Everyday is a Celebration

San Sebastian

Day 1

From what we saw arriving in San Sebastian late the day before….. we were anxious to get exploring and see what this pretty little town was all about, and what she had to offer!

We woke up on “Basque” time, to overcast skies from the storm that had passed through the night.  We had breakfast in the little cafe on the main floor of our hotel, all while catching up on email with the hotels Wi-Fi.  The kids still refused to eat any type of bread (filled with chocolate or not), and this was making life a tiny bit more stressful than it needed to be (they would eventually eat…. right?!?)  We decided that since the weather was set to improve over the next day, today would be our “walk around town day”.  We would save the beach for the next day and sunnier skies!

We packed up the double stroller and made our way toward the beach and “Old Town”. We hit up the awesome little kids park that was enRoute to our destination.  It was a pretty little park surrounded by HUGE trees. The kiddies had a blast here and I am sure could have spent a majority of the day just running between the climbing, the sliding, and the swinging!

We eventually made our way to the beach area, and our walk along the main boardwalk.  It was overcast and cool when we left the hotel, but it quickly turn to overcast, hot, and muggy!  Mike forgot his hat, but thank goodness we had a hat for the little man who is so affected by the heat and sun (remember the heat rash from Barcelona….)!   Syd had on sweatpants, with sunglasses packed, but alas not much else for the unpredicted hot day!

Pushing a double stoller in Europe with two toddlers is a NECESSITY. If you have 2 kids under the age of 5 do not even hesitate in making this purchase… It saved our trip a number of times! I am so glad that one of Mike co workers suggested it or else the whole trip may have been VERY different!  It did however make for an interesting “McGuyver” type of rigging once we decided to head to beach level…. If its one thing Mike can do…. well, he can configure almost ANYTHING to work for us… This included being able to carry a double stroller on the beach!  This man, well he is quite simply….. AWESOME!

We made our way to beach level, to walk in the beautiful (and despite the cloud cover), very warm sand!  The beaches were relativly quiet given the cloudy conditions, but we were pretty excited to be there, and enjoying the sand and warm water.

We made our way back up to the boardwalk and slowly making our way to “Old Town”. Our walk had us passing a number of “human statues”. One in particular that Brodie liked was the “headless man”. As we continued on our walk, we tried as hard as we could to avoid the spinning, music playing, 112 year old carousel. There was absolutely no way we could physically avoid the carousel….. it was smack right in the middle of our path. Over the duration of our trip Sydney seemed to had built up a sixth sense on these mechanical wonders, and knew there would be one in EVERY town. The moment she saw it, you knew she was sizing up which of the animals she would ride first, and this one was no exception.  We finally made our way to the entrance to the old town, and it was time to do a bit of shopping, and find a yummy place for lunch.

The Old Town was filled with trinket shops, some cute little clothing shops, and cafes. There were a ton of bars serving Pintxos (tapas), which all looked so amazing, but being with the 2 kiddies we opted to find a restaurant that they would find appealing.  Once lunch was over, it became clear that fatigue was setting in on Syd and that she just needed a nap.  Funny thing is about Sydney is that when she is most tired well she just doesnt sleep…. it was going to be a LONG afternoon!

We walked towards the marina, and fishing docks in the hopes that Syd would nap but that was not going to happen.  We watched a bunch of kids jumping from the docks into the water, slpashing around and having fun.  We decided to take a catermaran tour of the harbour and get a differnt perspective on the city.  The sun was now out in full force and it was hot.  The boat tour gave a nice reprive from the heat as it was quite windy and choppy once we left the protected harbour.  It was a nice perspective seeing the beach and hotels from the water.

After the boat tour we decided to make our way slowly back towards the beach for a quick play in the sand before dinner.  The route to the beach had us passing the carousel, and another fabulous kids park.  It is amazing to me that this “carnival” atomosphere was everywhere in Europe. There were clowns making animal balloons, carousels, cotton candy, laughing kids, crying kids, kids with face paint…… everywhere! Not just on this particular day in San Sebastian, but it was EVERYWHERE we visited in Europe. As much as I make fun of the number of carousels we encountered on our trip…. it actually was pretty cool to see just how much everyday is a celebration in Europe (summertime anyway).

The kids park was once again AWESOME!  So much to do…. and all differnt “activities” than any other park we had been in. The kids spent a ton of time rope climbing their way up a “bridge”, over, and over, and over again.  They probably would have stayed there all day but the music from the carousel finally hypnotized the kiddies and finally drew them over.

Pretty sure we bought 3 rides for each kid since that was usually a “reduced price”. Syd only wanted to ride the 112 year old dolphin. When it was time to go once again she had a hard time with the concept of  “we have used all our tickets, so there are no more rides”. We finally got her away from the carousel after much persuasion, but, you know. I totally get it…. she is 3 and this is her “whole world” for that moment in time.

After the “carnival”, we decided to walk along the beach before finding a place for dinner. Since we decided at the beginning of the day it WASN’T going to be a beach day… we didn’t have any beach clothes with us and that was a mistake on our part for sure. It was later in the day, the tide was out and the beach goers were clearing out.  It didn’t take long before we were running beach races, Syd was digging holes, and then taking off her pants because she sat in wet sand.  It was here where we spent the remainder of our day…… without our beach gear!

I cant really remember what Syd wore to dinner since her pants were soaked, but all I can recall is that we ended up at the same beach restaurant from the night before.  We got a table over looking “our beach”, caught more of the Olympics on the bars TV, all while planning the next days beach adventure.

It was a fun day exploring a new town with the family and all the crazy 3 year old emotions that go along with it!

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose!

Xox

B.

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Mr. Man

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Park time

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Little Miss

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Determination

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La Concha Beach

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Walkabout

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Beauty

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Crystal clear water

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Starting to get HOT. Makeshift hat using Brodies shirt!

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Promenade

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La Concha

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Double stroller strapped to his back with backpack straps and not much else. Mike can “rig” anything to make it work. I also love this photo since Mike is covered almost head to toe and the 5 guys walking towards him are the exact opposite and are in as little as possible.  Ha!  😉

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Heading towards Le Carousel

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Promenade details

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Brodie thought this was AWESOME!

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Old town

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aaannnddddd…. I’m done! See you later Mom!

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2:41pm…..Time for lunch

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Pintxos…..looked so good…. next time for sure!

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Jamon Iberico ………Awesomeness!

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Bacalao

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Our catamaran tour

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Our catamaran

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The little Miss in NOT impressed…..

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…. and wants to be left alone!

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La Concha Beach from the catamaran

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Basque Country and I am in love with it!

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Oh so pretty San Sebastian

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It is thirsty work investigating a new European town.

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Round and round we go!

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… and yet again

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112 years old…. and oh so awesome!

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Kids playground

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just a bit of help required for the 3 year old

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in line once again

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So proud!

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“Our” beach

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Little Miss

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Always the jokester

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Mr Man.

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Beach races

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More beach races

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Bain Family (minus Mommy)…. someone had to take the picture!

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Kiddies… hangin’ in San Sebastian

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My little lady

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We woke up on our final morning in Barcelona to beautiful blue skies and sunshine.  We were packing up our “European full size” rental car and driving across the northern part of Spain.  Barcelona > San Sebastian.

Once again, remarkably, we were able to fit everything into our little “full sized” rental car. We were definitly becoming pros at packing the car up tight by now.  Once we were packed up we took the kids across the street to the mall and the rides/trampolines that were there for one last go around.  Syd was fully advised on the rules of the rides, and that there would be a couple of rides but when Daddy said it was time to go…. well it was time to go!  With plenty of agreements, and yes yes I understand, we headed to the rides. All was going really well until it was stated that it was “time to go”.  Seemed like the little Miss forgot all about her knowladge of “it was time to go” and threw one of the biggest tantrums of the trip.  We eventually got her in the car and were making our way out of Barcelona and onwards to our next stop on our adventure ……. San Sebastian.

The landscape from Barcelona and the Balearic Sea > San Sebastian and the Bay of Biscay was ever changing. Leaving the hot and muggy city of Barcelona, into the scorching hot, and arid plains along the E-90, and then into the cool and dewey mountainous region just past Pamplona into San Sebastian…. we hit almost every summer weather condition on our drive. I’m not sure what my expectations were on what the landscape would look like before we drove across Spain, but what we saw that day was so varied and so very beautiful.

It was hot when we left Barcelona at 11am that Saturday morning.  The temperature was mid 20’s and was I’m sure going to climb to the high 20’s even low 30’s given the hot muggy week we had just had.  As we started our drive away from the water, and with not a cloud in sight, our little in-car thermometer contined to rise giving us a detailed occourance of the temperature happening outside our little car. As the vegetation got sparser…. the temperature got HOTTER.  We hit a temperature of 43 degrees as we passed through the plains of Spain.

The one thing you notice as you drive through Spain (and the other 2 countries we drove through… Germany and France), is that Europe is on the pulse of utilizing and colllecting “green” energy. Driving through the arid, sunny and windy plains of Spain, there were acres upon acres of solar panels, and wind turbines every where you looked.  It honestly was an incredible sight to see. I am by no means an expert on the topic of the collection of “green energy”, however, it seemed like in Europe they just get it.  They do what needs to be done, utilizing all the awesomeness that mother nature provides. Canada needs to get on board……  It truly was an inspiring sight to see!

We stopped for lunch at a roadside rest stop. It was crazy busy given that we never really saw tons of other cars as we were driving.  I first thought it was funny that there was covered parking for our car, but given that it was 43 degrees outside, and blistering sunshine… It was a real blessing that we found a spot under it and in the shade.

I LOVE the rest stops in Europe! It is another thing that the Europeans take seriously.  There is full on restaurant facilities with decent enough food to get you through.  Nice bathrooms, trinket shopping, fuel, and coffee machines that can make you ANYTHING you want for under 2 Euro (except for the large coffee that you want to hold and savour for 40 minutes… I think its a North American thing!)  😉 Seriously, they have everything you could possibly want for your drive, and it is AWESOME!

After about a 45 minute stop we were back in the car with the AC cranked and were continuing on our jouney towards San Sebastian. We continued our drive passing a ton more solar and wind farms but the landscape was changing and the hills were becoming more lush and the temperature was dropping.  We were starting to pass through farm land.

We had another unexpected “milestone” as we drove from one side of Spain to the other… we passed through the Greenwich Meridian.  The Greenwich Meridian is the line that seperates East from West…. a line from the North Pole to the South Pole. It may have just been a couple of signs telling us what we were approaching as we were zipping along the highway, but it was pretty cool event as we passed under the cement arc over the roadway.

The closer we got to the mountains and San Sebastian the cooler it became. We left Barcelona and 25+ degrees, to a high of 43 degrees somewhere on the plains of Spain, and now our handy car thermometre was reading 17 degrees AND we had to turn the winsheild wipers on since it had started to rain. We were in beautiful lush mountains, and low cloud. Funny that it felt like we were back in Vancouver after only driving for 6+ hours.

We made our way through the beautiful city of San Sebastian and found our amazing hotel Barceló Costa Vasca.  The hotel wasn’t as handy to the beach as we would have liked, but the rooms were AMAZING, the pool was awesome, and there was a fantastic kids park that we had to walk past to get to the beach…  so all in all, it worked out perfectly!

After a full day of driving we went for a walk through pretty San Sebastian towards the beach. We picked up some groceries, for the morning, and then found a cute little outdoor spot for a dinner. Since it was first day of the Olympics we had the bonus that we could also catch a few of the Olympic swimming events on the big flat screen TV that was behind the bar. We had some yummy food, over looking La Concha, which was by far, one of the prettiest beaches we had encountered so far.

What a day driving from one side of Spain to the other. So varied and so beautiful. We were excited to start our last week of our European vacation in this pretty little town in Basque Country.

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose

Xox

B.

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One last spin on the rides across form the Hilton

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The favourite truck

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So fun…… but you know that leaving is NOT going to end well for the little Miss.

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On the road outside of Barcelona

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Gas was expensive (euro/lt.)

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So hot outside

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Farm land

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Unexpected excitement! 😉

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There it is….. Greenwich Meridian

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Yay for covered parking

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Walkway over the highway

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Collecting solar energy… So hot and sunny!

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Wind Farms

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Love these

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Nearing San Sebastian

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Lush

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Our hotel….. 2 rooms were needed…… again

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Uh oh……

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Its hard being 3

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Siblings in San Sebastian

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Olympics

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and Olympic sized beer

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The little Miss

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Mr Man

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Prettiness at dusk

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The Family

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Show for the kids…. music and wine for us!

Between Heaven and Hell

Barcelona – Part 4

I realized early on, when we began this adventure, that really, only one MAJOR outing per day could be planned before the kiddies lost their minds and were a complete mess (making my life a BAZILLION times harder than it needed to be). The outing for this particular day in Barcelona was was going to be something close to my heart.  We were going to visit THE MOST FAMOUS MARKET IN BARCELONA……. LA BOQUERIA!

The outing on this day was 100% for me. I was half hoping that the kiddies would be super excited by going to the market……. but I knew that they were most likely too young to enjoy this little treasure of Barcelona.

We spent a good portion of the morning at the hotel prepping for our adventure, before we hopped on the train, to take us into the heart of Barcelona and La Boqueria Market. We navigated our way on the metro and walked a good portion of La Rambla before coming upon the market.

It is a large covered market, that has all the spanish delicacies that one dreams of!  We walked in (make way people……double stroller coming through), to some of the most amazing smells.  We passed by a Tapas restaurat and the food smells were OUT OF THIS WORLD! Seriously……  what I would have given to have sat down and ordered a glass of wine and some fab food…..

As the kids and I meandered around the market we notice many local specialties and tons of frresh vegetables and seafood.  At this point I realized I was caught between Heaven and Hell.  Pure Heaven with all these amazing ingredients around me ….. and Pure Hell since I was living in a hotel with no where to cook all these ingredients. We ended up leaving the market with some AMAZING fresh squeezed juices…… but that was it.

It was hot day in Barcelona, and the kids seemed like they had had enough so we decided to make our way back to the hotel on the metro and call it a day pool side with Brodies’ new friend and some yummy eats.

Barcelona Part 5

Friday was our last full day in Barcelona and we woke up with a mission.  It was the day of the Opening Ceremonies for London 2012 and we were making our way to the Olympic Diving Pool from when Barcelona hosted the summer Olympics in 1992.  It is the most iconic of venues from the ’92 Olympics.   It showcased Barcelona as everyone had ever imagined it to be…..   The backdrop for the divers was (and is) SPECTACULAR to say the least!

We arrived via, the metro and then to a funicular up the mountainside to the dive pool.  I did find it strange that it took us a while to find the “Olympic Pool”.  I had assumed there would be signs pointing us in the proper direction, but there were none. We did eventually get on the right track and made our way to the admission counter and to the pool deck.

I will admit that I was a bit thrown off that this Olympic landmark was not better signed.  Coming off the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and seeing first hand the care that Vancouver has put into preserving its Olympic Legacy, I was shocked by what we encountered.  It was almost like Barcelona could have cared less about this once iconic venue…..   it made me sad 😦

Since it was the Opening Ceremony day for London 2012 I had hopes that something spectacular might be going on here….. and with 4000 seat bleachers…….I thought there maybe big screen TV’s with ticket admission to watch…. I dont know…. something….seriously SOMETHING! I was wrong…. there was nothing “Olympic” going on here…. BOO!

During our visit,to the pool we took in the most STUNNING view of Barcelona with no crowds. We got to cool off in the heat of the day in a pretty awesome pool with about 12 other people, as well we got to watch the Barcelona Diving Team practicing.  The kiddies and I thought that was pretty cool. The pool is in much need of some serious repairs as you will see by the pictures.  It is sad that such a beautiful pool is not being used to its full potential and is falling into disrepair.

The kiddies and I had a super fun last day in Barcelona, making our way around town like we were locals!

During the week leading up to the Olympics, Mike and I had been looking into places to watch the Opening Ceremonies. We finally decided that our hotel room was most likely the best place to see it.  We couldnt find any “hype” around the event so we made our own.

We had dinner across from the hotel in an “Itallian” restaurant that was attached to the mall ( *disclaimer*…. I  have already stated this was not a culinary journey for the Bain clan).  We then proceeded to the “mini” amusement park. You know…. the one that seemed to follow us everywhere in Europe.  Brodie was  full on on the trampolines from his experience in Luz St. Saveur and when it comes to any type of carousel…… well Syd seriously could go in circles FOREVER, so she was in HEAVEN!

We made our way back to the hotel, and with wine and chocolate milk ordered to the room, we had the best time cheering the London 2012 Canadian Team on as they entered the London Stadium with Simon Whitfield carrying the Canadian FLAG!  It was such an awesome evening, even if we couldn’t understand what the local commentators were saying!

It was an fabulous way to end our last day in Barcelona……

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

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Our Hotel. The Hilton Diagonal Mar. we were 7 windows up on the right hand corner. We looked right into Mikes work at SAP!

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La Boqueria

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An entire stall dedicated to Baccalau (Salt Cod)…. sorry it’s not my favourite!

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Our purchase for the day! So super YUM!

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Mmmmmmmm……..MUSHROOMS!

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nnnnn…….. NUTS!

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AWESOME and beautiful!

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YUMMERS!

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An entire stall just for Foie Gras….

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Outside the Market… La RamblasBarcelona 2-23

Hahahaha…. to late now….. but needed this for sure!

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Our entrance to the metro

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Pool…. Here we COME!

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Spiderman follows us EVERYWHERE!

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FUNICULAR up the mountain

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Mr. Man

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Little Miss

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Kiddos in Barcelona!

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Pool… finally!

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Olympic Dive Pool

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Down we go to the pool deck!

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Dive towers

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Barcelona team practicing

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Brodie LOVED THIS… said I NEEDED to take the birds photo!

He was right.

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Diving Platforms

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Repairs needed

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Hallway to change rooms… no signs, so it turns out we all changed in the “boys” change room.  Oops!

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Random fix-it-up places all through out the dive pool venue 😦

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Loving the stair walk up!

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Up Up Up

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Dive platforms

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“Olympic” signage…. so sad!

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More fun at the hotel pool before dinner!

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8:30PM and its EMPTY! Will be full in about an HOUR! Late night dinner for everyone in Barcelona!

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Round and round we go!

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Chupa Chuyps Truck

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Chupa Chuyps Truck was the favourite

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Motorcycles…. FUN!

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Opening Ceremonies – London 2012

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Yay Canada!

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Hello Canada… Hello Simon Whitfield

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The opening ceremonies were AMAZING!

Keep Calm….. and Blog On

Soooooo…. to say its been awhile since I have blogged would seriously be an understatement.  What can I say……life just got busy.  Halloween, birthdays, Christmas, New Years, more birthdays. Then throw in an “almost broken” hard drive that I just didn’t want to deal with…… well you get the picture!  I have decided its finally time to finish our trip blog (after all, some people have been wondering how the flight home went with the little Miss).

So here goes…..

Keep calm

Now lets see just where DID I leave off…..

Day 2: Hop on Hop off bus tour.

It was another HOT cloudless day in Barcelona. We had our usual breakfast at the hotel, and then made our way to our bus stop for day 2 of our bus tour. I made sure that our hats were packed because I was determined to see Barcelona from the TOP of the open air bus.  With our hats (and full sunscreen) on, Barcelona did not disappoint. What amazing buildings! So beautiful with their “movement”, colours, and unique style.  My initial thought was  that we were going to do the full loop on this tour since we didn’t do it the day before, but those thoughts quickly evaporated as we came upon La Pedrera.  I decided in an instant, that it was worthwhile the kiddies got off the bus and saw this building up close and personal.

La Pedrera is just a stunning piece of architecture.  I know that to some people it is more than this, but since this is not something I have ever studied I will take it for what it is…. and that is a beautifully crafted building.  We got off our bus and made our way to the line to buy tickets.  The kiddies were less than thrilled to be waiting in line, so I promised them that there would be a gelato at the end of the “tour”.  As one waits in line, people come up and continually try and “sell” you things.  This one lady who worked at La Pedrera, thought she would inform me of my “tour” choices once in the building….. Ummmmm…. I’m with two kids under age 5.  There will be no 3 hour commentary tour, no 2 hour commentary tour, let alone a 1 hour commentary tour.  We are heading to the roof, with a tiny walk around and then down to the cafe for gelato…. but hey…. thanks for asking!

The walk up to the roof was great.  Brodie and I had a little game going and Syd followed in step for step (except when she wanted to be carried…. really little lady…. its like 100+ degrees).  We finally made it to the roof and we were not disappointed. The views of the city were great (we even saw the landmark Sagrada Familia that we were at the day before).  Brodie really liked the “stone soldiers” at the top, and Syd was just happy to hang with her brother.  We had some great photo ops, and then decided to make our way down for gelato and a much needed coffee.

On the way down they take you through the apartment that Gaudi once lived in.  This was super interesting until Syd saw a wooden rocking horse…. well all HELL broke loose. All she wanted to do was cross the “keep out rope”, and RIDE THAT HORSE from 1892 or when ever it was from! It felt like FOREVER trying to find our way out with a screaming Syd in my arms until a very nice lady told me I could take the lift down!  We made our way to ground level on the lift, but one now needs to walk through the GIFT SHOP to get out of the building…. of course!  I managed to get the kiddies through the gift shop with a small purchase of a “Gaudi 5 sided marker”, and into the cafe in record time.

The cafe was in the La Pedrera building so it was probably one of the most stunning cafes I have ever been to.  We were seated and ordered 2 chocolate gelato and an uber yummy coffee.  I remember thinking while we were sitting in that beautiful cafe, just how fortunate we were to be experiencing this amazing city around us and all it had to offer…… Sydney melt downs and all!

We ended up taking the hop on hop off bus line in the full loop. It was great to see the shopping districts and then make our way back to the hotel.  We got cooled off and chilled out on the “club floor” of the hotel, getting snacks and drinks before meeting up with Mike for a  picnic on the beach.

When we first reserved our hotels for the trip, I remember thinking that the kiddies and I would be at the beach in Barcelona EVERY DAY.  It was so close to the hotel…. I seriously was picturing beach AWESOMENESS.  Other than our first day walk around, we hadn’t been to the beach prior to this evening.  It was fun to bring dinner down with us, but for some reason I just wasn’t having the experience I was hoping for……. my expectations were high, and I guess were just not met.  The beach was busy and it just wasn’t what I had pictured Barcelona beaches to be.  The kiddies did have a TON of fun in the waves.  While Syd was totally apprehensive at first about getting in the water, she finally stripped off all her clothes (of course) and frolicked around with Mike and Brodie.  Brodie was having SO much fun jumping in and trying to ride the waves. I was pretty happy watching all of it unfold with my Nikon in hand, all from the safety of a dry towel, warm sand. We had a lovely evening being together on the beach but that was our one and only time spent on the Barcelona beaches.

It really was a great day…. Barcelona, Beaches, and My Family……seriously…. NOTHING BETTER!

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

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Waiting for the tour bus

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Larger than life Usain Bolt

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All the beautiful buildings from our top of the bus view.

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Brodie called this the “Eye Ball” building…. we are watching you!

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Fun, but “hot” bus seats

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La Pedrera

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La Perdrera

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The walk up to the roof top…. Brodie was just a tad bit hot from all the Barcelona sunshine!

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Roof Top Beauty

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Looking towards  Sagrada Familia

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Stairway fun

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Our beautiful cafe/gelato stop

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Ceiling detail in cafe

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Mmmmmm……. Gelato (and amazing coffee), makes everything better!

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Stunning building near our hotel in the Diagonal Mar

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So lovely….. all the white against the blue sky.

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Picnic on the beach

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Syd was having NONE of it……

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Brodie was all in!

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Off comes the clothes

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Now she is loving the waves!

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My Princess…..

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…. with lashes that go on forever!

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Wave riding all evening

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Fun

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Looking down the Barcelona beach towards the W hotel

Hello……It Began in 1882!

We woke up in Barcelona on the Monday morning to what looked to be a smog filled sky.  Turns out the winds had shifted and were blowing the smoke from the fires around Girona into town.

We made our way to the busiest breakfast buffet EVER and began our day.  The plan was to head out on the street tram and head to the Barcelona Zoo – the last stop on the tram line.  The day was predicted to hot and muggy, so being in the shade, under trees, in the zoo, seemed to be a good option for the kiddies and I. Not to mention that the kiddies have been so SUPER excited by zoos in Europe, and all the animals that call them home.

The Barcelona zoo is MASSIVE.  So much so, that the brochure gives you routes for half the zoo one day the other half the next.  This freaked me out a bit not knowing what I was getting my self into since we were only doing the one day! However once we entered and made our route, I knew we would see all that we wanted to see and it wouldn’t take us 2 days!

Syd slept through a big part of the zoo in the stroller which gave Brodie and I some time to look at and chat about the animals we were seeing.  His highlights were of course the Orangutans, but he was also super excited to be seeing Owls, and learning about Bats.  The only big cat we saw on this day was the Cheetah, and much to Brodie’s dismay was just laying in the shade under a tree.

We stopped for lunch which turned out to be a bit of a gong show…. it took way to long for what it was.  It however turned out to be a nice reprieve from the bombardment of animal questions that was being thrown at me from the little man.  After we left our rest stop, we saw the line up for the dolphin show.  It took some convincing, but the kiddies decided that they wanted to wait in line for he show.  It was about a 45 minute wait, but as the show began Brodie turned to me and proclaimed “This is the best show…. EVER”.  Both kiddies were enthralled by the 2 dolphins being put through their routine.  The whole show was done in Spanish so while we couldn’t understand  a thing that was being said, but with all the jumps, and the splashes…. well the kiddies were throughly entertained and LOVED it!

After our full day at the Zoo we decided to head back to the hotel and hit the outdoor pool.  It was here that Brodie made fast friends with Ryan…… a boy on vacation from his life in Geneva.  The pool at the hotel was funny that there was no shallow end……it was the same depth end to end.  There was a really shallow kiddies pool, but everyone wanted to be in the deep pool given that is was warmer than the shallow kiddie pool (weird).  After about 2 hours of endless diving with Ryan, and seeing who could hold their breath the longest, it was time to call it a day and get cleaned up for dinner.  Brodie and Ryan made plans for a “pool meet-up” for the following day.

Tuesday in Barcelona saw us purchase a 2 day pass, and hop “on”, the Aqua coloured “hop on hop off” busses for a tour around town.  Our destination was Mount Tibidabo, to take in the views of the city and the amusement park at the top.  It was a hot and sunny day, and with no clouds in sight, I forgot the most important thing in the hotel room….. the kids hats! Uuugghhhhh….. no hats meant that with my über sensitive boy, who still had his heat rash,  we were sitting in the lower, covered (but air-conditioned) part of the bus.  We missed seeing a lot of the amazing architecture that first day, but we did hop “off” the bus at the astonishingly beautiful Sagrada Familia.

The Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona’s most famous Antoni Gaudi architectural landmarks.  With that being said…. most famous or not….. I knew that the kiddies would never make it through a walk through of the building so we ended up just walking around it, taking a bazillion pictures and, commenting on just how beautiful it truly is.  Not to mention just how long it is taking to build….Hello…… it began in 1882!

Now sometimes hopping “off” the “hop on hop off” busses isn’t the best idea….. we lined up for about 35 minutes waiting to get back “on” a bus to take us to the Mount Tibidabo stop. It was at this stop that we would then hop on the Tramvia Blau tram, which would  take us to the Peu de Funicular, which would then take us to the top of Mount Tibidabo. Yes…….. it was a crazy day of transit!

The kids were having a blast, but were happy to finally get to the top of the mountain.  The views of Barcelona were absolutely stunning!  We honestly could see forever!  The amusement park was closed, but there was a carousel ride that was operating and a place to buy coffee and have a snack!  We would have stayed longer had the amusement park been open, but the kids were happy to ride in circles on the carousel overlooking Barcelona, and that was good enough for me!  We eventually made our way back to the bottom of the tram line and decided that we would take the metro back to the hotel.  The metro was pretty easy to navigate without any major problems until we got back to our stop…… now to decide which exit to take.  Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe… Yeah, we picked the wrong exit….. placing us farther from the hotel than needed… oh well, next time we would know!

It had been a long day to get back where we started from, so it was time to just chill.  Brodie was anxious to get to the pool and connected with Ryan…. they did have a plan for a  “pool meet up” after all.

Cooling off in the pool, after taking in a lot of amazing Barcelona sites was the best way to end our busy day! Oh my……thank goodness for our awesome pool!

Enjoy Your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Barcelona Zoo

Crusin’ at the Barcelona Zoo

looking a little thin… No?

Dolphin Show

Zebras!

Elephants!

Sagrada Familia

We didn’t buy the book!

We have arrived!

Super heroes follow us EVERYWHERE!

Crazy!

Our Hop on Hop off bus tour

My Little Man

Tramvia Blau Tram

Peu de Funicular

Our AMAZING view… Hello Barcelona!

Hey look …… it’s a carousel!

The top of Barcelona

Roof top pool and bar

Our fabulous sunset to end a fabulous day

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

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