Open the photo gallery >>

Today was the day for going home. Boo. hiss, and grumpetty-grump, and all that. Our two weeks by the seaside had been rendered down into a large collection of memories and photos, and a requirement to make one final journey in the trusty Volvo.

We didn’t quite go straight home though. We got a little side-tracked on the way to the airport.

A week and a bit previously, when we’d tried to do our “Gaudí” day (see Not the Full Gaudi/), we’d been unable to get into the Sagrada Familia as a result of us not having thought to book tickets in advance. So we decided it would be a good thing to do on the way home, as we were being chucked out of the apartment at 10 am but weren’t flying home until 5 pm.

We had an 11 am appointment at said massive, half-built church, but we were all ready to go quite early, so we loaded up the car a little after 8 am and carried the last sack of rubbish down the hill whilst stalking the carrier in the car. We’d done most of the rubbish clearance the previous night, on the way down to the restaurant.

We stopped for some breakfast at the place we’d stopped on our day of arrival (only on the other side of the road). This allowed me to disappear under a bridge to find a lurking geocache. Might as well. We were parked within 30 yards of it.

When we arrived in Barcelona it was relatively easy to find the Sagrada Familia itself, but a little more time consuming to find a car park. What we eventually found was an underground one beneath an apartment block which was available for public parking as well as residents. It was a bit tight getting in though. I got Kas to get out and confirm I wasn’t about to scrape the car on anything, and I wasn’t looking forward to having to get back out again.

We walked a block or so down to the Sagrada Familia and discovered that there was no option to get in earlier than our tickets said, so we were left with three-quarters of an hour or so to waste. We used it wisely by checking out some touristy artwork and finding a couple of caches in the park outside.

We’d booked the self-guided tour with no tower-climbing, which meant we were free to pootle around at our own speed, reading the displays and admiring the architecture as we went. It really is a stunning building, and I’m sure it will be great when it’s finished. It’s weird to look at in some areas because some bits of it have been there so long that the rocks are quite significantly weathered, and these sit right next to chunks of rock that look like they were placed yesterday. The thing is constantly growing and developing too. It was considerably bigger and more complete than the picture I had in my mind from doing basic research in tour guides and on Wikipedia. The inside is particularly spectacular. OK, so I know that Gaudi’s fairly unique style is not appreciated by a lot of more traditionalist worshippers or students of ecclesiastical architecture, but my personal view is that if you’re going to believe in paying homage to an omnipresent super-being, this would be a pretty good place to be doing it. I can’t understand why people would rave over the massively detailed decoration on cathedrals in Milan, Rouen or Cologne and then lambast this one for being a bit over the top. Maybe I’m biased on the basis that it’s also a bit of a geological sensation, and I find that interesting. I find it inspiring the way that Gaudí wanted to use differing stones, as well as glasses, woods, coloured tiles and lights to impress the eye with a cascade of colour throughout the structure. And it is certainly unique. I have never seen another church that looks even remotely like this one.

Having had our fill of Sagrada Familia, we had a brief break to buy souvenirs and make some enormous bubbles before making our way to the airport, via a refuelling stop. We were hopelessly early for our flight but once we’d left the Sagrada Familia we’d all pretty much decided that the holiday was over, and it was time to go sit somewhere peaceful whilst waiting for an aeroplane.

We had a rather busy lunch of pizzas and pastas in the “pre-passport” zone before plodding through to our gate and sitting on the relevant airport spur watching planes going in and out.

There were a couple of huge ones parked up beneath us when we got there.

We also saw the King of Spain (no, not the King of Spin) land for his walk around central Barcelona with tens of thousands of others in memory of the people who’d lost their lives in the previous week’s terrorist attack on La Rambla.

Our flight home was nicely on time, but sadly Luton Airport wasn’t. It took flippin’ ages to get through, mainly because of a massive bottleneck in passport control.

The car was where we left it, but there was a bit of early grumping when we discovered one of the brakes had seized a bit and was making nasty clunking noises until the first time I really push the pedal hard. I suppose the car had been standing there for 15 days.

The house was pretty much where we’d left it, and Izzy and me made haste with the unloading while Kas and Ami very kindly went out to fetch curry and wine. It had been a long but very rewarding holiday, with many things achieved, including a bit of family bonding.