Weekend update

The weekend was a good one overall. Friday Aidan brought home Chester, the raccoon, from school for having good behavior and one of our jobs was to take pictures thru the weekend of Aidan teaching Chester things. We then had to write a sentence and add it to the class book about what Aidan taught Chester. We decided to teach Chester to share. A good lesson to be learned when one has a sibling. Ahhh… if only it would work with his sibling. One can dream perhaps.

Josh had his company holiday party (to which spouses unfairly were not invited this year) on Friday night so I had the night to myself. I’m sure you read the blog update from then. I had a relaxing evening watching my slingbox and my DVR’d Greys and Private Practice. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Saturday was a nice day here – mid 50s perhaps. I would have loved to have gone to the beach with the kids and take them bike riding down there. But the mall won out and so we hopped on the metro to head down to Poblenou (another neighborhood) – which is also the area where Josh works. The kids hadn’t seen Josh’s building. I would say the funniest part of the day was when I pointed to the right as we were crossing the street and told Aidan at the end of the street was the Mediterranean Sea. Josh said, no it’s to the left. And I said…ummm…those are mountains to your left. Don’t you work here and have a view from your office? Apparently Josh is still trying to get his bearings here 😉

So we went down to Diagonal Mar – one of the larger malls here. Malls are still a relatively new thing in Barcelona. Interestingly, I saw several people with dogs walking in the mall – I didn’t see any in the stores, but the fact that they were allowed in the mall itself was a new experience! I’m sure Jake and Sailor would just love to go shopping!!!

We spotted a Toys R Us (though Josh says it’s not so great – must work on that Gena!) and one other toy store. Not so impressive. There were tons of cafes there and some nice looking stores. Toting the kids along, I honestly didn’t go into any stores…we just kind of schmoozed along.

We grabbed lunch at a small café that seemed to specialize in hot dogs and hamburger types of meals. It was all that was open other than McDonalds at 1PM. Yes, 1PM and that’s pretty much it. Lunch starts later here. Anyways, I actually did the ordering at the café. It was I’m sure rather hilarious to watch. Hamburguesa sin (without) and then waving my hands back and forth to say nothing since I have no idea how to actually order that. Then hamburgesa con queso – hamburger with cheese. Ordered water as well. All and all a success.

Josh ordered Liam’s hot dog and I have no recollection of how you say that so go Josh!! The kids devoured their food but when my hamburger came we realized it was a bit pinkish. Turns out we think it was pork and not regular cow-hamburger. Everything here is pork. You would think that a hamburger is a hamburger. Apparently not. Aidan, however, loved his and devoured the entire thing! And Liam enjoyed his hot dog (they are super size here).

Now we’ve got to be on our way because I’m meeting Cristy for a tapas crawl. She found out about it thru a group called Meet Up that I need to join (apparently Josh has already joined, unbeknownst to me). This was a group of all women and the organizer took us on a tapas tour as well as a bit of the city. So it was fun and informative. We got to meet some very nice women – there were 8 of us in the group. Three of them are from the US but currently living in London. There was our team leader and her partner and then Donna. Oh Donna… she latched on to Cristy and I and was a bit of a downer. I can’t say we were sad to see her leave early.

Anyways, we tried several tapas places – some more traditional than others. The first place we went to had pinchos. Pinchos are tapas that have toothpicks in them. It’s a self service bar where you pick what you want and bring it back to your table. And then you pay by the honor system (imagine that!) based on how many toothpicks you have at the end of your meal. I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with the ones I choose, but then I’m picky. I did enjoy the house wine though!

After the first tapas place we walked around the Born and Barria Gotica (both neighborhoods) and saw some absolutely beautiful architecture. Marina, a local who has also lived in London for some time, was very informative. Though I have to say, while some of what she told me will stick, it’s the information I gathered from Cristy and another woman from the group. This being regarding nudity in Barcelona. Yes, you’ve all heard of the nude beaches here. However, did you know that public nudity is legal here? You do need to get a permit (where you would carry it, I don’t know) and you can’t just go to city hall and say, I’d like to be nude. Doesn’t fly that way. You need to tell them something like you are expressing your artistic self or that you are fighting the establishment – you know, that kind of thing. So once you get your permit, you can be naked ANYWHERE!! Apparently from what they told me, there is a body building couple that rides bikes around the city naked and a guy that has his nether regions completely tattooed. All should make for some interesting conversation with the kids once the warmer weather arrives and we see random naked people!!!

Sorry to have digressed, but that was a very interesting point that we were discussing there! After our tour which included Santa Maria del Mar – a breathtakingly beautiful church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Mar,_Barcelona), we headed over to Bubo, a chocolate company! YES!!! I had no idea this was one of the stops! We had an English speaking woman give us a tour and tell us all about their chocolate. It was very frou frou chocolate – not like Lindt or Godiva (and no I don’t consider Godiva frou frou) – it was very artistic looking. Supposedly, the owners are very well known and the chocolate is supposed to be amazing. http://www.bubo.ws/.

Honestly, being a bit of a chocolate connoisseur myself since I can’t go a day without 😉 I was impressed by the artistry in the chocolate but the taste wasn’t anything to write home about (and yet, here I am writing home). Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but I bought some chocolate to take home with me and it was pricey – 1€ for a small bon bon (I bought 6!), 1€ for a macaroon (they were adorable) and 3.5€ for these tiny little cakes. I bought 2 cakes and I’m eating the chocolate moose right now. I’ve definitely have better and won’t pay that much again for it – it’s good but not THAT good.

Now that the chocolate tour is done, it’s now 5PM (or 1700 as they say here) and so we have a 2 hour break before our next 2 stops. Since we were in Cristy’s neighborhood we stopped at her flat and I finally got to meet Shawn who I think may be Josh’s twin. Her flat was completely different than mine (as is her neighborhood) but absolutely fits them perfectly! And what I loved about it was that it actually looked very Spanish and it had history to it. I wish I had taken some pictures. The best part was their rooftop balcony that was a part of their flat and they don’t have to share it with anyone. They had a beautiful view from it too! Don’t get me wrong, our flat is perfect for us, but it’s very contemporary (not necessarily a bad thing) and has absolutely nothing that screams that it’s Spanish other than the European appliances and plugs. Oh and the lack of closets!

After shooting the shit with Shawn for 2 hrs we headed back towards Bubo to meet up with our group for our next stop. This next tapas bar, Inopia was very different from the first and served much more traditional tapas food. What was interesting about this place was that there was only one, yes one, table in the whole place. It was mainly a tapas bar. And the food was fantastic! I think we were there for a good 2 hours just chatting away and enjoying the food. From there we went to our final destination which interestingly had Celtic roots and was very much focused on seafood tapas, they called it Galician tapas. I had the most amazing mussels ever and I don’t think they had anything on them – they were just steamed and that was it – they didn’t need anything else. They also had those fabulous peppers from the other night with the sea salt – yum!!!

From there we all headed home – a fabulous night had by all. And I will definitely be joining Meet Up and hopefully over time will get to know some familiar faces in these groups. It was a great way to meet some new and interesting people. Honestly other than Marina and Hillel who also helped organize, I doubt we’ll see the others again but that’s ok – they were great to talk to for an evening and get to know where they came from, why they were here, etc etc.

Today, Sunday…not the best day. Aidan’s having a rough time adjusting I think. He’s been having a lot of meltdowns lately and while he is a very high strung child at times, there seem to be a lot more of them happening. Today was one of the worst ones (though we had one worse since we’ve been here but it was in the comfort of our home). He just started falling apart on the way to the park.

Now in all fairness, he said he didn’t want to go to the park but we thought it would be nice to go as a family and enjoy ourselves. In hindsight, we should not have vetoed his opinion and listened to what he had to say – and we need to be better about that. So on the way to the park, he just started freaking and I told him that he and I needed to go home. So he freaked out more. To the point where I was trying to pick him up to carry him home (Josh was going to continue on with Liam) and he kept running away from me.

No joke, people were stopped on the sidewalk watching us. It was all rather mortifying. He finally headed home but twice intentionally ran out of my line of vision which is a huge no no. And then I saw the police heading down our way and thought, OMG, what if one of those people called the police and thought we were trying to take this kid??? Thankfully that was just my overactive imagination!

And so that was our day – Aidan was in desperate need of a nap and so we just laid low. It really wasn’t so bad but I think Josh and I were disappointed because we really just wanted to do something fun outside the house with them. There will be other weekends I’m sure to do that, but a bummer since Aidan gets home at 5 during the week and Josh at 7:30 so there is no time to spend with the 2 of them outside really during the week.

For those of you not on Skype I ask you to please get on.  Aidan has only had one friend contact him so far and he really misses everyone.  Josh and I can stay in touch via email but Aidan really needs to see and talk to his friends to connect.  We ended the day on a positive note with everyone in a much better mood and another short trip to the park (well another for Liam but Aidan missed the first trip) but Josh and I both really need to listen better to what the kids tell us and act accordingly (and vice versa!).

Anyways, that was our weekend in a nutshell. We’re adjusting more and more each day to our surroundings and making new discoveries. Every day is a new adventure to be had. On the agenda this week – date night!! Cristy and Shawn were very kind and have offered to watch the kids on Wednesday night for us so we can go out.

We have yet to go out as a couple in our 20 days here and so I think we are really missing out on an opportunity to spend some quality time exploring the city just the two of us without the kids trying to get our attention at every moment. So very much looking forward to that. Josh has Spanish class Mon and Wed. Mon I have a ton of work to get done (that’s a good thing), Tues I’m going out with Brenda and Cristy during the day. And Thurs night will be girls night this week. All things to look forward too!!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Miss you all!

Julie

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