E Jane Dickson: We toil up steps, nose-to-butt with other tourists

Share

Clara is not pleased with the day's arrangements. "A cathedral!" she humphs, like a cross between Lady Bracknell and Tracy Beaker. "All we ever do is go round cathedrals. Cathedrals are so not what you're supposed to do on holiday."

Clara is not pleased with the day's arrangements. "A cathedral!" she humphs, like a cross between Lady Bracknell and Tracy Beaker. "All we ever do is go round cathedrals. Cathedrals are so not what you're supposed to do on holiday."

Given that we have spent the entire previous day hurling round vomitous rides at a theme park outside Barcelona (tip: chocolates y churros and roller coasters are not a good mix), this seems a little unfair.

"Straighten your shoulders, Miss," I tell her. "This cathedral is different, I promise you." As we exit the Metro, the Smurf's fantasy façade of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia rears above us; a hotch-potch of architectural excrescences no theme park ever dreamed of. As I suspected, it conforms exactly to Clara's idea of a fine building.

"Fantastic," she breathes, gazing up at the great porch, "it's got monkeys and dragons and everything!"

"Yeah," agrees Conor, whistling through his teeth, "Een-cray-eeblay!" This is his only Spanish word, gleaned from extensive advertising of The Incredibles movie around the city. His sister has had great fun trying out various phrases, skipping in triumph when market stallholders understand, or kindly affect to understand, her requests, but Con goes at foreign languages on a need-to-know basis. He learnt how to say "A lemonade, please" in Greek on holiday in Crete two years ago, and, until he blew his holiday money on a bargain DVD of Los Increibles a few days ago, saw no reason to expand on this useful locution. ("I think," he told the baffled shopkeeper, in loud, slow English, "I was put on this earth to buy this DVD.")

I had forgotten, of course, that the whole, if not the only, point of La Sagrada Familia, is going up the million or so steps of its dizzyingly sinuous staircase. So up we toil, nose-to-butt with other tourists, stopping only to grab Conor when he hangs, gargoyle-style out of casements, to peer at the ant-people below.

Once at the top, we gaze down the endless stairwell, which seems to writhe under us. From this perspective, I suggest, it looks as if Gaudi had driven a borehole to the centre of the earth. "Straight to the underworld," agrees Clara with a delicious shiver.

Conor is equally impressed by his Lucifer's eye-view. "Of course, I wouldn't do it, Mum," he assures me, wiping his mouth, "but wouldn't it be fantastic to spit from here?"

Back on terra firma, Gaudi is firmly established as the best architect, ever. Later, in the Park Guell, where there are strange elliptical arcades to explore and ceramic lizards to climb on, we visit Gaudi's former home. "I'm going to have a house exactly like this when I'm big," says Clara.

"OK, I'll build it for you," says Con, with off-hand generosity. "I'm going to be a famous architect, you know."

This is a whole new ambition, and I compliment Con on his grand design. "I know," he says airily. "It's increible, isn't it? Increible but true."

e.dickson@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence