I have been waiting for this my WHOLE LIFE!

So…… the 301km from Carcassonne to Barcelona was about a 6 hour drive for us. We are not sure why, but the A9 was a PARKING LOT for a good chunk of the drive.  It may have been because of the wildfire that was happening near Girona, but we didn’t know for sure.  The traffic, after a couple of hours of stop and go, eventually opened up and we were finally moving along at a faster speed than 10km /hr, and using the gas pedal more often than the brake. THANK GOODNESS!

The drive into Spain was beautiful.  The countryside is so pretty. Rolling hills, golden fields, green vineyards, and olive groves. I loved absolutely loved watching all pass by. I did however think there was going to be a grand display letting me know I was leaving France and entering Spain but it was just 2 cement pillars and a sign that said Espana. I at this point, was pretty used to reading, and somewhat understanding the French signage, so with the spanish signs I was pretty much starting back at ground zero!

Finding our hotel was super easy, with thanks to the TomTom.  By the time we got to the hotel we were all pretty bagged from the hot slow drive to town, and we quickly realized that our plans of an early arrival and a scout around before dinner were over. Brodie emerged from the car scratching, super splotchy, and bright red. Our little man with the super sensitive fair skin, broke out in a crazy heat rash – we think from the mornings 3 hour swim in Carcassonne.

We were staying at the Hilton Diagonal Mar.  It is in a business district with Mikes office literally half a block away, (and we could look over every time we were in the pool), a major shopping mall across the street, the street tram was one block away and the metro was two blocks away.  It was super convenient for all of us.

We checked into our room, which would be our home for the next 7 days and was happily surprised that we had 2 room suite once again. Since it was later than we expected, we decided to quickly get organized with our luggage, and organizing the rooms, before heading out for a quick dinner across the street where there were a couple of restaurants attached to the mall, Go figure….. there were trampolines and train rides for the kids in the outdoor space leading into the mall.

We got to the restaurant at 8:30 and it was empty….. very few tables were full, and this made me a little nervous until Mike reminded me that people in Spain really didn’t eat dinner till about 9:30 onwards.  By the time we left the restaurant there was a line up of people with kiddies the same age as ours waiting for a table.

We woke up Sunday morning to a VERY BUSY hotel.  The amount of people at the breakfast buffet was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was pretty unreal with how BUSY it was.  It certainly wasn’t a nice relaxing, leisurely morning pace…. I am unsure how the Chefs were even keeping up with putting out the food…. it honestly was going that fast.

We had our family day planned.  We were going to take the tram down to the main beach area, and do a walk about, and get a lay of the land.  We walked around the Marina Port Vell, en route to La Ramblas. We passed so many AMAZING patio restaurants.  It was too bad that with the kiddies, being the age they are, just were not interested in the food that was being served there.

On our walk we happened upon an AMAZING gelato/chocolate/macaroon store, called VIKIO. Barcelona seems to be a town that is all about design.  I mean seriously incredible design, and this gelato shop was not the exception.  I was totally drawn into the store just because of the design.  Turns out their gelato totally rocked as well…. YES…. score!

Mike,Brodie, and Syd all opted for chocolate and I defaulted to my absolute favourite Stracciatella. Kind of a vanilla base, with chocolate bits in it….. SO SO YUMMY!  The portion sizes were absolutely CRAZY!  When Brodie got his gelato handed to him, he promptly proclaimed, with eyes as wide as saucers “I have been waiting for this my WHOLE LIFE”.  That was said with so much enthusiasm and excitement you almost would have believed, that he had indeed, been waiting all of 5 years and 5 months for that exact portion of chocolate gelato. That statement alone was worth what we paid for the gelato.  The little man makes me smile!

It was getting a bit later in the day… you know that time of day that Syd usually has her meltdown…… we this particular day was no exception.  We don’t know what set her off, but it lasted for a good 15-20 minutes of us trying to get a screaming child off the street and into some sort of shade since it was so hot and humid.  We finally got her in the stroller and we decide we would head into the air-conditioned goodness of the L’aquarium  Barcelona.  I always knew it was crazy expensive to go to the Vancouver Aquarium, but it seems like the cost is crazy expensive in every city we have been in.  I’m not exactly sure at the cost but I think it was around 80 Euro for the 4 of us…. which is CRAZY!  Brodie had a great time looking at all the fish, and loving all the sharks, but Syd didn’t really perk up till near the end of our time in the aquarium.  I think she was most impressed with the computer animated fish projected on the floor that would “swim” away if you stepped to close to them.

Our afternoon ended with a walk on the famous La Ramblas.  It was super busy and full of energy.  There were people “statues” that Brodie got a huge kick out of, and many treats tempting the kiddies, but the one thing that finally got them was sleep.  Both kiddies crashed in the double stroller, while Mike and I walked along, ending up in the Placa Reial for an afternoon glass of wine.  We eventually made our way to the metro and back to our hotel in the Diagonal Mar.

It was a seriously fun day. Exploring and getting the lay of the land was essential for the following days adventures with the kiddies, as Mike was back at work after a 2 week vacation.

So far Barcelona was a hit with Brodie…. who had been waiting his “WHOLE LIFE” to have gelato in that exact spot in Barcelona….. So glad we could make that happen for you little man!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

The parking lot on A9

Hello Spain… goodbye France

The EU and flag

I feel welcome!

Driving along the highway

Hello Spain!

Rest stop in Spain

Our TomTom app

Hello Hilton Diagonal Mar

Hotel entrance – the kids LOVED this door!

Looking at the mall across the street from the hotel

Girona fires

comfy kids

Our street tram

Poor little man with his heat rash!

Tram route

W Hotel in background

Fish by Frank Gehry

It was HOT!

A popular mode of transportation around town

L’Estel Ferit (The Wounded Shooting Star) by Rebecca Horn

L’Estel Ferit (The Wounded Shooting Star) by Rebecca Horn

Gelato/chocolate/macaroon store

Yummy Macaroons

Beautiful chocolate truffles

” I have been waiting for this my whole life”

The little lady and her ginormous portion of gelato

Human statue

Human Statue – Brodie thought this one was pretty cool.

The famed La Rambla

Sleep, sleep, glorious sleep.

Wine stop

Barcelona Metro

Metro Station

Our neighbourhood station

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Room 62 and an Olive Tree

Carcassonne – part 2

After our week in Lourdes it was time to say good-bye to the Pyrenees Mountains and Le Tour de France and head back to our beloved castle and room 62 at the Montmorency Hotel in Carcassonne…. YAY!

To say that I am absolutely in LOVE with this hotel is not really a understatement!  It totally ROCKS!  The rooms…. super cool.  The beds….. amazing. The pool kicks butt, and being so close to the castle, well really, can you ask for more? Oh yeah…. there is also an olive tree right outside the door!  Hello……. it really doesn’t get any better!

Since we were in the same room from a week ago it kinda felt like we were coming home.  Everyone there remembered us and the kids loved that they knew where they were going.  I was happy that after a week away from this fabulous hotel, I, once again had full water pressure, an amazing rain shower, and various body gels and shampoos.  This hotel is simply AWESOME!

We arrived after an uneventful 3.5 hour drive from Lourdes – where we left overcast cloudy skies for sunshine and warmer temperatures. We spent what was left of the afternoon in the pool before heading into the castle for dinner.

We decided to head into the centre “square” for dinner which was probably a mistake on our part just given the touristy nature of the restaurants we were eating at. All the restaurants seemed to have similar plastic coated menus and had a HUGE number of tables that were all full of tourists ( I know …. I’m a tourist as well…..). This is usually my sign to run and find another eating establishment, but the kids were pretty set on the place that “they” picked out…. Brodie says “lets eat at that restaurant” referring to the restaurant with the green awnings and umbrellas.  I ordered the goat cheese salad, in my head, hoping to replicate the one I had in Luz St. Sauveur (but with no luck).  The kids ended up being super happy with their meals, and in the end as long as their tummies are full and they are happy….. well, anyway, that’s what I tell myself!

It was a beautiful night so we walked around the castle till dusk, stopping in on our favourite store… Real chocolate.  We picked up a crazy stash of über tasty chocolate.  After our shopping extravaganza , we were ALL going to head out on the “Daddy/Brodie” nightly castle walk.  Well little Syd had other ideas. Her “less frequent” meltdown was fast approaching…. I have no idea what set her off, and it lasted about 10 minutes with her kicking, screaming and crying on the ground, before I finally said… “OK let’s go back to the hotel”. She was happy as a clam to be heading back to room 62, her comfy bed, and Bubble Guppies on the iPad.  Brodie and Mike finished their nightly castle walk without the two of us, but then stopped by to pick us up for a “night-cap” at the hotel bar.  Apple juice for the kiddies and fermented grape juice for the parents!

We woke up to cloudy skies and a weather report calling for rain…. noooooooo! I wanted hot Carcassonne sunshine and blue skies!  We decided given the weather that we would enter the castle and walk the ramparts around the walled city.  The line up was a bit crazy, with about 30 minutes in line waiting just to buy entrance tickets and I found myself thankful that it wasn’t 32 degrees and sunny!  We all throughly enjoyed touring around the old castle, and walking the defensive wall that surrounded the castle.  The views of the countryside and city were amazing. Although it still wasn’t super hot and sunny….  we ended our day in the pool.

Our last morning in Carcassonne was BEAUTIFUL! Blue skies, sunshine….. the perfect morning for a quick breakfast, a quick pack of the hotel room and car, and then a lazy morning spent splashing in the pool and basking in sunshine.  We slathered on the sunscreen and ended up splashing, jumping, diving, swimming, shark hunting, dragon hunting, princess rescuing….. in the pool for HOURS!  We were all quite sad to leave but with a three-hour drive to Barcelona ahead of us, and lunch to eat, it was time to call it a day around 1:00.  We said goodbye to the resident pups, and cats, jammed our selves into the “european full size” car, and we were off.

Good-bye Carcassonne, room 62 and my olive tree…… till next time!

PS. Just so you all know….

I  didn’t understand the crazy amounts of time a blog would take, and the frustration I would have with the Wi-Fi in our various accommodations on our trip, so this isn’t really a LIVE account of our trip.  We have been back in Vancouver BC now, just about 4 weeks, and I am still blogging about our trip from July……  maybe it’s now called a “Journal”.  Either way, I’m still having fun recounting our trip from notes I took on my iPhone and going through the photos I took…… I hope you are all still enjoying it!

PPS If you are reading this and you happen to live in Carcassonne….. we left an iPhone 3GS (iPod really….) at the “green” restaurant  (we think).  If you could help me track it down and ship it back to Canada I would be forever grateful…. as would a little 3 year old princess! If you track it down you can comment via the blog and we can get in touch!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Hello Carcassonne Castle

“Real Chocolat” store   Mmmmmmmm…….

So, so happy!

Sword fighting in the castle

The Family

Hangin’ in a castle

The nightly walk

yup…. it’s pretty deep!

The Castle and Ramparts

Siblings

Me and my kiddies

we’re off to see the wizard….. Oops…..wrong era!

Walking the Ramparts

The inner City and Castle

Oh my…. we are all of a sudden not happy!

The start of the nightly walk

Syd is not having ANY part of this walk

My little man

Good Morning Carcassonne!

Fun with giant X’s and O’s

Hello AWESOME rain shower!

Bye bye comfy bed

Bye Bye resident pups 1&2

Bye bye, Syd’s favorite kitty

THE POOL!

My Olive Tree