Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Barcelona In The Snow

"It's only a bit of rain", I thought, as I left my hotel in Barcelona yesterday morning. Anyway I had things to do in places where there was a bit of shelter, and I headed for the newly reopened Fundació Antoni Tàpies. That was my first mistake, I'd left until Monday what I should have done on Friday before going to Girona; Monday is everything is closed day for museums in Spain.

The rain turned to sleet as I arrived in the old part of town. "It's the brilliance of the light that makes the difference on the Mediterranean", I said to myself in an attempt to keep my spirits up. Those who were marching to mark International Women's Day also needed something to lift their spirits. I suspect the weather did little for the turnout.

After a while I was really just killing time before I could get inside for my menú del día. Unfortunately, the waiters in the restaurant were very efficient and I was back on the street an hour later. Things were not improving in downtown Barcelona.

Forced by the weight of circumstances to take refuge in a nearby pub, I could see the snow getting heavier outside. The passing umbrellas already carried a layer of the white stuff. Now I had a problem, the worst of the weather hit just as I needed to go to Sants station for my train back to Madrid. I had no choice, and as I went back to the hotel to collect my bag the ground was covered in slushy snow. I stopped briefly to record the scene in the Plaça de Catalunya.

Many visitors to Barcelona can't resist the temptation to stop for a refreshing drink in one of the numerous terrazas scattered around the city.

I decided to walk from my hotel to Sants. What the hell, I was already wet and I wasn't sure where the nearest metro station was. A taxi was just an impossible dream in these circumstances and there was very little traffic of any kind on the streets, even though this would normally be rush hour in the always busy city.

The walk to Sants was not easy, I seemed to be heading always with my face towards the wind and snow. The pavements in Barcelona don't seem to drain very well, and the half-melted slush just sat there surrounded by puddles of water. It was bitterly cold, wet and unpleasant. Then came the first crack of thunder. I've never been in a snow thunderstorm before. I stopped in front of Sants for one last photo of the snow. Moscow or Barcelona?

Inside the station there were crowds of people, and I was relieved to see that the entrance to the AVE area for the trains to Madrid was still open. Most of the local services seemed to be suspended, with grim warnings on the information screens that no alternative forms of transport were available. As we waited to board the train there seemed to be a lot of coming and going on the other side of the barrier. It got nearer to departure time and they started to check our tickets, but still we couldn't go through. A man I took to be the boss paced up and down talking into his mobile phone. Either he was worried about the train or trying to organise a weekend skiing in the Pyrenees. I couldn't tell, but he didn't look happy.

Suddenly we were allowed through the barrier and I was relieved when the train started moving, taking me swiftly back to the relative security of the drier meseta. For the first 15 minutes or so the carriage filled with the sound of 20 simultaneous phone conversations as everyone wanted to tell of their adventures in the great snowstorm. "They say it hasn't snowed like this in Barcelona since the last ice age" more or less sums up the theme of many of these conversations. I think about what a nice weekend we spent in Girona, and how bad it could have been.


Lavengro in Spain said...

I went to a calçotada in Tarragona on Saturday and the weather was lovely, but in 26 years in Barcelona I have never known anything like yesterday. It's rare indeed for snow to fall in the city centre -- even in winter -- and almost unheard-of for it to stick there. The TV was going back to 1962 for something similar.

Walking from Plaça Catalunya to Sants in that? You deserve a medal!

ejh said...

It even snowed in Valdepeñas, where I am, on Monday morning. Not heavily, but the locals say this never happens.

David said...

And I thought Gostinnitsa Rossiya had finally been pulled down a couple of years ago, what's it doing now in the middle of Sants? ...allright, let's get serious, shall we pop just round the corner for sto gramm and some smoked chicken?

Jan said...

It even made the BBC news yesterday lunchtime, but I hope my family didn't see it because we haven't got much at all here!