Jane's Account of Barcelona

Although I was looking forward to our trip to Barcelona, I was rather apprehensive, not only because I had organised the trip, but because this was to be my first experience of Spain. Spain conjured up images of over crowded beaches, noisy drunken tourists wearing sombreroís and very little else (not a pretty sight!), with large toy donkeys (also wearing sombreroís) tucked under their arms! Not my idea of a holiday destination.
I hadnít realised just how many telephone calls and how much form filling was involved in organising a tour and at times I became quite stressed, but no where near as stressed as I was on the day of departure. All I could think about was everything that could possibly go wrong. Lis had booked all the flights, so she was in the same stressed out state as I was.

Everything started smoothly and I was quite pleased to see that there were at least two other tour members who were obviously more nervous of flying than I was! On arrival in Barcelona, we were met by our courier for the duration of the tour, Pia. She was a very friendly lady and helped us on several occasions over the next few days (but I would have liked to have done something with her hair! though thatís beside the point)
The hotel was adequate, but unfortunately the food left little to be desired and we had one or two run-ins with the dining room staff.I was rather worried by this and felt that somehow it was my fault, but deep down I knew it wasnít.
My first night was memorable. Having woken in the small hours I paid a visit to the en-suite bathroom, where I came face to face with a huge Cockroach sitting in the bidet, I shouted Mike, but he just turned over telling me to flush it down the plug hole! Some knight in shining armour he was! I informed the hotel staff the next morning and they promised to investigate.

Our first full day was hectic. Sightseeing in the morning with the Mullerís. As Iím sure youíre all well aware Lis is very organised and doesnít waste a second and I just follow on behind like the donkeyís tail! She successfully navigated me along the Metro (no mean feat, as Liz T knows from dragging me through the London Underground on more than one occasion), down La Rambla, round the Marina and up Christopher Columbus Column, not a good idea! Iím hopeless with heights and as soon as I felt it sway in the breeze that was me finished, a bit of a panic Iím afraid and Lis had to bring me down. After refreshments, we hurtled towards the Cathedral for our lunch time rehearsal. Needless to say, things didnít go to plan and if it hadnít been for Marilynís expert Spanish weíd never have got to rehearse at all, so thank you again Marilyn. The afternoon was spent wandering around the streets and stopping for drinks and snacks.
The evening didnít go any better. Pia, our courier, couldnít get any sense out of anyone at the Cathedral, we were supposed to be singing mass first in a little side chapel and then performing our concert in the main part of the Cathedral. Eventually after a lot of panicking and bustling backwards and forwards both were achieved. The mass went very well and the Padre was most impressed telling Andrew that he would stay behind to hear our concert, something he didnít always do! Singing in the Cathedral was certainly an experience, though it wasnít our best performance of the tour Ė this was still to come!
Tired out from a busy day we all retired. Mike and I had a visitor again during the night. This time Mike had the pleasure of meeting him, I knew this because when Mike visited the bathroom all I could hear was a lot of banging as he attempted to squash the little blighter! I informed the hotel staff again the next day.

In my opinion this was the best day. Our bus picked us up from the hotel and took us to Montserrat Monastery perched on the side of a mountain. The views on the trip up were wonderful, but nothing compared to when we actually arrived there. Unfortunately we again had trouble finding anyone who knew anything about us singing there! After much dashing backwards and forwards we were finally bustled into the Basilica. Absolutely fantastic! We were only allowed to sing for 10 minutes, but what an experience. We sang three pieces, Stanfordís Coelos Ascendit Hodie, Croceís Regina Coeli and Stella Splendens, Anon. From the Red Book of Montserrat. There must have been about 400 people listening to us, our largest audience to date (barring Barry Manilow concert, which doesnít really count). We had free time for lunch, sight seeing and then made our way back to the hotel with time to have a cuppa before getting ready for our evening concert.
On arrival back at the hotel, I left Mike in the bar drinking tea with several others, whilst I went to our room and to the bathroom. Yes! Youíve guessed, yet another visitor! This time it was happily racing around the bathroom floor. I raced downstairs, asked the management to sort it out. I had reached the conclusion that being tour organiser obviously entitled me to some little added extraís (well, no one else seemed to be receiving any!) After about half and hour, I decided to brave the bathroom to shower ready for the concert, but low and behold Colin the cockroach came crawling out yet again! This was the last straw for me (or was it him) I went again to reception where they finally offered us another room.
The evening concert at Santa Maria Del Pi was excellent. Andrew said it was by far our best performance. We had another good audience too, some of whom had already heard us sing earlier at the monastery. Some choir members were outside the church handing fliers out and a group of people recognised them from the monastery, so decided theyíd like to hear us again! After the concert we enjoyed a pleasant evening back at the hotel.

Our last full day was spent sightseeing. We took a bus tour getting off at places of interest. La Sagrada Familia was spectacular, I canít say I was that impressed with any of his other designs, but this one certainly impressed me. I made another big mistake though, not wanting to be a stick in the mud, or a bore, I agreed to climb up the tower with the rest of our group. As Iíve already said Iím afraid of heights, I suppose I wanted to try and conquer it, but I got more and more distressed the higher we got and about ĺ of the way up , I completely froze. Iíve seen films where someone says they canít move and Iíve thought what a load of rubbish, but I know now that it happens, I couldnít move. Mike had to coax me down and by the time I reached the ground I was in tears and my legs were shaking like jelly! What am I like? So, a memorable occasion all round.
We spent some time at the Marina, very pleasant. The bus tour took us around the most popular attractions, but there just wasnít enough time to visit everything. After a tiring day, we returned to the hotel to get ready for our evening meal out in Barcelona.
We all met in the reception area of the hotel. Andrew thanked everyone for their part in the tour and presented me with a little bag of goodies. I was instructed to open it in front of everyone. I had a plate, candle, lovely wooden fan and lastly a tiny little package that everyone seemed to find amusing! I began to open it and suddenly realised what was in it Ė A Cockroach! Plastic of course but never the less quite realistic. Andrew said heíd been scouring the shops looking for one for me to keep as a memento! Thank you Andrew, I still have it, in fact itís in my handbag just waiting for the right moment to pop out!
We all enjoyed a splendid meal out and finished the evening by rambling down La Ramblaís. The man dressed as a miner will stick in my memory for many a year, he was brilliant, he kept so still. We stood watching him for such a long time that he wasnít able to blink and a great big tear rolled down his face, it made him look so sad, I wanted to wipe his face and give him a big hug! What am I like!

We spent the last part of our holiday in Parc Guell. Another experience, although itís not my idea of beautiful architecture Ė well, it wouldnít do for us all to like the same things or think the same way would it.
All too soon it was time to return home.

I had thoroughly enjoyed Barcelona and would certainly like to return there someday. I had enjoyed the previous two tours, but felt from a singing point of view that this was the most successful tour, having prestigious venues in which to perform and excellent audiences throughout! The hotel and food may not have been first class, but as always, at any Shepshed Singers social events, the company was first class!

Roll on Tour 2005!

WebMaster: Thanks, Jane, for your contribution to the website.