With South America in our wake it was time to tackle the little place known as Europe. First stop was Barcelona, Spain. Well to be 100% truthful, first stop was actually Frankfurt airport for a couple hours where we admired wieners and hairy female underarms. We then arrived in Barcelona (I’ll call it Barca from here on) a city and country that we hold dear to our hearts. For those who don’t know our story we quite like Spain and even got engaged here about 9 years ago (in the town of Rhonda).
We jumped into a taxi and headed to our latest Airbnb apartment. I’d have to say on arrival this was one of our best yet. Piper loved it as it had a lift. Our apartment was in the very funky El Raval area which is just off Las Ramblas, Placa Catalunya and within walking distance to the famous La Boqueria Market. There are hundreds of little laneways to get lost in (Ez did a few times), with restaurants, bars and bread shops on every corner. You can almost reach over to touch the apartment across the road from yours, and every single one has washing hanging out to dry on their balcony (it was awesome for stealing undies as I was running short)
It is an area full of locals and was a pretty cool place to experience Barcelona. I’ve read a few years ago it was pretty seedy but now a great multi-cultural, young hipster area. So we didn’t really fit in but loved it nonetheless. We lived in Erskineville in Sydney, so we can pretend to hang with the hipsters.
After my last post I realised people wanted to hear more from the girls and understand what they might be thinking on the trip. In italics is what I think they’re (probably )thinking!
Piper and Evie – The apartment is great, it has a lift and a big terrace on the roof. There are lots of people around here with hair growing on their face. Mum says dad can’t grow that hair. People are also skinnier than dad and ride skateboards. Mum says dad can’t do that either.
Barca is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world, it’s bustling, busy, full of surprises around every corner. A few days in we ran into one of those surprises. While out exploring the city we turned the corner and saw the Barcelona Castellars making their human towers. It was amazing. Groups of about 50 building incredibly stable human towers up to 6 levels high. Then a band plays music and everyone dances in the street.
We had two weeks in this great city with some of the highlights below:
- Sunday in Park Citudella. This is one of the bigger parks in the city and a rare one with grass. There was a bit of an independence rally on. While not getting into politics this meant there were jumping castles and games for the kids. Free Catalan! (I’d consider joining the monastery if it meant a free jumping castle for the kids)
- Visiting the amazing Sagrada Familia (or Sagrada Samilia) as Evie describes it. The most beautiful church in the world has been under construction since 1883. There has definitely been some movement in the last 9 years (two kids to show for it) but there is still plenty to do. The inside is spectacular and makes you appreciate that it has taken over 100 years to build. While standing outside and pointing out the beauty I was thrilled when Piper excitedly explained “Oh Wow” before I turned and she was facing the other way pointing, she added – “a playground”. She was about as interested as paedophile in a nursing home. In all seriousness though, if you are out and ever need to find a kid’s playground just call Pipes. She’s like a cute little drug detector dog at the airport, can smell one from a mile away and you instantly start sweating knowing you have been caught out again.
- Doing the Hop on Hop off bus (yes we did it again). Cruising the city in the bus (not in peak season) is a pretty cool thing to do. The kids loved the top deck and its a nice way to enjoy the Barcelona sunshine. It’s obviously very touristy but unlike Sao Paolo (where there was only 1 bus on a 2hour loop) there were buses every 5 mins.
- Going to the Barcelona vs Valencia fubol game. Check out my post at Game Cuatro Barcelona vs Valencia
- Parc Guell, Gaudi 4D, Monjuic Castle, Carrefour Hypermarket – We hit up most of the main attractions this city has to offer. The city owes a lot to Gaudi and there are signs of him all over the city. You could spend a fortune visiting them all so we chose a couple of the more kid friendly venues – Parc Guell with its famous mosaics and gingerbread house buildings.
The girls – they are on fire. The best part of this trip for me is definitely spending time with them. Back home I would often see them for 2 hours a day…Here I get them all day! I got to watch Piper spend 1 hour trying to climb up the monument in the middle of Barcelona’s main square Placa Catalunya (that’s her in the photo below, about half way up). This may seem like neglectful parenting but I swear she watched the local kids do it first.
Both kids have their little quirkier/funny side.
Evie, we bought her some sneakers before we came away, cute little New Balance joggers. Somewhere along the way they got called her ‘fast running shoes’. Now, as soon as you say ‘fast running shoes’ she takes off to show you her style running down the street. It’s the best way to get her to move quickly. I just ask her as we are walking 50m behind mummy and Piper – are you wearing your fast running shoes? And bang she if off, caught up in no time!
Evie – Dad, he still doesn’t get it. I don’t necessarily want to run all the time, I’m just dropping a few hints that maybe the big guy should think about going for a run once in a while. The only thing it would hurt is the footpath!
Piper. Piper is a great friend or at least wants to be but sort of in a stalkish sort of way. At a playground she just waltzes up to any and all children, throws them a hola and waits for a reaction. If she gets a hola back she might go in for a hand hold, if she gets donuts she just moves on. Can’t wait till she gets to play with a couple of her best mates form back home who will join us in Croatia and Greece.
Piper – Of course I want friends. I had a good life back home with all my friends and homies. I went to preschool, had my cuzzies, grandparents would do whatever we wanted. Then mum and dad decide they want to ‘find themselves’ and go on lots of aeroplanes. It’s now me, the two oldies and my semi crazy sister. Give me strength.
Eating they have been amazing. I had a proud dad moment the other day when we were sitting at a restaurant eating lunch. I look across the table and Evie was smashing a plate of chorizo whilst Piper was slurping down her Gazpacho. Piper has declared she wants to try snails in France. It would be a lot harder of a trip if they were fussy eaters, thank god we’ve only got Ez!
Piper and Evie – Calm down dad, we’re inner city chicks, we eat ok. I’m happy to eat what’s in front of me but give me a Maggie’s Thai tempura flathead on green apple salad and Pad Thai any day.
I think I’ve written than Buenos Aires and Rio were probably pretty liveable cities. I had forgotten what Barca is like. When we were originally planning this trip we were considering doing 3 months here alone – I could easily do it. It’s a good city to visit but I can imagine would be a great city to live in. One problem, they speak too much English. After a couple months learning Spanish we came to Barca ready to unleash. 2 problems – most people are speaking Catalan (the local language, a few differences) and are happy to speak English rather than make us battle through (we actually enjoyed battling through). Piper has been great picking up some Spanish along the way. The other day we were locked in the banos (that’s toilets for those who only speak one language) when someone banged on the door. Whilst I was thinking up the appropriate response (I’d be shithouse in a debate) Piper busted out a perfect uno momento por favour (one moment please)
Piper – Dad, you’re embarrassing me, just stop it. Someone says something in Spanish, it takes two minutes for him to work out what they said and then he responds with the most bogan Spanish accent you have ever heard. Leave it to me and mum.
We loved our 2 weeks here. We were able to combine sightseeing with just living like locals a little. We even had a visit from good friends Benny and Airlie from back home (now living in London). We enjoyed afternoon time on the roof terrace, taking Piper to the library, getting a 4 Euro haircut etc. We even hung our washing out on the little balcony clotheslines like the local do, with only one item dropped and found four floors down. Whilst we were a little sad to leave we had exciting adventure laying for us ahead.
Last thing to do in Barca was to pick up our car for the next couple months. We were leasing a brand new Peugeot (check out Driveaway Peugeot Leasing) which would be our means of transport for France, Italy, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. We bought some car seats packed our bags and set off for the south of France. Farewell Spanish speakers…our French can only be described as oui shit!
For more photos from Barcelona, check out Erica’s Gallery