The train up the Mediterranean coast to Barcelona was pretty classy, too; Spanish rail in general is excellent. The occasional view of the sea was welcome, in spite of the many hideously "touristed" seaside towns.
The Gotico is by far the most interesting of the Barrios, but the tourists know about it ... The city centre successfully combines modern with old, and shopping is an actual pleasure. At that time, Barcelona was preparing for the Olympic Games, but most of the venues were out of town and so we were largely unaffected by all the building activity. But we were *not* capable of remaining unaffected by Barcelona's taxi-drivers ...
Barça itself is a *very* nice city. Our hotel (where the concierge had our opera tickets) was the Ritz, and ritzy it was ! Normally, we would never have even considered a hotel at this level, but the ends justified the means, or made them worth it ... or maybe the means weren't even considered !
It was while we were recovering in our superb room at the Ritz from one of these hairy taxi-rides that a 'phone-call came through from Sydney: our translator friend, Christian Büchner, had been working behind the scenes with a friend of his in Germany, and this friend had got his hands on a couple of tickets for Domingo singing in «Tosca» in Hamburg. Were we interested ...?
We'd come here for tickets, and tickets were what we got ! And we had come to visit one of the world's greatest opera theatres, so the next thing we did was to sally forth downtown (uptown ?) to look for it ...
And we found it before too much longer ... the Gran Teatre del Liceu, just one amongst the many beautiful buildings at the best address in town -- las Ramblas. These are a series of sections of the one grand avenue -- shops, warehouses, businesses ... you'll find every kind of activity on one or other of the Ramblas; and there's no break between the part that's mostly for flower-sellers and the part that's mostly for clothing distributors (for example).
Have you ever heard Domingo as Cavaradossi ...?
INSTANT frantic itinerary changing. Well, changing was perhaps not what we did, so much as throwing out the window and replacing entirely ! And there was a lot of calling down of blessings upon the head of Christian Büchner, back home in Sydney.