We’re quite a long way into this little travelogue now and we haven’t mentioned the weather much. Well it’s been hot, very hot. Europe is in the middle of a heat wave and temperatures have regularly been in the mid 30s. That’s all very well when you’re by the coast, with the gorgeous Med lapping at your toes, or if you’ve got a great big cool pool to jump into. In the middle of one of Spain’s largest cities….not so great.

As a birthday treat for Claire, who has 2 successful trips to Barca under her belt, we checked into an air conditioned apartment. Heavily researched online it looked perfect. It was a bit of a trek from the parking we’d managed to find, it was very hot, and by the time we got there we were ready to collapse pretty much. Checking in at the 5 star hotel which runs the apartments all looked good, but the apartment was shabby and had a dangerous balcony which we just weren’t comfortable with. A ‘discussion’ with the hotel ensued, and after some messing around they gave us one of their Junior Suites for the night which went some way to softening the blow but it was not the most auspicious start to our city break. We went out for sushi (Abi’s request), and she was so tired she fell asleep on Claire’s back on the way there. Oh dear, things weren’t looking good but she rallied when we reached Placa Espanga and fed the pigeons. There were also some bubble guys there so that really went down well.

The next day was a Monday, and after a very hot night due to broken air conditioning in our ‘luxury suite’, we checked out of the hotel and found another apartment up near the Sagrada Familia. This time we lucked out with perfect views of the cathedral from our apartment, and a rooftop terrace with pool that gave even better views of the amazing building. But…another half a day gone by the time we were settled in. Heading out on the tube we made it downtown to the port for a cooling ice cream, then strolled through the Barrio Gotic and up the Ramblas. We then headed down into the sweltering metro and disaster struck. Unbeknown to us there is a regular tube strike every Monday in Barcelona….ummm. Long delays in unbearable heat, and packed trains when they did arrive. Tempers were frayed (apart from Abi who dealt with the whole thing with great aplomb) and after about an hour of faffing about we gratefully found a taxi back to the apartment.

Our final day in Barcelona was somewhat more successful. We booked a spot for around 6pm to see the inside of the Sagrada Familia hoping it would be cool enough to enjoy the experience by that point. That gave us most of the day to head out and do something to suit Abi. Taking the advice of the apartment receptionist we took the metro (no strike thank goodness) to Parc Cituadella, Barcelona’s biggest green space, hoping for some kind of shady playground. The park is impressive, and we hired a boat to row around a lake for a bit. The playgrounds were disappointing though, and the park more to be remembered for the huge number of drunken hippies hanging around in hammocks than for anything else.

We were seriously hoping that Gaudi’s masterpiece the Sagrada Familia wouldn’t let us down, and it didn’t. The outside of the building just gets more impressive as you stare at it, but the newly finished inside is truly awe inspiring and incredibly beautiful. Due to be finished in 2026, with the first stone laid in 1882 this is truly one of the world’s most amazing buildings. Phew…visit to Barca not a complete disaster then (but almost!). Definitely not a child friendly place during a heatwave. We’ll be back, when Abi’s about 15…

With some relief we started our journey into France.