Barcelona Day Three: Cable Cars and Castles

Day three in Barcelona called for an Al Fresco breakfast. Alex and I returned to the cool shopping centre built in an old bullring to buy some pastries and fresh orange juice. We then headed to the  national art museum of Catalunya. I was promised escalators to the top and there were- but they weren’t moving. So after a sweaty trip up hundreds of stairs and some now, slightly warm orange juice we made it to the entrance of the museum. But we weren’t there for the museum- the view opposite is stunning. The only problem was, this view is no secret. There were hundreds of tourists and school kids at the top. Along with some pesky pigeons vying for my pastry so we didn’t stay too long.

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The view from the bottom of the art museum of Catalunya

Luckily the paths at the back of the museum is slightly quieter and even better, leads to a cable car.. The cable car was 8 euros and took around 10 minutes to get you to the summit- the location of Montjuic Castle. As we are travelling on a budget we decided not to pay to enter the castle, instead we went for a stroll around the castle grounds which are free. You can do a full circle around the castle- we even spotted some archery practice.

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After a returning on the cable car, a frantic search for a free toilet and a delicious waffle we decided we needed some culture. After looking through a list of art exhibitions in Barcelona we chose to visit the centre of Photography, showcasing the work of legendary photographer August Sander. I was really excited as I had researched Sanders work last term at uni. The Photography Centre is extremely accessible, plonked ring tin the middle of Las Ramblas. Which made it even more odd that it was so quiet when we entered. Not that odd though when we re-read the exhibition poster. It was opening in 3 days time- a day after we leave. With our tail between our legs we did the only thing possible- retail therapy. After Alex bought a whole load of make-up which will be impossible to pack in our hand luggage decided a rest at the apartment was needed.

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The Terraza Hotel 360 bar

I don’t know why but when deciding what I wanted to do in Barcelona, I was set on seeing a sun set. Maybe (and rather embarrassingly) I assumed the sun would set beautifully over the beach- obviously not, Barcelona is on the East coast. After speaking to some local friends they suggested the rooftop terrace at the upmarket Terraza hotel. So after dressing up and pretending we knew what we were doing we walked straight into the hotel lobby, to the lift and up to the top floor. We walked straight into a 360 rooftop bar with seats around the edge primed to witness the sunset- just what we were looking for. After paying for some over-priced cocktails we sat down ready for the sunset and boy did it live up to expectations…






24 hours in London

Spending the night at Juna’s student house with fellow school-friend Fran we planned how we would spend the next 24 hours; visiting Whitechapel Gallery and see as much of the new Tate Modern extension as possible, before inevitably hitting a wall of tiredness and consuming  way too much fast food.


Juna and her budget-saving light bulbs..

To get to the Whitechapel gallery we had to take two tubes. We ended up spending 45 minutes walking underground as the tube map didn’t quite depict the long journey between platforms.


Whitechapel Gallery

Arriving in the rain the free-entry gallery was buzzing with a mix of people. We were specifically there for the Guerrilla Girls Exhibition ‘Is it even worse in Europe?’. The focus of the exhibition was to question the diversity in European art organisations. The display featured questionnaires written by the Guerrilla Girls and filled out by the art organisations (well, the 1/4 that replied..). Much smaller than I was expecting the display still managed to get its point across with the hint of humour synonymous with Guerrilla  Girls. The gallery itself was very accessible, next-door to a tube station with a free cloakroom and a well-stocked gift shop.  It’s worth a visit if you spot an exhibition that appeals to you.


Next on our list was the new Tate Modern Extension. We took the tube to London Bridge and walked along the Southbank hunting for standout architecture, not hard to find beside the river..



The architecture hunt led us straight into the newly opened  Switch House, the Tate Modern extension creating 60% more exhibition space. The previous Tate Modern could be hit and miss but the work on display here often rendered me speechless. Having a mix of video installations, interactive displays and 3d-work means it has something to offer everyone.


The new staircase


Fran & Juna experimenting with the interactive light installation ‘Seance de shadow II (Bleu)’ by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster


Below is a photo from my favourite exhibit by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. It is an immersive video installation piece featuring multiple screens along with pillows allowing you to sit/lie and take it all in. The videos begin by providing what looks like a linear narrative based in a Thai town, it then bounces between fantasy and documentary. If there wasn’t another 7 floors to explore you could spend all day here.


Other displays included an exhibit using 3-D pieces to explore the relationship between objects & architecture and living cities, an artistic look into modern day cities. On a personal level some contemporary pieces have the ability to go over my head which is okay, but on the whole I was really impressed with the work I saw.


At the very top of the building is an open-air viewing platform, definitely not an option for those with a fear of heights. Luckily I love heights and I couldn’t believe the tower gave a full 360° view across central London.


Fran & Juna capturing their experience at the top

We had planned to potentially visit the British Museum but after a quick glance at our watches we had to admit defeat, rush hour would prevent us getting their before it shut. So with already aching feet we filled our stomachs and headed back to Juna’s.

Despite being a regular visitor to London I always forget that no matter how much time you have, two gallery/museum visits in a day is more than enough.  Especially if your visiting somewhere as vast as one of the Tate museums then one can often be enough, otherwise you can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of art on show. Overall is was a brilliant day and a very cheap one as both the galleries were free.If your careful in London, the most expensive thing you can buy will be lunch and an underground pass.


Japan Diary: Day 017

Day 017:

Last night we decided to use today to see all the memorial sites and museums and then see how we felt, and decide what we want to do afterwards.

We first visited the famous A-dome, just 5 minutes walk from our hostel. The Dome was what I had seen on TV. but the surrounding area was not what I was expecting. Next to the dome is a beautiful, clear river along with beautiful plants and the atmosphere was extremely peaceful not somber at all.

Next to the dome was a Hiroshima peace volunteer, we saw them throughout the day. She had created folders filled with information in many languages which explained what happened when the atomic bomb hit and the aftermath. The information is free to read so we sat down among about 20 other travelers to read all about it. The information was extremely detailed and built further on our knowledge of the atrocity. We then spoke to the woman who provided the information, she was born 3 days after the bombing and her grandfather was killed in the attack. Despite all I’ve read about it, it’s still hard to comprehend that this all happened just one generation ago in some cases. But talking to the woman and seeing the Dome helped both Juna and I to have a better understanding of the effects of such a horrendous weapon.

Juna reading one of the free information folders

Next we decided to walk through the memorial park to visit the museum at the end. Before we went into the exhibit I popped in to use the museum toilet. Wow. As I walked down through the centre of the empty restroom, with cubicles either side, each toilet seat rose up as I walked past. I felt like I was some kind of cult leader in an alternative universe. Then when you sit down it plays you the sound of the rainforest. I know it’s not the main attraction in Hiroshima but it provided some light-relief on a hard hitting day.

The underbelly of the museum

The museum itself was as the guide book describes ‘ Confronting and personal. While upsetting it’s a must see in Hiroshima’. And it was all those things; horrendous photos, personal items of those who lost their lives and videos on the science behind the bomb. But it really is a must see, even after holding back the tears Juna agreed. Even though it’s incredibly moving, with many visitors wiping their away tears as they went along it wasn’t over-the-top and was incredibly informative.

About a hundred metres away from the museum is the Peace Memorial Hall. After you enter for free you take a winding path underground into the round hall of remembrance. The top half of the hall is a mosaic made up of 140,000 tiles, each one representing a victim of the atomic bomb attack. The hall was incredibly calm with seats allowing us to sit down and reflect and contemplate what we’d seen.

The Peace Memorial Hall  

In the adjoining room was photographs and names of all those who lost their lives. For me this was when the sheer size of the devastation really hit home.

After the hall we headed to the nearby Museum of Art. It was an odd building, not very well advertised but obviously very wellknown as there were a lot of people inside. It was relatively expensive to get in but after visiting all the memorial sites we both wanted something a bit ‘lighter’.

The museum included some big names including Monet and Van Gogh. But the part I enjoyed most was the temporary exhibition showing the work of Machiko Hasegawa. A female comic strip artist who broke into the comic scene at just 15. The sheer volume of work she created year after year was inspiring. She was famed for her wit and humour, and even though in Japanese the comics were hilarious and extremely witty. You could see her drawing styles change over the years but her humour stayed the same, well if anything, got (c)ruder as she got older!

After the museum, grabbing some dinner and my phone app informing me we’ve walked 20km today we headed back to the hostel absolutely knackered. On the way we stopped at one of Japan’s millions of vending machines to get water but we had a shock, this vending machine was selling pickled fish in bottles! Luckily we weren’t too thirsty and could wait till the next vending machine.

Although hard-hitting, today has been enjoyable and the museum is a must do if you are in Hiroshima. I look forward to seeing more of the city tomorrow.