Monday, April 26, 2010

Tibidabo Mountain & Amusement Park

Some of you may remember entries that have referenced Tibidabo.  I mentioned before that when we first moved here I told Aidan it was a castle that he saw up at the top.  He has been so excited about the idea of going to Tibidabo to check out the castle with the bonus being the fact that right next to it is an amusement park built into the top of the mountain.  That's right, the park hangs at the very edge - everywhere you go, breathtaking views and perhaps, some scary looking drops!  Since the park is over 100 years old, my fingers are crossed that everything is structurally sound! 

Tibidabo is the mountain that borders Barcelona to the north.  Av Diagonal splits the city in half at (obviously) a diagonal.  Locals reference that you either live on the mountain (Tibidabo) side of Diagonal or  the sea.  For your info, we are on the mountain side of Diagonal. 

As far as a history of Tibidabo, of course I go to my favorite site, wikipedia.  According to - At 512 meters it is the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola. Rising sharply to the north-west, it affords spectacular views over the city and the surrounding coastline.  The church that rises at the top of Tibidabo is the Temple de Sagrat Cor which is visible from almost any point in the city.  The church was designed by Enric Sagnier in the late 1800's and took 60 years to construct (nothing compared to Sagrada Familia which has been under construction for over 100 years and still has at least 25 to go!) and is topped by a sculpture of the Sacred Heart by Josep Miret Llopart. The Amusement park is the oldest in Barcelona and retains most of the original rides, some of which date to the turn of the 20th century. The park features in the Woody Allen film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.   

In order to get to the top of Tibidabo we took the FGC (like the commuter rail) which is about a 20 minute walk from our apartment.  From there we hopped on the tram which reminds me of (though I have never been there but everyone has seen the Rice-a-roni commercials) those in San Francisco.  These were definitely old old trams and had beautiful wood details inside as well as old fashioned light sconces.  From there we had to take the funicular.  I was very pleased personally that this is on the funiculars that doesn't actually leave the ground but follows a track.  I was not so much looking forward to one that climbs high above the mountain.  Whew, panic attack averted!! 

Riding on the tram to the funicular station

Views from Tram.  Bottom left is the communications tower.  This is the home of ALL communications in Barcelona...hmmm, perhaps keeping all your eggs in one basket may not be so wise?

We arrived at the park just as it was opening and it was relatively quiet.  The church actually seemed smaller to me than I expected the fact that you can see it from anywhere in the ctiy.  Though don't get me wrong it was still a significant structure. 

The amusement park is situated right next to the Church - from a distance you can see the church from almost anywhere in Barcelona and if you look closely enough you'll see the ferris wheel as well.  As you can imagine it makes for an interesting picture - church/amusement - normally the two don't mix together.  But it's Spain and what else can you expect?  The park is built on 6 levels with the original structures at the top near the church.  There is a two tiered carousel (never seen one of those before), a ferris wheel and an interesting airplane ride that literally hangs you above the precipice - you won't be seeing me on that ride.  All of the rides have the most amazing views of the city and beyond and are all on the very edge of the mountain.  For the newer rides you climb down stairs or steep ramps.  It is not a huge park, significantly smaller than Six Flags at home but it was most definitely enough to keep our kids entertained for a chunk of the day.

Two tiered carousel.  Kids loved riding up top!  Notice in the top picture that the carousel is on the very edge of the property overhanging the ledge.  There is actually no land underneath it - just huge pilons that hold it up.

You could not pay me enough money to go on this ride which is close to 100 years old.  Notice how it just hangs right over the edge!!!  Yikes!  Josh and Aidan want to do it the next time though... no thanks!

Views from the top of the park - amazing!

We're now on level two just below the "castle".  Notice the view from the top pictures!

Bumper cars!!  At first Aidan was bummed because he was about an inch too small to ride the big bumper cars, but once he found out Liam could ride the small ones, he was perfectly fine bumping his brother a time or two!

On a Viking ship with the boys...and then walking down yet another level to go to the Flume ride (whcih they did 3 times!).

Josh and Aidan riding the flume - this was by far Aidan's favorite ride!

Liam "chocolate face" Marcus - loves his ice cream!

Getting spray tatoos.  Aidan decided the moment his was done to wipe it off.  No worries, Aidan, it was only 5 euros!!!!!  Ugh!  Liam on the other hand still is wearing (and talking to) his!

This ride is more my speed... and still I didn't love the fact that the cars spun around...

There was a great new playground at the top of the park that we hit on our way out.  We also found a few more kiddie rides hidden away!

I'm not sure what the building is on the left but I liked it.  The one on the right is where the funicular takes you up to the park.

For more fun facts about this very interesting amusement park, check out

To end a fantastic day, Josh and I had date night again.  Thankfully this time we actually left the restaurant together :)  On the way out we figured we would stop for a drink by the clock tower in Gracia which is where we saw the fireworks with the kids a few weeks ago with their friends.  And who should we run into?  The same friends!  And we met some other lovely people that also work at Aidan's school (all of the women I met were named Julie too so I fit right in and it was easy to remember their names).  And of course because it's Gracia, there was a festival going on!

After a few quick drinks with our new friends Josh and I headed out to our now regular date night location.  A fantastic Italian restaurant called Specchio Magico.  As always I had the pasta purses with pear in a walnut gorgonzola cream sauce.  Absolutely to die for!!  But best of all was this caprese salad with the freshest mozzarella both Josh and I agreed we had never had before.  They normally serve a regular caprese with really good mozzarella but the owner said this was a special and the most amazing we would ever have and I have to agree.  It just melted in your mouth and was so fresh it could stand alone - we ran out of tomato to pair it with an it did not matter. 

During dinner we often chat with the owners and on this particular night, we spoke more in depth with Yolanda.  She is a very nice woman who apparently is from Northern Spain but also spent a bit of time in London.  She speaks fantastic English and appreciates what we are going thru with our language struggles.  Oh and before I forget, speaking of language, I made the reservation in Spanish on my own (I did have my handy google translate in front of me just in case).  The owner told me after he thought it was me and that I did a good job - I told him I just had to at least try to do it even though I know he speaks English.  10 points for trying!  Anyways, at the end of the evening Yolanda approached us and handed me her name (didn't know it was Yolanda at that time) and her cell number and told me to call her and we would get together for coffee.  So also made a new friend.  It was incredibly nice of her to go out of her way to befriend a stranger struggling in this city and I will most definitely give her a call at some point.  It was a great way to end a fantastic day and evening!


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