Cards on the table, I’ve driven through Barcelona more than a few times. “Through” being the key word. Some people travel half way across the world to visit the iconic Spanish city and yet, somehow, Barcelona had become the obstacle between me and the airport, particularly that triple merge and six lane change on to Ronda de Dalt. With two adventure loving boys by my side, last week’s airport run finally got a detour.
With a flight still looming, we figured we could “see everything” Barcelona had to offer from the top of Mount Tibidabo (yes, the same one for those “Friends” fans of you out there). We spotted the summit from the highway, mostly from the impressive Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor church adorning the top, but getting there wasn’t as easy as we anticipated.
The crammed Fiat 500 chugged up whatever road seemed to promise elevation. We were weaving up and down Barcelona until I finally convinced the boys to stop and ask for directions. I did better than expected and managed to get us an escort! A kind English speaking couple lead us through a maze of roads before pointing us to the final turn. Ten minutes later and we were on top of Barcelona.
Functioning as the backdrop of the city, up on the mountain we spotted Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia and the stunning coastline fencing in the city. On the other side of the summit, rolling green hills speckled with clusters of city sprawl faded off into the hazy day. We also discovered the “love locks”, padlocks that couples had locked onto a fence to represent their love for one another. There were hundreds of locks. Different colours, heart-shaped ones, engraved ones, and most of the them customized in some way. Maybe it was the altitude but reading the names on each one was heartwarming. Even the small, plain ordinary locks had been placed there by two people who had found each other for at least a moment.
After admiring the architecture of the church and a stop at the one of the world’s best positioned cafes, it was back into the car, back down to Ronda de Dalt and back en route to the airport. As we left the city, it was the first time I was sad be done with with the triple merge, six lane change. Our two hour detour was only a small slice of Barcelona but it had changed my whole perspective of the city. How could this view not?