23 May 2012



          To the west, high above the city stands the peak of Tibidabo. Tibidabo literally meansTo you I give- the BigBarcelonaBlog's numerous Latin scholars were doubtless ahead of me there. It is rumoured to be the place where, during Jesus' forty days and forty nights in the desert, the Devil offered him the world if only he would kneel down and worship him. How Jesus got to the top of a hill outside Barcelona from Israel is not recorded but do remember he could walk on water so please keep an open mind.  Fortunately Jesus did not keep an open mind when it came to accepting the devil's offer - either that or he was a Real Madrid fan (note the all-white strip he wore and his habit of referring to himself asA Special One.” – Im just saying). Anyway, whatever the reason he turned the devil down and Barcelona was left with the problem of what to do with a location that if left unattended might attract untold numbers of Satanists waving their tridents and looking for traces of Beelezebub. It's just not the group a modern forward-looking city with tourists to attract and a cool image to maintain wants coming. I mean they've already got English hen parties to deal with.
          There was only one thing for it. They turned it into a theme park. And the theme park is the reason that you want to get on a bus and go. Theres a church there too which looks amazing from the down in the city but is in fact just big and ugly up close. The theme park is what makes it worth the visit,  Now there are a number of ways to get to Tibidabo but in keeping with the undemocratic ethos of this blog I'm not going to tell you about more than one. Go to Plaza Catalunya by the bottom of La Rambla de Catalunya and you will find a bus stop. Within twenty minutes a T1 bus will appear. Get on it. And go.

Tibidabo No.1 : Classic Rides

          The bus soon leaves Barcelona behind and then spends the next twenty minutes negotiating increasingly tight hairpin bends as it rises towards the summit. If the bus is full and the driver is in a bad mood you will probably be thrown around a bit. If you suffer from travel sickness this would be a good time to curse me.  However, I would remind you that you are travelling to a theme park and as I understand it theme park rides are basically elaborate attempts to make people with travel sickness issue vomit. So you might as well get it out of the way now because its coming up anyway.
          Anyway, nauseous or not, twenty minutes later you will find yourself dropped at the top of Tibidabo. You thought the view of Barcelona was good from the park bench on Park Guell (see my entry here). From Tibidabo its outstanding. The whole city is laid out below you surrounded by mountains on three sides and the Mediterranean on the other. To the South is Montjuic which looks huge from inside the city but is now nothing more than a puny tussock. You can just about pick out the spires of La Sagrada Familia. Depending on the depth of your religious belief you could choose to take a moment to give the devil some creditI mean if you were going to tempt somebody with the world this would be the place to do it. You may consider that should the devil have decided upon a different career path he could have made it as an estate agent. You may think back on the first house you bought and wonder if he did.
          Having admired and photographed the view more times than is probably strictly necessary, it's time to head into the theme park (I will allow you in a rare example of hippydippyness to do this in reverse order if you like). There are various types of ticket you can buy. There is the ticket where you get all the rides. There is the ticket where you only get the old classic rides and there is the ticket where you walk around holding the coats while everybody else goes on rides (otherwise known as the Mum's ticket). Here at the BigBarcelonaBlog we do not believe in half-measures so we recommend getting the full ticket.
           We also recommend exercising your fingers at regular intervals to prevent them atrophying. An excellent way to do this is to choose an advert or two and click on them. Thank you. Normal service will now be resumed.
          The eagle-eyed among you will however have spotted something in the last but one paragraph (other than the overuse of parentheses). You will have spotted the reference to classic old rides. And this is what makes Tibidabo such a special theme park. Many of the rides date from the nineteen twenties. To go to Tibidabo is to take a partial step back in time. To when fun was slower. And creakier.
Tibidabo No 2 : Slow and creaky
          The most famous of all the rides in Tibidabo is the red plane. It is one of the most non-famous famous things about Barcelona. There will be a queue for it. However, if you go on a weekday (highly recommended, though it's only open weekdays in the summer) the queue shouldn't be too long. The plane can only fit about ten people so it takes a bit of time to get through but it's worth it.  Why? Because the detail and décor of the plane are so impressive and the ride itself is so...er..,not impressive. It's a red plane on a crane arm that goes round and round. It doesn't suddenly turn upside down, nor does it crazily plummet a hundred metresit simply continues for a bit at a stately pace and then stops and you all get out again. Its magnificent in its dullness. Should you have children they will be dumbfounded by how little happens. They may demand a refund.  And that's why you should make them go on it. Just like once in a while you should make them walk all the way to the TV to change the channel. So they know how lucky they are next time they get on The Pulverizering Nemesis or whatever the latest ride is at AllfunDrizzlyCastleWorld is.

Tibidabo No 3 : It's the plane boss!

          Do not fear however because mixed among the classic old rides are more modern ones. Log flues and roller coasters and the like. True they arent going to compete with The Pulverising Nemesis but they do enough to get the heart well and truly racing. But what is so charming about Tibidabo is the mixture and the contrast of the rides and other attractionsdont miss the haunted house. And they all happen with the backdrop of the wonderful view of Barcelona.
          However, that is not to say that the classic rides cant turn up the terror level if they want to. First there is the thought at the back of the mind that these things were built out of wood in the nineteen twenties when Health and Safety Standards were considered euphemisms for communism. And second there is the rawness of some of the rides. The most non-thrillingly thrilling of these in a sort of existential way is The Bucket of Doom. Is it obvious that I made up the name? The Bucket of Doom is pretty much what it says - a big bucket that about ten people can stand in. As soon as they are standing in it the bucket is raised thirty metres into the sky. And then it hangs there for a while. There is no music. There are no flashing lights. There are no canned cackles of demonic laughter. Just you, a bucket and the occasional buffets of the wind. It scared the pants off me.
Tibidabo No 4 : The ugly church and to the left a bit of The Bucket of Doom
          Now, in fairness, the BigBarcelonaBlog has to admit that the years have taken their toll on his nerve, but Im not blaming myself entirely. Jesus may have turned the devil down up here but though the devil failed maybe he didnt go back to Hades without leaving a little souvenir behind him. Perhaps here, high up in Tibidabo. the slightest whiff of sulphur still lingers.

Useful Spanish Words or Phrases:

¿Es la parada para el autobus de Tibidabo?Is this the Tibidabo bus stop?
Un billete para Tibidabo, por favorA (bus) ticket for Tibidabo, please.
Una entrada para el parque de attraciones, por favourA ticket for the theme park, please.
¡Qué buena la vista!What a wonderful view!
¿Esta es la cola para el avion rojo?Is this the queue for the red plane?

If you fancy chatting:

Otra curva muy cerradaAnother hairpin bend.
Carino, estás muy verdeDarling, youve gone quite green.
Soy demasiado viejo para estoIm too old for this.
Velaré por los abrigosIll look after the coats.
Carino, ¿te acuerdas cuando he dicho que estabas verde? Pues, ahora estás superverdeDarling, you remember when I said youd gone green? Well, now youre really green.

1 comment:

  1. I am indebted to the wonderful Ms Jordina Complements (Barcelona's best teacher/jewelry maker) who has pointed out that you should not miss the curious "automatas" museum or the mirror's room. Consider yourselves told.