By Spanish standards, it was still winter, so the hotel air-conditioning was firmly off. Our specially-chosen-to-be-quiet small box of a room was stuffy and too hot. So we opened the window, which faced into the well of the building. After two nights of listening (through ear plugs) to very late-night revellers in their rooms, we came home to the silence of our countryside and slept.
While we were there, we savoured the joys of the city (and the metro). We wandered the "old town" with its narrow alleys, filled with tourists peering at maps; round every corner another museum, old church, quaint shop or tapas bar to try.
We strolled the wide boulevards with their grandiose, balconied residences. We found the port and crossed the road to find a busy, sunny café and a great meal - three courses including paella, squids in their ink, plus wine - all for less than the price of one dish at the posh seafood restaurants on the quay. We lazed on the beach and people-watched. I put my bare feet in the icy water of the Med.
And we found the glory of Gaudi.
The little I knew of him from pictures of his mosaics, I expected gaudy. Nothing had prepared me for the soaring spectacle of the Sagrada Família Basilica (more than a century on, still being created) or the warm, sensual curves of the wood and the play of light on tiles and glass in the Casa Batlló.
We went up one of the basilica spires and gazed down on a hazy Barcelona, then slowly descended the spiral staircase - coiled like the inside of a snail shell - every turning offering new vistas to be photographed.
The batmobile, with the hood down, brought us home via the windy (and windy) coast road of the Costa Brava. Between the ghettos of apartment blocks, there are still sanctuaries of wild countryside, elegant beaches, deserted coves and deep canyons filled with blue-green sea.
Click on the arrow below to see a short slideshow of photos from Barcelona.