Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Barcelona - Last Day/Busiest Day

I have quite a few photos to share, so the less I write the better...
Our Final Day in Barcelona started at 9:30AM when we boarded the Barcelona City Tour bus with the kids. I'm not usually one for grand scale tours, etc. but this was the easiest and fastest way to transport the 6 of us to multiple sites. It worked out quite well! The main attraction for all of us today was to see 'Most Things Gaudi'. We did pretty well on the Gaudi route: * Please let me know if I misidentify any of the following!

Casa Batllo

Detail: Casa Batllo

La Pedrera Apartment block

And the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Cathedral:

Part of the Nativity Facade by Gaudi: Lots of plant and animal species depicted along with the traditional nativity scenes

Nativity facade

Kids by the Nativity facade

The Old and the New: the Cathedral is expected to be finished around 2030.

Under the animal sculptures - Nativity facade

The Passion Facade: completed in 1978 by Josep Subirachs

Judas Kiss, Christ is beaten - The crytogram on which all the numbers add up to the age of Christ at the time of his death.

Mary tends to her son's body - such sorrow on her face!

Cathedral Interior:
Very, very different but at the same time surprisingly traditional

This is a bit of an optical illusion: Use the doorframe at the lower left for reference - on the right are windows! Next photo shows the windows just about head on:

Very cool! Though it took me a while when editing my photos to figure out what I was looking at!

I took well over 100 photos at the Sagrada Familia - you'll have to come visit us in California so I can bore you with the full set ! :-)

Next on our agenda was Mt. Tibidabo. I just love saying the word Tibidabo. Makes you sound Spanish without knowing any of the language! Anyway, to get up to Tibidabo, you have to catch the Funicular. It's over 100 years old, pretty creaky but runs great. There is a trolley to take you up the steep street leading to the funicular. But, the older kids were in such a hurry to run ahead of us, that they bypassed the trolley and headed upward. About 3/4 of the way up the 30+% incline, I started hearing "Um, why didn't we take the trolley?" and "OMG, I'm sweating, how far up is this thing?!" and "You must be wrong, there is no way that we haven't just walked all the way up Mt. Tibidabo!" One would have thought they were all dying!

James is much more likely to indulge the girls, so he found a bus stop along the way and let the kids jump on for literally the last 1/8 mile. We arrived at the funicular building in less than 2 minutes. After such hard work, they were hungry and hot! Here's the view from the restaurant where we stopped for a quick bite:

Everyone was in much better spirits after cooling off!

On the funicular: Ready to visit Tibidabo!

This is the path that the older ones thought I was making them walk! Ummm, NO.

Here's the prize: The Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor

The Temple of the Sacred Heart was built by Enrich Sagnier between 1902-1911. We took the elevator up the main tower and explored up high until we all started feeling a bit funny in the stomach:

By the time we finished up our tour of Tibidabo, we only had time and energy left for one more stop. This stop was all about Liam..we visited the FC Barcelona Football Stadium and checked out the stadium tour which included the team showers and spa room, the press box, the field and displays of all the clubs awards through the years. Although we didn't take as much time as we would have liked, it was still a neat thing for Liam and the girls to have experienced:

Its getting late here, and each of the kids fell asleep at one time or another in the past 4 hours. Josie went swimming with Liam, came back to the room and had her bath and proceeded to sleep right through dinner. She's just now woken up and is not happy at all with her Mom! I'll try to post one more time before we board our ship tomorrow at 12:30. Adios Amigos!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Barcelona Day 2

I must be getting old... I fully expected to be up and about early this morning. When I first stirred this morning I thought it was just dawn. Turns out it was 11:45AM. Yikes! I haven't slept that late in decades! Oh well, I guess the kids were relieved to know that the full day of walking the Barri Gotic, La Rambla and the Port Vell I had planned would have to be condensed to just the major sites. It was still a very relaxing day and we all had fun.

First, La Rambla. Lively pedestrian area of shops, street performers and sidewalk cafes. Above is a photo of the kids with one of the 'moving statue' performers. Josie didn't care too much for these guys, hence every shot I have of her near one of them includes someone's leg she was hiding behind!

We left the main drag to venture off to the Placa Reial, this square features mid-19th century buildings, Gaudi designed lampposts and a beautiful center fountain depicting the Three Graces:

We left Placa Reial and headed in the direction of the Barcelona Cathedral. We roamed the narrow streets, finding beautiful churches and chapels along the way:

We also saw some really interesting shops:

Dont ask about this one unless you are looking for genital shaped candy or marital aids. (This situation arose because teenagers MUST walk at least 50 yards in front of their parent/chaperone!)

I loved these little plaques found on the walls of nearly every street in the Barri Gothic!

Finally, we reached the Barcelona Cathedral:

It was just about 7PM when we left the Cathedral, We returned to La Rambla and walked down to the base of the avenue to the Placa del Portal de la Pau:

After exploring the waterfront for an hour or so, we took the bus (yes, I figured out not only how to use connecting bus routes but also how to identify the 'express' routes!) back to the hotel and enjoyed a late (10:45PM) dinner. The older kids hit the pool after dinner and now I think everyone is back in the room and getting tucked in. Good thing too... it's about 1:45AM Tuesday and we're scheduled on the 9:15 shuttle later this morning!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

!Hola! From Barcelona

Our flight from New York to Barcelona went smoothly. We departed at 9:00 PM and arrived in Spain at 10:30AM. The kids were exhausted, as was I...sleep on airplanes is impossible. In an attempt to reset all our body clocks, I forced the kids to go to the pool upon arrival at our hotel. It was a beautiful, sunny day - about 85 degrees. I heard a lot of belly aching, but once they were at the pool they enjoyed the refreshing dip. We stayed at the pool for an hour then headed up for a 4 hour nap.

My plan was to take the kids to Montjuic, an historic area that features museums, gardens and even a castle. It was also the site of the 1992 Olympics. We were going to have a leisurely evening walking Montjuic, have a late dinner and then return to the hotel.

As is the case with the best laid plans, everything went wrong. We took the bus into town to the Placa d' Espanya, the recommended entryway to Montjuic. I noticed within 2 minutes that we had left off at the site of the 2011 Pride Espanya celebration. Back in the US this is called Gay Pride Weekend/Celebration. We harbor no bias in our family, so it wasn't a problem per se. Our two biggest problems were 1) trying to keep hold of Josie in the crushing crowd and 2) dealing with the disappointment of Maddie and Hailey who had dressed their best to enjoy their first night in Barcelona, only to realize it was Cousin Liam who was getting all the attention from the handsome men in attendance!

We walked through the festival headed toward the Poble Espanyol. This is a village reconstructed from a mix of famous buildings and street throughout Spain. It features artisans in residence, bars, restaurants and what was supposed to be an impressive array of artisan demonstrations. The information I had stated that the 'village' closed at 2AM. We arrived at 10:30PM and were turned away because they were closing. Oh well. James, Josie and I had no problem with rearranging the evening and began searching for a sidewalk tapas restaurant where we could all enjoy a meal while people watching. Maddie, Liam and Hailey were less thrilled with the change of events - all were eager to see the the beautiful views they were promised at Montjuic.

Hailey and Liam enjoy their first sip of Sangria.

A delicious dinner seem to cheer all. It was after midnight when we finished dinner so we headed to the bus stop to catch our ride back to the hotel. Second big mistake in my planning process was failing to realize that the regular buses stop running at 11:30PM. I figured out which 'night bus' got us closest to the hotel (The airport express) and we would then take a cab from the airport to our hotel which was about 5 mins from the airport. The three oldest looked at me like I was nuts... "Why not just take a cab from downtown to the hotel?" Short answer: "Barcelona cabs, by law, are only permitted to carry 4 passengers at a time. We are a group of 6". We much preferred taking the bus and then paying only for the short trip from the airport to the hotel in two cabs.

Anyway, the plan worked fine . We got back safely and I can hear the older kids laughing in the room next door. So, not so a bad of a start. Tomorrow I expect that everyone's body clocks will be back in order so we can enjoy a full day touring Barcelona. Until then...