Dreams bull­dozed

Friday - - Leisure -

the en­trance to the air­port, a huge ab­stract sculp­ture pre­sides. It’s a sort of man with a plane on his head but he looks tor­tured, or mad per­haps, like a char­ac­ter from Pi­casso’s Guer­nica ren­dered in three di­men­sions, which I’m happy to see van­ish­ing in my rearview mir­ror as I drive away. Along the en­tire coast of the Le­vante be­tween Benidorm and Tar­rag­ona there are vil­lages of white­washed houses, freshly built, their val­ues hav­ing sunk to al­most noth­ing. For­eign sec­ond home buy­ers have seen nest eggs dwin­dle, some­times plan­ning per­mis­sion wasn’t for­mally gained and vil­las have been bull­dozed by the au­thor­i­ties.

I drive on to Ter­rassa, in the hills above Barcelona. It’s a bit out of the way but it’s worth it to see one of the most im­pres­sive golf course ho­tels in the world. Be­cause it’s been folded into Hil­ton’s Dou­bletree brand, the La Mola Ho­tel is some­what un­der­stated – you don’t read much about it and few peo­ple go there.

I take a walk around the com­plex, look­ing at the pool, the golf course, the con­fer­ence rooms. There are scarcely any guests play­ing golf, no-one in the pool, and the con­fer­ence rooms are beg­ging for a cor­po­rate pre­sen­ta­tion.

For the first time on the trip I feel it’s a real shame, as this build­ing is gen­uinely glo­ri­ous. It’s low rise, boasts lash­ings of warm wood, muted colours and wide ex­panses of glass. From my room – one of the most com­fort­able I’ve stayed in for months – I sur­vey the hori­zon. I can see Sir Nor­man Fos­ter’s Torre de Collserola TV Tower pok­ing up over the top of Mount Tibid­abo in Barcelona. And that’s where I head next.

We all know tourist Barcelona – The Ram­blas, the mes­meris­ing Barri Gotic and the Plaça Catalunya where Ge­orge Or­well cow­ered be­tween

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