The plane lands on time in Barcelona. Only two hours away, but in a different world. The air looks hazy, but good-weather-hazy. No rain here, only warm sunshine. Temperature at arrival is 25 C. My luggage arrives promptly at the belt. Last time with Graham, in May 2006, we had taken a taxi into the town. I was considering this now too, but I am curious to try also the trains. After arriving at terminal A, the sign for the train departure points to Terminal B. From there, along a covered footbridge a few 100 m to the train station. I buy a T-10 ticket which is good for 10 rides. Has been recommended on one of the web site I had consulted yesterday. Waiting for 1/2 hour, the previous train must have just left. The ride takes 20 minutes to one of the main train stations. From there with metro L3 south. There is no esculator or elevator from the train station to the subway, I have to carry my luggage over the stairs down. A long walkway tunnel to the L3 line. Again there are only esculators upstairs, but none downstairs. It is very warm... finally in the metro train there is a cool breeze of A/C. 4 stations, then I get off. A very busy street, the Avenida Paral-lel. Modern buildings at the side, nothing spectacular. The hotel is supposed to be quite nearby. I see a building one a block away with a large "Hotel" sign, so I walk to there. But it is another hotel. So where is the one I am supposed to be? I cannot see any other hotel building. I have the full address with house number, but the houses here do not have any house number... so I finally have to overcome the male-chauvinistic attitude, and ask someone for directions. "Not far from here, just 25 meter". So close? Maybe I misunderstand, maybe he means 250 meter? I walk in the direction, cannot see anything... until I have a look at the building where I am standing now - and there is the hotel entrance. Right near the subway exit where I had come out...
First a refreshing shower. There is wireless internet in the room - great. Even an ethernet plug is in the wall, but I only need the wifi for now. Nice clean room, very business-oriented. The window "view" goes into a narrow courtyard, but I do not need a view anyway. From the roof, however, there is a nice view over the city.
I am getting hungry. On the way I had seen a couple of bars with tables on the sidewalk, and pictures of paella on their menus. I have an appetite for this, so I will go there. First I take a brief stroll around the hotel, into the back alley. Small shops, bars, a truly un-touristic area, for the locals. An old church is nearby. Children do some facade climbing on a kind of school building. I get now something to eat: first a small tapas dish, then a pan of paella. The menu says of minimum of two people only, but they can obviously make exceptions. I ask, and they make for me a single portion of paella.
When I am finished, the light blue of the sky has turned into dark-blue night sky. Time now to begin preparing the presentation for the next day!