Another busy day….

Today started with more Gaudi and a trip to Park Guell. Eusebi Guell intended to create a garden city in the space, having been inspired by those in England. His plan failed because only three of the sixty available plots were sold, we were able to view the park that remains. Having expected a park to be free, we hadn’t bought tickets to the monuments and missed most of Gaudi’s work which was a disappointment.

However we did see a beautiful park with walkways suspended over intricate columns and fantastic views over the city to the sea….. and a small group of buskers playing jazz!

The next stop was another park, this time at Montjuic. This involved the metro, vernacular railway and cable car. The Barcelona Metro has been easy to use, clean and not too busy – a far cry from our experience in New York!


The park at Montjuic is huge. It has a fort at the top of the mountain, runs across to the Olympic Stadium, is home to several museums and Barcelona’s Botanic Gardens. It’s also a difficult place to find a public toilet and a cafe for a short break! The views across the docks were unexpected, you can’t see much from beach level but up high you get to see the scale of the working port.

We were only a few minutes from the Miro Foundation so we voted for more culture! Our highlights were the Mercury Fountain (we need one in the garden) and what can only be described as the biggest rug in world.

More Metro for us as we headed to the Las Arenas Shopping centre. The centre is housed in an old bullring and the top floor is a 360 terrace giving panoramic views around the city. I think we have probably seen more than enough panoramic views of the city!!

Finally, we were hoping to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic this evening but we are weary and have booked dinner at a time that clashes with the show. Instead of music, lights and dancing fountains, we just walked up to look at pools of water and used our imagination.

Barcelona has been exhausting and we’re looking forward to our trip up the coast for a few days of peace and quiet.

Sagrada Familia and a new room…

A visit to Sagrada Familia was the reason for staying in Barcelona and we’ve ticked that off the list! It is difficult to describe the impact the building has, both inside and out so you’ll just have google it yourselves because ‘wow’ doesn’t do it justice.



We arrived just as a number or local choirs started to sing and the sound was wonderful. There was a real mixture of choirs, from adults to schoolchildren, taking the opportunity to sing for visitors.

The museum was an interesting history of the development of the cathedral with plaster models, original plans by Gaudi and a short film describing his philosophy and approach to design an-amazingly talented man.

We headed back to the hotel to a new room free from the odour of cigarettes and marginally more space, woohoo! The only downside is that we overlook a busy road – fingers crossed for a better nights sleep.


We ventured all the way to a restaurant next door for dinner which was a good choice. Lovely food in very pleasant surroundings at a reasonable price before finally calling it a night.

A day of culture or ‘what does a Spanish department store and St Pancras International have in common?’

Before you start reading, please excuse typos and poor editing, the technology (or its operative) isn’t working that well, 😡😡

After a fairly disturbed night we started late.

Matt went for a run along the beach while John and I took our time over a very basic breakfast and negotiated a new room. Tonight’s room is marginally bigger but overlooking the road rather than the internal courtyard. Fingers crossed that it’s not too noisy, two thirds of us don’t work well on disturbed sleep. We’ll leave you to decide which two!

Our first stop was Casa Battlo which we admired from the outside before heading round the corner to a brilliant craft/DIY store.

Over 6 floors, it had everything you could need including the biggest display of coloured  bubble wrap John had ever seen. We also found a terrace with sneaky views over the back of Casa Battlo.

Next on the list was Gaudi’s La Pedrera. What an amazing building!


Gaudi’s talent left us speechless and the furnished apartment reminded us of Bagnoles and how much we missed it.


Next stop, Sagrada Familia which is the reason we’re here.
To answer the question in the title – both have eco friendly escalators that speed up when you stand on them. We admit we’re easily entertained!

Barcelona1 Hotel 0

We arrived to a warm, cloudy Barcelona and, much to our surprise, successfully negotiated the Airport shuttle into the city. We were very proud of our achievement and then the city started to fight back!

Our hotel is fairly central, about a mile back form the beach and walking distance to most of the Gaudi masterpieces. More about our hotel later…. we’ve stayed in better, the debate is whether we’ve stayed in worse!

A late breakfast fortified us in Cafe Emma and then we were off to the Aquarium.  Matt looked at everything on offer in Barcelona and chose the aquarium!  We walked through Las Ramblas while holding tightly to our belongings. tales of pickpockets ringing in our ears and then the rain started.  The decision was made, we would definitely go and visit some fish!

The marina is a vibrant area with a shopping centre, plenty of restaurants and lots of big expensive boats.

The aquarium was warm and dry and kept us entertained for a couple of hours. Matthew learned that fish come in different colours(!) and Kim learned how to tell the difference between a male and female shark.

The sun had appeared when we left so we headed for the beach and walked along the front before taking the cable car back across the harbour to Montjuic.

Three very weary Brays ended up back in Emma’s Cafe for dinner before adjourning to The English Tavern to watch the football. We were the only English in there and gave up when Man City went 2-0 down. The highlight for Matt was table football and beating Kim 2-0.

Now on to the hotel which appears to be tucked into a couple of floors of a serviced apartment block. We found reception on the second floor which is simply a man behind a desk. Our room is big enough for three beds but not if you want to walk between then or have more than one of us taking up floor space at any one time. And then there is the smell of cigarettes, a real reminder that smoking is still seen as more acceptable in large parts of Europe.  We were tired and forgave the room these issues until we woken by the guys next door coming back. It must be tissue paper for walls, they weren’t being noisy but it was like they were in the room with us. Either a new hotel or new room for us, we think.

According to Kim’s phone, we walked 10 miles. John is disbelieving but Kim trusts Apple implicitly.


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!