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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!

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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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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!

Peacocks, Rainbows and Our Next Ride

Paris Days 11-12

After the craziness that was Les Halles disaster I decided we would keep the day simple.  We would shop at our local street market (thanks for finding it Mike) on Rue Poncelet, for our dinner fixings, have lunch at the apartment with the kiddies, and then head to the little park that was 20 minute walk for an afternoon play.

We hit the Rue Poncelet market early and my eyes were bigger than my stomach – the food was so fresh, looked amazing and the atmosphere of walking around was honestly just the best. The kids enjoyed themselves looking at all the food. Brodie wanted the strawberries, and the cherry tomatoes. Now I’m not sure what it is about Europe and tomatoes, but they taste soooooo much better on European soil!  We made our way back to the apartment with everything we needed for dinner (and then some), and made lunch.

The weather was mixed, so after lunch we packed up the stroller (rain cover and all), and made our way to pick up a treat of Pierre Hermes Chocolate Macaroons, and make our way to the kids park. The macaroons didn’t make it as far as the park!

There always seems to be some type of apartment or road construction with every turn you take in Paris. I decided to take a detour to the park which had Brodie quite concerned that we wouldn’t find our way.  I love walking the side streets in Paris…. all the buildings are so AMAZING, with crazy beautiful detail, with gorgeous huge windows with shutters – I love it!

We finally turned the corner to the park where Brodie made fast friends with a boy about his age, with Syd tagging along in stride for stride.  When we first thought of doing this big trip, I pictured myself sitting at the park enjoying my time with the kiddies, meeting new people, and trying to have a conversation with the little french I know. Well, sadly, this was not the case. Each park bench had one woman sitting on it watching the kids play. No adults wanted to talk with each other. This is so different from what I am used to in Vancouver, where I pretty much chit chat with the moms/dads that are at the park  with their kids. I love watching kids hang together and play……. even with a language barrier, they find a way, and its awesome to see.

The kiddies had an amazing couple of hours of tag, spiderman climbing, and tons of sliding, with their new ‘friends’. The rain clouds rolled in, so the kids hopped in the stroller, the rain cover was engaged, and we made the trek back to our apartment.

Friday was our last ‘full day’ in Paris……. (nooooooooo!) So another trip to Jardine d’Acclimatation for the day was planned, and then we were going to go and meet Mike at the SAP office, and head out for dinner.

The weather didn’t look as great as the previous trip, so we decided to pack our jackets and go ‘stroller-less’ for the day, since we didn’t want a repeat of a rush hour train ride with a stroller. We hopped on the metro, but once again, we got turned around at street level.  I don’t think the trains are the hard part of the Metro….. its figuring out where you`re going to pop up once you hit street level and knowing your way from there. That definitely seems to be the hard part.

We did find our way with Brodie asking “Mom do you know where you’re going?”  “maybe we should go this way”, “maybe its over there”.  We took the little train into the park, and immediately hopped on the Enchanted River Ride. Syd was not so impressed, since I think she was a bit scared of the mist, but she got over it once the ride was over and she was looking in all the distortion mirrors. Now, the best ride of all was the horse racing ride. We only got to go on it once since the rain started to fall when we were in line for our second ride, but it was a super cool ride – the kids loved it, and Syd loved that she was chasing Brodie.

The rain in Paris is different than in Vancouver. Since there are no mountains for the clouds to get stuck on and socked in, it generally passes pretty quickly. So when it started to rain, the three of us parked under a tree to let it pass and stay dry. After about 5 minutes the sun was peaking out between the clouds and we were on the hunt for peacocks, rainbows, and our next ride. Brodie wanted to hit the trampolines, so away we went to that part of the park. An interesting thing I am noticing about Paris (and maybe France), is that there are TRAMPOLINES in almost every park we have been in, with kids bouncing away.  There was a lineup, so Brodie decided his last ride would be the horse race ride, if it was back up and running since the rain, or the river ride. With the black clouds building, we ended up back on the river ride, which in turn made us miss the little train out of the park and back to the metro. Now we were running late getting to Mikes office, and the start to our last evening in Paris.

Getting off the Metro at our regular stop, the rain started. Big, huge, massive rain drops that started slowly. We made our way to a tree which had about 6 people under it to stay dry and wait out the rain, before continuing on our way.  After about a minute the rain really started to come down. Rain like I haven’t seen in ALONG time! The skies opened and it was dumping buckets of rain. We waited another couple of minutes but by this time Syd was shivering, and we were all starting to get really wet. There was RIVERS of water flowing down the street, and it was raining even harder. I could barely hear Brodie talking over the sound the rain was making. We decided to make a run for it to the apartment. We were gonna get soaked but it was better than shivering under a tree that was no longer keeping us dry. The kiddies seemed scared at first till we started running and laughing through the rain, racing from building to building. We were soaked and people were looking at us like we were crazy….. it was awesome!  We got to the apartment, every inch of us drenched, the kids hopped in a warm shower and we awaited Mike to come home.

Our last night in Paris was not what it should have been. Syd should of had a nap (mistake #1) and we ended up at a restaurant out of our neighborhood (mistake #2).

Syd had a meltdown of EPIC proportions, so we ended up back at the apartment after a rushed meal that wasn’t great. Uuuuggghhhh! I felt bad for Brodie since it was his last night in Paris too, so I sent Mike and Brodie out, while I hung with the crabby little Miss. Brodie ended up taking Mike on his own little tour of the Arc de Triomphe. That was sweet.

It wasn’t really how our last night in Paris was suppose to be, but it looks like we may have a ‘do over’ since we have to return the rental car to our old ‘hood.  This time Syd is gonna have an EPIC nap before we go!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Our market on  Rue Poncelet

Our new Favorite!

M1 Metro line – La Defense

Little train to the park

Enchanted River

the covered mist

funny mirrors

One of the many peacocks walking around the park

 

Awesome horse race ride

 

Giddy up!

Crazy Paris rain storm

Hiding under a tree near our metro stop

The Family in the window

Our fabulous apartment

Our front step