'The roads are closed around your hotel, so I will drop you nearby and give you directions,' said the taxi driver. Great. Just what we needed after 30 hours getting there.

At least we had been there before, as his 'rights and lefts ' were a little mixed up, or maybe ours were, but it did not take too long to find our way, though it was a bit of a squeeze to get in past the barriers erected to provide a road of sorts for the keen runners and disabled entrants on 'motos en vorera' who were already starting to appear in small numbers.

ramblaWe had not thought to do an early check in, and the room was not ready, so nothing for it but to take a deep cleansing breath of the bracing air and go for a wander.

The famous market 'La Boqueria' was not open and the normally packed La Rambla was very sparsely populated, so initially it was a bit like a science fiction movie where all the inhabitants had been spirited away, but this city being what it is, it did not take long for the action to start.

And what a city it is. Graceful and friendly, it is populated by lots of small squares connected by charming alleyways full of tapas bars and shops. As we wandered, we noticed many had specific markets or activities - each one differing from its neighbour.

marketOne was devoted to old coins and stamps - and even collections of the metal tops of Cava bottles - and there was some intense bargaining going on - mainly by groups of elderly men.

Another was just paintings and another was full of giant figures standing in a semi circle while in front of them were the 'Castellers'. We had read about this when we had visited Cudié (who make our popular Catànie), as their town Villafranca del Penedes is the home of it, but this was the first time we had seen it firsthand.

All dressed in white with red sashes tied around their waists, the group - consisting of a range of ages - gradually build a human tower. It's quite something to watch and certainly worth the loud applause they garner as the top person waves his arms triumphantly.

A quick stop at a nearby tapas bar and it was time to head back to the hotel to sleep. Coming up next: the riots in Spain...tower