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  • Day2

    So here we are in Heathrow, sunshine, warm and after a 20minute bus ride....are we driving to Barcelona? We get off in a non descript building to stand in line for another another line and alas there is a plane....
    This is the low cost Version of BA which we discover when they try to charge 5 pounds for 2 coffees. This is an outrage that we cannot abide!
    We politely refuse and drink the water we smuggled aboard.

    Arrival in Barcelona was seemless and off to the hotel. A skilled taxi driver corkscrewed into our boutique hotel in central Barcelona.

    We settled in and the 4 of us took to the streets to check things out. We found many sidewalk cafe and chose pizza and a glass of wine before dragging our exhausted selves back to the hotel for much needed prone sleep.
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  • Day2

    Flights were OK. We were tired when in Heathrow, but we got going again when we reached Barcelona. There is a great feel to this place, with its parks, monuments and outdoor cafes and tapas bars. It all seems pretty laid back.

  • Day3

    At the moment I am still trying to work out the ideo..ideo..ideo......quirks of this blog program. Tomorrow when we are sailing Dianne and I will sort things out and get more proficient with the program. More to come today about our day in this fabulous city, but got to go right now.

  • Day15

    Our last day in Spain started with an unsuccessful search for the perfect breakfast! Then we relaxed for a couple of hours on the beach near our Airbnb before venturing out for a good lunch and our favorite beach. For lunch, we had a delicious green salad, shrimp in garlic sauce, and mussels in marinara sauce. Then we continued the long walk down the boardwalk to our favorite soft sandy beach. On the walk back, we decided to stop in and watch the Mountain Dew street skateboarding competition. Then, after a little rest and showers, we headed off into the crazy busy part of Barcelona for dinner. The end of summer festivities are going on this weekend and things are a bit crazy - parades, drum circles, and fireworks all over. We ended up going to a delicious ramen restaurant for dinner - not quite the typical Spanish meal for our last dinner in the country, but it was so good! We walked back and enjoyed a bit of the festivities before returning home. We fly to Venice tomorrow afternoon!Read more

  • Day18

    Today was challenging. We set our alarms for 6am as we needed to be on a train at 8:06. Everyone woke up cranky and tired after a VERY late night thanks to one of our children... We ate some cornflakes (and Sammy's tooth fell out as he was still too asleep to eat carefully) and made it to the station with 15 minutes to spare! That has to be some sort of record for Tom aka Mr last minute. His motto in life is; if you're there five minutes early that's five minutes wasted, or for flights; if they aren't calling your name over the loudspeaker then you aren't late. (Grrr)
    We found our first class seats and Samuel made a comment about how much he loved first class and how we should always travel first class. Apparently when Tom booked them there wasn't much of a price difference between first and second.

    We decided that train travel was the way to go, so much less stress that flying; no security, baggage checks, take off and landings, waiting for bags at the other end, passport control. And it is so scenic! We admired sun flower fields, hay bales and remarked on the different landscape as we traveled closer to Spain. Well Tom and I did, and poked the children who were fixated on their iPads.

    Our first impression of Barcalona was the heat, very warm and humid with a haze to the sky. We opted for a taxi to transport all our luggage to our accommodation which turned out to be an expensive 4km.
    There was no conceirge at the accommodation, only a sign informing us to go to a different location to pick up the keys. We decided that Tom would leave me with the kids and luggage and walk alone- a much faster option. Before leaving he said "if I'm not back in half an hour, panic." Silly Tom, as soon as he said this Sammy started panicking. Every five minutes Sammy would fret. I tried to assure him that daddy is always late, and that I wouldn't panic until daddy was over an hour late, but it didn't help things that at the half an hour mark Tom was nowhere in sight.
    I began wondering what I would actually do if Tom didn't reappear. I had no way of calling anyone. Anyway I didn't need to worry, Tom was back at the 45 minute mark, and relayed the strict hotel instructions; we were not to enter before 1pm or we would be fined, we could not hang anything over the balcony or we would be fined 350 euros, we could not have parties or we would be fined.
    As we were leaving to find some lunch another family arrived with the same confusion regarding check in, and Tom broke the news of the long journey to the concierge.
    I went for a short walk up the street to look for food. I found a market with raw meat, and the chickens and rabbits still had their heads on, their little eyes were terrified!
    We bought some croissants, one with jamom, some bread with sugar on it(?) a doughnut and what I thought was an apple turnover but ended up being pure pastry!
    After eating it was 1pm so we entered our room which had literally just been cleaned, the floor was still wet. But it was lovely and spacious, two bedrooms, lounge/dining/kitchen area and two bathrooms. We ha been in much smaller rooms so we were all pleased to spread out, and the kids were so excited to have their own beds!

    We set out to experience Barcelona, making our way first to their massive Sagrada Familia Basilica. There are no words to describe such a monstrosity, except gaudy; a not so funny coincidences that the architect responsible for it was named Gaudi! It pollutes ones view of the sky with its towering concrete turrets that have coloured baubles atop. Every facade is different, there is no harmony of design or even colour (and they say I'm not arty). It's gothic architecture at its worst.
    We decided to walk the perimeter (after stopping for the mandatory play in the park) but it was so big and ugly we ended up in souvenir shops but were disgusted with their prices.

    We caught the metro to the coast. Everyone was tired, most of us were holding it together but the littlest one was not. We bribed her with gelato which worked initially, but after the gelato, which wasn't even good, she went crazy. There were tantrums, screaming, stomping and general hysteria. Tom and I pretended not to know her at one point, with Sammy and I walking away (more for fear that I would start crying too!)
    Threats were made and she calmed down. She even walked for the next half an hour, silently with a stiff lip. She can be so determined when she wants to be.

    This next part of the day was my favourite. We walked aimlessly through alleys that led to vast openings and grand buildings. We commented on smells, mostly bad and noticed little things like patterns in sandstone, the bumpy paths so iconically European. We saw a wedding party and the photographer was using a drone to capture the memories, and we tried more gelato which was equally as bad as the first.

    We were hot, tired and ready to go back to the hotel when we stumbled upon the greatest find of all; some produce markets. These were mesmerising, fruits boasting vivid colours, nuts in abundance and giant fish and prawns. But the items that caught our interest were the meats and cheese. We bought paper cones filed with jamom, cheese and chirizo, all lukewarm and slightly sweating in the sun, but delicious. Unfortunately even the kids liked them- less for me. We also bought some chopped up fruit for the kids and reluctantly left via the back door. This opened up to a piazza that had people preparing to make a human pyramid! We wanted to stay but they were nowhere near ready and both children were complaining. We caught the metro back to our room, showered the kids and gave them their fruit. This refreshed them enough to happily walk to find dinner.

    We had planned for an early night but once again this was not to be. We walked for a long time in search of pallela and tapas, but most restaurants only had tapas. I was about to snap (maybe that's where Adalia gets it from?!) when the road opened into a piazza with restaurants and one had pallela!
    Tapas, pallela and a mojito, does it get much better? Even the kids who had been chanting "chips! Chips!" to the waiter, were happy with our selection. (Adalia wanted a mojito and growled at the injustice of the world that she wasn't 18, but I couldn't really blame her, it did look good).
    Tom had promised more gelato, but I had to be bad cop and over rule. It was 9:30pm! They needed to be asleep, not hyped up on sugar. Tom was shocked at the time as it was still sunny, and quickly agreed.
    Thankfully, all our walking to find a restaurant had been in a circle and we were a very short walk from our hotel, so the children were quickly in bed and asleep before the sun had set.
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  • Day13

    What a great day! We slept in after a late night of travel (and three jam-packed and amazing, but exhausting, days in Granada). Then we worked out, did some much needed laundry, and went out for a delicious breakfast of avocado and strawberry toast with fresh orange juice! Next, we relaxed on the beach for hours and then walked a couple of miles down the boardwalk, grabbing an amazing lunch on the sand - grilled mussels, eggplant tempura, sea bass with salad, chocolate mousse, and espresso. We walked some more, swam for awhile in the Balearic Sea (!!), and headed back to our awesome Airbnb for a warm shower and some rest.

    We headed out to a local restaurant, recommended by our host, for dinner. As we waited outside for our table, several people on balconies on the street, and all of the surrounding streets, began banging on pots and pans in protest of the Spanish government's suppression of the Catalonian region's vote for sovereignty. We have been witnessing these protests since our arrival in Madrid two weeks ago.

    The small local hole-in-the-wall restaurant that our host recommended ended up specializing in fried fish. We split a small meal (fried fish and peppers) and then went to grab second dinner...the burger than Tim has been craving for about a week. Now I need to sit up in a chair and read and digest for about an hour before I can sleep!!
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  • Day14

    We walked A LOT today!! After a yummy breakfast, we first walked about 2.5 miles to Gaudi's magnificent Sagrada Familia cathedral. Unfortunately, there was a lottery going on this weekend only for free tickets, so the purchased tickets were limited and are sold out until we leave Barcelona!! So, we only got to check out the outside, which is amazing on its own. Next, we walked another 2 miles to Gaudi's crazy Park Guell (eating Chinese food on the way!). By the time we got to the top of the mountain at the park, we were completely exhausted. We took a cab back for an early evening siesta. After we woke up, we went to yet another amazing tapas dinner. Then we walked it off on the boardwalk (with a short attempt at joining in on some salsa dancing) and through a small carnival set up for this weekend's end of summer festival.

    Tomorrow - more beach time!!
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  • Day45

    We landed in Barcelona at a time when there was a lot of media attention about the protests against tourists. There were definitely parts of the city that displayed a disdain for tourism, with graffiti splashed across walls claiming that “tourism kills the neighbourhood”. Some businesses in the city centre offered a different perspective and welcomed tourists with open arms: we ♥ tourists (Ironically, throughout our Eastern European adventures, we've experienced hoards of Spanish tour groups.) At the same time, there is a call for Catalonia to become an independent Republic, divorcing itself from the Kingdom of Spain. The area that we stayed in seemed supportive of a “yes” vote in the up-and-coming referendum, with Catalan flags flying from many of the homes. Meanwhile the Australian Government proceeds with a postal survey on same-sex marriage, a right already afforded to the Spaniards. By acknowledging same-sex relationships in this way, it has had an obvious effect, with couples openly displaying their relationship without fear of persecution.

    After arriving at our accommodation, we immediately realised that this wasn’t exactly what we had expected. The reviews indicated that the accommodation was close to public transport but it didn’t say that the accommodation sat (almost) on top of the railway line. With each train, the building and windows shook. So close where the trains that at night you needed to make sure you kept all body parts clear or else you risked losing a limb. We knew that there would be little sleep outside of the hours of 12:20am and 5am, except for short powernaps of 15 minutes between freight trains, unless you're disturbed by squeaky doors and floors from other guests returning home after a night out or a late check-in.

    On our first full day, all tired and weary-eyed, we took the metro to explore the city centre, in particular the buildings and monuments designed by Antoni Gaudy. La Sagrada Familia is one of the most photographed buildings in Barcelona, but we felt underwhelmed – perhaps the morning caffeine fix hadn’t kicked in yet. It lead us to coin the phrase gaudy Gaudi. The day was filled with lots of gaudy Gaudi buildings, all of which seemed more interesting than La Sagrada Familia (which by the way is no longer Gaudi’s creation and now has become an interpretation of his intentions since the original plans were burned).

    Wandering the streets of the city, we headed for the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, which contrasts to the busy streets of La Rambla or the beaches of Barceloneta, with its medieval churches and gargoyles peering from the tops of buildings. Although only a few steps from the main streets, it felt like stepping back in time, free from the illegal vendors selling their counterfeit goods (that is before the police come along and ruin a sale).

    Similar to many other European cities (Paris or Prague), the residents love their four-legged friends and the evidence is visible throughout the city. As we walked past a little old lady’s house, we noticed she was splashing water across the front of her home. At first, we thought she was warding off the evil spirits and thought how great it was that she was continuing the old traditions. Then we realised she was just washing off the dog piss from her walls.

    Unsure whether the old lady rubbed off on Jason but the following morning he seemed to suffer from a few bouts of what could be diagnosed as the onset of early dementia, or perhaps it was the many people warning us to beware of thieves that he worked himself into a panic thinking he’d been pick-pocketed, only to find his wallet buried in his backpack. Once, twice, thrice. On second thoughts it might have been beer-induced dementia. 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer. Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall.

    Perhaps due to all of the beer drinking our cover as German tourists has been blown. One of the Indian shopkeepers looked at us as we purchased a few cans of cheap beer and said “you’re Australian”. In the past, Jason has been mistaken for Shane Warne by other Indians and we blame cricket for their ability to distinguish between British, Australian and New Zealand accents.

    Our short stay in Barcelona was capped off with drinks (there's a bit of a theme happening here) with an old work colleague, Geoff and his wife, Veronika, before heading back to doze between freight trains. Trainspotting in Barcelona hadn’t been on the original itinerary but seemed to be on the menu each night.

    Next stop: Madrid.

    See link below for video footage:
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  • Day4

    Yes, we're in Baca where some crazy people drove a rampage and killed many innocent people only a week ago. So many beautiful memorials.
    We ended up at a restaurant where just next door they lost a chef and waiter. So, other than holding back the tears. Barcelona is beautiful!
    They do sangria by the litre and paella by the bucket load. Time for a flamenco show. Where passion and guitar dominate. Ready for a big night out!Read more

  • Day5

    We have a free morning! Explored a few sights. But it is sooo hot, I had to take advantage of being in a siesta city!
    Evening activities of a tapas tour. It was amazing. We went to four different places to try their food and beverage. Started off at the market for a fresh juice. Then onto a tapas restaurant. Then on to a beautiful bar for vermouth and chips. Finishing off with an assortment of goodies on a stick. Great way to see Barcelona as well.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Barcelona, Barcelone, Barcellona

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