17 May 2012


Montjuic No.1 : Hazy View!

          Montjuic is the big hill that lies just to the South of Barcelona. You can't miss it. You look South and something gets in the way. That's Montjuic. Should you go there? When the heat rises on the street, the human statues begin to sway and even the never-ending lines of fridge magnets on Las Ramblas start melting there really is only one one place to go. Finland. Or Montjuic. Less than twenty minutes away from the pulsating metropolis it is a place where there are shady nooks, where the air is crisper and a where there is a panoramic view of a...well I'll come to that later. Montjuic. You just have to go.
          Getting to Montjuic is fun. You could get a taxi or you could walk but if, like the Big Barcelona Blog, you are fans of unusual modes of travel the best solution is to get a funicular and a cable car. Obviously.
          First, the funicular. Having bought a trusty T-10 from the machine at your nearest metro station (see my entry on the metro in getting aroundor forgive the fact that I haven't actually written the entry yet) take a train to Paral-lel (green line). Here follow signs until you get to the next car to depart – the price is covered in your T-10 fare. They have placed it at the end of quite a long tunnel to add tension to your approach as to whether it will go or not before you get there which is nice of them. I wouldn't bother running though as it leaves every seven minutes or so - so you shouldn't have long to wait. According to Wikipedia a funicular is unlike other forms of transport because it relies on two connected carriages, one going up, one going down, working together in the perfect harmony of counterbalance.  Unlike most forms of transport that do just the opposite. This will give you something to tell strangers on the short journey.
          Once this journey is over it's time to get really silly transport wise and head for the most unnecessary cable car in the world. Why unnecessary? Well cable cars normally send you fast up steep gradients to high places that are often extremely difficult to access because they are covered in deep snow. The cable car up the Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps is perhaps the best example of this and one I heartily recommend. The cable car in Montjuic sends you not very far, up a gradual incline with virtually no possibility whatsoever of snow underneath. It's like they built a train to take you from your kitchen to your bathroom. So why take it? Well, mainly because it's so pointless you feel sorry for it. You can almost hear all the other cool cable cars laughing at it. And because it's got automatic doors. And because it's a cable car. And one of the rules of life is that, just like water slides, you should never turn down the opportunity to go in a cable car.
          Oh and it's got fantatstic views of Barcelona. I knew there was a real reason.

Montjuic No.2 : Barcelona with triffids in the foreground

          Once you've enjoyed your fantastic views of Barcelona pointed your camera and exclaimed “Look, there's the Sagrada Familia!” and “Look, there's Tibidabo!” and “Look there's the end to the ride. Already! Seriously, I paid six euros for this!” you will arrive at the top of Montjuic. You will notice the air is crisper and fresher. I mean not much: this isn't Heidi. But a bit. Turn left and you will head to the fortress which stands atop Montjuic. It's free to go in and there's nothing we like better at the BigBarcelonaBlog than free things to go in. Apart from cable cars, water slides and patatas bravas. There is a museum in the middle of the castle that you have to pay for but I wouldn't bother.  Instead wander round the ramparts looking at the cannons and breathing in more of that bracing sea air. Take the time to look over the walls and you get a wonderful view of...a wonderful view of....a wonderful view of...
          Barcelona container port.
          What can I tell you? It's not even designed by Gaudi.

Montjuic No.3 : What can I say? I haven't got a photo of a container port.

          But it's what's there so you've got to look at it. After you've tried to rhapsodize about Barcelona container port for a little while - “Darling, it's just so rectangular!” you'll probably fancy a drink. There is a bar in the fortress but it serves you beer in plastic glasses and the BigBarcelonaBlog does not approve of plastic glasses. What are we? Students? (If you are a student please don't take that the wrong way.)
          So what you should do is retrace your steps back to the top of the cable car and then continue to walk round the castle in the opposite direction. There may well be people doing archery in the moat. I always find this incongruous but that's because I read too many Robin Hood stories as a kid and think archery should only be performed by men in forests wearing lincoln green. You will probably just have your own personal associations of archery and moats to dwell on. And if you don't there is no finer opportunity to develop some. Continue on all the way round the castle until the moat stops and a road goes off to your right.
          Follow it. Notice it is empty and devoid of other humans. Follow it a bit more. Begin to doubt me. Continue following it. Lose faith in me entirely. If with another person have a row. Agree to give it one hundred more metres and then quit. Say “That's a hundred metres.” “No it's not!” “Yes, it is!” “Oh look, what's that?”
          And there hidden in the trees just where you least expect it is a bar.
          A cool bar. The sort of bar only a hip traveller like yourself would ever find.
          Gosh I'm being nice to you – just raining down those compliments. If you felt like doing something nice back and you're not the kind of person not to reciprocate, are you? then just take a brief second to click on one of the adverts that accompanies this blog. You can close it straight afterwards and nobody will know. Thank you.
          Back to super-cool bar you've just found. Admittedly it is a little unpredictable in its opening times but if it is between May and September and the weather is reasonable then it should be open. They will serve you a cerveza in a glass and if you arrive around lunch time there is sometimes, but not always, a barbecue going with sausages and salad available. Perched under the pine trees, sitting, sipping cerveza while slicing into a succulent sausage - it is the perfect place to while away an hour or so after a hectic morning in the city.
          I should mention, by the way, that you can also find the Olympic stadium up here but between ourselves Olympic stadiums are pretty rubbish unless they’ve got the Olympics in. And it will probably be shut. So all you’ll do is wander round it getting grumpy and sunburnt. Much better to stay under those pine trees and order a second cerveza…

Useful Spanish words/phrases:

Quiero comprar un T diez – I want to buy a T-10
¿Dónde está el funicular de Montjuic? – Where is the Montjuic funicular?
Dos cervezas, por favor – Two beers, please
¿Hoy hay butifarras? – Are there sausages today?

If you fancy chatting :

Carino, que rectangular es el puerto para contenedores! – Darling, isn’t the container port rectangular?
¿Es necessario tener un permiso de esquiar? – Do I need a ski pass?

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