Curbside Travel: The Kleins Go To Europe – Barcelona, Day 1-2ish

Seat 600

Our daughter is studying abroad in Barcelona (Spain) this semester, so we figured why not take the opportunity to get out of the terrible winter we’re having in Colorado and head for more civilized climes.  Hence we booked a trip to Europe that overlapped the boys’ spring break week and tacked on a couple of days at either end, they can catch up later.  Beyond actual travel time there and back that allowed us about 11 days on the continent if I’m doing the math right what with the time changes, jet lag, beer fog, and all.

I took a bunch of pictures, mostly of cars that I found interesting as I was passing by them along with a few sights, but without any real plan of action as usual, so perhaps it’ll be best that I just sort of vomit them all out and keep up a running commentary of what we’re looking at as we go along…Some days are longer than others and some I’ll perhaps join together as well…

Let’s just jump right in, shall we…?

Leaving Denver Airport (on a good weather day for a change) I realized our old Outback that was designated as the official sacrificial long-term parking lot car looked awfully small next to its neighbors yet would be considered a fairly large-ish car in Europe.

I’m not the world’s happiest flyer, but this was my first time on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (via United Air Lines) and it was an overall pleasant experience.  The two highlights were the movie selection which was simply stellar including lots of my favorite movies and the food, which included (very shockingly) perhaps the best Indian Butter Chicken I have ever had (and I’ve tried a lot of versions as it’s one of my favorite dishes).  This leg saw us fly into Frankfurt where we had a layover of a couple of hours before our connecting flight.

That flight was to Barcelona via a Lufthansa Airbus A321 and again quite acceptable.  The entertainment options were nonexistent so we were reduced to using our phones but spied an ingenious hack incorporating an unused air sickness bag and the smartphone case along with the table latch across the aisle…

In short order my sons had done the same thing to keep themselves entertained and I found that the middle seat between both of them is not bad at all since I could assert privilege to both armrests and this also avoided them (the boys) antagonizing each other and thus me.  My wife was across the aisle with a stranger.

The rest of the very long day is still a bit of a blur, our daughter met us at the airport, we took the metro into town with her now excellent guidance and local knowledge, our Airbnb was only a block away from her and her friends’ apartment, we celebrated arriving, then took a short nap and eventually headed out for an evening walk.  While walking we came across the Banksy Museum and while it was closing I stepped in to the lobby far enough to snap a picture (above) of a Banksy that perhaps I should just crop a bit and use as a screensaver.  Or a T-shirt.  Or whatever else.  I like it.

SEAT 600

Walking further we came across, of all things, a stationery store that had this SEAT 600 in the front window/entry area.  The SEAT 600 is obviously a license-built Fiat 600 but is acknowledged as the car that put Spain’s populace on wheels, sort of their VW Bug or Mini Cooper etc.

SEAT 600

It’s darn cute too, which never hurts.  Larger than a Fiat 500, it’s also rear-engined and this one was in fine fettle.  It would be the only one I’d see the entire time there so perhaps they have mostly succumbed to the ravages of the road and time itself.

SEAT 600

The front badging though is quite impressive.  On that note, we wandered around a bit more, found something to eat and turned in a bit earlier than most of the Spaniards.  My wife is the Queen of the Walking Tour and had one set up for us the next morning…

So the next morning we woke up, met our daughter down the street, she took us to her favorite (i.e. closest at the end of the street) bakery, we gorged ourselves on freshly baked goods and acclimated to the change from a 24oz coffee at home to a 1.5oz espresso.

We were to meet our walking tour of “old Barcelona” in front of the Barcelona Cathedral, a fine example of 14th Century Gothic architecture.  Now, when we got there, the top of it was covered in scaffolding and a huge Samsung advertisement so I resorted to my favorite trick, which is to go across the street to the nearest souvenir stand and take the best picture I can of the best postcard I can find.  Yes, not the same but better than scaffolding/advertising and you, dear reader, would not have known if I hadn’t just revealed my magic.  The results are above, it is a fine church with an interesting history but we did not go inside.

Piaggio Porter

While we were waiting for the appointed time, I couldn’t help but notice some of the assorted municipal vehicles that were around us doing their work.  At home there would most likely a phalanx of F-450s and various other heavy equipment doing similar, but here it was often small and mostly silent while still very efficient for the work it was doing.

Piaggio Porter

This is a Piaggio (of Vespa fame) Porter.  Fully electric, silent, and in a sort of pickup/vanette/hauler configuration.

The cab seems comfy enough for local work.

And the “business” end was apparently good enough too, in this case mainly picking up refuse and other debris.

Can’t go wrong with a Piaggio, I suppose.  Pretty logo.

Even more interesting (to me) was this street sweeper truck.  Also electric and with extending and articulating arms it would turn tightly around the planters as well as groups of people sweeping and sucking up whatever was on the pavers.  It was sort of insect-like with feelers sucking up whatever there was.

The body itself articulates as well, making for an excellent turning circle.  Driver visibility is superb.

The thing never stopped, it just went around everything and everyone and did its job and then drove off to presumably the next plaza.  Muy bueno.

There’s bigger iron too, including this one that puts any F-series payload space to shame.  It was too quick for me to get a frontal shot….

But I caught up with it (or a twin of it) a bit later and it’s a Fiat Ducato single cab very long bed (think RAM Promaster) and yes, it too was electric.  That’s when it hit me.  I was not noticing or breathing diesel fumes as was usual in Europe until very recently.  It was also much quieter.  You could hear people, bicycles, birds, and some low humming from these vehicles.

Another Piaggio Porter.  They were everywhere, doing their thing as we walked around.

But finally something familiar!  A Toyota 4Runner of mid-90s vintage, a genuine CC!

A turbodiesel such as we never got over here. Our equivalent is still very prevalent here in Colorado and likely everywhere that it snows.

This IKEA delivery vehicle is an electric SAIC. SAIC is a large Chinese manufacturer that produces various joint ventures with General Motors.  I believe this van is the same body as several other more well-known western makes.  It too just hummed as it went by, and as a local delivery vehicle seems a perfect use of EV tech.  Around now is when our walking tour concluded and we started wandering around by ourselves after lunch having learned all we wanted to about old Barcelona.  My wife and I have been here before but learned much more this time around.  It’s a lovely city.

Yes, that’s a Toyota Prius V (Prius Plus in Europe), while they are obviously in North America, I was astounded as to the quantities of them in Spain and further portions of our trip.  They are by far the most popular Prius variant and used for all kinds of things, but mainly taxis and in this case, also police cars.  This was at the entrance to a large park that for some reason had the gates locked and the police keeping watch.  I stuck my hands through the bars (it wasn’t the zoo so I figured it was okay) and took some pictures, safe in the knowledge that there were bars between me and the fuzz.

Then they apparently got called away to a bigger threat than tourists wanting to get into a public park and hotfooted their Priuses down a side road.  This is a second one, that apparently sustained some minor lower side damage, perhaps hopping a curb or whatever police cars do.

Continuing on, a Dacia!  I’m somewhat fascinated by this low-cost European brand and this is a fairly recent Sandero.  It won’t be the last Dacia that we see, the whole line-up seems to be quite popular.

And then we stumbled upon yet another Prius police car, along with some sort of paddy wagon with foldable riot shields for the glass areas.  There was some sort of inquisition going on with the guy on the scooter at the left at the center of attention.  We thought it best to keep moving, after snapping a discreet shot or two of course…

Here’s a little (electric I believe) trucklet hauling a load of rental e-bikes from one location to another.  This is definitely F-350 worthy at home but here it was just a little cab thingy with a flat bed and a looooong trailer.

Above is the same thing in motion.  Three seconds and it’s gone…I can’t recall if it was actually a second one or if I was QuickDraw McGraw on the phone cam/video selector…

Another Dacia!  A Duster this time, the off-roady one.  Pretty color.

And the working man’s Dacia, the Dokker.  This panel van is the shorter version and apparently has a payload capacity of 1600lbs.  Presumably it can tow as well, just like pretty much every vehicle in Europe.  And it has a rack which looks huge but it’s on a smallish car…

As a former motorcycle rider (but tempted again thanks to DougD), this caught my eye, at first I wondered if it was old, then realized it was almost new…

Brixton Motorcycles is an Austrian company that manufactures their wares in China and styles them after old British bikes.  Along with various almost too cute touches.  But hey, I was looking at it and now you are too.  I have no idea if they actually are any good, but they look good which is half the battle.

I’m sure Roger Carr has been waiting patiently and I shall not disappoint with a red Alfa Romeo.  Looking quite splendid if a little road-worn, this red with black roof Alfa 156 looks the business.

Alfa Romeo 156

The paint may be peeling a bit but that just reduces the weight, hence improving acceleration and handling.  I’m all in although a wagon version would perhaps be even more encantador (lovely, I think).

Another Dacia in Duster form again like the orange one earlier but lower-spec and therefore cheaper.

Visible tow hook in the bumper!  I told you it was the off-roady one.

And off it goes, leaving an early to mid-2000s SEAT Ibiza in its wake.

The Blanco Carros continue with this Peugeot 406 sedan, the successor to the 405 of course, the last Peugeot sold in the US.  The 406 is quite attractive to my eyes.

Not Alfa 156 attractive but still very attractive, in a lithe way.  The Gwyneth Paltrow of Peugeots to the Alfa a la Keri Russell… something like that.  Or maybe The Noxzema Girl whom you may recall if of a certain age.  Anyway, enough of that moment.

The happy thoughts come to an unhappy ending with the sighting around the corner of a Ssangyong.

It’s a Ssangyong Rodius, which may be the least odious of the Ssangyong line-up but that’s still not saying much if anything.  I suppose it’s useful.  But otherwise only included due to not being here and not coming here, for once our import restrictions seem to be paying off in a good way.

And that, mi amigos, takes us to the end of the day on an open air rooftop terrace restaurant serving some very fine Sangria before our meal and looking forward to the next day in Barcelona for more sights of cars that may be of some interest to someone, perhaps mainly me, and a few random sights along the way as well…Adios!