Today Charlie and I tackled our first two peaks in the “10 på Topp” challenge. Ten peaks to climb in Sandnes Kommune before November. Bjørndalsfjellet is 362m and Dalsnuten is 323m.
The past few weeks have been stormy. Even for coastal Norway, it has been exceptional. Gale warnings have been almost the norm. I noticed last night however, there was a surge warning in place for this morning. For the whole coastline south of Stad Peninsula, the tide was to be 60 cm higher than usual. So at high tide this morning, I made my way to the beach.
This is one of my favourite short walks along a section of the old King’s Road, or Post Road that runs along the coast. There are many such roads around Norway and until relatively recently, these were the main roads around the country.
I’m not actually on Kongeveien yet. The first thing that comes into view is the tiny church at Varhaug.
It hasn’t been cold for long. The river is still flowing, albeit with some ice around the stones.
It’s such a wonderfully clear day.
If you look at the two photos above, you can see the snow has melted on the south side of the stones and not the north, a reflection of the sun’s low winter path across the sky.
I saw a number of other people out enjoying the sunshine. Below is a typical grouping, two young women, two dogs, one pushchair. When the sun is shining, it’s time to be outside.
It can be difficult to photograph all the things I love to look at. I am always fascinated with the rugged outlines of the stone walls, so different from those in the UK. I also love the clean lines of the branches against that vast sky, but it can be difficult to capture.
The sea is almost completely smooth, so different from last week’s storms.
And now I’m heading back.
I stop on the bridge to admire ice that has formed around the stones in the river.
And then I’m back at the church and it’s time to go home.
Again, this is a very belated entry. I wish I had posted sooner. These posts are the nearest thing I have to a diary and already, less than a year later, there are many details I cannot remember. Some of the more memorable things, I didn’t photograph. The rustic food we ate at Bar Casi was not aesthetically pleasing in a way that made me want to take pictures, but the friendliness of the owner, despite a significant language barrier made a lasting impression, as did the flavoursome bean stew.
The Sagrada Familia was, quite simply, the most stunning building I have ever been inside, mainly due to the warmth of the light that poured in through the stained glass, but also in the organic impression of the internal design. I have some pictures of that, but they don’t do it justice.
I’ll start though with the lovely gifts that greeted us on entering the hotel when we arrived.
Although I describe the Sagrada Familia above as one of the most stunning buildings I’ve been inside, I have to confess that externally, I found the shapes of the towers disconcerting. I suppose it is difficult to adjust to unfamiliar shapes in architecture, though it did grow on me.
At the time of posting, the Sagrada Familia is still only 70% complete. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi and has been built using donations. Because of its popularity, work is accelerating and it is hoped the building will be complete by 2026. I would love to revisit.
We went up the Passion Tower. Going up in the lift was easy, going down more disconcerting. Despite being relatively fit, my knees were shaking by the time we reached the ground. As well as views over the city, there were glimpses of parts of the construction that you would never see from ground level.
Later, we went out for dinner at Accés Restaurant. The staff could not have been more friendly.
The following day, we went on a bus tour. We saw some other buildings designed by Gaudi.
On Sunday, we went to visit Botero’s bronze cat.
We sat down and ordered some food.
I was pleased as I watched, to see that Botero’s cat was one of the most interactive pieces of street art I’ve come across. Everybody seemed to want to touch him. Many went further and climbed onto his back, or boosted their children up onto his tail.
There were trees lining the street and many parakeets flitting around.
We then wended our way back to the hotel. There were many beautiful buildings. Sadly, this is where my memory fails me as I don’t recall the names of the places we found.
Sunday’s meal was less of a success. Charlie and I have a history of awful anniversary meals, which is astonishing, considering how much we normally enjoy eating out. I won’t mention a name, but we visited one of the most highly recommended restaurants in Barcelona, supposedly a real food experience. It was an experience, but sadly, for us, the food just didn’t live up to the hype. Still, it wasn’t quite as bad as the salt-flavoured soup and white sliced bread we once had in Bodrum. And unlike that night, we didn’t have to go for a second meal on the way home as we were still so hungry.
My last view of Barcelona is of something that intrigued me in the taxi on the way in from the airport, and caught a passing photograph on the way back.
I understand that in amongst all the graves and mausoleums set into the hillside, there are many fine examples of funerary art.
There are so many reasons to revisit Barcelona and spend longer exploring. A weekend was no time at all to do it justice. One day, we will return.