Kelli pulled out all the stops so my parents would feel welcome in Barcelona. In the past 4 days we took them on three private guided tours of La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and The Gothic Quarter. We rented a van and drove out to Montserrat and it did not disappoint. We even threw in a Halloween party at the kid’s school. Read about this and much more below.
Day 65 – Thursday – My Parent’s Arrived!
They got to our apartment by 8am and were able to see the kids before they left for school. My mom, not having slept on the plane, needed some shut eye. I have never seen her smile so big as when she saw the shutters in my room, which made it pitch black. I took my dad for a walk around the neighborhood so he could get a sense of Turo Parc. He had two adept observations, 1) it looks like Paris and 2) the women dress very sophisticated. Kel has said that from day one and he noticed it right away!
Our chef arrived today to make the weekly meals, and of course we made sure the menu we chose would be enjoyable by my parents as well as our kids. While she was here, they both were able to eat freshly prepared and cooked veggie burgers. Barcelona life. When their room was ready, I walked them to their hotel so they could get refreshed and then I went to the gym.
My dad decided to meet Kelli at the kid’s art class for pickup at 5:30 which gave him about a 30 minute walk to explore. I ended up going for a run and then picking my mom up at the hotel so we could all meet at the apartment.
We all relaxed and my mom did some reading with Jonah. Kel heated up a delicious dinner from the chef that consisted of hake fish, a sauteed mushroom dish, and sauteed spinach with tomatoes and pine nuts. In addition we had a cold sesame dish for my dad, and a mac and cheese dish for Jonah. We finished the meal with her homemade pumpkin and chocolate bread and store bought ice cream. Last time I described one of her meals in detail, two friends hired her after reading. So if you are interested let me know!
Day 66 – Friday – School Halloween Party
My dad woke up super early despite the 6 hour time difference and did his normal walking routine. It’s so funny, at one point I saw him post a photo of the Cathederal in the gothic quarter with the text “Guess where I am.” Even I was jealous when I saw it, and I am living here. Oh social media!
I decided to spend the morning studying Spanish. Not one to want to just follow what we are learning in class, I decided I wanted to try and remember the most common verbs. That lead me to learning about the Memory Palice Memorize technique.
Later in the day, I headed to the green committee at my kid’s school. I was running late so I took a taxi. I was frustrated as I was not able to direct the taxi driver as to the exact the route I wanted him to take, another push to keep working on the language asap!
After the committee meeting was a Halloween party at the school. It was very similar to the party we had in the beginning of the year there except a lot more costumes. This time though, I felt a bit different. At the first party, I was more outgoing, trying to meet people, as I felt we were all on the same page being at a new parent event. Now, I felt we were more into our groups, with everyone talking to the people they knew.
Not saying it was a good thing… Just another recognition that it is becoming more normal. My dad came and met a lot of our friends. His first reaction looking around was that the people here look a lot like Park Slopers. He meant it in a laid back and chill sort of way.
Afterwards we all took the bus back to the hotel and met my mom in her room. We had dinner at the gourmet pizza place in the hotel. A great way to end the night.
Day 66 – La Sagrada Familia & Park Güell
Jonah had a birthday party in the morning. My parents came over for lunch and then we all headed over for a 3pm appointment with an amazing tour guide, Zaida, at La Sagrada Familia. We decided to leave a lot of the touristy stuff until my parents were in town, as we knew they would appreciate it. It became clear right away the difference between visiting a space like this with a tour guide vs just on your own. She explained to us the history with Gaudi and the church. Even the unfortunate way he died by getting hit by a car while overseeing the construction of the church only a few blocks away. She was a pro in so many senses including keeping the kids engaged and energized throughout (as much as that was possible).
As soon as we walked in, it was clear we are in some place special. I have never seen colors and shapes and elements inside like what was present there. She said Gaudi’s mission was to construct the church to look like nature and copy it’s flow. You could see that throughout the spirals in the walls and the ceilings.
Afterwards, our plan was to take a quick taxi to Park Guell and have her take us through a guided tour of this famous area. It almost did not happen. Many streets were closed off as 350,000 people were converging for another protest to separate Catalunya from Spain. As the people kept streaming in, my dad kept saying, “wowww, wowwww, wowww.”
We finally made it out with some heroic efforts from our guide and two taxis to take us to Park Guell.
She told us it’s history. One thing I learned was that it was an epic failure. Guell was one of the richest families in the world and commissioned Gaudi to design and build the park. They were supposed to sell 60 houses around it in the mountains and only one sold and that was to Guell’s attorney. At that time the location was far from town and hard to get to, so there was little interest. However, the architecture is brilliant in so many ways and without a tour guide we never would have appreciated all the work that went into it.
Day 67 – Our Trip to Montserrat
We rented a large mini van and took my parents and the family about an hour’s west drive to Abbey of Montserrat, it is a monastery near the top of a mountain that you have to see to believe. We opted to park at the parking lot at the bottom and take the rail car up, as we figured that in itself would be an experience. And it was! At times it felt like we were going straight up the mountain directly on the edge. How they built this is just so impressive and we were not even at the main show yet.
When we arrived, my first impression was a bit surprised. It felt a bit more like being in DisneyLand. I have said that a lot actually throughout Spain and Europe because when you are looking at these buildings from 600+ years ago they just look like a movie set. Here though, it felt more like a theme park. There were a bunch of vendors selling cheese and honey comb. So of course we bought both and the kids fought for their pieces like they had not eaten in days.
We then headed up the stairs to the monastery itself, which of course was impressive, as were the views. There was a live show in the courtyard with dancing and singing that once again added to the theme park feel.
We then saw another cable car that went even higher up the mountain called the funicular and that one actually seemed to go straight up. Of course as soon as the kids saw it, they begged to go up. I have to be honest, I was quite curious myself.
Well, it was super cool, as it was lots of hiking trails on the edge of a mountain. What was not good was having two boys who did not listen to us at all and who have no fear. They kept running off the path into very dangerous territory. Like climbing down the side of a cliff in one instance or sitting off a 50 foot drop with their legs dangling. When Kelli’s legs started to buckle and she had to run the other way, I knew it was time to go back down. After lots of screaming, the boys finally relented.
Just to give a sense, at one point not too far away, we saw two rescue helicopter lifting someone off the bottom of a cliff area where someone most likely fell. At first we thought it was just tourist helicopters, then it became clear it was a rescue operation.
We got back around 6pm, but because of daylight savings time (5 days earlier in the EU then the US) we all felt it was much later. I decided to make a power move and changed into running clothes after I dropped the family off, so I could do a run straight from dropping the rental car off.
I ended the night with a 5 mile run!
Day 68 – The Gothic Quarter
Kelli did such a great job planning out my parent’s first few days in Barcelona. We started this week off by getting a tour guide, Patrick, to take us through the Gothic quarter and explain the history. He was an American who has lived here for 9 years, and plays semi-pro basketball in Sant Cugat. He also has his masters in Spanish history and knew his stuff cold. He showed us things we would have never found on our own like where Jewish Tombstones were used to build a wall. You can actually see the Hebrew writing on some of them. He showed us a hidden area where 3 columns of a Roman building still stood. Where parts of the Roman wall was still standing. He even took us into a random store that, as it turns out, had an old Mikvah in the back. That was a trip.
Again, I realized how important a good tour guide is in a new area.
From there we decided to take my parents to, ——, which we went early on (see post) and loved all the vegetarian options. It did not disappoint! We left my parents to go enjoy the Picasso Museum as we headed back to pick up the kids and a quick stop off at the gym for me. Rumor has it, my dad again fell asleep for the night around 6pm.
I did my nightly ritual and took Leila to her dance class and this time found and outdoor cafe to have a cerveza while I did some Spanish studying.