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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall