Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mas de Barcelona

I learned right away at the airport that there really is a big difference between Spanish and Catalan, the language that is spoken in Barcelona.  Dave likes to joke around that I speak both Spanish AND French, because of that one year of French that I took in high school.  He is seriously mistaken.  However, in Barcelona, I did start to notice the similarities between Catalan and French.  If I remember correctly, in French there were more Ts and in Spanish Ds. Or the Catalan words would just be shortened.  For example, in Spanish, the word city is ciudad.  In Catalan, it is ciutat.  At the gelato place, a large was gran (Catalan) where in Spanish it would be grande. In Spanish, a grocery store is un supermercado.  In Catalan, un mercat.  Or as David liked to say, "the meerkat.  Why do they have stores here that sell meerkats?"  He is a dip.  But the best example of the French connection was "please:"  In Spanish, por favor.  In French, si'l vous plait.  In Catalan?  Si us plau.

Back to our holiday adventures...
On Monday we woke at our leisure, had breakfast at the hotel buffet, and made our way out to explore again.  We ended up at La Place de Catalunya, which I believe is the city centre.  It was a large square with a pretty fountain and lots of tourists about.  And plenty of pigeons looking for a meal, which gave Maxwell and Darian a fun way to release some energy!
     The Placa de Catalunya was also the beginning of La Rambla, the street that we had tried to get to on Sunday before we got trapped in the monsoon.  La Rambla is a beautiful street, filled with stalls and merchants, sidewalk setups for the restaurants and cafes, and street performers.  It is also a place that is known for pick pocketing, so we were forewarned and very careful.  But even when we sat down at a cafe to rest and get something to drink, the waiter warned me to keep an eye on the stroller and the diaper bag I had hanging from it at all times.

We went into La Boqueria, which is a huge open market.  There were hundreds of people milling about, so it was really hard to get in with the stroller, but we made our way through to look at all the meat, fish, and fresh fruit stands.   We bought some fruit for the kids to munch on, and David and I got an adult beverage.  One guess what I got!

La Rambla was pretty typical of a tourist market.  Stalls with your everyday souvenirs--magnets, maps, coffee mugs.  We didn't see anything that we would want to buy, and we were lucky enough that the kids were pretty content to sit back and people watch and enjoy the day out.

That night we started to realize one of the challenges of traveling with toddlers abroad.  Food.  It seems like that should be easy, but with two picky toddlers it was quite a challenge.  We ended up at the restaurant on the corner by our hotel.  The kids ate some pasta and David and I shared a pizza, which was delicious, but still not giving us the taste of local Catalan food that we wanted to experience.  Next trip?  We will find a market right away and get food for the kids for the week.  They can survive for a week on fruit, sandwiches and normal picnic style food that I can pack in the bag for them, and that way David and I will be able to go to whatever restaurant we want and really take in the local cuisine!

For all my stay at home mom friends, you know this.  But when your full time job is being home with your kids, traveling with them is not really a vacation.  It is more of a business trip.  I was starting to feel that after dinner on Monday night when Maxwell was being picky about his food, Darian wouldn't settle down and sit in the chair (no high chairs...we ended up tying her to the chair with the Ergo!!)  I was frustrated and tired and in desperate need of either A) a two hour massage B) a stiff drink or C) some serious alone time.  Luckily, I have the BEST husband in the world, so I got both B and C!!  And if our hotel had a spa I probably would have gotten the massage the next day, too!  David took the kids up to bed, and I stayed behind to enjoy the rest of our pitcher of Sangria and a lovely flan.  I sat and drank my wine, taking tiny bites of my dessert, and watching the city come to life around me.  It was WONDERFUL!

Main Entrance...this was actually where we exited after our hike.
On Tuesday morning we met up with MarieB again and went to visit another Gaudi work of art:  Parc Guell.   It is basically a garden complex, that we had to walk up very steep sidewalks, stairways, and even escalators to get to!  But it was worth the climb, because once at the top we saw breathtaking views of the city below and the amazing architectural components designed by Gaudi that were sprinkled throughout.

That night for dinner we found a diner style restaurant that had nuggets de pollo on the menu. :o)  The kids were happy, David and I had yummy burgers and beer, and I even got a chance to try something that I hope was more of a local dish:  meatballs.  They were delicious!  We didn't go to a Tapas restaurant this week (the horror!!) but I got to taste these lovelies and I could have had them as a main dish.  SO GOOD!   After dinner we walked around and took the long way back to the hotel, finding some markets and stalls that were set up selling homemade items like jewellry, clothing and handbags.  I bought a new bag that I just love.  We also found a shop that had foods from around the globe, and I was able to get a special treat for our local tour guide, my cousin Marie:  Resee's Peanut Butter Cups!!!

To see more photos from these spectacular two days in Spain, visit here.

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