I had another look through my old travel diaries (from 25 years ago in Europe) the other night and found what is probably the reason why my nine-year-old self was not impressed by Spain:
See the fine print? Under this attractive-looking (well, for the 80s) swimming pool at Mas Nou Caravan Park on the Costa Brava, Spain, I've written
It looks nice but when we got there it was yuck.Very profound! I have often wondered why Spain features so low in my recollections of our time in Europe and I think I may have hit upon it. Swimming pools were a very important feature of caravan parks for my sister and I both during our European trip and a few years later as we campervanned around Australia, and if this place ended up with a rating of "yuck" it probably tinged my entire Spanish experience. I hadn't even remembered or really realised that I had been to Barcelona before until I saw a caravan park receipt for a city spot in this diary. It took me a while to return to Spain and I have really only explored Barcelona, but I adored it!
Now, I have done my research - the way we couldn't back then, online - and found out that the poor Mas Nou Caravan Park still exists. The photos (the modern ones) make it look lovely. I wonder what it's like today? My sister's off to Spain shortly so I might have to send her on a research trip for me!