Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hola Barcelona!

A grey cloud always seems to loom over my head these days; both figuratively and literally. The latter probably the cause of the former. The winter weather is dreary. The perpetual drizzle is downright dismal.

We escaped the glum and gloom by plane, direction Barcelona. We booked a couple nights stay in an apart-hotel overlooking a pedestrianized street in the historical part of the city. This geographic detail confused our Catalan-speaking cab driver. Our multilingual attempts (Hubby's best Quebec English, Swiss French and my very basic Spanish, spattering of Italian and Dutch) probably confused him even more. I did not get much sleep that night. The charm and problem of pedestrianized streets are the pedestrians. Bar-hopping Spaniards have a very late (or early) last call. And, they all decided to party on under our window.

The next day was a holiday. I expected to find closed shops and restaurants, and only a gaggle of tourists wandering the city during the feast of the Immaculate Conception. We found the city open for business as usual and very crowded with locals and tourists alike. For our first stop, we bored Edouard through the Picasso Museum. We limited dragging by bribing him with a visit to the aquarium. On our way there, we encountered a religious procession for the Virgin Mary, something straight out of the Godfather Part II, which Edouard thought was a wedding - how the Story would have changed had there been...

We found the Acquarium very crowded. Unfazed by the masses, Edouard weaved and slipped his way through to the shark tank. "Excuse me, excuse me" he repeated as he pushed his way to the front. Hubby who believes that football is a microcosm for life, detected the glimmer of a runningback legacy in his son's balls. Charlotte had her Dad create space so that she could ooh and ahh the brightly-coloured guppies. We ended the day with a walk down Las Ramblas where we made fun of the mimes, and ate tapas at a local bar

We decided to take it easy on our feet the next day and see the sights from a hop on/hop off tourist bus. Hubby and kids loved riding on the open-air upper deck of the bus. Me an my wind-blown hair, less. We hopped on at the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar and hopped off at La Sagrada Familia. I found the unfinished masterpiece by Antoni Gaudi, from whence the word gaudy, to be a chaotic mess. Charlotte creates similar structures with her mashed potatoes. Hubby on the other hand liked the style very much. We stopped for lunch at a most delightful restaurant - 7 Portes - where locals queue for hours for THE paella and other typically Catalan dishes.

In a brief moment of folly, we considered dropping mucho dinero for scalped tickets to the FCBarcelona vs RĂ©al game. Unfortunately, Charlotte's stroller would not have been admitted into the stadium. (Britney just leaves hers at home - panties too - to go clubbing.) We returned to the party under our window to catch some Z's before our crack of dawn return flight.

On our way to the airport, friendly Barcelona bar crawlers waved to us in our taxi - oh, signalled our taxi. We still bid a fond hasta luego to Barcelona.

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