It's a hot one today, so why not hike up a giant hill?  We wondered the same thing ourselves as we walked from the closest metro stop to Parc Güell - the large and strange park designed by Antoni Gaudi.  My friend Mónica and her two kids joined us as we traipsed around the city looking at the two most famous of Gaudi's works; Parc Güell and Sagrada Familia.  The only downside to our plan was the insanely hot weather today, but we managed to make it without anyone getting heat stroke or sunburned.  (Small investment in cold bottles of water is cheaper than the hospital bill!)  First stop on the way (but not Gaudi related) was the Mercat de la Boqueria , a must see off the Ramblas here in Barcelona.  We all bought a super fresh (and organic) fruit smoothie made from nothing more than blended fruit - I chose a papaya-coconut one that was unbelievable.  I could tell it was just chunks of fresh coconut blended with papaya and strained.  So good that I think I need another one tomorrow!  Everyone had different flavours and we all enjoyed them and felt a bit energized from the fruit.  The rest of the market was interesting (the kids particularly loved the candy corner) and the hunks of ham hanging from the ceiling always intrigue me in terms of a food safety issue.  No one complains, so who am I to cause an uproar?  At the very back there was the most delicious looking take-out place and I'm hoping we get back there before we leave to have some of that food.  Market fresh, what's better?

Parc Güell was very interesting - that Gaudi was one strange nut!  We all enjoyed looking at the weirdly 'melted' buildings and structures which make up his vision of a neighborhood that never was.  (Homebuyers in the early 1900's just didn't take to it for some reason, hmm.)  The history is actually a bit complicated and I can't claim to really understand it, just check out wikipedia if you need more information!  Last year in school Chloe did a unit on mosaics and watched a movie that included parts from Parc Guell.  She was pretty pleased to see in real life things that she had learned about it school.  We had lunch at a overpriced tourist restaurant, but we were hungry and hot and just pretended to not be offended by the inflated prices and mediocre food.  Although, their sangria was super delicious!

The nice thing about walking uphill to see something is that it's all downhill afterwards.  Heading back to the metro seemed very quick, and soon enough we were at the impressive Sagrada Familia.  When we visited Barcelona 4 years ago we stayed at an apartment across the street from it, and it was really interesting to see how much more progress has been made on since we were there.  You can distinctly see where new meets old in terms of stone colour, but the architecture holds true which is great to see.  The back side of it is so different than the front, and the entire structure is so busy that you can't help but wonder what was going on in Gaudi's mind to even conjure up such a place.

By this time all of us were overheated and tired, so we came back to our apartment for a 'pool party'.  Stocked up with iced tea and chips the girls frolicked while the adults sat around relaxing and trying to regain some of the energy we'd lost over the course of the day.  Mónica and the girls headed for the train back to St. Feliu and the rest of us took advantage of siesta time. 

We ate a homemade tapas platter (manchego cheese, olives, crackers) procured from the little store below our apartment to tide us over for an 8 pm dinner.  No one goes for dinner before 8 here - even then it's like the early bird special!  We were all a little tuckered so we just walked across the street to a little outdoor restaurant that has been teasing us with smells of garlic for the last two days.  The food was delicious and the people watching was excellent!!  Then the gelato hunt began… which we thought would be a pretty easy undertaking.  Last night we walked past at least 5 different places very close to our apartment, but tonight we got all confused with the tight windy streets and strange corners and didn't pass a single one.  We ended up in the corner store right under our building and picked something from the popsicle area, and they were all delicious, just not very fancy.

We are all pretty tuckered now from a day of walking so much in the sun, but it's been a great day full of interesting sights and lots of friend bonding for the kids.  How often are you in a foreign city across the globe with your very best friend?  Cherished times.  Tomorrow is a completely free and open day for us and we'll go where the wind blows us.  Those days are nice, and also rare, so we'll enjoy the need to do nothing.  Buenos noches!


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