Thursday, October 15, 2015

Barcelona - Part 3 - Days 4 and 5

To begin, how 'bout those Blue Jays!! Great game last night, amazing finish!!


On Tuesday we were pretty adjusted to the time difference and got up in good time.  I walked out to get some pastries and coffee for breakfast and then came back.  We would usually have some strawberries, bananas or grapes for E to eat in the morning before we headed out; he loves his fruit. 

Our hostess had suggested we skip the Boqueria Market off La Rambla since it is mostly full of tourists and can be very crowded and overpriced.  She instead suggested the El Born neighbourhood market of Santa Caterina.  It really reminded me the Saint Lawrence market in Toronto, very clean and orderly with established vendors.  I was expecting more of a farmer's market, not sure why.  We enjoyed seeing all of the different meat and fish for sale.  We bought a few snacks to take with us to the beach.  If we had really planned ahead we could have bought some fish and vegetables to make at the apartment, but really that just seemed like too much work, we were on vacation!

Of course we found another playground, with the colourful market roof in the background

After the market we wound our way through the alleyways and made our way back to the apartment to get ready for an afternoon at the beach.  It was busy again but very pleasant.  

If you zoom in you can probably see some topless sunbathers

My happy place is on a beach

...and I think the same can be said for E

For supper that night we went to Mosquito's sister restaurant, Red Ant, a noodle bar.  We ordered calamari to start, some more craft beers (including one from Ontario, Flying Monkeys), and E had fizzy lemonade which he thought was very special (his description - it goes over your tongue and behind your teeth).

He literally ate one noodle at a time until all that was left in his bowl were the bean sprouts

Another playground on the way home, of course

The next morning we got up a little earlier to head to Montserrat (the mountain, not the island in the West Indies).  We walked to Placa de Catalunya because I thought we could buy train tickets there but it turned out we had to get to Placa d'Espanya first.  WE took the subway there and when we surfaced I had a small Amazing Race moment when I realized we had 20 minutes in which to catch the train, but didn't know where the train station was.  We started waiting in line at the information booth but it was about 6 people deep so we scanned the area and found the sign for the train.  We ended up with plenty of time to spare, but in our rush we bought tickets for E, even though he would have been free since he was under 4.  The train took about one hour.  I love taking little side trips out of the city where we are staying so we can see what the surrounding area is like, and train travel is the best way to do it. When we got to the base of Montserrat we had to wait in line for the cable car.  The cable car takes about 25 people per trip, and although there are two operating, the number of people getting off the train well outnumbers 25 so we had to wait for awhile to get up the mountain.  It was worth it though.  A tip for you would be to sit in the middle to the back of the train and then push people out of your way sprint to the cable car so you don't have to wait.

The site has a monastery, church, music boarding school, museum, hotel, restaurants and shops.  There is plenty of history here, both religious and political.  We didn't go to the museum, but I read a bit about it before going there.  There are also a lot of hiking trails that take you even higher up the mountains.  We didn't think a two hour hike would be the best thing to tackle with a three year old, but there were a lot of other people who arrived with a hike as their destination. 

Shocking, another playground

There are many cats walking around the grounds

We could not have asked for a better day to be on the mountaintop.  The views were spectacular.

Dave and I were exhausted on the train ride home but E was not interested in napping.  This was another situation where he did not sit still the entire way home, and didn't stop talking or singing to himself.  He was still pretty quiet and I don't think he was bothering anyone but I am always amazed at the energy he has. When we got off the train we walked over to the Las Arenas mall.  This building used to be a bullfighting ring (until 1977, so my mom thinks she saw a bullfight here when she visited Spain many years ago) and it has a good view of the city from the roof. 

Traffic circle with the Placa d'Espanya train station, Fira Barcelona convention Centre and the National Art Gallery of Catalunya in the background

For supper, we went back to Tapeo and ordered the traditional Catalan dish of fideua, which is like a paella but make with noodles.  This one had cuttlefish and was dyed black with the cuttlefish ink.  We all really enjoyed it, even E.  

The best grilled octopus I've ever had

See the post about our accommodations here

And our first three days here

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