted our daily routes into respective GPX maps usable in these units. We had pre-loaded the PortugalSpain & France Maps together with GPS coordinates of our destinations. Do ZOOM out to look for turning points further ahead; and ZOOM in at complicated junctions, otherwise one may make a wrong turn (it did happen to us sometimes).
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
    At the towns and cities, we used Google Maps to navigate to various places of interests that were not shown on our GPS units. In Spain, Google Maps does work in Cycling Mode.

11. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.


A day earlier, we had a good cycling tour of the city when local friends from Brompton Barcelona took us on a full day ride around their lovely city. Today things quietened down and we left our bikes at the hostel to go visit Park Güell and a couple of flea markets.


Route: Primavera Hostel>by Metro>Encants Flea Market>by Metro>Park Güell>La Casa Trias>Gaudí House>Austria Gardens>Antic Forn de Vallcarca>by Metro>Monument Verdaguer>Primavera Hostel.
Cycling Distance: N.A.     Level: N.A.
 It's a non-cycling day, with us taking the Metro to visit flea markets and also to Park Güell for more of Gaudí.

After a simple breakfast we decided to take a trial walk to Barcelona Nor Bus Terminal (as I will be taking a bus from there tomorrow). It did looked near on the map and Google Maps indicated a walking time of fifteen minutes. But we took more than thirty minutes, perhaps our legs were shorter than Google legs 😄.
Anyway, with the cool weather, it was a pleasant walk, and Barcelona always have a pleasant surprise to show us. Just round the corner was the unique looking Church of Sant Francesc de Sales (Parròquia de Sant Francesc de Sales). This Gothic-style church was built in 1885 yet it seems at the same time to embrace elements of Neo-Mudéjar architecture, making it quite a pleasant and photogenic building.

It was easy getting around, from bus terminal we just hopped onto the Metro and headed for the Encants Flea Market (Mercat Fira dels Encants); it was a quick 3-minutes/2-stops ride.
We were expecting the usual road-side or park-side market, but this flea market, located at the rejuvenated Glòries Square (Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes), was huge, occupying 3-stories of split levels. It's one of the oldest market, said to date back to the 14th century.

A multi-faceted mirror ceiling/canopy, although giving dizzy warping images, made the place look even larger than it really is. This canopy designed by Fermin Väzquez covers an area of 33,306 m2, so one can imaging how large this flea market is.

It houses 500 stalls; an unique mixture of junk shops, antiques fairs, jumble sales and old school market all rolled into one. 

In addition to second hand books, ornaments, cameras, furniture and clothes, there are also stalls selling new clothes, furniture, decorative items, tools, hardware and electronics. Not to mention two bar/cafés, several small antique shops and even a shop that sells electric bikes.

At one corner on the upper level is a small food court. From two stalls - Stop & Mos, and Peixet als Encants - we had our lunch of Paella rice, mixed grilled vegetables and tapas downed with superb Estrella Galiciag pale lager.

While dining, we looked up in awe at the Agbar Tower/Glòries Tower (Torre Agbar), situated just right next to the market. The Agbar Tower was built for the Agbar water company and was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, to represent a water geyser geyser sprouting from the deep sea. It is no longer occupied by the water company and hence the change of name to the Glòries Tower. At night the tower is lit up colourful array of 4,500 yellow, blue, pink and red lights; for lighting times, click here.

Further away, sitting high up on Tibidabo Hill, was the majestic Sagrat Cor Church (Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor. The building is of a Romanesque fortress of stone from Montjuïc, topped by a monumental neo-Gothic church with an octagonal dome on eight columns. The dome is crowned with an image of the Sacred Heart; the original work by Frederic Marès was destroyed in 1936 and replaced in 1950 with another by Josep Miret.
My blurry zoomed in photo does not do justice to the church, click here for better views.

Yes, Barcelona is a hilly city, and after an easy Metro, we were to find out as we climbed long flights of stairs that to reach Park Güell. It's a tiring climb up; sweating and panting, I thought to myself there MUST be an easier way to get up there! There IS! A 10self-guided tour entrance ticket includes a ride up there and back with the Bus Güel from the Alfons X Metro Station.

Was the taxing climb worth it? Yes, from near the entrance is a great panoramic view of Barcelona.

Okay, I digress .... we are here to see Park Güell, and and admire more of Gaudí's creations. The best place to see this from the Dragon Stairway (L'escalinata del drac) which leads down to a large balcony platform with several buildings including the Casa del Guarda. This balcony is ringed by a perimeter wall on the surface of which were trencadís, a Gaudí art technique using colorful porcelain shards.

Located in La Salut neighborhood of the Gràcia district of BarcelonaPark Güell, was conceived by Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudí, as a residential park within a natural park. With urbanization and in mind, they imagined an organized grouping of high-quality homes, decked out with all the latest technological advancements to ensure maximum comfort, finished off with an artistic touch. The park was built from 1900 to 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. In 1984, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site under "Works of Antoni Gaudí".
Visitors take nice walks along the pathways running along the many terraces of the park and often stop at gardens where aspiring musicians may be seen presenting their musical creations. After that many will visit several of the homes to view them as G work based on Catalan modernism. One of which is the Gaudí House Museum, a pastel pink building with conical tower, elaborate windows and corners embellished with modernistic artwork.

Another is the with a touch of oriental roofing, but more interestingly were the stonework railings and alcoves along the stairway leading up to the house. These looked like natural earthen formation built by giant ants!

Further away at the Austria Gardens, more of the stonework architecture can be seen. These are man-made but with greenery growing in between them, they seem to have been formed by Mother Nature herself.

They form ramping supports for balconies that protrude out from walkways above. These two looks a bit morbid, reminds me of some alien skeleton with lots of teeth.

More of these balconies, the ones here were supported by stonework columns hand had unique lattice railings.

Go below these and one will see symmetrical inverted-V arches that follows the curvature of the pathway.

Enroute back for our hostel we were pleasantly surprise to find a couple of flea markets, one was the nearby Antic Forn de Vallcarca (L'Antic Forn de Vallcarca); while the other was at the park along Passeig de Sant Joan. The landmark to locate this flea market is the Monument a Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer. We found these two flea markets to be more cozy, with less noisy brouhaha and inviting stalls operated by warm neighborhood people.

But alas! We couldn't spend much time at these flea markets for Anne and Lynne had to rush back to the hostel, do some final packing and head for the airport - together Melinda & Kevin, they will be flying back home.
I waved a sad farewell to them as they boarded one of those yellow Spanish cabs.

Adios mis amigas!
(that's "Goodbye my lady friends in Spanish)
Sin & gang are somewhere in València, (to see their adventure there, click here), and with these other four friends going home, I will be all alone.....
But no worries, it will only be for one night, tomorrow I will be heading for France to meet a relative..... Bonjour!

(For more photos of the Day 21, Click Here)
This is page 18 of a 20-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D20 Barcelona 2          |          Other Days     |     Go to D22-25 South France >

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