Arc de Triomf, Parc de la Ciutadella, Mercat de la Boqueria

Fedibbletys riding the metro

On Wednesday in Barcelona the weather was fantastic – about 70 and sunny. We decided to take the Metro to the Arc de Triomf (since we had just seen the one in Paris recently). The one in Paris is more impressive, but the Barcelona one is very nice too. Then we walked over to the park with the zoo. We didn’t go into the zoo, but enjoyed the beautiful park some. Then we headed towards the Gothic Quarter and La Rambla, with the goal of going to the large open-air market of Mercat de la Boqueria. We got hungry before we got to the market, so we decided to stop for lunch. I saw a place that advertised having a rooftop terrace, so we decided to go there. We got up to the roof, and after waiting for a waiter for about 15 minutes we finally gave up. We did get to enjoy the terrace for free for a few minutes, which was nice. Eventually we ended up eating at an Udon place, which was quite good. Then we headed over to the market. They had all sorts of great fresh and preserved food, mostly for reasonable prices. I got some chanterelles, which I hadn’t had for years, and turned those into a sauce for dinner. Spencer was excited because we found a kiosk where he was able to buy some soccer trading cards.

On the way back home Meg had to use the bathroom so we stopped in a department store, and I found a new hat – see next post 🙂

Park Guell

Pillars in Park Guell

On Tuesday we went to Park Guell. It was supposedly only about a 30 minute walk from our hotel, but it took us well over an hour – partly because we kept stopping frequently, including a much needed haircut for Rob and buying some fruit to eat once we got there. Also, it was uphill the entire way, which slowed us down some. The Park was designed by the famous Antoni Gaudi around 1900. Much of the park is free, but there is a small section where you have to pay. We ended up just wandering around the free part, which was not that crowded, and very beautiful in its own right, with great views of the city, beautiful plants, and interesting architecture, like the columns resembling stalagtites. We found a nice place to eat our fruit (Spencer, the picky eater, had several apples!!). We eventually made it the top, where we were greeted with beautiful views and lovely guitar music.

One of the souvenirs we picked up were some bird whistles (the kind that you have to add water to). I have had one of these for many years, and actually used it in percussion ensemble. My old one is plastic. These ones are clay. We’ll see which one lasts longer.

Sagrada Familia

Model of Sagrada Familia
Model of Sagrada Familia

Monday we visited the Sagrada Familia basilica. Construction started around 1880, and is scheduled to be completed in 2026. Clare visited it in 1999 and it was much different then; it didn’t even have a roof – only 2 walls and the crypt. We were all very impressed by the beauty of the church and how different it is from many other churches – the style of Antoni Gaudi is very unique. He incorporates lots of elements of nature. He didn’t like being in public, and in fact died by getting hit by a streetcar, and was presumed to be a beggar. They left him for several hours before bringing him to the hospital, and he died several days later.

Clare booked a tour for us ahead of time, which was really great. We learned quite a bit. When finished, it will have 18 towers, and the center tower will be the tallest in the world (sorry Ulm, only a few more years left with that title). Of course, one big difference is that the Ulm cathedral was not built with cranes. They are really putting it together quickly now.

We all agreed that Sagrada Familia is one of our favorite churches we have ever seen, maybe even our favorite.

 

Barcelona here we come

Boarding the plane

 

Saturday we left for two weeks in Spain. It was the first time the kids (and maybe the adults) had boarded a plane from the ground before. We flew Ryan Air from the Charleoroi airport in Belgium to Barcelona. My co-worker Jesus was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. The first night we stayed in a tiny place in the Gothic quarter. We had a tasty dinner on the Plaza Real.

On Sunday, Jesus picked us up and took us to Monjuic, one of the hills on the outside of Barcelona. There is a castle there with great views of the city. Then we went back to his apartment for lunch and played with their kids. It was a great start to our adventure.

 

 

 

Goalie

Spencer showing off his quarterback skills on the soccer field

Spencer had a soccer game yesterday. The normal goalie couldn’t make it so he got to play goalie. I think he enjoyed it. He didn’t get much action, since his team was much better than the opponent. They won 8-2. Uncle Phil and I went to the game. It had rained overnight, but was just overcast during the game, which was nice. I did learn that at the end of each game they do a shootout, which doesn’t actually count towards the score, but is fun for the kids, so they each get to try to score a goal (and the goalie gets more practice). One thing that the coach mentioned (and some of the other parents) was that Spencer could throw the ball really far – farther than some kids can kick it. I guess all that American football paid off.

Tanks

One of the adventures we had while Dave was visiting was to visit some abandoned tanks in the forest on the outskirts of Aachen. Apparently this forest area was previously used (and maybe still is sometimes) as a military training ground. We had a fun time exploring the tanks.

Vulfpeck in Paris

Spencer outside l’Olympia in Paris, ready to see Vulfpeck

We went to Paris this past weekend. It was Spencer’s idea to go to see Paris to see vulfpeck. We decided that it would be a treat for the kids putting up with moving across an ocean and mostly being good about it. Meg loves Paris and jumped at the idea. Meg and Clare spent much of the day at the Louvre and shopping. Spencer and I climbed the arc de triomphe , took a nap and then went to the concert. I got some nice videos of the concert. One thing I found amazing was how people were singing along to bass solos.

 

Rob on top of the Arc de Triomphe, with the Eiffel Tower in the background
Rob and Spencer by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Spencer at the Arc de Triomphe with the Champs-Élysées in the background
Spencer at the Arc de Triomphe with the Eiffel Tower in the background
Spencer getting ready for Vulfpeck to start

September special

Last weekend there was a festival in Aachen called September special. It was free, and they had bands playing all weekend on 5 different stages. Of course they had other obligatory festival attractions like food and beer, balloon animals, and even about Ferris wheel. Meg and Clare went on the Ferris wheel, but Spencer and I skipped it. We listened to a fun rockabilly band. The bass player played his bass above his head a couple times, which was pretty impressive. We took the bus there, which takes about 30 minutes. A little longer than driving, but nice not to have to worry about parking, and I can take Clare and the kids along with me for free on the weekends with my monthly bus pass.
It was a nice way to forget our worries for a bit. Especially since I had just broken the shower drain shortly before the festival that day. I called our super Monday morning and she arranged for a plumber to come fix it that afternoon, which was good, though we still need to get one tile replaced, which had to be broken in order to get access to the drain. I did learn from the plumber that you can get products like liquid plumber in Germany. I had assumed that they didn’t have such things, since in general it seems that Germans don’t use as many chemicals as in the USA. So next time the drain is slow, I know am easier solution.
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Holy bread

On Sunday we went to a music festival in Aachen. As we were walking through the city center I noticed this bread at a bakery with a picture of the Aachen cathedral on it. It is surrounded by printen, which are traditional gingerbread cookies from Aachen. They sell them all year round. They are quite tasty.
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First day of school

Today was the first day of school in Nordrhein-Westfalen. The kids were nervous, but excited. On the way to school I told the kids how proud I am of them for being brave in a new country, and Meg said that she really likes life here, because she learned to ride a bike and the ice cream is so great and cheap.

On Monday we got the news that the kids got accepted into the after school program, which should be great for everyone, even though the kids were initially not very excited. They will get help with their homework, and have more time to play with other kids and practice speaking German.