Last evening I decided to trek up Montjuic, a hill that is in the middle of Barcelona. I remember reading a long time back (probably on my last visit here) that there was a nice hiking path up Montjuic, and decided to go, without any plan. I conveniently forgot to look up the hiking path, and instead consulted google maps on the phone.
After a while the route got boring (this was after I had passed Placa Espanya). At around the same time I had started climbing the hill, and the combination of the elevation and lack of interesting things around (there were no shops or people or anything of interest on that road) made me want to turn back. I had almost turned back when I hit a bus stop, and bus number 55 came there. And off I climbed and went.
The bus dropped me at the bottom of the Montjuic Funicular, and I thought I’ll take that. But the steep price (EUR 11 for both ways) put me off, and a helpful tourist office nearby told me that the peak was 20 minutes walk away. I did the walk in 10, only to be confronted by another queue – for tickets to go into the castle. I decided to have a look around before I went in.
Going around the castle towards the side that faced the sea, this is what I saw:
And I sat there, stunned. There were other people sitting or standing in the same area, most of them couples. And most of them seemed like they were looking out at the sea as they sat there. The sea held no interest to me, however, though my object of interest had something to do with the sea. It was the Barcelona harbour!
I had never before seen a container terminal in operation, and here was one, right under where I was standing, in full flow. There were three ships docked, each of a different size. Containers had been stacked up all over the terminal, as if they were lego blocks. You had these machines that were roaming all over the place, which would pick up containers and place them elsewhere. And then you had these
forklifts stackers with orange claws which would place load and unload containers to/from ships.
Just to stand there and watch this operation was mindblowing, and I stood hence for about half an hour. I noticed some nooks in the Montjuic castle where some couples were cuddled up. These nooks gave a great view of the container terminal. So I harboured visions of cosying up in one of these nooks with the wife, watching the operations of the Barcelona container terminal, analysing the operational effectiveness of the place and the algorithms involved. But then the wife was at school, and so I moved on.
On my way back I “got lost” again, as I wandered on some hiking paths past some of the infrastructure that I understand had been built for the 1992 Olympic games. Once again I got “bailed out” by a bus stop, and a bus that dropped me at a point in town that I had been to earlier. “Problem reduced to known problem”, I exclaimed and walked home from there.
For visitors to Barcelona I would highly recommend going up Montjuic. I have no clue what the castle is like, for I didn’t go in. The hiking paths are supposed to be good but I didn’t explore much of that. Yet, it is a fantastic place to go to and watch global commerce in action, as trucks roll in and out of the container terminal, only to be divested of their containers by these machines that place them aside and then transport them on to the ships. It has to be seen to be believed!