1 September, Spain – ‘All Over The Place – Europe’
Barcelona is one of those cities I’ve always meant to visit and somehow never got round to, so I was quite excited on Saturday when we dropped our people carriers off at Alicante airport and set off on a 7 hour journey to the city that Freddie Mercury sang about so loudly.
I wasn’t disappointed once we got there. Barcelona’s twisting streets and tastefully lit squares were a pleasure, and once again it was proved to us that things in Spain only really get going around the time most people in the UK are rubbing their eyes and heading to bed, so we felt quite pleased with ourselves returning to our hotel at 6.30am and being told that we could have breakfast before we went to bed if we liked.
After a day off kipping round the pool we were up at the crack of dawn to beat the tourist hoardes to Park Guell, the unique hillside park with stunning views of the city, designed by Antoni Gaudi. I bet when he drew up the plans he didn’t think that one day two plonkers dressed in builders’ outfits would turn up and sing a song about him in the style of Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’, but that’s exactly what was happening today.
As our song points out, Gaudi certainly wasn’t a fan of straight lines. The expansive balconies, mutated barley twist gatehouses and exotic statuettes, all inlaid with multi coloured shards of ceramics, twist and curve in and out of the landscape and are quite unlike any public building works I’ve seen before.
Next we made our way to the Sagrada Familia. It’s a huge cathedral they started building in 1882… and they’re still building it. It’s scheduled to completed in 2026! By lunchtime I was surprised to find that my enthusiasm for Gaudi was waning. I’d wanted to see this stuff ever since I was an art loving teenager, but up close it disturbed me a bit. It feels like the buildings are based on plans doodled by someone who was a bit unhinged, and even the swathes of tourists didn’t stop me from feeling a bit unsettled by the intricate twisting hotch-potch of carvings towering above us.
Being a busy day’s filming we had another big item to film elsewhere in town at the Miba Museum. It’s a remarkable collection of crazy inventions assembled by a guy called Pep, many of them created by himself. His favourite thing is to take 2 things that already exist and merge them into one, so we were treated to his exercise bike vending machine (it doesn’t release the food until you’ve burnt off the calories), remote control cushion, shoe camera and various other weird and wonderful creations. There’s even a slide to get you from one floor to another. Top tip if you ever find yourself in Barcelona – pop in for your souvenirs, they’ve got the most bonkers selection of stuff in their gift shop that you’ve ever seen.