Tuesday 29 May 2012

Flying from a mountain top

Tibidabo mountain overlooks Barcelona, its church and communications tower forming city landmarks. It is nicknamed the 'mountain of fun', and one of the many fun things on it is a vintage aeroplane. 

The plane is powered by its propellor and takes ten passengers, though many more onlookers enjoy the sight of the cheery red aeroplane overhead. Flying from the mountaintop, it offers amazing views from its windows. Since this is not a real plane but a vintage fairground ride, the flight path is predictable - a circle defined by the metal arm to which it is fixed. 

Inside, the panelling and individual armchairs may call to mind the golden age of passenger aircraft. This plane predates even that lost era: it has been entertaining visitors since 1928. At the time, the first flight between Barcelona and Madrid was big news and this ride is a replica of the news-maker.However quaint and jolly the ride might look today, when the plane's circuit takes it beyond the edge of the mountain you need a head for heights!  

It joined other rides which had been here since 1901, giving Tibidabo its appealing nickname. They were the inspiration of Salvador Andreu, who first had to get visitors up the mountain. The journey was made in two stages: first the Blue Tram, then a funicular railway. Both are still functioning today, making the trip up the mountain as much of a treat as the rides at the top. 

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