Early start for Barcelona today, and by early we mean before 9:30! Hours of research, and debate,(should we get the train or drive, do we leave it for visit etc.) helped us decide what to do!
The little Fiat made it up all the hills and we were there in under two hours. Our first challenge was to park, and that was a challenge! The satnav was fantastic, taking us to a car park only 25 yards from where we wanted to be, if only we didn’t keep missing the turnings! The car park was very clever, there were little LED lights above each parking space, red if the space is occupied and green if its vacant, so you can glance down a whole row of cars and easily see if there are any spaces. Barcelona is full of typical city drivers, dithering is not tolerated and neither is being in the wrong lane! One advantage of the little Fiat is that it has a great turning circle so we can execute U turns easily.
John made a new friend in the cycle hire shop. Christie was explaining that she had to burn incense to take away the smell that greets her when she opens up the sea front shop. As you can imagine, the beach is a popular place at night but sadly lacking in public toilets! John described the toilets he’s seen in Ostende that pop-up out of the ground during the evening and disappear under the ground during the day. She was delighted when he showed her photos!
Cycling in Barcelona is surprisingly easy, it has over 100km of cycle routes. The only trouble is you have to find one first. That challenge was too great for us, so we stopped for an early lunch whilst we got our bearings. Freshly made coffee, tea with unlimited top-ups and a slice of tuna tortilla big enough to share served with tomato bread – all for under €10. The guide books advise eating off the tourist routes and this was a great find.
Our destination was the famous Sagrada Familia. Spanish architect Gaudi’s designs and use of colour have been used as inspiration in many gardening programmes over the years so Kim was determined to see what it was all about. We stopped in a square to try and get our bearings and a lovely Spanish lady offered to help. She looked horrified when we said where we were going and told us we ought to drive! Not to be deterred, we headed off and found ourselves, quite by accident, on a cycle route, right through the Arc de Triomph!
There was no stopping us, 20 minutes later we were dwarfed by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Described as the eight wonder of the world, it’s breathtakingly beautiful, and that’s just from the outside!
We didn’t have the patience to queue for tickets so the inside will have to wait for our next visit.
We cycled back to the coast via Los Ramblas, Barcelona’s main pedestrianised shopping area which is full of market stalls, eateries and hundreds of people. It was hard work pushing the bikes through and wasn’t an area that appealed to us. Our final landmark was the Marina area which has been built on reclaimed land with a network of floating boardwalks. It would have been great to explore but our time was up if we wanted to leave the City before the rush hour.
Barcelona definitely needs to go on the list for a 2-3 day city break – if the culture becomes too much, you can always escape to the beach!