Curbside Travel: The Kleins Go To Europe – Barcelona, Day 3

Hello again, seasoned compatriots, after a hearty meal at the end of day two we have arisen early on a Sunday to see much of what else Barcelona is known for.  Or at least what we remembered from last time as well as what our daughter wanted to show us.  Note that Sunday is generally a day on which most retail establishments are closed in Europe, so many people including workers truly relax or do things of a non-consumer nature.

This is great, if not for the fact that it tends to create greater masses of people wandering around and sometimes results in larger crowds than normal.  But that’s okay since we are on vacation and time is cheap today, we have all day and not a care in the world.  We’ve decided to start the day by taking a subway and then walking the rest of the way to Parc Güell, one of Barcelona’s signature features.  Come and join us, we don’t walk very fast…

Fiat Multipla

Parc Güell (you can pronounce it “parkwell”) is up on a hillside overlooking the city, so sort of an urban hike to get there.  On the way we saw various cars, such as this Fiat Multipla, often referred to as one of the ugliest cars ever made.  Hindsight may be a little less harsh as it’s also quite practical and time has softened its looks somewhat.  Which doesn’t mean it’s not still ugly but it’s not as alone as it once was in that category.  At least it’s a good color.  Just don’t look at it from the front.

Dacia Dokker

Yes, Dacias are on the menu again today.  Yesterday we saw a working man’s Dacia Dokker, here is the passenger version.  The single slider on this one is on the street side since this is a one-way street, clearly illustrating the limitations of the single door design.  Presumably this is cheaper than a second door version and probably works just fine once accustomed to it.

Dacia Sandero

And a Dacia Sandero which reminds me mostly of a Nissan Kicks which we do get over here and I’m a big fan of without actually owning anything remotely similar.  Along with the Hyundai Venue and other small and taller cars, all of which look sort of 4x4ish but are all resolutely front wheel drive only.  I think I can trace that back to being a fan of the Matra Rancho as a child, which if you don’t know it was a 1970s car that looked more like a 90s Land Rover than most 90s Land Rovers did yet was exclusively FWD as well.  It was French of course which explains it all without actually explaining anything.

Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet

Since we opened the door to the French just there, they pried it all the way open and presented me with a mid 2000’s Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet, Renault’s entry in the around that time burgeoning folding hardtop convertible boomlet.  Fairly angular yet still curvaceous I’m of mixed minds about it, it’s sort of euro-chic but not really something I miss seeing all that much.  The Pontiac G6 convertible is probably the closest analogue to it both in market position and execution I think even though this is smaller, i.e. euro-sized.

Nissan Terrano II

But then, as we rounded the final turn, we were passed by something and I flubbed the camera only to see it take a turn into a parking lot of tour buses.  I figured that can’t be the correct place for it so was ready when the driver figured that out as well and exited again, taking a very wide turn towards me.  Do you know it?

Nissan Terrano II

Yes, it’s a Nissan Terrano II.  These were actually built in a Nissan plant in Spain between 1993 and 2005 and were available in 3-door (as this one is) as well as longer 5-door versions.  And (drumroll!) there was also a version built by Nissan and sold by Ford named the Ford Maverick!  Yes there was another Maverick between that ’70s mini-Torino that I love to dislike and Ford’s new little c*ck-tease of a cheap hybrid 40mpg truck that they are seemingly only able to make about two dozen available every year at the bait and switch $20k price.

Nissan Terrano II

It was facelifted more times than Joan Rivers, but I think this is one of the final versions, so early to mid 2000s with the third or fourth facelift.  It’s also 4WD so not a pretender.  Sizewise it’s similar to the first generation Toyota RAV4 but comes across as a little skinnier if that’s possible.  Our Aussie friends had access to this one as well.

Finally we got to Parc Güell which my pictures do no justice to and in fact I didn’t take very many anyway.  It’s a very large park on a hillside that was developed by the famed modernist artist Antoni Gaudi.  There’s a network of trails with buildings, plantings, some (not much) religious imagery, and lots of interesting features.  Here we are at the base, near the exit in fact, we entered higher up on the side maybe half a mile away(?).  That columned thing you see is actually entered from the top where it is a huge sandy expanse ringed by a continuous mosaic tiled bench in sort of a wave form.  You don’t even realize you are on top of a structure until you’ve explored the whole expanse.

Here’s a snapshot of one of my kids (the Jaguar wagon driver!) petting the mosaic lizard on the steps.  The whole staircase is mosaic’ed as is the whole structure behind it.  That structure has 86 columns each about 20 feet high supporting the vast space above it.

This is inside the forest of columns looking straight up and if you click, it should enlarge and you’ll note that it’s again all mosaic tilework.  Now imagine that times a few hundred.  It’s simply magnificent and I’m completely not doing it justice.  And it’s just one aspect of the whole park.  If you’re there, check it out, it’s a relaxing couple of hours of walking around but look closely at stuff.

I ran across this scale model of the columned thing later that day and am glad I took a picture as it illustrated this part of the place well.  The whole top is covered in sand (or pathway gravel, whatever) and must hold several thousand people.  Around the edge is the continuous bench, at the bottom is that lizard again.  Here’s a link to Lonely Planet’s description of Parc Güell if you’re interested in more info and far better pictures.

At the bottom near the exit are two small houses, both very interesting and while Gaudi lived in one of them, he didn’t actually design either of them.  One is now a gift shop so I went in and as interesting as the whole Parc Güell was, in the gift shop I saw the most astounding thing that I will forever kick myself for not having the cojones to simply take a picture of.  Coming down the stairs from the second floor was a young woman with various piercings dressed in a relatively short skirt.  As I waited at the bottom for her to descend (it was a very narrow staircase), her hem slid up a bit and on the front of her thigh was an outline tattoo of a Ford Sierra Cosworth.

Yes, pretty much exactly that.  I only caught a momentary glimpse but it’s a shape of a car that imprinted on my brain early in the ’80s and there’s no way I could have gotten a pic without probably getting a swift kick in the head but it might have been worth it, of course what I should have done is politely asked, who knows…  It was about 4″ wide so not exactly subtle, and of a car that was far older than the young woman was.  A true fan, indeed.  I was mightily impressed and whenceforth shall forever think of that young woman’s artwork when seeing any Ford Sierra.  Anyway, we then left after I took a moment to compose myself.

Daewoo Nubira

To the left of the exit was a Daewoo Nubira, the only Daewoo I’ve seen in the wild in some time and a shape I’m confident I’ll never see tattooed on a thigh nor anywhere else.  This is actually the same as the first-year Nubira that we received in the United States before it was facelifted, yet Daewoos from that era are still around, perhaps they aren’t nearly as bad as we assumed back then.

Wandering down the hill a different way towards our next destination we saw more cars, such as this mid ’90s Opel Astra, a shape that was built in at least twelve assembly plants and sold pretty much all over the world except North America.  If I squint it even looks vaguely Daewoo-ish even though Daewoo only built a version of its predecessor (not this one) that GM then foisted upon us as the Pontiac LeMans.  No, not that LeMans, the 1980s LeMans.  Only GM could come up with a scheme wherein a GM company had designed and was already building a given car, yet they then had someone else build that same car in slightly worse form, then badged it as another brand of GM car and tried to sell it.  The mind, it is boggled.

This guy doesn’t realize his VW Vanagon (syncro? I think so) is worth a veritable mint if he could get it across the ocean to the U.S.  I recall that color on mid-late ’80s Jettas, it works well on this too.

And then we stumbled across my favorite find of the day (not counting the Ford Sierra Cosworth, of course). A Renault R10-1300.

Renault R10-1300

It sparkled from half a block away, the only chrome visible for miles.  The little French rear-engined beauty just sucked me in sitting there looking just so…I was ready to bum a yellow Gauloise from a passerby but almost nobody in Europe seems to smoke anymore either.

It seems the dealer still exists in Carnon, France about a couple of hundred miles from Barcelona on a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea.  This car appears to be of the one final year that the 1300 engine was fitted into the 10’s body, so a 1971 unless I’m totally misunderstanding things.

A 1300 is probably what most of your riding lawnmowers use but in early ’70s Europe in such a small and light car it was quite likely delightful on the roads around the Med.

I love the color, the 3-lug wheels, the wheels themselves look MoPar-ish, and the rear window sliders are cool too. The whole thing is neatly styled, a little frumpy but cool nonetheless, like an Alfa Giulia or so.   Same same but different… I just realized my family is in the background, wife and daughter discussing something and the boys checking out the rack of rental e-bikes.  None of them paying any attention to me after I just (as is often the case) ran across the street to take care of (this) business.

My man here doesn’t believe in just the powers of The Club, no, he also employs the steering-brake pedal lock device.  Never mind that four people could probably just lift the whole car up.   Check out the padding on the door panels.  Tres chic!

I think Kinby lights (below the bumper here) are correct to the car’s period and I believe were made in Spain (?  Daniel?).  Check out the bumper shape, it just goes all over the place like a mustache above the license plate area.  Anyway, gotta move on now.

But right across the street was a little Alfa Romeo MiTo, built between 2008 and 2013, then facelifted and produced for another half-decade.

But not for us because we can’t have nice things.  We wouldn’t have bought a 2-door hatchback Italian car anyway I suppose to be honest.  Well, maybe five or so of us might have but only if it was used.

And then that brings us around the corner to this magnificent sight, (the) La Sagrada Familia.  This basilica is also a Gaudi creation (actually, he took it over and redesigned it after construction had started).  Note that the crane isn’t there to restore it, they are in fact still building it.  Construction started in 1882, Gaudi took over a year later, worked on it until his death in 1926 and is buried in its crypt.

This picture of just the upper work gives a better view of the Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, not that I’m any kind of architecture critic or expert.  The spires are of course what draws the eye and there are several still to be built.

I attempted my go-to favorite trick but even the postcards have the cranes in them, so no luck there.  It’s quite amazing, they do hold mass there, it was consecrated in 2010, and expected to be finished in the next decade.  Perhaps.  Apparently Gaudi is said to have remarked that “My client is not in a hurry”.  However we were, and after walking around it and taking numerous photos of other tourists and having them take pictures of us we kept going…

It was about this time that my son took notice of all the scooters and started badgering me about how we needed one.  So we started looking at what was parked curbside.  A red Vespa is always worthy of a picture.

As is this proud peacock of a scooter, in this case a Peugeot!

It’s a Django and it begged to be unchained!  It’s quite large, actually, and that huge box on the back seems to have quite the cargo capacity. If we do get one it’ll be a lot smaller than this.

Suzuki Ignis

But probably still larger than this Suzuki Ignis, the same as the one that Mr. and Mrs. DougD went around Ireland in.  This Spanish one is a little quicker than theirs because it’s red.  What a great car but again, no surprise that we can’t have nice things, especially things we can’t fit into.  The DougD’s are Canadian so they still (mostly) fit into stuff as long as they don’t indulge in the poutine (the Canadians in general I mean, not the DougD’s)…

The population of Spain isn’t immune to EVs either, in this case the Chinese built Lynk&Co.  Is it trying to sound like Lincoln Co.?  Does that work?  I saw several of these and they don’t seem to be poorly assembled or anything, well no worse than your average iPhone or laptop anyway.  If it had a Peugeot or Buick or even a Volvo badge on it I don’t think anyone would be the wiser.

If you don’t hate SUVs or Crossovers or whatever, it isn’t ugly and could stand a chance anywhere.  It’s not overly large in real life, but in this real life there’s a tiny little old VW Polo in front of it which makes it look enormous.  It isn’t, it’s more like a Mazda CX-5, maybe a VW Tiguan I think.

Another Gaudi building, they are dotted all around Barcelona.

Toyota Prius Plus taxi.  Muy popular.  For good reason, just like in NYC and Chicago, right?  Cabbies go for reliable, economical, long-lived vehicles and the only thing better than cheap and easy to repair like a Crown Vic is one that rarely needs any repair to begin with.  Oh what a feeling!

And here we are atop yet another Barcelona hillside with another glass of Sangria, this time on Montjuic Hill at the Olympic Swimming Pool complex after riding in a funicular to get up here (using our normal metro pass, no extra charge!).  This is actually the Water Polo pool, the diving pool is just to the left.  Many think this was built for the ’92 Olympics but it was in fact just heavily refurbished for that event, originally dating back to 1929 when there was just one pool, then modernized in the 50s and then again for 1992.  The view is outstanding.  And at the top of the grandstands that we were sitting in is a bar, hence the libation in hand.

The pools are open to the public in July and August, but the bar and seating is open year-round (I think).  Pricing was quite reasonable for the drinks and the view is spectacular.  My video above is about thirteen seconds long but the view lasts a lot longer…

Heading back to our place I mused as to why once again we couldn’t have the nice things, in this case the actual station wagon version of the current Toyota Corolla instead of just the sedan and the hatchback that they seem to call a semi-wagon or something.  The actual wagon seems so useful, is available as a hybrid and is extremely popular in Europe both among private owners as well as taxi operators, it seems these are taking over for the Prius Plus although they don’t seem quite as spacious due to the lower roofline.  Still, better than the sedan and hatch, no?

After dinner and drinks to celebrate our last evening in Barcelona, this Alfa Romeo 159 wagon was parked near our street.  The phone-cam shot it like this, no edits, so moody.  Just needs some smoke or steam from the manhole cover…

Daddy likes!  But it was time to get to bed as we had a cab scheduled for 4am to get us to the aeropuerto for the next leg of our adventure.

Which showed up on time and treated us to a ride in a SEAT Leon wagon, which is basically a VW Golf/Jetta wagon with more flair in the styling.  TDI engine in this case, about 150k kilometers on the clock, not a rattle, and the fit, finish, and material quality of a modern VW/Audi Group vehicle.  Alright, time to check in to the lounge while we await the flight to our next destination!  Arrivederci, mis amigos!

If you missed part uno, here you go.