About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Monday, May 31, 2010

City Sightseeing Day

We slept in a bit this morning, got ready for the day, then headed downstairs for breakfast. The Novotel's we have stayed at have always had nice breakfasts, but this one was the nicest. They had a varied selection of fruits, cereals, donuts, cakes, eggs, sausages, juices and much more.

Our first stop was for some shopping at Decathlon. We brought too many warm clothes with us and it is seriously humid here. Katrina bought a couple pairs of crop pants and some sandals. I bought some shorts.

We decided to take the City Sightseeing bus tour this morning. City Sightseeing has three different routes you can take, all with the same ticket. We chose to ride on the Blue route this morning. The tour took us past many of the major sites in Barcelona.

Passeig Gracia has some very ornate street lamps.

Block of Discord

Casa Mila

Interesting architecture

Sagrada Familia

Barcelona football is huge!

Interesting art on a business tower.

The bus tour took two hours to complete the loop. We exited the bus on the Ramblas and decided it was time for lunch. I spotted some tasty looking nachos as we walked past the Hard Rock Cafe, so we found a table.

Brandon + map = keeping busy while we wait for our food.

Pet stand on the Ramblas

Looking toward the Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter

More architecture

The Ramblas runs from Placa del Catalunya in the center of the city, down to the harbor. Near the waterfront is a monument dedicated to Columbus. There is a tiny elevator that whisks you to the top for a view of the city. Brandon and I were a little freaked out by the swaying motion of the tower.

Christopher Columbus Column

Views from the column

Once we were back down on solid ground, it was time for a harbor cruise. Our Barcelona Cards included a 'free' harbor cruise.

Brandon at the stern

Ferries waiting for their next journey.

Fisherman heading into the harbor with the days catch. Notice the birds circling above the boats.

More interesting architecture

It was not the most interesting cruise we have ever taken. 1 1/2 hours roundtrip, mostly just cruising along the city waterfront. No narration. It was a good rest for our weary feet.

Entertaining ourselves on the harbor cruise.

Once we finished the harbor cruise, we hopped on the red line City Sightseeing bus. I guess today turned out to be a tour bus/boat day. The blue line took us around a few new areas on the city, including Montjuic (Mount of the Jews). A long time ago this area had an impressive fortress. Today it is home to buildings and arenas of the 1929 international fair and the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Back on the City Sightseeing bus.

Where can I find a taxi?

Catalan Art Museum

Brandon brought his harbor cruise humor with him on the bus tour.

The 'famous' Olympic broadcast tower, in the form of the Olympic torch.

Olympic Stadium

This blue line tour took two hours and dropped us back off at the bottom of the Ramblas. We walked up the Ramblas and found a nice cafe for dinner and Sangria. Ah, I love Sangria. After dinner we walked up to Placa del Catalunya to take some nighttime pictures.

Placa del Catalunya

Slow motion boy

Fountains of Placa del Catalunya

Another great Barcelona day. With tired and sore feet we made our way to the Metro and back to our hotel. Since it was dark when we arrived at our hotel, we were treated to the colorful lights of Torre Agbar.

Torre Agbar

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Count

58 Week Gelati Count: 235
58 Week Wine Bottle Count: 76

Barcelona Bound...Again

We had to wakeup at 4:45 this morning and drive to the airport for a second attempt at catching a flight to Barcelona.

When we arrived, our flight had an assigned gate and all was looking good. The flight took off on time and we arrived in Barcelona around 8:30am. We made it!

We had to catch an Aerobus to the Placa de Catalunya in the city center. The bus ended up stopping a few blocks from the placa due to a marathon being held in the city. We made our way to the placa, found the Metro and rode it to the Glories station near our hotel. Our hotel of choice for this trip, Novotel. Its a modern chain of business hotels that offer a great 99 euro per night online price with breakfast included. We've stayed at a couple of Novotel's in Europe.

After getting checked in, we caught the Metro back to Placa de Catalunya, where we transferred to a different line.

Modernismo architecture

Street car that goes up to the funicalar on Tibidabo.

We decided to walk up the hill since our destination, the science museum, was only halfway. This is when I realized how hot and humid Barcelona really is!

This says it all...

Our destination, Museu de la Cie'cia, the city's science museum. We heard about this from one of Brandon's classmates who thought he would enjoy it. It offers many hand on activities.

The spiral walk down several floors to the museum exhibits. Brandon thought it was similiar to a gumball machine.

This was a giant pendulum, hanging from several floors above. It slowly, very slowly knocked these pins over, all the way around the circle.

How tall is Brandon...really?

Is it real or an illusion?

Playing with electricity

Giant ice block demonstrating three phases of water

Display showing how the techtonic plates have shifted

This chamber demonstrated how gases move.

Very cool display of tubes with seeds from all over the world

Rainforest display

When we were finished at the museum, we headed uphill to the funicular. The neighborhood was steep and filled with all kinds of interesting architecture.

Beautiful architecture

We rode the funicular up to the top of Tibidabo, which overlooks all of Barcelona. At the top is Parc d'Attractions, an amusement park that opened in 1908.

Figuring out what there is to see at the top

Sitting above the amusement park is the Temple Expiatori del Segrat Cor (Church of the Sacred Heart) built in 1911.

Large antenna tower on Tibidabo

One of the original 1908 rides.

Except for the fact that its a church, this almost feels like Disneyland.

Views of Barcelona

Inside the church

Brandon tries to get some relief from the heat.

We wandered around for awhile, had a snack, then headed back down into Barcelona. The walk down took us past the science museum and to the Metro, which we caught back to Placa del Catalunya.

Trolley passes us as we head back down into Barcelona

Submarine on display outside the science museum.

Once we were back in the city, we hit the Ramblas. The Ramblas is the city's main pedestrian drag. It is a vibrant area full of shops, restaurants, street performers, pet stands, artists, flower stands and pickpockets.

Street performers

Your friendly neighborhood demon. We watched one little girl have her picture taken with the demon while her baby sister began to cry.

We wandered down the street a little bit and found a nice place for dinner. Katrina had a chicken dish while I had some sausage. We both really enjoyed a couple glasses of sangria.

Brandon enjoys some Caprese for dinner - tomatoes, mozzerella, olive oil and a little pesto.

We spotted this car near the Ramblas. The brochures said that you can rent these little cars and tour the city. They are equiped with a GPS system that tells you which way to go and narrates information about the sights.

It was getting dark and we were tired. We woke up at 4:45am to get here! It was time to call it a night. We caught the Metro to our hotel. I think all three of us took showers to cool ourselves off. Did I mention how humid it is here?!

Our hotel is across the street from this tower, Torre Agbar.

This is for Katey and Errol. Brandon and I spotted this store in the mall.