Barcelona

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We’ve been back from Spain for about 5 days today and we’re starting to recover.  It was an amazing trip, but living out of suitcases and traveling four cities in twelve days is enough to wear a family out .  We’re happily settling back into our routine — school, grocery shopping, a few activities out and about in town — and we’re glad to have the suitcases unpacked for a couple of weeks.

Now back to the Spain programming: our second stop on our trip was Barcelona, and I’ll confess it wasn’t love at first sight.  I’m learning about myself that I prefer smaller towns to big cities, especially if I’m unfamiliar with that city.

Our first afternoon, we grabbed a quick lunch and set off on a Fat Tire Bike Tour with the students.  (Three down, only Paris to go!!)

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The bike ride introduced us to some of the sights in lovely Barcelona — Sagrada Familia, Parc de la Ciutadella, and the gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, created for the 1992 Olympics.

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We had enjoyed the bike ride and seen some beautiful places, but we headed back to hostel a bit hot, tired, and grumpy.  Barcelona had been less interesting and more crowded than we had imagined.

The next morning we started the day at the beach near our hostel.  We had the beach mostly to ourselves (and most of the other beach goers were clothed).  The clear water and the quiet beach were a nice contract to the bustle of the city the day before.  The girls played in the sea, hunted for stones, and built sandcastles; it was a lovely way to spend the morning.

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We headed back to the hostel for showers (and this time they were warm!) and then hopped the metro into the city.  Second impressions were much better.  We found a fantastic lunch restaurant, recommended by our Fat Tire guide, and then we spent a good bit of the afternoon wandering the streets of city centre’s market stalls, shops, and historic buildings.  Molly decided she needed a FC Barcelona kit and tickled the store manager by putting her name and Iniesta’s number on her jersey.  She was quite pleased with herself and kept stopping to admire her reflection in store windows.

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We ended the evening at the Picasso museum, a small museum in a beautiful building that showcases work connected to Picasso’s time in Barcelona and donations from Picasso and his wife Jacqueline.  The Las Meninas collection was particularly enchanting.

As we headed back to the hostel on the metro, we had a completely different sense of Barcelona than the day before.  Is it my favorite city ever? No, at least not now.  But I thoroughly enjoyed our second day there, and I wished for one more day to have the chance to tour the interior of Sagrada Familia.  I’m so glad we gave it a second chance.  The next morning, though, we were on a bus headed to Valencia!

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