Tuesday, October 11, 2011

El Final...the end.

David and I decided to do something on our last day in Barcelona that we probably should have done on day one.  We took a city bus tour around to learn about all the buildings and neighborhoods we had been walking through all week!

We started the day off with breakfast in the room, and then took our time heading out to sit at the cafe on the corner for some yummy cafe con leche and enseimadas.  One of the things that I love about the restaurants in Barcelona is that the outdoor eating area is right on the sidewalk outside the front entrance.  So it is the perfect place to people watch, relax, and for me, look at people's shoes!  (If you haven't read my other blogs, this comment might confuse you; go get caught up!)
The first bus we came to was all filled up on the top, so we had to ride on the lower level.  Maxwell liked playing with the earplugs and listening to the music.  The first time we got off the bus we had a bit of a hiccup. Our bags were heavy and packed for lunch, we didn't have the stroller, Darian was already getting heavy in the Ergo...I did NOT want to be out walking around.  Plus it was pretty hot out, at least compared to what we've been living in in England!  We stopped to get our bearings and then hopped back on the next bus that came by.  We enjoyed the sights and got off at our first destination:  the aerial at Montjuic.  The kids loved going "way up in the sky in the buckets," and David and I oohed and aahed at the view.

Once we made it to the top of the hill, we were able to walk through the castle and eat a nice lunch.  The views from the top of Montjuic were incredible, and I am so glad that we decided to take the aerial up.  What a great last minute decision!!

Back on the bus, we circled around a good part of the city, learning about the architecture and artwork that is scattered throughout Barcelona.  Maxwell sat so nicely next to me on the bus, with his earphones in place, enjoying the view.  Only did I realize he was actually listening to the tour guide when he shouted out, "The guy in my ear just said Barcelona!"

When we had gone full circle on the bus and were close to our hotel, we got off and started back to rest and put the kids down for naps.  We walked past Casa Mila/La Pedrera, one of Antoni Gaudi's buildings that we had walked by almost every day.  I decided I wanted to see the inside, so David took the kids back to the hotel and I took the tour by myself.  The camera battery had died so I didn't get any good pictures, but the rooftop terrace and the flat that I toured were so awesome.  Gaudi was inspired by nature, and rarely (if ever?) used right angles in his designs.  There was a display with things found that exemplified parts of his building:  corncobs, a beehive, the waves of the ocean.  My minimal description and any pictures I would have taken of this amazing piece of art just wouldn't do it justice.

That night, my wonderful cousin Marie came to the hotel to get the kids in bed and stay with them so that David and I could see the city at night.  Since our City Bus Tour tickets were good for the entire day, we took the bus again and rode on the top of the double decker to experience the city at night.  Then we made our way over to the fountain at Montjuic, where the amazing fountains were set to music and light.  Unfortunately, there was also a huge concert in the plaza in front of it, Merce, so the choreographed music for the fountains was drowned out.  But the show was cool, and it was really neat that we stumbled across a concert in the middle of the city, too.  There were food stalls and beer stalls and hundreds of people in front of the stage.

By this point it was pretty late, so we found a restaurant for dinner.  David had been wanting Paella all week, but every place we stopped only served it for a minimum of two diners.  I couldn't eat it because of all the seafood, and David didn't want to either waste or eat an extra portion of food! We still had a great dinner (with Sangria, of course!) and a nice night out in the city.

We didn't have much time for anything on Saturday before we had to head to the airport, so we had our cafe con leches at the cafe on the corner again.  The kids were ready to go home.  I was out of clean clothes.  And David had to run a half marathon in less than 24 hours.  Back to England...

Impressions of Barcelona/Spain
     * What a beautiful country with so much history
     * The artistic value of everything you see is incredible.  It was a modern city like any other, but so much more beautiful and sleek than I was expecting.
     *  The food.  Oh my goodness.  I wish I had a month to just stay and eat and try it all.  We barely got a glimpse because the kids are so picky, but what we did try was fantastic!
     *  The people are busy and focused, but still smile and look you in the eye.  They seemed to like watching the kids and the dynamic between us.  We got a lot of smiles on the trains, and on several metro rides, people would talk to Maxwell or say how beautiful Darian is.
     *  The people also seem to savour things. They take long lunches, siestas in the afternoon, and have long dinners with good food, wine and friends until late, late at night.
     *  The public transportation is awesome.  Very family friendly and so accessible.  Yet with amazing weather, there were so many people on bikes and walking.  I want a bike.  :o)

Things I learned about traveling with toddlers, okay..MY PICKY TODDLERS
     * Pack lighter and figure in a laundry day.
     * Bring more food they will eat from home to be prepared. Then find a grocery store to get fruit, bread, etc on the first day.
     * Either figure in the naptime or always have the stroller so they can sleep in there; Darian is getting big for the Ergo for extended amounts of time, and Maxwell literally was falling asleep on Dave's shoulders as we were walking back to the hotel one day!!
     * Lower my expectations of the touristy things that I would like to do versus what is realistic.  The kids would have been happy at the pool and/or beach everyday.  We are lucky that they were so easy going with everything else that we forced them to do!!!

All in all, we had a fantastic holiday in Spain.  We only saw a tiny, minuscule part of what I am sure is an amazing and culturally diverse country.  After all, we were in the heart of Catalunya....I am sure cities like Madrid, Seville, and other little towns throughout the country have a completely different vibe and atmosphere than Barcelona.  LA and NY are different, right?   Hopefully we will be able to return and see other cities someday.  Who wants to come along next time??

To see the rest of the photos from the last few days of our trip, view my online album here.

No comments: