My last day in Porto there was the usual thick blanket of sea mist, that pervades the coast of Portugal, where the Atlantic meets the rivers. A micro- climate, but an hour away it can be scorchingly hot. The large intimidating seabirds squark and swoop, they are much larger than our seagulls.
I stayed in a chain hotel which I rarely do..The Novotel,at Porto Gaia and I enjoyed the air-conditioning and the pool, but probably not the crying children. It is very much a family hotel, and I did feel out of place on my own.
I also spent a lot of time in shopping malls, trying to sort out IT problems. For me this has been the most frustating aspect of travelling as a senior..when things go wrong. Apparently the Apple man told me, you should never upgrade your IOS on hotel WIFI (did you know that) . I jammed my phone yet again, by doing what the settings told me to do! Aahhh!
Then I had been attempting to contact Qatar Air to sort out a transit visa, which would not upload with an ipad. You can not contact these people. They never answer the phone, and do not reply to emails. It is like so many of these online organisations( airbnb and uber etc) everything is fine until you have a problem and then you can not speak to anyone. We may well be sitting in Doha airport for 24 hours!
Barcelona is HOT , and as expected very crowded, and far more expensive than Portugal. Las Ramblas no longer has the multitude of performers and musicians, apparently they now have to pass an audition to perform.. But the drinks are still expensive, I had the most expensive glass of sangria ever!
The bus tours, while touristy and kitschy, always orientate me to a city. We did it on the day it rained…oh those weather gods! But it was still very humid, and the photos are very dull indeed. When it is not raining the heat is overwhelming, and we tend to hide indoors in the afternoon.
Park Guell was so horrendously hot- all that cement, I thought I would faint among the millions of tourists, all pushing and yabbering. All tickets to the Gaudi sites are now bought online to ensure you can get in, at an extra 5 euros a go. Park Guell was once free. I just managed to get a ticket for 3.30.. Very much mad dogs and tourists out in the Spanish sun.
La Pedrera was a little less frantic and was cool inside, except on the roof…ooff it was hot. His mosaicked ventilation shafts and huge attic acted as great insulation. What a fabulous set of apartments they were. Of course I had to go to Sagrada Familia, and only just got a ticket for that. They were turning very disgruntled people away who had not booked. It was still a bunfight and the skip the queue tickets still required queuing in the sun..well that was money well spent!!
We knew it wouldn’t be the best time to visit Barcelona, and it has been way too hot and frantic. I am also a bit over cheap paella, sangria and tapas. We are moving to a beach suburb of Poblenou which should offer some respite, but first we will visit Dali in Figueres.