Well, if yesterday was a girlie day with jewellery shops a go go, then me and dad had our day today with trains, trams and funiculars. We had planned to go up mount Tibidabo which is the massive mountain that overlooks Barcelona. I’m not one of those people who likes going up a mountain for the sake of it, but if there’s a fun way to get up it, count me in. So I’m more likely go up Snowdon (which has a train and a cafe at the top) than Ben Nevis (which has neither). You can reach the top of Tibidabo using a train, tram and a funicular and at the top there is a church, fun fair and a radio mast (something for everyone). What’s not to like?
Our journey began on the L5, a great metro line with clean stations, trains that run on time, are air conditioned, run regularly and cost less than €1 per journey (are you listening TfL?). We then changed to the L7, which is bizarrely run by a different company; so the trains, stations and signs all look different even though it is still part of the Metro system. On their platform I saw the first sign of Health and Safety since I have been here. (Let’s be honest, this is the country who still have bull runs, so Health and Safety isn’t exactly at the forefront of their culture).
If you go on the Docklands Light Railway in London, they have a screen between the platform edge and the track with doors which line up with the doors on the trains. They have a similar thing here, but the screen only runs half the length of the platform and the doors are permanently open at off peak times, still giving everyone the opportunity to fall in front of trains, but without disrupting the commuter rush.
Our next leg involved us getting a turn of the century tram up the first half of the hill. This looked like a San Francisco cable car, but ran like a normal tram (but unlike the Metrolink it was on time). It’s quite small so fills up quickly, but not to worry. There was plenty of room up by the driver, so just, breathe in and we’ll all be ok. After we had arrived at the top, for about 5 minutes sad anoraks were taking pictures of the tram; stood on the tram; next to tram. But not me and dad. We waited until they had finished before we took our photos of the tram. Well you don’t want and fat middle aged men in baseball caps getting in the way of a picture of a perfectly lovely tram do you? (And I think one fat middle aged man in a baseball cap in each photo was quite enough anyway).
The final leg of the journey was by funicular. For the uninitiated this is basically 2 carriages connected by a cable that run on a track up the side of a steep mountain. You push the one at the top down and as it rolls down in pulls the other one up. You then just keep repeating the process. No need for any power, just good old gravity. I wish more transport solutions were this simple and elegant. It’s a shame you can’t use gravity for other methods of transport. Except flying. Gravity and flying really shouldn’t mix.
There were 2 nuns in our carriage which gave me opportunity to do my favourite gag. There was a man and then his wife sat next to the nun. I leant over to my dad and said:”See that lady?””Yes””She’s second to nun”(Second to nun, second to none, it’s genius….oh please yourself). We guessed they were off to visit the church but I did spot one of them on the dodgems later on.
We were rewarded at the top with magnificent views of the city, but I did see a couple of people doing my current bug bear. Using an iPad as a camera. Now an iPad is better than an iPhone for many things; reading books, browsing the Internet and writing facetious blogs, but using it as a camera ain’t one of them. It’s like sticking an aga in your back garden to have a barbecue. There’s a place and a role for everything. Wafting a tablet around as a camera is not the right use and the top of a mountain is not the right place. Rant over.
But probably the best thing about getting to the top of the mountain was this. The knowledge that we would have to use all those modes of transport to get back down!