Granpops was off bright and early this morning. Keller told him where to catch the 46 bus, which made the transfer process easy. Granpops made it home without too much trouble. We had a great time with him the last week here in Barcelona and we appreciate him taking the time off to come hang out with us!
Meanwhile, we took our time getting going today. We all slept in and enjoyed a leisurely morning. We walked to lunch at Bismallah Kebab for something different for lunch! The El Raval neighborhood has a significant Arabic population, so we were definitely at a local’s hangout. The food was all very tasty and authentic. Cheap too, which is always a pleasant surprise when eating out!
On the way back home we stopped by Orxateria Sirvent for dessert. The kids and I got ice cream and Keller picked out his new favorite drink — llet meringata! It is essentially eggnog without the alcohol. A quick google search for recipes shows it usually contains milk, cream, egg white, lemon, and cinnamon. Keller says it’s very refreshing and very tasty! It’s his new favorite. 😉
We went back home for the afternoon so Keller could get some work done and the kids could have some down time. School hasn’t started back up again (we’ve dropped the ball on that again this trip), but they’re happily amusing themselves with a project to design their own roller coaster park!
I did take the kids down to the Miro park and playground this afternoon for a chance to run around and play. Caden tried out his spinny flier and managed to recover it from a bush it got caught in. Kamy and Caden also played on the playground for about two hours. They found a new friend, Tara, who lives here in Spain but speaks English. They played tag and hide and seek for a long time and came home all tired out.
Caden had been asking for a down day, so this was a perfect chance to take the day off and relax a bit.
Today we went up the hill at Montjuic to the National Museum of Catalonian Art. It is housed in the huge National Palace built for the 1929 Worlds Fair exhibition. This museum displays artist works primarily from the Catalonia region but across many centuries.
We split up to conquer the museum. Kamy and I started in the Renaissance art section while Keller and Caden went to the modern art. The museum had a lot of nice pieces, but not really major works by well known artists. Unsurprisingly, most of the Renaissance and Gothic era pieces are very religious and very Catholic. I think we’re pretty well versed in what to expect in that genre by now. 😉
Next Kamy and I went upstairs to the modern art section. We both found pieces that we liked, in all different styles. There is a significant section dedicated to pieces created by Anton Gaudi that we enjoyed seeing.
Kamy’s favorite piece was called The Dream, while I really liked this piece by Miro (though I wouldn’t have guessed it was a Miro without reading the plaque!).
The building itself was pretty neat too! The dome art was particularly impressive and it’s clearly been carefully restored.
For lunch, we went to a pizza restaurant recommended by our dive guide. Madre Lievito uses sour dough crusts for their pizzas. We ordered two menus of the day (a pasta dish and a burrata salad), one pizza, and a pannuozzo. What is a pannuozzo? We asked the same question! It is essentially a hot sandwich in a piece of pizza crust. It was the surprise hit and arguably Keller and Kamy’s favorite dish they’ve had in all of Spain! This one had ricotta and mozzarella cheese, ham, and zucchini in it.
Then we went back to the apartment for the rest of the day. We’re definitely slowing down on our daily trips and wrapping up the last few things on our Must See list for this trip. One week left!
Today we decided to stay close to Plaza Espana. The “Handmade Festival” is going on at one of the convention buildings near Espana, so we decided to check it out. There were a lot of different craft vendors and several demonstrations (in Spanish).
There was also a small area set up with handtools and wood for kids to build and create with. Kamy and Caden spent about an hour with all the tools, trying to create something with the supplies.
The weather is very rainy today, so we spent the afternoon at the apartment, did some school and screen time, and dried off. 😉
This morning Keller got up early to take a technical tour of the Liceu building. It is the “new” opera house on the main street in Barcelona. It was destroyed by a fire in 1994 and rebuilt to be pretty similar to the prior iteration. Keller said the tour was interesting, but not quite a cool as the tour we took in Madrid. The kids and I met him near Ramblas where we checked out the local street art market. From there we went to the modern art museum. There were several interesting exhibits there, including one exploring “onomatopoeia” words and music in life. Keller and the kids have since started calling those words hola mantequilla, or hello butter. 😉
We ate lunch at Chen Ji, a local Chinese restaurant. It was pretty tasty and very busy! We were lucky to get a table quickly. We also checked out the Ciutadella park before wandering back to Servient for ice cream and llet meringata. The kids and I went to the fountain show at dusk and stopped at Mercadona for groceries. We didn’t stay nearly as long this evening, but the show was beautiful once more.
Today is Spanish mother’s day! As we have no idea how big of a deal Mother’s Day is here, we decided to play it by ear. We were very surprised at how little was open and how full the restaurants were on Father’s Day when we were in Toledo. Would Mother’s Day be the same? Nope. Not at all.
We went to lunch at Madre Lievito again and were there right when it opened. We hoped that would mean we could have a table. In fact, we were the only ones there until the last 5 minutes of our meal. Oh well!
From there we took the subway and then the funicular up to the top of Tibidabo. It took a bit to get all the way there, but we weren’t in a hurry. There is a large Catholic church and an amusement park with a spectacular view of the city at the top of the hill.
The Catholic church had a bunch of stairs on the exterior and lovely mosaics in the altars.
The amusement park was interesting — like a cross between a stationary park and a carnival. It originally opened in 1899! Most rides were pretty small, but they did have a roller coaster too. It reminded me of the Jardin d’Acclimatation in Paris. The prices were a bit high for just a few rides, so we mostly wandered around. One of the original rides was an airplane built back in 1928. Red Skelton even visited it!
On the way back home we stopped at Amorino’s for ice cream at the mall for something sweet and called it a day.
I’d initially planned to visit the Miro museum this morning, but it is closed on Mondays! Fortunately I checked before we headed out, so instead we spent the morning at home. The kids and I walked down to the San Anton market for groceries. I found a butcher with the “secreto iberico” pork cut, so I bought 1 kg to cook for lunch later this week. I also bought padron peppers and new potatoes to complete the meal.
Keller picked out a nice restaurant for us to try for lunch, but unfortunately they were fully booked for reservations when we arrived. Instead we walked to the same pinxtos place we went to with Granpops.
The food was just as tasty as before! I really love the pinxtos concept because not only do we get to sample a lot of different things, we do not have to agree either! We ended up with 30-some-odd toothpicks and happy stomachs. 😉 I definitely want to replicate the idea of pinxtos when we host events at home. As long as I focus on combinations that can be made ahead of time and put in the fridge, I don’t think it will be too hard to serve a decent selection.
Before we arrived in Barcelona, Kamy spent some time on Google Maps looking at attractions and parks in the area. She said she wanted to visit the Aventura Park indoor playground while we were in Barcelona. So today we did! They have limited hours during the week (5pm – 8:30pm), so we went right at 5.
After dropping off their shoes and getting their wrist bands, the kids were off! I sat down in the restaurant area and read my book. Keller texted me about 45 minutes after we arrived, asking how the kids liked the playground. My response? “I haven’t seen them since we got here!” LOL Both kids popped over to check in and drink some water after about an hour and were happy to keep playing. We ended up staying until close at 8:30, so I think it was a hit! While smaller than TunFun in Amsterdam, it was definitely newer, cleaner, and in better condition. Kamy and Caden were all hot, sweaty, and tired by the time we headed home. They both had an excellent time!
Today we went to the Fundation Miro museum. It is up on Montjuic and a short bus ride from our apartment. There were a lot of school groups there when we arrived, but we were able to dodge around then and see the art.
Miro is definitely an interesting artist. Once he hit is stride and created his own style, he stuck to very pure, true colors. It’s almost like he would only paint with colors from one company, in one shade. His yellow, red, blue, and green are almost identical across his sculptures and paintings. Add in black and white and you cover 90% of the paint colors he used. Maybe a little orange here and there, but that’s about it! No blending of colors allowed!
While I find a lot of his work hard to understand (and it can be hard to match the title to the artwork), I can appreciate some of it. Not all of it though … the small blue spot on a white canvas just doesn’t do it for me.
My favorite piece was a massive hanging tapestry. Miro designed the pattern for the tapestry but it was executed by other professional fiber artists. The 3D effect was particularly impressive and I can only imagine how much it weighs.
We also really loved watching the Mercury Fountain. It was displayed at the Paris exhibition in 1937 (along with Picasso’s Guernica). It is deceptive in that it really looks like water unless you are paying close attention to it.
In the lower level of the museum, there were tables and art supplies set up for guests to create their own pieces of art. The kids dove in and started creating immediately, but both Daddy and I joined in eventually too.
Here is Keller’s best work of the last decade — called “Woman with Child in Spring,” clearly inspired (tongue in cheek) by Miro.
We walked back to the apartment, via the large promenade in front of the Catalan Art museum so the kids could peruse the items for sale. Caden bought a large red mosaic style lizard with Barcelona on the tail. Kamy tried to talk a vendor down on a set of castanets, but he wasn’t budging. She is still on the hunt!
For lunch, I cooked with the ingredients from the market trip yesterday. I was a bit intimidated to cook the secreto iberico pork, but online said medium high heat with salt and pepper is all that is required. Every article cautioned against overcooking it, so I erred on the side of less-done. The meal was a success! Keller said it is his favorite meal I have cooked this trip and was very appreciative that I branched out and make something “local.”
Today we went back down to the beach for the kids to play. They love time on the sand and getting to play with the water. They were particularly interested in collecting sea glass and spent most of their time hunting for treasures and building a sand wall. Meanwhile Keller and I just hung out on the sheet talking and trying not to get sunburned. Keller made fun of me, saying I was “untanning” since I was laying on the beach in my rain jacket with the hood up for shade. It worked though! 😉
For lunch we went to a create your own pasta bar where we grabbed something quick and cheap for lunch. It was less impressive than the previous restaurant, but it was passable. I did like their signs though. 😉
We stopped at Keller’s favorite ice cream and drink stop for ice cream and llet meringata for dessert and then walked home for the rest of the day.
The last thing on my To See list in Barcelona was a trip to the CCCB exhibition space. It was included in our museum combination ticket and is currently hosting two major exhibitions. The first is the World Press Photo Exhibition, highlighting the winners and honorable mention photos from the world’s photojournalists in 2018.
The winner is the iconic photo of the young girl crying in front of a police cruiser while her parent is questioned by an officer.
Of course, this also prompted many questions and discussions with the kids — migrant and refugees attempting to come to the US, the opioid epidemic, wars in Africa and the Middle East. Hard questions, difficult situations, and none with easy answers. I think it impacted Caden a bit more than Kamy, but we don’t really sugarcoat the answers to their questions when they come up.
I thought the photos were very well presented and had excellent descriptions in English to understand the context.
The other exhibition was on Quantum Mechanics and combined science and art together. I don’t pretend to understand 20% of what was presented, but it was interesting all the same!
Keller made reservations near our apartment at Cruix for lunch. It is a very trendy restaurant that specializes in tasting menus — ten small portions of intricate and unique dishes to try. Keller really enjoyed the meals, but I’m afraid the kids and I didn’t really care for it. We weren’t complaining, but it did put a damper on Keller’s experience.
Another grocery stop at the Mercadona and the kids played on the screen in the mall one last time. I think it’s lost its novelty though, so they were ready to go when I was for a change. 😉
After the mall I dropped the kids off at the apartment and then headed out to the Palau de la Musica. I managed to get one ticket for the performance that evening by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. The acoustics were great and the music was very well done. I think the kids would have been bored, so it worked out great!
For our last day in Barcelona, we really just opted to stay close to home. The kids really wanted to return to Aventura Park, so I told them that we could go this evening IF everything was packed and done at the apartment.
I walked to the San Anton market for groceries and cooked secreto iberico, potatoes, and padron peppers for our last Spanish meal. The kids packed up their clothes and souvenirs, helped clean the apartment, and were generally helpful getting ready to go.
We wrapped up packing and cleaning in time to go to Aventura Park again! We were there right when it opened at 5 and stayed until about 8:15. It was much busier tonight because there were a ton of birthday parties going on. One of the staff members challenged the kids to swap out the balls in the ball pits — move all the brown balls from one and replace it with gold balls from the other. He didn’t expect them to work on it ALL EVENING, but they did and were very proud to tell him that the job was complete when we left! LOL! He said he expected them to get tired after 5 minutes and move on to something else. I guess not!
We walked back to our apartment for the last time, ate dinner, cleaned out the kitchen, and went to bed early. It’ll be a long day tomorrow!
Overall, I’d say we had a lovely time in Spain. The culture and history is fascinating — especially the mix between the Islamic Moor influence and Catholic dominance. Add in some Franco dictatorship and you have a very layered culture.
The food was delicious too! Some of our favorites were the stuffed squid in Tarifa, fresh burrata with pesto in Madrid, and the pannuozzo in Barcelona. Secreto iberico with padron peppers was quite tasty too. Fresh strawberries and local oranges were delicious and hard to resist. So we didn’t. 😉 And plenty of ice cream was consumed by all!
As we continue to travel, we’re learning more and more about how we like to travel, how long we want to stay in a place, and how quickly we’re ready for something new. This trip was kind of a middle ground between Western Europe last spring and eastern Europe last fall. We moved around quite a bit … 2 weeks is about the maximum amount of time we need in a city to hit the highlights before we’re ready to move on. We’re getting more comfortable winging our plans and planning a few days out rather than several weeks in advance. We really enjoyed the house sitting break in La Herradura and would love to build more house and pet sits into future trips. We also discovered that while we were moving around in Spain itself, we would have preferred more variety between cities. Barring our two days in Morocco, Spain was more uniform than we were expecting. I think we’d prefer adding a second country in a trip of this length.
We moved around quite a bit … 2 weeks is about the maximum amount of time we need in a city to hit the highlights before we’re ready to move on. We’re getting more comfortable winging our plans and planning a few days out rather than several weeks in advance. We really enjoyed the house sitting break in La Herradura and would love to build more house and pet sits into future trips.
We also discovered that while we were moving around in Spain itself, we would have preferred more variety between cities. Barring our two days in Morocco, Spain was more uniform than we were expecting. I think we’d prefer adding a second country in a trip of this length. We also missed doing quite as many outdoor activities versus our trip to Croatia. We sure did see a lot in the Iberian Peninsula, even though we didn’t touch the northern coast or any of Portugal! Perhaps we’ll return to Spain one day.