Finally a day to explore!

Day 3 of Barcelona. Is it really Day 3? Feels like we’ve been here longer. Or maybe it’s just that we really haven’t left this apartment in days other than a trip to the grocery store that I’m just going stir crazy. The sun is out and to me it’s a new beginning!

However before we have a new beginning I must touch upon the fact that I was wrong to say the kids seem to be adjusting well to the time difference. I jinxed myself. They went to bed at a relatively normal time last night and yet around 11ish (this is after Aidan came downstairs 2x before that to say he couldn’t sleep), they were both up and having a par-tay in their room. The challenge of them sharing a room I guess – one wakes the other. Around 12:30 I felt safe to think they may sleep thru the night! WRONG!!! Night #1 Liam came into our room…Night #2 our guest was Aidan. Aidan who also kicks and thrashes in his sleep just like his brother. It was probably 2AM or later (Our clock is analog and doesn’t glow – nice purchase Josh) is my guess before I fell asleep. Thank goodness for those blackout shades though! While I heard Josh much earlier than when I got out of bed, trying to fix the boys’ heater which seems to be broken… think constant beeping is what Josh was getting it to do. Anyways, we got up around 10:30 (we’re fitting in with Spain and it’s only day 3!) and the sun was shining! It’s a new day!

It being sunny out and Josh’s last day before he goes back to work, we decided that we absolutely must leave the flat (I sound European already) today and go somewhere, anywhere. Armed with our winter jackets (yes, it was still chilly though not nearly as cold as home I’m sure), our new $200 stroller (reference back to trip to airport if you are questioning that purchase), a sippy cup and the dogs, and we are off!

Just a random side note here – as I type this Josh and I are IM’ing on Facebook to determine what the kids should have for dinner. This whole close the door for heat thing is going to improve our communication drastically I can see.

Our fruit stand by our flat
Anyways, so today is Three Kings Day. The biggest holiday there is (I believe) in Spain. EVERYTHING is closed except for restaurants. This was incredibly frustrating to Aidan. He wanted to go in and check out all the stores (he apparently takes after me with his desire to shop til he drops). The walk itself was relatively uneventful – it was a beautiful day. The dogs behaved very well – I say this because normally Jake barks at anything or anyone that walks by us on a walk. Not a peep! A good start to their time in Spain – I will walk them often if this is the behavior I can expect.

So anyways we headed down Travessera de Gracia which is the main road that we live off of. From there we headed south down Passeig de Sant Joan. This is a main road that has a really nice walking/biking/rollerblading area in the center. There are also a few playgrounds scattered here and there. Very interesting since you have northbound and southbound traffic on either side of you. We stopped at one of the playgrounds for the kids to play for a little bit. Aidan wanted to head home after this so we continued south another block or two and then headed back in the direction of home – but first we came upon La Sagrada Familia. The famous Gaudi church. The kids could have cared less.

However, they did like the little café just outside the church. First they wanted popsicles which I indulged them in (brrrr…. It’s maybe 45-50 here, not really ice cream weather). Then I told them that they had waffles with chocolate and whipped cream. YES!!!! So we got one of those and sat down for a few to enjoy our gofres con chocolate y nata. Delish!!! We finally made it home and took a few minute breather while I caught up on work.

When Josh and I were here in Nov for our Discovery Trip we knew that the city is at the base of several mountains. The one that I know is Tibidabo. Aidan’s school is not far from there. As you can see there is a huge church on top of Tibidabo (I told Aidan it was a castle – but it got him excited so you’ll have to excuse this one lie).
 Per my friend Wikipedia: Tibidabo. Located on the mountains of Barcelona (farther north from Gracia) and offers a spectacular view of the city (532 m high). This is a place where according some legends, the Devil tempted Jesus Christ offering him the whole in exchange for his worship. At the top there is an awesome church, which offers panoramic views of the city. The church is almost surrounded (bizarrely) by a big funfair. You will also find an observatory and an ascendable communications tower nearby. We have not made it up to Tibidabo yet but it’s on our plan.

 

Anyways, I’ve digressed. The reason I was mentioning Tibidabo is because when we went for our walk, we headed south, as in downhill. We live in Eixample which is in the center of the city. It is also uphill from most anything. I thought it was a gradual incline and for the most part it was but there were a few moments where my legs were crying “oy vey!”. Part of my original “plan” while living here is to bike at least once a week to Josh’s work – about a 3 mile trek with a trailer and 30 lbs child… towards the sea, aka downhill… Now I’m thinking I may have to work my way up to that since it’s also a 3 mile trek back uphill with said 30 lb child and trailer. I will keep you posted on that. So anyways, back to the flat to catch up on some work before heading out again.

Work you say? Yes, work. Don’t forget, I’m still working while we are here for 2 years. So any clients reading, don’t forget me!!! I expect to be fully up and running by Mon. Right now I’m just missing a printer but otherwise I’m a go!! Ah the beauty of internet!

Thankfully the first few days of the year are slow but I can see things picking up already (thank god given my disaster of a 2009). So after a quick check of email and processing of an order, we are out the door again. This time we’ve decided to visit Las Ramblas. The tourist area. We may be residents here now (ok Josh is, I still need to get my resident #).

This time we had to take the metro (otherwise known as the T in my world). The kids were very excited about riding the train. I actually think it may have been Liam’s first time on a train. He was a little apprehensive but then kept saying how much he liked the train (as he gripped on to my hand for dear life). When we got off at Passeig de Gracia, he told me he wanted to go again!

After taking a wrong turn out of the T, I mean Metro, stop – we turned around and headed towards where we think Las Ramblas looked like it would be. Good navigation huh? It worked at least! However on the way, it was a little chilly and while jonesing for something warm we pass one of many Starbucks in Barcelona. A little chocolate caliente will warm me right up. Around the same time Josh and I spot a Burger King (this is right around a meltdown that Aidan was having).
So off I go to Starbucks for my expensive (3.50 euros = approx $5) small hot chocolate. Yum!!! I thought it would be easy – how hard is it to say chocolate caliente? But then she had to ask me questions. Shit!!! Ok… I think she just asked me the size. So I put my fingers together closely and say pequeno/ small. Then she asked something else and I finally figured out that she wanted to know if I wanted caramel and whipped cream – thankfully she also spoke some English. I really didn’t want the caramel but now I’m freaking out because I can’t order a stupid hot chocolate without messing up so I just say si, si!! Yes, yes, to both! I get my hot chocolate and run!

Josh and the boys are outside the BK and the kids are super excited. We are supposed to be in a culinary capital and we are going to Burger King. I don’t even take them to BK at home! But they’ve been good about the move and I suppose deserve some kind of treat from home.

So in we go to BK. This one is on the stylish side, similar to articles I’ve read about new models of Burger King that have more of a retro look. Or it could just be Spain (I did see a girl in legwarmers on the metro – apparently I was stylish just 20 years too early) has a retro look and feel. Anyways, the menu was in both English and Spanish so we were all set. What was interesting to me beyond the English on the menu is that all the music playing in the background was also in English. They seem to like their Beyonce there because I heard at least 3 songs of hers in the short time I was in there. I’m not a big Beyonce fan but as my friend Stephie who is also living abroad pointed out – it doesn’t matter what song or artist it is and it could be someone you absolutely hate, but the fact that it is in English will make it the best moment of your day because it’s something that’s familiar in unfamiliar territory. She’s right. I embraced that Beyonce song!!!

From BK we headed out towards fountains that we saw that we guessed were the start to Las Ramblas. This was Placa de Catalunya. A very pretty little center area. A fountain and a little plaza. The plaza was filled with pigeons… lots of pigeons. Lots of pigeons that my children felt they had to chase. Tracie it was your worst nightmare!!!

We gave them a few minutes to chase the pigeons and then headed off towards the crowds. It being a chilly day, we were surprised at how many people were out and about on La Rambla just strolling around. Like the Passeig de Joan, La Rambla has a northbound and southbound side with traffic and a center that is for walking. There were little stands like pet stores (I found this very interesting that they had pet stores as a stand, like a newspaper stand), newspaper stands, etc. There was also lots of live art – the kind where the people are painted up and sit still as statues. The kids really liked that. We didn’t walk that far since this was our second adventure out today and we could sense the kids getting tired. We made it as far as Hotel 1898 where we have friends staying this summer – Lisa it looked nice to me from the outside!! And Lisa, while there is no Dunkin Donuts there, there is a StarBucks next door so at least you can get a coffee fix.

Aidan liked this statue – it had “boobies and a pirate ship”

Whew – what a day! We headed back towards home. Our only big glitch of the day and I wouldn’t even call it big is that when we went to use Josh’s metro pass, he sent Aidan thru first and he didn’t make it thru fast enough – and so Aidan was stuck on one side of the doors and we were on the other. Then Josh’s pass wouldn’t work (they have clear glass doors instead of a turnstile like we have here – the doors separate when your pass goes thru and close behind you). We finally had to ask a metro worker to help. Apparently this is not an uncommon thing where the pass doesn’t work. I’m just glad it was Aidan on the other side and not Liam – I would have been freaking out! At least I could see Aidan and talk to him – I just couldn’t get over there. We finally made it over to his side and had an uneventful trip back home. A great day with my fam!!

Above – pet store on La Rambla                                                                   Lisa – this is your hotel
Tomorrow is Josh’s first day back to work and my first day alone with the kids in the city. I think it may rain again but if not, we’ll try to venture out and maybe find a playground or something. I’m not ready to bring them into a store by myself yet – I don’t think I can focus on saying “don’t touch that” “don’t do that” “leave that alone!” “You break it you buy it” and on looking at labels, paying for stuff, etc… give me a few days. I’ll tackle that with just Liam on Monday while Aidan’s at school!
Julie

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