I call this post "Cruise Day Minus 1" cuz this was the day BEFORE the cruise. We decided to fly in a day earlier and hang out in Barcelona, Spain before we had to get on the ship.
The flights to Barcelona were all super cheap...like 19.99 Euro...That's about $27 American dollars. Great bargain, huh? The caveat is, though, that you have to drive to an airport an hour away, you can only bring carryons that have a small size and weight limit (or pay 40 Euro to check a bag in), you're herded in like cattle, and your flights are always at God-forsaken hours of the day. Either really late at night, or super early in the morning. Well, the only flights for us were at 6:05 a.m. Did you hear that A.M.!!!!
For many of you who know me, know that we don't work well in the morning. We did this same flight to London and we were the most bitter, grouchy people the whole entire day. You have to pack the night before, get up at 3 a.m., drive an hour to the airport to be there by 4:15 a.m. We were not excited about doing this on the same day that we had to be on the ship, as well as see parts of Spain.
Our plan was to book a hotel, crash once we got there, then head out and enjoy a bit of Spain in the afternoon. The next day we could tour a little more, check into the ship and be well rested for the whole day.
All went well. We arrived to Barcelona by 8:00 a.m. and got onto a bus to drive another hour to the bus station, after which we needed to grab a cab to drive us another 2 miles to the hotel...Here we are about to get onto the bus.
The girls were way excited they got to have their own row. They sat and read "Percy Jackson" and listened to their iPod with all the new songs I had downloaded for them.
Spencer loved the bus too. We sang "Wheels on the Bus" about 50 times...and each time he got just as excited as the first. He also loved watching the scenery and playing with his little trains.
Can you see the gummy bears he was lining up on Brian's pants? He loves sorting and categorizing. He even got mad when Brian ate one of them...to him, it was a design and he left them on Brian's pants the whole trip.
Right here I'd like to mention something about Barcelona. And please know that I didn't come to this conclusion until the last day of our trip. But I wanted to first mention it here so I can start giving the reasons for my opinion...
And here it is: I didn't like Barcelona at all. I was originally going to state that "There wasn't ONE thing I liked about Barcelona" but then I thought about a few places we visited that I liked, and one or two other good experiences we had. But there weren't many. I'll mention the reasons along the way, good or bad.
DISLIKE Reason #1: The people are so rude. Every person we encountered was pushy, annoyed and point-blank RUDE. No one was helpful and I was yelled at quite a few times for stupid little things. And you can't blame it on the language barrier because I was actually speaking Spanish with them (a little more on that below). The first encounter we had were the taxi drivers...granted, they were taxi drivers...but we've rented taxis before and they've never been this rude. They refused to call us a taxi that could hold five people, and made us use two, of which cost us 50 euro each of the two times we had to use it. (We could have used the bus system, but walking to the bus station was really far with all of our luggage, and it was EXTREMELY hot and we were all so trashed by that point...we just wanted to get to our hotel.) I'll go on later about the other rude people we encountered, but just remember that I already mentioned it.
DISLIKE Reason #2: No one spoke English...at all. And they were so put out when I even asked them, "Habla Ingles?" I don't mind if people don't speak English. I can understand that we're in a different country. But don't walk away from me just because you found out I'm American.
LIKE Reason #1: I actually surprised myself how much Spanish I knew. Even though they speak a different type of Spanish, they all speak the South American Spanish I learned in high school and California living. I told the girls I knew a little, but when they heard me speaking it and translating what people were saying, they commented, "Mom! How do you know so much Spanish. You're like...FLUENT!" hehe. I was pretty proud of myself cuz I've never HAD to speak it. I did hear and there, but never HAD to. However, reading their type of Spanish was just impossible. I didn't understand a word of it...which was very difficult when trying to order some food or read directions.
I wish I would have taken pictures of our hotel. It was so posh, modern and amazing. It was like a two-bedroom apartment. Very retro. After we paid the taxis, had to wait for our room to be ready, all while sweating in the hot, muggy weather, we all took a really nice, cool nap in our beautiful, trendy rooms.
Afterward, we decided to venture out for some food. Of course, it was right during siesta time (a mistake Brian and I made last time we were in Italy...and google it if you don't know what "siesta" is) so everything was closed. We were starving so we settled for a little patisserie that just had croissants and quiches. Check out how stoked Spencer was to get a chocolate croissant. That boy LOVES chocolate.
Check out this fun doorway I found. Of course, most of you know this is my maiden name. Thought my family would think it cool. Maybe it could be the cover of our next reunion t-shirt. hehe.
We needed to buy some diapers (remember the weight limit on our bags? Diapers were a thing that we didn't bring, except for what we needed up until this point) and a few food items for breakfast. Luckily there was a grocery store right next to our hotel...AND an ice cream shop. Yum, yum. Of COURSE we had to indulge. We like to try the ice cream in every country we go to, AND remember I mentioned how hot it was that day?
At nighttime we decided to walk to find something to eat. I also had forgotten my whole makeup bag in the car back in the airport parking lot....in Germany...so we needed to find somewhere to grab at least a few things to get me by while on the ship. We found a fun Japanese place to eat, but decided against it after seeing the tentacles still attached to about 75% of the food items on display. Next door, though, was the best five and dime store. We found some great finds, including makeup (that actually worked really well throughout the trip), floaties for Spencer, lotions, shampoo and conditioner (a few other items that were forgone due to the weight limit), and a few rings for the girls. I think we only spent like 10 euro. Amazing, huh?
DISLIKE Reason #3: I didn't like the food. Of the 3 places we ate, nothing anyone ordered was very good. And I'm a pretty open-minded person when it comes to trying new foods. We went to a little eatery this night (which is all we seemed to find... no restaurants around). I had tapas, which were very greasy and bitter, nothing like I had heard how great they were from other people.
LIKE Reason #2: What they say about the men is right-on! The men really ARE beautiful there. I saw so many beautiful, GQ men in Spain, I couldn't stop myself from looking. Come on...all you men look anyway at the women. I am TOTALLY gonna admit I looked at the men! I was simply enjoying and appreciating God's beautiful creations, right? hehe.
LIKE Reason #3: They had these cool parks in the middle islands of the main, busy streets. Some geared towards younger kids and some geared towards older kids. I loved how they separated them by age group. (All the parks in Germany are mostly for older kids.) By the time we walked over to them, it was 9:00 at night and barely getting dark. What we saw was pretty cool. Everyone stayed inside during the day, then at night, they all brought their kids out to play. It's no wonder, though...cuz it was pretty dang hot that day! Smart thinkin! Yes, what looks like water on Spencer isactually sweat... even at 9:00 at night. Remember that he's called "Sweaty Baby"?
We were super proud of Spencer cuz he walked this bridge by himself without help. He's really developing his Gross Motor Skills now.