The holiday plan said today was supposed to be “Barcelona – Gaudi”, meaning that we were going to attempt to go into Barcelona and have a look at some of Gaudi’s more obvious contributions to the city.
Kas decided to duck out of running in favour of having a rest day, so we managed to get up fairly early and head off for the big city at 9:20. Kas took the wheel and we gave Cynthia the job of finding us a car park. She failed, mainly due to an utter confusion of information on the map once you get into town.
We eventually found a car park close to where we wanted to be, and Kas very expertly managed to get into a parking space without hitting anything. Genuinely, that was a good achievement, and it became a running theme for the day.
The first place that we wanted to be was the totally whacky Sagrada Família. We were about a block away so we legged it around, expecting to have to join a queue to buy some tickets. The place is still being built, and it’s being funded by the entrance money they charge for having a look around. One wonders whether the fees for entrance have been steadily increasing as further parts of the building are completed. Anyway, from the outside it looks like a massive building site with some quite nice looking bits of stonework in fantastic design.
That proved to be all we could manage there on this day though. They limit the number of tickets per day, and when we arrived at 10:30 am on a midweek day they had already sold out until the end of the day. No more tickets, nada, sorry. I guess you have to pre-book online. Still, we snapped a few nice pictures before buying a very over-priced drink and getting back in the car.
Our second planned stop proved to be equally frustrating. Cynthia did a grand job of negotiating our way through the city up to Park Güell, which promised a plethora of Gaudi-related goodies. Parking proved to be even more of a nightmare than the Sagrada Familia. There’s a big bus park but otherwise you’re stuck with housing estates and an abandoned and unpaved void between tower blocks that has very limited access and lots of really precipitous slopes. Eventually, after much farting about, we found a small car park near some shops in the middle of a hairpin bend going up into the hills. It was probably half a mile to walk back down, but at least the park was paved and relatively easy to get into. More of that later.
Park Güell also has a limit on the number of tickets they are prepared to sell for the inner sanctum. And they’d sold out for the day. This was becoming a theme. We decided to go for a walk around the free part and made a lunch break our first order of business once we got inside. The parks themselves are still really nice. It would have been nice to go into the paying area but we decided whilst walking around that we probably weren’t keen enough to come back on a different day just to do that.
After lunch beneath the walkways we walked all the way up to one of the upper levels, passing a couple of geocaches on the way, and then descended to the far end of the park before walking back along the road past the main entrance to the paying area. It was more than enough to get the general feel of the place, I think. If you were going to pay to get in, you’d probably spend all day there. We contented ourselves with about 3 hours though.
When we got back the car parked in the middle of the hairpin bend we were faced with the biggest driving challenge of the holiday so far. We’d squeezed into a space that had a line of cars in front, and it was quite easy to get in, but when we came back a couple of cars had formed another line in front of us that was somewhat closer. We spent a little while pondering and very keenly all jumped in the car assuming that the parking sensors could get us out safely before deciding that wasn’t going to work. The parking sensors go completely ape when you’re half a metre away, and the exit route was so tight that we couldn’t afford to lose a half a metre. So Kas jumped out and acted as a somewhat more human parking sensor by showing me exactly how far away I was from everything. It took about 5 attempts at going backwards and forwards on full lock before getting the car out of the space, but I did get it out, and I didn’t at any point hit anything else. I was fairly proud of our achievement. I say “our” achievement, because there is absolutely no way I’d have got out of the space without Kas’s help.
So up to this point the day had been a bit of a disappointment. However it was still only mid-afternoon, so we thought we’d have time for one more thing before going home. We read that there are quite a few things to do up on Tibidabo so we thought we’d go for a look. When we got there it appeared to be closed. It wasn’t, but it was very quiet. It was the day after the terrorist attack on La Rambla and we wondered whether people had just decided to have a day at home instead. There were quite a few armed police around, including at the top of the road leading up the mountain.
We checked out the form for the fun park and decided it was probably good enough for a whole day later in the holiday, which left us with the opportunity to go up the Torre de Collserola. At least, once we’d found the entrance……
This was also very quiet, but that gave the advantage that we had the place more or less to ourselves. I think there were no more than two other paying punters and two staff on the viewing level the whole time we were there. The view from up there really is quite spectacular. You can see pretty much the whole of the city from the viewing level (including the Camp Nou, the Sagrada Família and the Olympic Stadium all at the same time). They also have little plaques at various points indicating the distance and direction to other major cities in the world.
By the time we’d finished up the tower it was past 5 pm, so we decided to drive home (through the Friday night rush hour) and go out for dinner in Sant Feliu. The drive home was uneventful and we had a quick shower break before walking down to the same restaurant we’d been to on the night we arrived. It was the best place we’d been so far, and it was nice again.
While we were getting ready, a massive cruise liner drifted by. On the sea, obviously…….