It’s that exodus time of year, all of travelling you en masse, descending on Barcelona. It’s been over a decade since I partook, but there’s still a wee pang of nostalgia as photos of over-priced paella start clogging up my social media feeds.
We used to go out in huge groups. Pre-Airbnb holiday accommodation, Barceloneta, Poble-sec … get a handle on your Catalan and hang on tight. Good times indeed. Messy times, expensive times. But back then you could just pick up the phone and ask Egg to increase the credit rating. Or the bank would ring you, offering loans to pay off the debts and then some. £10K Miss Raunet? Sure, no problem! Them sure were the days. We had it good.
Strolls down to the beach where you were warned not to swim (I once had a dirty tampon floating beside me), long walks back from Sonar By Night cause you couldn’t get a taxi, tagging along for mouldy tapas so as not to upset ‘the group’, winding your way up and down the Ramblas, on and off site, like a billion times, painfully aware of how you’re part of the hoards of obnoxious tourists. You’d run into just about everyone, ‘It’s like East London on the beach’ etc etc etc…
Outside the parties and bars, I always made a point of dragging some poor soul up Tibidabo. Sleep deprived, hung-over, sunburnt and sweaty, tackling the steep hill to the Funicular (!!!! FUNICULAR!!!! When do you get to ride one of them?!).
’We’re nearly there, promise! Oh my god wait til you see, it’s the most amazing place! You’re gonna love it!’.
My favourite ride was the magic carpet, although the last time i visited it had been refurbished, losing most of it’s surreal charm (gone were the giant papermaché mushrooms & strange sorcerers, replaced by lasers and neon). And then there was the Avio. 360 degrees views of the city in a bonafide old fashioned, red propeller plane. Sat in big, comfy armchairs, you’d hear the engine rev up and the blades begin to spin.
‘It’s like a time warp! This must be exactly what it was like to fly back in the day!’
And then the museum of animatronics. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. On my first visit the place still felt totally arcane, untouched since the doors opened … how many years ago? I swear there was a clown who had a monkey crawl out of his opening head, but my memory might be playing tricks on me. In any case, the whole place was weird. What more could you want?
I never felt like my enthusiasm quite reciprocated though. Even as the gaudy catholic cathedral lit up behind us at dusk, no one ever seemed as dazzled as me. I suppose now I’m a little bit older and jaded I get it, but back then when credit came easy, childhood wasn’t as far away and I had cash to spunk, no visit would be complete without an extravagant dip in the kitsch.
This song just fits the vibe. I could try to make some tenacious link to Mona-Lisa’s Smile but I haven’t had much sleep the past couple of nights and my brain ain’t quite up for the stretch. To all you out there, enjoy the ride!