Barcelona.14th May. 2014

Traveling from Peniscola to El Masnou was one of the most complicated and expensive parts of our journey to date. We chose to use the Toll road hoping it was quicker and easier, which it may have been though the €23.70 Toll was a shock. Next time well take the ordinary road which runs parallel anyway.

The Sat-Nav got very confused in places and couldn’t decide whether to turn right, left or keep going and when we went wrong it sulked. Jaki had a ‘Knife hand Fork hand’ moment which sent us off at the wrong junction but it all came good in the end.

We eventually arrived at the El Masnou campsite on the N11 which runs along the coast virtually from Blanes into Barcelona. It’s a very busy road so we chose a plot well back to minimise the traffic noise which when your sat outside of Reception using the free wifi, is horrendous.

The site is terraced but poorly laid out. There is almost no way of identifying where each plot is and the electricity supply seems to be completely random with cables running everywhere, often for long distances and across the roadways so they are being driven over. There were a lot of reverse polarity sockets but as they were two pin connections this was easy to overcome.

The main facilities are down on the bottom level close to reception so there’s a bit of a trek to use the showers though there are same basic toilets at the mid stage level.The showers are fine but suffer from bad design and Jaki managed to soak all her clothing and her towel this morning.

She should have read our Blog.

Despite that there was plenty of hot water (though the regulator was a bit fickle) when I used them this morning. Some of our fellow guests are a bit suspect, taking their own hair driers into the Gents and putting cream on their bodies after a shower. How weird is that!

The bar, a Supermarket and Pool are all closed till the Summer so the nearest Bar and shop are opposite the railway Station some 300 Metres up the Road. They are a bit basic and the whole area feels a bit grubby and run down so we were surprised to see the price of property here. Most of the properties we saw advertised were in excess of €350,000. But it is commuter belt for Barcelona so I guess that’s why.

There is a small Beach but you have to go up to the train station and use an underpass that takes you under the road and the railway line. it’s smelly and a bit intimidating. Luckily I had Jaki riding shotgun so I was fine.

In summary this isn’t a site you’d want to stay on long term but it is convenient for getting into Barcelona. However, were going to move tomorrow and try at Mataro which has a free shuttle bus into Barca and is also on the same railway line but about another 10K out.

We caught the Bus into Barca this morning as the stop is right outside the site but after paying our €4.30 the driver told us to get off and catch the train to Plaza Catalunya which we did. We think this was because we asked for the ‘Centro Tourist’ and she felt this was the most appropriate place for us.

Once on the Train we were subjected to one ‘Spotty Oik’ and his girl friend who couldn’t last 20 seconds without a Grope and a Snog. I was feeling hungry up until that point but the sound of him sucking the life blood out of her lips was like the squeak of Plimsoles in a school Gym when you’ve got double PE. It made me feel squeamish.

The change of transportation threw us a bit as we were expecting to get off the Bus at the Bottom of the Rambles, by the Port. Instead we got of the train at the top so when we started walking up and didn’t recognise anything we were a bit confused. It took a Coffee stop and a map check to realise our mistake. Once we turned round and got back to Catalunya Plaza I remembered it as our Hotel wasn’t far away when I came with my Fire Brigade Training school chums some 30 years after we Joined AF&RS.

We had taken all the necessary precautions to avoid becoming victims of the thieves and pick pockets that call La Rambla home but I didn’t expect to be mugged by a bunch of balloons. We were crossing the road on a Zebra when a lady came the other way pushing a trolley with about 50 Helium balloons tied to it. As our paths crossed the balloons swooped on me, tangling around my legs, slipping a garrotte around my neck and for good measure, knocking off my glasses. I was being consumed by Helium fuelled Disney thugs. Imagine that as an insurance claim.

We got as far as Mercator de La Boqueria (which is probably one of the great food markets anywhere) and decided to continue our search for fresh Chillies. We found some but we were perhaps a bit hasty as after buying some rather sad looking bullet Chillies we found a selection of Habanero chillies as well as Lemon Drop and some slightly fresher bullets. But hey, I’ve got chillies, that’s what counts.

On the stall next door they had on display the best selection of wild Mushrooms I’ve ever see. We bought a punnet of mixed wild mushrooms but couldn’t resist buying a huge Sepp and a rathe large Morrel which were going to cook with butter and have on toast tomorrow morning .They did have truffles at €290 per Kilo but we baulked at that.

There was one stall that sold nothing but ‘Offal.’ We marvelled at the array of tongue’s, kidneys, testicles, sheepskin heads and other various internal organs on display and questioned whether we would eat these items if they were presented.

“I’m a celebrity, get me out of here”?

We took lunch in a small back street cafe that did soup, a sausage and rosemary stew, a drink, a pudding and coffee for €8 before heading off to the Picasso museum where we paid €11 each to see an exhibition of his work, some of which was stunning and some of which looked like it was painted by an eleven year old with a drug habit.

I was some what disappointed that there was no reference to Guernica or the process, history or political climate that drove him to paint it. I know the original is in the UN building, New York, but I had hoped there would be some history on show. Sadly not.

We left there and by now my knees were on fire and Jaki’s Achilles was stiffening up so we did the only thing possible. Found a bar and had a drink.

Once fortified we strolled up through the ‘Parc de la Ciutadella’ crossed the road into ‘Passeig de Lluis Campanys’ (don’t ask me what this means but it’s a park and a rather nice one) before entering the Arc de Triomf railway station for the journey home.

If transport the world over was as good, cheap and reliable as this there would be no need for cars. Once in Barca there are a range of cycle hire
shops, electric cars, ricksha w’s, taxis and buses that will take you anywhere, though the best option is walking.

We were exhausted by the time we got back to the van though we found time to cook Chicken with some of our mixed Mushrooms in a red wine sauce and utilising the wild Fennel growing outside the van, we cooked what I have to say was a masterpiece with fresh crusty bread.

Apart from leg cramp which had me thrashing around in the van like a caged wolverine I slept the sleep of the blessed.

Who wouldn’t after spending the day in a place like Barcelona.



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