I originally set out to see Parc Guell. However, on getting off the metro I didn’t see signs for the park anywhere, but I did look up the mountain and see the spires of a large edifice that has taunted me from afar since I arrived.
So, instead of a quick trip to the park, I decided to scale the mountain and find a way to… whatever this thing was. This made it difficult to ask directions as I didn’t want to say “Perdon, como llego a… Um, whatever that pokey, religious kind of building on top of the mountain is?”. Makes me seem like a little more of a dumb tourist than normal. But then, I was the one who decided to start out on this trek with no forethought, planning, or basic map guidance. So if the shoe fits…
On the way, I took several roads that wound around the mountain, and encountered more bikers and joggers than anywhere else in Barcelona. I took this as a good sign: at least I was still going in populated areas.
Eventually though, I couldn’t follow roads anymore.
Every now and then I would pop into a clearing and get my bearings
Walking through a forest that connects directly to such a busy city was pretty cool. It felt like a total break from city life, but I knew that the city was still walking distance away.
While walking through the forest, I encountered mountain bikers frequently, other hikers rarely, and occasionally random things:
One has to wonder with the pants: did someone go skipping out of the forest wearing only their skivvies? Why leave them behind, they seemed perfectly functional? Did he have two sets of pants and just suddenly preferred to be rid of these? Was he running from a bear and left these as a decoy? Endless possibilities.
Eventually one of my clearings gave me very positive signs. This was after the 2nd hour of rambling.
Eventually I arrived.
Turns out the mountain is called Tibidabo and is the tallest mountain in the area. Good to know. The church is Temple De Sagrat Cor. Turns out it was built at the turn of the century because there were rumors of a Protestant church or a Casino being build there. The Roman Catholics would have none of that so they promptly put this church right on the summit. It seems that didn’t stop an amusement park being built here as well, but I’ll save those comments for now.
The church itself is super clean and well taken care of; it looks basically new in most cases.
Going inside, you get up close and personal with all the sculptures.
And inside is pretty impressive as well.
The real draw for me is the outside, and the views you can get. Turns out you can go all the way up to the top of this church.
Now, the wisdom of putting an amusement park up here seems at best circumspect, and at worst idiotic. As proof of this, while I encountered many people going into and out of the temple, the amusement park attached was a ghost town.
So, yeah; holiness just doesn’t seem to mix well with rides that spin you around and make you puke. Or buckets of popcorn and hot dogs. Perhaps there are good holy amusement parks out there, but this isn’t one of ’em.
So, 2.5 hours of walking, wandering lost in the woods, sweating on the tallest hill in the region, followed by some of the most spectacular views you can have of Barcelona, equals a grand day out. I discovered at the top that there is a tram you can take from the city to spare all that walking and wandering, but on the balance I chose to head back down the hill on foot. More fun that way. Now that I had it somewhat figured out, it only took about 40 minutes before I was in front of metro stations again. Tibidabo; you have a weird name but you are worth the trip.