The wonders of the internet mean that I was able to complete my self-employed job sitting in the camper-van, albeit late into a couple of nights and a very early start one morning. Good to keep some pennies coming in. Our trip into Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city was fascinating. Undertaken on foot and via an open-top bus tour with commentary in English; it is so much more interesting when you know what you are looking at!
The legacies of the architect Antoni Gaudi dominate the city, with quirky houses and the, still unfinished, cathedral, La Salgrada Familia, which defies description with eighteen spires of 100 metres or more and the capacity to seat 13,000 people. Started over one hundred years ago, work continues; with funding reliant on the 2.8 million visitors annually and other donations. The heavens opened as dusk fell, rain of underwear-soaking proportions didn’t seem to dampen the (misplaced) optimism of the Arsenal fans in the city for the return leg of their Champion’s League match against the mighty home team.
Further south, the change in scenery was dramatic as we explored the Erbe river delta where irrigation channels criss-cross completely flat fields, freshly cultivated for the planting of rice, for which the region is renowned. The marshy wetlands and lagoons are home to a unique combination of plants and birds including very many flamingos.
As with much of Europe, the Romans have left their mark in many regions of Spain. In Torragona some of the city walls, chariot racing stadium, amphitheatre and other buildings are still standing some 2,300 years after they were built by these remarkable craftsmen. It’s humbling to walk in the footsteps of circa seventy generations of humankind.
Gavin has declared València, Spain’s third largest and our destination today, in the top five cities he has visited (and that’s a lot). With miles of bike paths, and flanked by long sandy beaches, the jewel in the crown is the green space and development along the former bed of the River Turia which was diverted to the outskirts to alleviate flooding.
For me one of the highlights of this region is the citrus groves. From a distance, yet to be harvested, oranges glow in the sunlight like baubles on a well decked Christmas tree. They are so juicy and taste divine.