Today started off a little bit rough after my toilet worshipping activities last night due to a smidgen too much wine (it was worth it though – had a great time). I almost considered cancelling my plans with Brenda because I was hurting a bit. Josh got Aidan off to school and I slowly, slowly pulled myself together. We were expecting rain today but it turned out to be gorgeous and sunny. I’m going to take a stab at it and say it was 50 today. The best weather day we’ve had since we arrived.
So Brenda is a friend I made here before I arrived. She’s the wife of one of Josh’s co-workers and an absolute sweetheart. I had emailed and spoken with her many times during the moving process and she was reassuring and helpful – had lots of great tidbits and helped me to set some expectations here. I met her in person for the first time when we came in November for our discovery trip. But today was the first time I’ve seen her since I arrived (she lives outside the city though comes in several times a week).
We decided to meet in Placa de Catalunya near Passeig de Gracia. So I took Liam on the metro by myself. Not a huge accomplishment as I’ve certainly taken the metro several times in the last week or so. But still felt good to do it with just me and Liam, on our own. Brenda is the primo tourist guide – she was awesome. We started off walking thru the shops by Placa de Catalunya – which turns out you can walk thru the alleys towards the Born district – I had no idea. I am finally getting oriented as far as where everything is laid out here – today made a huge difference with that. While walking thru the small streets, Brenda showed me the one bagel store in Barcelona that she’s aware of – YES BAGELS!!!! I’m soooo excited. So I did not hesitate to pay 7.60 € for my 6 bagels and one Yoo-Hoo type of chocolate drink for Liam. Yes, approximately $12.00 for 6 bagels and a chocolate milk. But it was worth it. Both Josh and I had bagels for dinner tonight. I have a feeling this will be a weekly stop. Perhaps I have reduced my spending without a Target, Toys R Us or Baby Gap, but I will be buying my 7.60 € bagels damn it!!
So walking thru the Born district, which I mentioned the other day is filled with very very small streets, I was absolutely taken in with the architecture. Now, I had heard there were amazing things to see here but what I had seen was really limited up until now and there are just some beautiful areas of this city that are waiting to be explored. I took a bunch of pictures that you’ll see below. The detail and intricateness of these buildings was something to behold.
From Born we hopped on the metro one stop to Barceloneta – along the water. It was walking distance from where we were but Liam wanted to take the choo choo again. So at the end of the Barceloneta stop is actually right by the end of La Rambla – the famous tourist area (and big pickpocket area). Here in Barceloneta you see some amazing old buildings – as well as some new. Art is very important in this city and it’s obvious every where you look. Even the buoys are art sculptures!
As we walk towards the water, we see a circus (it looks like a permanent fixutre – I’ll have to look more into that) and the aquarium just ahead. The aquarium just like the one in Boston, also has an Imax theater. But unlike in Boston, what surrounds this one are boardwalks and grass. And also a mall that is attached to it (but you can’t access from the aquarium) with several restaurants. Brenda and I stopped at one called Tapa Tapa (tapas if you weren’t sure what was on the menu by the name!). It was good and they had a menu in English, Spanish, Catalan and another 2 languages I can’t remember at the moment and the waiter spoke English. Good to know where they speak English. Though it doesn’t help me in my spanish lessons, does it??? So anyways, we had some tapas and head out again.
This time we decided to head down La Rambla. Again, some beautiful buildings and some street performers. I mentioned La Rambla the other day so I won’t really go into much detail here. Lisa, I did find the Dunkin Donuts though! And I also found La Boquaria! I’ve been dying to go to this open market which is the largest in the city and it was all I dreamed it would be. We didn’t stay long and I’m sure Brenda was done playing tourist guide with me – but I will most definitely go back and soon. Perhaps Josh and I will take the kids this weekend.
By now Liam has fallen asleep in the stroller and Brenda has to head back home to get the kids from school. So I need to decide, do I chance waking Liam (which will happen) to take the metro home or do I see how far it is to walk? Brenda and I whip out a map and while she thinks it’s far, I know how far I walked the other day and this is nothing by comparison. So I head up Passeig de Gracia until I hit Diagonal – we live north of Diagonal. This is how they describe where people live in the city – Diagonal is actually on a diagonal and cuts the city in half – a debate on whether it is north / south or east / west… but mainly it is do you live on the mountain side or the sea side. We live on the mountain side. So when you give a cab directions, they may ask which side of Diagonal (I forget specifically what this is called). Travessera de Gracia (the street we live off of) is just north of Diagonal.
Well wouldn’t you know… I found it!!!! And I actually made it home. It was about a half hour walk but it could have been a 2 second walk for all I cared – I found my way amd I made it home. And I know I could do it again. What a huge wonderful feeling that was. I don’t think I would feel this way if I were finding my way around Kansas City, but here, where I struggle to communicate, the fact that I can find my way around this city and be successful at it made it one of the best moments I have had here so far. And it makes me excited to know what the future holds as I hopefully am able to improve my communications and explore more of this beautiful city. It’s the little things that make a big difference and today proved that more than anything. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings…