Well, Friday night is party night, and we definitely heard it.  There are many benefits to the location that we're staying, but one of the negatives is the proximity to many bars… and it sounds like people were taking their parties to the streets last night.  We were all woken up multiple times by loud singing/yelling and general merrymaking, and the occasional car alarm.  I have a hard time being annoyed because I (may have been) one of those loud 'youngsters' a few decades ago, but a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep sure would've been appreciated.

We had a great dinner last night after deciding to walk out to what I believe is called the Mirador del Port Vell.  It's a combination peninsula/pier which has a small marina on it as well as the Aquarium, an IMAX, and a (bigger than expected) shopping mall.  We had dinner at a restaurant that overlooked both the marina and the port for the huge cruise ships that seem to come in daily.  We had a great view of a very interesting 'drawbridge' that actually swivelled instead, and we were able to watch it do that twice for some sailboats that were returning to the marina.  We also watched a huge ferry come in to dock and the amount of large trucks that left it was astounding.  They just get coming out like little ants in a row, and how they fit them all in there is a mystery.

After dinner the nightly gelato hunt began, and we ended up returning to a place we had tried a few days ago.  It had the craziest flavours (wasabi, curry, manchego cheese, cannabis, mojito) as well as 'regular' ones.  A few nights ago Jeff and I shared a mojito cone (we were told the kids were not allowed to have it as it is very authentic!) and last night I asked for a taste of the curry gelato.  Well, it tasted like curry!  Sort of like a sweet and frozen butter chicken - and no, I did not get a scoop of it.  Jeff tried the wasabi but also decided against going for it, and so we walked out with a scoop of lemon and a scoop of dulce de leche.  Much better choices!

This morning we actually roused ourselves out of our pyjamas much earlier than usual (if you call 9:30 early) and walked a few blocks to a little café for a cappuccino and croissant.  All my talk about coffee yesterday securely planted it in my mind, and when I woke up that was all I could think of.  I cajoled the rest of the family into joining me (Julia was up for it, but the other two had wanted room service - a.k.a. Kira service instead).  We all ordered a different pastry and each had a hot beverage and a bottle of water and the total came to 10 euros, which I felt was very reasonable for what we got.  Everything was fresh and homemade, and on the way back to our apartment we stopped at a fruit and veggie stand and bought fresh squeezed orange juice (which is better than a vitamin any day!).

Our goal today was the Arc de Triomf.  Barcelona's version is similar in shape, yet completely different than the one in Paris.  It is much smaller, made of red brick, and built for a completely different reason.  While Paris' arc was built to honour the soldiers of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, this one was built as a gateway for the Universal Exhibition in 1888.  It is still an impressive structure with a majestic promenade coming away from it into the Parc de la Ciutadella.  The park is quite nice and very calm with the Barcelona Zoo at one end of it.  We walked through the park and the kids were hoping to find a playground to burn off a little energy; we did find one, but it didn't entice them at all.  The thing we've noticed about Barcelona is that they have playgrounds all over the place, but each one is tiny and has very little in it.  It's as though a law was passed mandating a certain number of playgrounds per square kilometre, but nothing was said about actually putting something interesting into them.  (For instance, one had a single swing and a teeter totter, another had two rotating tires and a tiny slide, and some just have a few random springy animal things.  Pretty boring, but at least they thought about the neighbourhood kids.)

We then went in search of lunch, which you would think should be an easy task yet took us much longer than anticipated.  Every place we came across was on the corner of a loud and busy road, or else had pictures of deep fried everything.  Not wanting to settle, we kept walking until the kids came close to forming a mutiny against the adults.  We stopped for a plate of fries and iced tea then kept going in search of the perfect place.  We somehow got ourselves a bit turned around, yet ended up in a nice shopping area and had some great tapas.  We walked through the other side of the majestic Cathedral we visited yesterday and saw some really interesting old architecture which made the walk very worthwhile for me.  I never get tired of tiny alleyways and interesting balconies!

Thankfully today was overcast and we even had the odd sprinkle now and then, and not one of us complained as it's been very hot and sunny and this was a very welcome reprieve.  Not to say that it was chilly by any means, but a very nice 26C/79F.  Pool time in the afternoon has become our norm before an afternoon siesta.  This is a life you can get used to!

I will again do a pre-dinner post because tonight we're having dinner with a San Francisco chiropractor that Jeff coaches.  He's here vacationing with his wife, so who can miss the opportunity to meet up with someone you know in a foreign city?  The kids are fine with extended adult conversations as long as they end with gelato afterwards - a fee we are willing to pay!  :)


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