Having already spent the best part of a week in Spanish Spain, we decided that it would be rude not to venture into Barcelona for the day. After what had become traditional navigational mishaps (including an inadvertent trip through a service station and a brief detour down a motorway turn-off which has no other function than to lead you back onto the motorway itself), we made it to the port and split up for a brief wander through the shopping district.
Weirdly, there seemed to be a theme to our ramblings and a weird theme it was, too. The theme itself? Creepy dolls. The beginnings of the motif were spotted on a small antique market outside the main entrance to Barcelona Cathedral. Every single stall there was seemed to have some form of creepy looking doll (along the apparently obligatory graphic-statuette-of-Christ-with-bleeding-stigmata-on-the-cross). The creepy icing on the freaky cake came, however, with the discovery on one stall of a basket full of dolls eyes (one Euro per eye. Needless to say, no purchases were made.
The theme was topped off later by the discovery of a small shop down one of the streets. Not so unusual, you may be thinking. The side street is the traditional domain of the small shop. Well, quite so. This small shop, however, was selling what they clearly believed to be realistic looking baby dolls but were, in fact, terrifying wizened troll-creatures of about ninety years of age. I can not even imagine who would find one of these horrifying monstrosities cute, let alone go so far as to make a purchase. Truly the stuff of which nightmares are made.
The afternoon was spent with a trip to Parc Guell - quite possibly the most insane place outside of a theme park that I've ever seen. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, it's rather like the resultant madness you would get if the imaginations of Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Hans Christian Anderson made sweet, sweet love to each other and gave birth to a public park.
We came into the park at the Vallcarca side, meaning we were at the highest point to begin with and were afforded the best view possible out over Barcelona. Amazing though the height was, it didn't really do Barcelona any favours - the city was not pretty looking from up there, being grid-like and built-up in a way reminiscent of a shanty town.
Having finished surveying the views, we made our way down into the park proper and the Gaudi structures began to reveal themselves. We initially reached a wide platform which was edged and surrounded with the broken pottery effect beloved by Gaudi. It wasn't until we descended under the platform and out through towards the entrance that the true scope of the insanity begins to reveal itself. For there, just past a large multi-coloured lizard fountain and flanking the front entrance, lie two massive Hansel-and-Gretel-style gingerbread houses. It's really the only way to describe these architectural oddities.
Obviously, we'd walked through the park the opposite way and not got the full effect that a visitor arriving at the front gates would get but, in a way, there was something more satisfying about the slow reveal as opposed to the full assault on the senses. It's a prominent Barcelona landmark so I'm definitely glad we made the effort to get out and take a look round it.
And that brings the Spanish recollections to a close. The trip ended as it began - with much drinking of the booze and playing of the games - and a good time was had by all. Your normal blogging service of random old mind tat will no doubt resume tomorrow...