The Ballards - Spain Barcelona


Catalonia's climate near Barcelona may just be perfect: warm sun for 320 days a year, a cool breeze off the sea to ensure it doesnt get too hot in the summer, and winter temperatures that only ever require a light jersey and maybe trousers.

Being a city, Barcelona gets very hot because the roadways and buildings heat up, so exploring can be exhausting but the centre of the city is surprisingly small and the public transport links actually work (take note, London).
A "bus touristic" travels the city in 3 loops (blue, red, green) and these are amazingly frequent. We never had to wait for more than 3 minutes for another one, and they were rarely full (mind you, this was not high season).
This is a scenic but slow way to get about, so the metro (large, smooth, fast, efficient) is the way to go.
Discreet subterranean steps on seemingly every square take you to the dense (and still under construction) network of interconnected metro and local train services. So the trains out as far as places like Sabadell (home of Sabadell airport, generator of 2/3 of all GA traffic in Spain...) run on the same tracks as the internal metro trains - London Transport should take note. And the trains are air-conditioned.

Very high population density unlike London where outside the very centre 2 storey suburbs with gardens rule.


The UK Border Force manages the incredible feat of creating massively long queues at all border checkpoints whilst not actually keeping the undesirables out. Huh?
So the Immigration room in the middle of the day with a constant stream of flights arriving (and this is a school weekday, so not exactly high season) has 4 out of 10 desks unmanned, 2 of the automatic passport machines out of action and the remainder rejecting 1 in 3 of all passports and requiring 2 operators in a control room as well as minders. I mean, it's not as if they didn't know all these people were coming?
Everyone was very good-natured about it but there have been passenger riots and I can see it boiling over at peak times. I suspect Immigration Officers (universally friendly and efficient in my experience) have been dragged away to cover the current Dover-Calais illegal immigrant fiasco but, like the ludicrous pre-flight security no one can adequately explain the purpose of, it's indicative of a broken system no one has the political will to fix.