Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Train stations and beaches

Barcelona has a pretty darned impressive public transit system that I will blog about in detail at a later date. One thing that is notable is that there are 4 major train stations here, and 3 of the 4 are almost entirely underground. The main Sants station -- where the high speed and long distance trains arrive and depart -- is almost invisible on the surface (mostly just a small square glass building with a lot of taxi parking around it). All the train lines are underground for at least a kilometre from the station (heading towards the city, they don't come above ground for ~8 km). And they're putting covers on the exposed lines to both hide them and make the track spaces usable.
The main train lines are under the slope on the left
The Estacion de Franca is the exception. Since being built in 1929, it was the main station in the city, until Sants was opened. With a new station for high-speed trails opening in a few years, Franca will see a further decline in traffic.

Which is a shame, because it's a classically beautiful old station that was restored for the 1992 Olympics.
The entry hall 
The 12 platforms 
The arcing 30 tall roof 
The arrival wall
The station has few trains, mostly the R2 commuter line, which wraps through town to Sants, then heads south to the Airport or elsewhere. 

The station sits near Barceloneta which I wrote about here, which also makes it close to the beach.

Ah, the beach. What better day to go to the beach than on a sunny (though breezy) Sunday? You get to find a bit of sand to yourself and get peace and quiet.
Or maybe not
Barcelona doesn't just have one beach, it has a dozen or more. Each is about 1 km long with a break-wall or marina at each end. So the scene above plays out cove after cove after cove.
The first cove 
And the next 
And the next after that 
And the next after that again
Every cove features multiple volleyball nets, all of which were in use.
Some of these guys were good. Others not so much
The marinas -- and there are several -- range from large to huge and offer the opportunity to rent jet skis or sailboats or windsurfers or kiteboards. The wind was howling this day; many small sailboats were in trouble, capsizing and blowing into rocks, and some windsurfers were not faring much better.

With the Coast Guard watching 
One or two boats 
A pretty marina 
Windsurfers in a hurry 
Zooming around a boat 
Paddlers and smaller boats in the protected waters
And the marinas -- in fact, the beaches in general -- are lined with restaurant after restaurant. There are more restaurants just around the big marina than in Banff and Canmore combined. I'm not sure who eats all all of them.

The beach boardwalk which runs for as far as the eye can see is home to strollers, walkers, joggers, bikers, scooter riders (foot powered Razors and electric powered ones), Segways, kids, kids on scooters -- and nudists. Seriously. The beaches are topless, but a totally nude lady strolled by us on the boardwalk -- being filmed by a dude. 

There are no right of way rules on the boardwalk, by the way. Bikes weave between the walkers, electric scooters race along, walkers stop randomly and chat -- it's the Legacy Trail with sand.

The beaches are ill served by Metro lines (the nearest parallels the beach through the Poble Nou district, about 1.5 km inland) but the H16 bus runs along the beach road and takes you right into downtown (or, conveniently for us, about 300 m from our apartment).

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