Quirky, unique, fun and innovative are all words which could be used to describe to St Moritz Barcelona city tour but ultimately they still only manage to convey a little of the charm. There are many ways to tour a city; bikes, Segways, in-line skating, open top buses, official walking tours and of course with a guidebook and sense of adventure. Driving tiny Seat 600s from the 1960s in convoy through the streets of Barcelona is the most fun way I have found so far though.
The concept seems quite original and would certainly work in other cities but just fits the Catalonian spirit perfectly. After visiting the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix earlier in the day at the Catalunya Circuit this was an amazing contrast.
“the one that powers my electric razor probably has more horse power”
I defy anybody that not to smile when first seeing one of these cute little vehicles. Resplendent in bright yellow or shades of blue with the St Moritz beer company logo emblazoned on each one they are overflowing with character; sexy little cars.
Every vehicle has its own individual quirkiness, a cloth sunroof, strapped down bonnet or immoveable wing mirrors simply add to the charm. The engine is tiny; the one that powers my electric razor probably has more horse power. In fact these engines are probably measured in mouse power and not horses!
The tour organisers Marc and Eduard have a wicked sense of humour, playing on the quirky feel of the little cars and their obvious lack of power. Departing the multi-storey car park requires a drive up a short but steeply winding ramp and they informed us that it is not possible to carry passengers until we negotiate the ramp. I was let in on the ‘joke’ later that this was just to wind us up a bit; these guys are as likeable as the cars.
Pumm incidentally is the sound that a cork makes when it’s ejected from a champagne bottle.
Driving the little Spanish ‘bugs’ is really not that difficult, once it’s realised they cannot be mollycoddled and that it’s necessary to “go for it”, then it’s relatively easy. Accelerator and brake really need a ‘heavy foot’ to get them to react properly but respond happily to a bit of aggressive driving. They may not have a racing heritage but they seemed to want to chase down the bigger, flashier cars and at every set of traffic lights seemed to challenge them to a race.
Even so it was embarrassing when a skateboarder busy talking on his mobile phone overtook and it was several blocks before he could be caught again.
“It was a cross between the ‘Gumball Rally’ and the ‘Italian Job'”
There was a certain amount of competitiveness between drivers too and some playful overtaking and jostling for position took place when any opportunity arose. This probably had something to do with needing to rid ourselves of the excess adrenalin from the F1 earlier in the day. Though not sure whether a 0 to 60 time of never increased or decreased the excitement.
It was a cross between the ‘Gumball Rally’ and the ‘Italian Job’ but even so I still felt like hollering “We have a convoy” at the top of my voice.
Miguel who is from the Catalunya Tourism Board was in our vehicle and was very excitable. We started at the back and got left at some traffic lights. Attempting to catch up, the next set of lights changed to red when we were still about 100m away. Despite the fact the top speed is around 100m an hour Miguel was excitedly shouting “Go for it!” Though he immediately changed his mind and even more excitedly screamed “No don’t” possibly after his life had flashed before is eyes!
There is another side to the tour which is both interesting and a little disturbing; it is basically a pub crawl and the first one I’ve done in cars! Visiting some cool bars which sold the local beer and having our starter, main course and dessert at different locations on the route.
Our al fresco main course was especially impressive served on a hill overlooking the port. The industrial view of the harbour area all lit up was strangely attractive but just walking up to our candlelit table had most of us catching our breath.
“beaming smiles brighter than the headlights”
The little cars have an infectious ‘feel good’ factor and our convoy received cheers and was photographed as we passed through the districts, especially Las Rambles. This adds even more fun to the tour as it is a ‘smile and high-five’ crawl. It is doubtful that celebrities driving Ferraris or Lamborghinis would get so much attention.
An especially fun moment was going a few times around a roundabout sounding the sorry excuses for horns which noticeably slowed the cars. I wanted to buy a case of beer and just keep driving around it for several hours. We all finished the tour with beaming smiles brighter than the headlights of our cars.
The organisers do not always follow the same route and have several alternative courses through the city. The tour includes food stops so is good value, it is the most fun city tour I’ve ever taken and thoroughly recommend fitting it into any visit of Barcelona.
If an urban adventure with a difference interests you, contact Pumm prices start at around €60.
Although I was the grateful guest of the Catalunya Tourism Board all views were formed over a glass of wine in the comfort of my comfortable room.