7. Mar, 2020


SATURDAY 7-03-20

We were up and in good time for our 09:00 coach to Barcelona, about fifteen miles away. There were more passengers onboard than we expected including the next door neighbours and their two Labrador dogs which spend all day indoors apart from their walks. I bet it smells delightful in their motorhome.

We arrived at about 09:45 and were due to be picked up at 17:00 so we had a few hours to kill.

Our first visit was to be our furthest point - The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia to give it it's full title, or 'Indoor Food Market' as I'm sure it will become known in time.

Building began in 1882, and a year later the job of completing it was passed to Antoni Gaudi, who changed everything, making it up as he went along basically. It became his life's work and he lived like a recluse on the site for 14 years. He is buried in the crypt, roughly where the fresh fish counter will be located given time. Work continues today financed by public subscription, and with income from entry tickets starting with the basic at €20 and rising to the Full Monty which includes a guided tour and trip up the towers for €39.

If I were the Accountant on the project and I had a choice between finishing the project and then relying on the collection box and the sale of one euro tea tree candles to burn, or leaving it unfinished and having thousands of punters paying silly money to look around inside, then I know which option I'd be pushing for.

What an absolutely ghastly building it is. It cannot possibly be described as a cathedral, or temple, it's more of a folly. I assume the first part has been built of sandstone because it's either starting to erode already or it's just very poor craftsmanship. This really is a building designed by Spaniards and built by Spaniards. And the reason I believe it will become a fruit and veg market after the sale of one euro candles dries up, is because on the roof are stone carvings depicting fruit and vegetables.

An early lunch was had at the McDonalds just across the road. Nothing special of course but it filled a gap and we sat out in the sunshine to eat it.  Walking back through the small park next to the 'Temple' we came across some youths dancing which was a pleasant distraction.

After that it was a general wander towards Las Ramblas, a historic avenue of trees, shops, a theatre, stalls and pickpockets. We walked down it and at the bottom were greeted by the nice marina area, and a column on top of which was a statue of Christopher Columbus. I did take a picture of it, but unfortunately with a small camera fitted only with a screen on which to see the image in bright sunshine (give me a viewfinder any day) I discovered when we got back and looked at it that I had chopped his head off.

We sat on a bench there for ages trying to kill time, but after our backsides started getting numb we made our way along the side of the marina towards the super yachts we could see on the other side.

There were two yachts moored up at the location we went too, one of which was 'Dilbar', registered in Georgetown. We had seen her before anchored off Antibes in France. She is the largest superyacht in the world, is owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and cost $800,000,000. She's far bigger than any warship the Royal Navy has, apart from our two new aircraft carriers which are very large, exceedingly expensive and a complete waste of money as they are capable only of intimidating little brown chaps in developing countries around the globe because if we used them against a superpower like Russia or China they'd be sunk within 48 hours.

Then we wandered off to find the cathedral which we didn't bother going in as it was seven Euros and The Chef wasn't at all bothered. So we sat down on the edge of a square outside and watch street entertainers and general hustlers at work.

My how the time was dragging, so we popped in to a coffee shop and had the UK equivalent of half a cup of coffee each. Then we made our way back to the coach pickup point which was at Place Catalunya which is Spanish for 'Our poor version of Trafalgar Square, but unlike you we've kept the pigeon shit'.

Our 17:00 coach was a welcomed sight and we arrived back at Camping Barcelona at about 17:45. We weren't very hungry and so settled for soup and a fresh baguette this evening.

Fortunately there had been very little coughing or sneezing during the day. I don't think the coronavirus epidemic has quite reached here yet.

This dreadful outbreak began in Wuhan, China, where authorities built a new 1000 bed hospital for infected patients in just ten days. Perhaps after all of this is finally over Boris Johnson should invite the Chinese to send the builders over here to sort out our NHS bed shortage.

I believe this potential pandemic was avoidable.

In our past colonial days we sent missionaries to far-off eastern lands in an attempt to introduce them to Christianity. These missionaries encouraged the natives to adopt a healthy diet by introducing the concept of eating Five-A-Day, though later that first evening a leading missionary and his four colleagues came to regret giving that advice.

It only became necessary for us British to send in armies of occupation, thus creating our Empire, when the natives just wouldn’t stop eating the missionaries. They really had developed a taste for them.

By the time we finally granted all of our Empire nations their independence they were enjoying a balanced and varied diet including Curry & Chips, Sweet & Sour Haggis and Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding – but then what do they go and do as soon as our backs are turned? Start eating snakes, bats, toads, vermin and anything else they can get their hands on.

In 2012 the Chef and I went on a very enjoyable 19-day escorted tour of China, and while we were killing time in Shanghai waiting for our overnight flight home, we did what we always do, and went for a wander among the locals. Whilst doing so we passed a small store, at first glance it looked like a pet shop, but when you looked closely – it was a food shop, with various live delights in cages and tanks displayed on tables outside.

Unfortunately this situation does mean that on this trip we will have to take some additional precautions as the virus continues to spread. I think I may try and find the time to put something together over the next few days to add to the 'Advice & Tips' section on this blog.

Tomorrow we head for Benicassim which is familiar territory to us and I think will mark the start of this trip proper.