Driving a car in Spain’s second biggest city isn’t for the meek. I really didn’t fancy taking the van in. And during research, we’ve not found anywhere safe that we could park the night anyway. Instead we found a site called Barcelona Beach, which was near a train station where we could get a €7 return ticket to drop us in the city centre.
The main reason to visit Barcelona is La Sagrada Família. It’s a temple that has (mostly) been designed by the famous artist Antoni Gaudí. I’m not a great appreciator of art or architecture (raw engineering is more my thing), but even I think it is an astounding piece of work. After toiling on the project for 40 years, Gaudi got hit by a tram and died in 1926. The city is working desperately hard to complete the building in time for the centenary of his death… no, it’s still not finished. They’ve got 4 of the 12 towers yet to start, the main spire is nowhere near complete, and one of the three facades hasn’t been started. They’ve got their work cut out!
However, even in it’s current state, it’s incredible. It’s huge and it works so well. It’s almost completely naturally lit in the day, using huge stained glass windows that bring in a spectrum of colours. Most of the stonework is white, and it’s often been shaped to reflect the light down to ground level. All the internal columns have a branching tree structure to distribute the load of the huge towers above. Wow.
Afterwards we went for a stroll around the city. We avoided ‘Las Ramblas’, which is where most of the shops are. Instead we just soaked up the atmosphere for a few hours.
We got back to The Van late afternoon. Joolz was bushed, but I still had a bit of energy. The campsite was had the sea on one side, and some really steep hills on the other. I randomly decided to ride up the one nearby with the castle on top. After a few minutes research, I found that Castillo de Burriac it was only 3km away, but a 400m climb, much of it dirt track. On my mountain bike, it would have been a challenge. On my Brompton, it would have been too much… so I cheated and took Joolz’s Electric Brompton. By about half I’d switched to maximum assistance and was honking up in 1st gear with both wheels spinning away on the rough ground and dust. But I made it after nearly an hour. It took about 20 mins to get back down and Joolz’s poor rear wheel rim was too hot to touch.