Updated: Feb 21
Eventhough Chris's job sometimes seems like a 24/7 gig, there are moments when he is able to spend a couple days uninterrupted with us. Last week was one of those times. Chris had 48 hours off after one of his games. But let's rewind to the day before we took our mini vacay.
The kids and I wanted to see Chris and his team in action, so we hopped in the car and drove 3 hours to a city right outside of Madrid for the night. Our max, well my max hours in the car with 3 children by myself is 5 hours - that's it. So, a 3 hour ride with the littles was easy. They ate lunch, I played their playlist, we played some random car ride games, and they took a nap - while I blasted MY music as we weaved in and out of the mountains.
We got to the game safely, our seats weren't the best and we usually sit near or behind our team bench, but beggars can't be choosers. The other club's gym was smaller than usual and as you can see it was pretty packed in there. We were lucky to even get tickets. Once we settled in our seats, we cheered on our guys to a sizable win. Thankfully, Chris was able to ride back to Zaragoza with us, so I had some back up on the ride home - not all coaches are this generous and a good win always helps too.
The next day we rolled out of bed and headed for the train station! Next stop, BARCELONA! We bought our tickets the day of travel because we weren't sure if we would feel like going anywhere the next day. Unlike America, Europe's train tickets won't break your pockets - even if you purchase them last minute. Full transparency, it cost us about $185 for five of us to ride - like I said we bought the tickets 3 hours before the train left. Last summer Chris and I caught a fast train from New York to D.C. and that ran us about $300 - and that was one way for some perspective. You do the math.
Anyway, we got our tickets and drove to the station, which is a quick 7 minute drive. One thing I wasn't familiar with was having to get our bags screened before entering the platform. I don't mind the security at all, we just never had that experience when traveling in Italy, even France (it may be done in France and Italy now - not sure). So if you've got kids and coats - factor that into your timetable.
After security and a 10-minute wait for the train, we boarded and were ready to start our adventure in Barcelona. The train ride wasn't long at all. In Spain, there's a fast train, so what's usually a 3-hour drive from Zaragoza to Barcelona was a quick 1-hour and some change trip by fast train. Once we got to Barcelona, we decided to stay in Catalonia Square (yup, we booked a hotel as we walked out of the train station). It's a popular place for shopping, lots of hotels, and plenty of cafes.
We never have a clear plan or detailed itinerary when we travel - I'm working on that. Oh, and I forgot to mention we were celebrating our first born's TENTH BIRTHDAY! So, he had a big influence on what we did that trip.
We hit the ground running, like we usually do - well walking. Once we dropped our bags off at the hotel, we ventured out - without a plan, to see what Barcelona had to offer. Our first stop was in Ciutat Vella (which translates to Old City in Catalan) to catch a glimpse of the Cathedral of Barcelona. Wait! Fun fact, that's not even the real name of the Cathedral. It's actually named the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, but locals refer to it as La Seu (the seat).
The cathedral is also home to 13 white geese that live in the cloister that looks like a secret garden. I'm so annoyed I didn't do any research prior to the trip, but the way my life is set up - I didn't have the time. We were right next to it and unknowingly strolled by to a nearby playground.
The 13 geese represent the age of Saint Eulalia, who was believed to have only been 13 when she died as well as the 13 tortures she went through before her death, such as burning of her breasts and being rolled down the street in a barrel of knives. Roman emperor Diocleciano was responsible for this punishment. Wow, what a story, right? I will absolutely be looking into this some more. Rightfully so, she is the patron saint to widows, runaways, and torture victims aka STRONG PEOPLE.
After we walked around the cathedral, we found a playground. Let's face it, we have three kids. We can't walk by playgrounds - especially with Cami. So while the kids played, Chris and I cozied up next to a fire and had some sangria and patatas bravas - a staple Spanish tapa. Romantic, right? Well, that's as romantic as it gets for us.
It was really good - as expected. I really like the spicy sauce and I wanted to ask for more, but I played it cool.
After we peeled the kids from the playground we walked around a little more and wandered toward a pier where we went to the Aquarium.
There are so many sculptures to stop and look at. I mean, don't even get me started on the Gaudi architecture - which was something we saw, but didn't get to fully enjoy. Again, it was CJ's birthday weekend - so we enjoyed Barcelona through the eyes of a 10-year-old.
Before we entered the aquarium we did get to see the most beautiful sunset on the water! The kids were so impressed - rare.
I love that they compare the different aquariums we've been to. The last one they were at was in Berlin, which had a HUGE jellyfish exhibit, but not many sharks.
But, the aquarium in Barcelona has a gigantic tank with a moving walkway that circles around so you can see everything - I mean everything, even a half-eaten fish swimming amongst the sharks. Sorry, I didn't have the heart to take a photo of it. But, we did get to experience the sharks in an extremely intimate way.
We absolutely found Nemo and Dori several times throughout the aquarium. What's the octopus's name in Finding Dori? Let me know because we found him too!
I know the kids enjoyed it, but Chris and I did as well. Thankfully there were plenty of captions in English, Spanish, and Italian - so we weren't just floating around without a clue (pun intended).
Now I'd be insane not to mention the handful of comic book stores we googled to find some Naruto action figures. And according to Google, Norma comics is one of the best shops to go to when visiting Barcelona. Chris picked up two graphic novels. Muhammed Ali vs Superman (in Spanish - so we'll have a good book to practice from) and a Pele graphic novel (RIP to a legend).
Phew! I think I covered our trip in detail, There were plenty of sights we did not see, not to mention we didn't even get to stick our toes in the sand at the beach! But, we will be back. I already have a day planned out - a Gaudi day and then trips to the medieval castle where the views are supposed to be breathtaking.
Until next time, my friends!