Europe’s Top Cities- #13

              Driving to Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is simple enough, it only took an hour. The next logical step would be to go to Cornwall or Snowdonia or something, but instead I thought it would be a good idea to try and drive around Europe. My time in Cheddar was pretty fun after all. So, instead of driving to Barnstaple, I drove to Barcelona.

              This was to be not only the first city on the trip but the first city I had ever visited in my van, as well as the first city I had ever really visited. We had swung through Pamplona for the San Fermin festival and had a pit stop in Zaragoza, but Barcelona was the first big, world monopoly board qualifying city I would visit. I knew it as the home of one of the world’s biggest football clubs, and that was about it, to be honest, so it would be fun exploring for the first time and learning about all its other charms.

              Our first impressions of the city were really our second. We stepped into the city with soreheads and tired legs, wanting to explore but our hungover bodies were resisting. Our real first impressions were slightly blurry and swaying as we departed the bus from the campsite a little on the inebriated side the previous night. We had been coming to terms with a few bottles of sangria as we had dinner by the van after a long drive and hadn’t quite anticipated the strong effects. Our campsite was too far away to walk back so we had attempted an all-nighter in the city and now we were feeling the effects in the mid-afternoon sun. We crept along the shaded pavements towards the cathedral and navigated through the parks and squares as a miniature devil hammered the inside of my skull. The plan was to meander through town in search of Antoni Gaudi’s famous buildings which are scattered through the city. The modernist architect’s works are iconic and crazy, most famously Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila. It would’ve been nice to check out his former house which is now a museum for an insight into his mind but I felt as if I had been hit by a tram and so we headed to the beach to lazily flounder our way back to full health. Gaudi himself had actually been hit by a tram and the famous architect who had helped shape the city was left on the street, mistook for a beggar until someone recognised him. By then it was too late and his injuries had become terminal, and so his life ended in a way almost as bizarre as how he lived it.

              Revitalised and ready to make up for lost time, we drove into the city the following day. We swung by the Nou Camp for a stroll around the iconic stadium before heading up the hills and onto Mt. Tibidabo. The view from the top was as good as you’ll get, looking out over the sunburnt orange roofs and out into the Mediterranean. Gazing out from the church and amusement park at the top, the towers of the Sagrada Familia rise dominantly over the skyline and beckoned us down the mountain. On the funicular and then a tram we made our way to the most famous of Gaudi’s buildings to look up at the rising spires, which were sadly decorated with tower cranes. Despite construction starting in 1882 the basilica remains unfinished after 148 years, but it is still a sight to behold. Next up on the list was the aquarium which was a disappointing waste of time, as was the cable car over the bay which only gifts you the gracious view of the back of someone’s head as you are crammed in the gondola. Departing that floating box of crowded hot air we finished our self-guided tour with a trip to the Olympic stadium which was a nice way to end.

              We could have spent a lot longer in Barcelona but we were keen to get a moving along the coast of the Med. In terms of culture, art, food and buildings there is plenty more to see in the city but as two eighteen-year-olds there’s only so much staring at churches we could handle whilst the inviting south coast of France called for us, so off we went.

Original Barcelona Post-

La Sagrada Familia
View From Mt Tibidabo

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