The Day Started in Spain

It was time to say good-bye to San Sebastian, our beautiful sandy beach and warm water.  We were in our last week of our extended holiday, and making our way towards Paris for our flight out later that week.  Our second to last stop before Paris was a small coastal town … La Rochelle.

After packing up our room and fitting everything into the car, we spent the morning at the Barceló Coast (ice-cold) pool, swimming, and soaking up the sunshine before having lunch and making our way north towards La Rochelle.

Funny thing about San Sebastian is that it is literally 20 minutes from the border into France.  Had we not had to pay a toll, I just may have totally missed even entering France….. it was that quick!

Our drive took us north on the A63 through one of the most famous wine regions in THE ENTIRE WORLD …. BORDEAUX.  I seriously had to laugh.  Here we were…… 4 of us in a car driving past some of THE most fabulous vineyards and wine in the world, without even the slightest desire to stop! HA…… Mike and I were on a mission (and with 2 kids 5 and under… I guess it was reason enough NOT to stop) get to La Rochelle….. QUICKLY!  Sigh…… the vineyards and wine of Bordeaux will have to wait for another trip!

It was about a 5 hour drive to La Rochelle from San Sebastian, and driving on the toll roads…. well……. it’s never a cheap day on the toll roads of Europe! We arrived late afternoon and were directed precisely to our hotel by Darth Vader and our trusty Tom Tom app on MIkes phone.  The hotel was super cute and was everything you would expect in Europe….. an old non-descript stone building, that once you entered, blew you away with all its loveliness!  There was nowhere to park on the tiny road that lead us to our fabulous hotel so we were parked half on the sidewalk. Had we been on our first week of the trip we would have totally stressed over the situation of “where to park”…. but after 6 weeks we were starting to  feel like locals and pulled “kinda off the road and half on to the sidewalk”…. It just seemed like the normal thing to do.

What a fabulous room we had. Mike had been booking a lot of our accommodations off of Trip Advisor, and this one, like all the rest, (the exception being Lourdes) did not disappoint. We looked into the courtyard and had a tiny view of the old town.  After the long drive we decided to get cleaned up and head out to investigate the town and find a yummy place for dinner.

La Rochelle is a pretty little town.  Tons of restaurants and shops in the old town with beautiful cobblestone roads and walkways.  Leaving the “gates” of old town, there was a great little night market, with tons of artisans showing their goods. We did a little walk about while looking for a place to eat with the kiddies.  There were so many amazing options. Walking along the street surrounded by all these amazing restaurants it was hard knowing after we looked at the menus that there was really nothing that the kiddies would eat…. Uuuugghhhh….. so frustrating knowing that we were missing out on some AMAZING food.  We had almost lost hope on where to eat when Brodie spotted a sushi restaurant.

If you know the Bain Family…. you know that we are addicted to sushi… kids included! Seriously… we go for Sushi every Friday (or Saturday) since the kiddies were born.  Sushi was not really something we had come across during our adventure, so with Brodie begging to go there for dinner, we went and got ourselves a table.

The restaurant (I think it was called Koi) was a funny one.  From the moment we arrived not one person looked happy or smiled.  Mike and I assumed it was because we had 2 kids with us, but as time passed on it was clear that the waitresses just were not happy people…… they were treating every table the same…. no smiles and just plain crabby!  I don’t really remember the sushi and if it was good or not, but I do remember being quite happy that the kids weren’t eating pizza or pasta! Since this trip I have noted that the kiddies will do well eating in Italy or Japan!

After our sushi experience we decided to do a walk about and look at the towns military towers that were so pretty all lit up.  Afterwards we headed over to investigate the night market that was happening just outside of old town.  As we were walking through the tree covered night market we heard a crazy squeaking sound.  It turns out that the trees covering the market were filled with bats just “hanging out”, and Brodie thought this was über cool.  After our bat experience we decided to hit an ice cream shop for a “before bedtime treat” and made our way back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

It had been a long day of driving and the kiddies were holding up rather well given that the day started in Spain!

So much to do….. so much to see!

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose

Xox

B.

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Loved this hotel!

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Why must little Miss  always sleep perpendicular to me….. that girl does laps in her sleep!

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hanging poolside… topless of course!

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This pool was ICE COLD!

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Hello France (and toll booth)… we are coming!

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Bordeaux

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HAY… in Bordeaux

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Sunflowers…. in Bordeaux

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More Sunflowers…. in Bordeaux

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Shocking… another toll booth!

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Our Hotel…. SO AWESOME!

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Would totally stay here again… so great!

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NOT Super happy… its been a long day!

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La Rochelle…. Old Town

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Koi…. Interesting little Sushi Restaurant!

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Wanted to take home Kois’ Bar statue… she was so cool!

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Restaurant row at dusk… Old Town

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La Rochelle Tower

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Clowning around just outside “Old Town”

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After a long day…. chilling together!  *Love*

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Sunshine and Sand

San Sebastian – Day 2

Well the predicted weather for our beach day was spot on!  Bright blue sun filled skies, and not a cloud to be found.  We packed up our beach bag with everything we would need for a full day of sun, sand, and surf.  We walked down to the beach with the usual stop at the little park near the hotel before continuing on our way to the beach.  The brief pit stop at the park and surrounded by trees we seemed to be unaware of just how hot and muggy it was becoming.  By the time we arrived at the beach it was smouldering hot.

It took us a bit of time to finally decide on a spot to park our stuff for the day.  The first spot was at the end of the beach, opposite to “Old Town”, where all the cabana and tents were. It was VERY crowded at this end of the beach and with the tide coming in…. well the water wasn’t quite as clean as it was the day before on our walk.  We made our way further down the beach, to a tiny cove, but again with the tide coming in we knew our little beach was short-lived.  We finally came to a spot where we had a bit of shade from the blistering sunshine, near the cement wall of the boardwalk. Given the heat sensitivity of both Brodie and Mike, it was the perfect location where we could frolic in the waves, play in the sand, and then hop into the shade for a break from all the beautiful sunshine.

A funny little thing about me is that  I don’t love sand. Well……honestly it is mostly Vancouver sand I’m not the biggest fan of.  I LOVE everything about Vancouver EXCEPT for the sand on our beaches. I love the sand on the North Shore of Oahu, all the sand we encountered in Australia, and now I can add the sand of San Sebastian to the list.  Wow.  The sand on La Concha was quite simply divine. I can almost still feel the silky grains of  golden sand right now.

We stayed at the beach ALL DAY LONG, playing in the waves, and digging in the sand.  There really was no better way to spend a sun filled day on the Basque coastline.

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose

Xox

B.

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Shaded area on the beautiful sand of La Concha Beach

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Not really into the sand quite yet.

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Digging a big hole…absolutely nothing better!

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Seeing if will survive the incoming tide.

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Little Syd….. unsure on waves and making a run for it.

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Quickly being washed away.

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Finally happy to be in the water

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Family….. Love!

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Finding some shade from the sunshine

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Mid day snacks on the beach

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Digging

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digging

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and even more digging

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