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November 2011- Spain

Spain | Barcelona | Giant Gold Fish Sculpture on the seafront

November 28, 2011

Hi Everyone, We've been busy exploring Barcelona. We've ridden our bikes quite a bit. We prefer taking our bikes places as we can see so much more in a day. The weather has been lovely with no rain in over a week and none forecasted for the next week:-) We've been able to get some boat chores done finally. We even got our curtains dry cleaned! Today Al started the varnish projects on the exterior teak.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with our Canadian friends Eliza and Ben and their visiting friend Geoff. Our oven is too small for a whole turkey so we had a four legged turkey breast and all the fixings. In the past two weeks we have visited Casa Batllo (another fun Gaudi building), Monestir de Pedrables, Palau Reial de Pedrables, the Castell de Montjunc and Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village). We've been saving the museums for a rainy day but may have to just start visiting on a nice one.

The official start of Christmas season is Immaculate Conception Dec. 8 when they'll turn on the Christmas lig hts and open the life size Nativity scenes around Barcelona. The Christmas Markets were setting up last weekend so I suspect they may already be open. Here the kids don't await Santa on Christmas Eve. They begin on Dec. 8 covering their Caga Tio (Poo log or Uncle "sh.t")with a blanket and feeding it orange peels and cookies every night. The Caga Tio is a log with 4 legs and a head/smiley face with a red Catalan hat. The goal is to keep their Caga Tio fat and happy so it'll poo out lots of treats on Christmas Eve. Their real gifts come with the Three Kings on Epiphany. Another unusual character that they display in their Nativity scenes is the Caganer-a squatting Catalan with his pants down (symbolic- fertilizing the land to bring good crops and luck for the New Year)'ll be interesting time before we fly home Dec. 14. Hope all is well Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Spain | Barcelona | Palau de la Musica Catalan

November 17, 2011

Hi Everyone, We had another nice week in Barcelona. We've used the subways and buses a few times this week. Both are very clean, inexpensive and easy to use. Found a 6 floor hardware/Home Depot type store. Lots to browse through on a rainy day but didn't find anything we needed:-) Sunday we went to the Cathedral again for mass and then toured Palau de la Generalitat. Later we went with Eirene (Pam/Steve) and Three Rivers (Eliza/Ben) to Palau de la Musica Catalan for a concert. Beautiful building both inside and out. Designed in 1908 by modernist architect Montaner and its a World Heritage site. After the concert we went to dinner at Monteil Restaurant and had their tasting menu. The owner helped us choose each course and described their preparation. Very enjoyable evening 1:30 AM was a late night for us but the time just flew by.

Spain | Barcelona | Sagrada Familia

Monday we had our Dutch friends Yvonne and Diko "Puff the Magic Dragon" over for supper. It rained all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Al did sewing projects on Tuesday but then had the flu type bug Wed so spent the day in bed. We had tickets for the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia today. Pope Benedict was here a year ago to consecrate it so now it's a Basilica. It brought tears to my eyes as we entered for the first time. What an amazing work of art and it is still under construction not expected to be completed before 2026 (100 years after Gaudi's death). We rented audio guides and highly recommend it. The information presented and background music were well done. It was easy to stop the commentary and enjoy looking around before continuing at our own pace. Unfortunately there was a two hour wait for the lift to bring us up into one of the towers so we decided to wait for our next visit. After our tour we went to lunch at St. Joan's Restaurant recommended by our friends on Eirene for paella. Great day. This touristing is hard work but as Al says, "Somebody's got to do it!" Love and God Bless Sally and Al

November 10, 2011

Hi Everyone, We have had lots and lots of rain in Barcelona. Everyone tells us this is very unusual although Nov. is the rainy month. So we sneak out between raindrops and try to get some shopping done but save sightseeing for nice days. Saturday we went to the Barcelona Boat Show. Saturday night we had a potluck cocktail hour on our pontoon. Great fun to visit with people and hear about places to find everything we are looking for and great places to visit and eat:-) Sunday we put on our rain gear and went to the Cathedral again for mass. After mass we went to the Town Hall for a free clarion Bach concert.

Spain | Barcelona | Park Guell

Monday sunshine:-) We rode our bikes around Barcelona for about 25 km over 6 hours. Barcelona is a very bike friendly city with designated bike lanes everywhere. Tuesday was another beautiful sunny dry day so we went to Park Guell designed by Gaudi. Guell was a rich industrialist who hire his friend Gaudi to design many places for him. This park was suppose to be a suburb overlooking the city for the rich but it was never completed. Lucky for us as it is a beautiful park today and the 5 acres that wer e completed can be enjoyed by all.

Spain | Barcelona | Palau de Guell | Rooftop chimneys and Al

Today we visited Palau de Guell also designed by Gaudi and just reopened in 2011 after extensive renovations. Guell was worth in today's money 70 billion Euro. So no money was spared on materials and labor. Gaudi used lots of quarter sawn American oak on the floors and doors, elaborate artistic iron work throughout and beautiful stain glass. The central area had a four story room topped by a 45' dome/tower on the roof for natural lighting and ventilation. On the roof we enjoyed great views of Barcelona and a close up look at the decorative cracked ceramic chimneys. We already think Gaudi's work is awesome and we haven't even been inside Sagrada Familia yet. We have tickets for next Thursday to visit Sagrada Familia which was his most important work. Last Saturday Chris and Justin had their baby shower in Minnesota so I can now announce our new grandbaby due in January is a girl named Sara Louisa after her two grandmothers:-) Love and God Bless Sally (Sara) and Al

November 2, 2011

Hi Everyone, Barcelona is a fascinating city and the Catalan people are very welcoming! Between boat jobs we've been busy sorting out neighborhoods and finding places we want to visit and spend more time exploring. Many days we've been wandering about for 5-6 hours. Communications has been a great disappointment both in France and now Spain. We found an internet cafe to skype but then had trouble with our computers. We hope to be more successful this weekend. We need to call MN by mid morning before it gets dark here or the grandkids can't see us on the skype video.

Spain | Barcelona | Barceloneta Market

Otherwise we love being here. We've visited several churches but haven't hit the museums yet. There is a boat show this weekend that the marina gave us tickets for. Great markets and huge department stores. We are continually surprised as we wander to discover one beautiful ornate building after another, gorgeous parks, very pedestrian/bicycle friendly city. The expressways run underneath the city, great metro, buses and tram system. Tuesdays the ladies meet for coffee and starting Friday we'll exercise 3 days a week. There's a potluck planned this weekend on our dock. We've booked concert tickets at Palau de las Musica Catalana for Nov.13. The concert hall is quite ornate and was declared a World Heritage building by UNESCO. We'll hear an orchestra from Sophia, Bulgaria.

Spain | Barcelona | Barcelona's Arc de Triumph

Last night we walked the waterfront to Port Olympia and around the Citadella Zoo Park with Pam and Steve on Eirene and then this morning we all went to breakfast at the Mercat de la Boqueria. (covered market selling fruit, vegetables, meat,fish, cheese...) We had Spanish spinach and potato omelettes called truita in Catalan. Al and Steve took off to visit a chandlery and Pam and I went shopping at El Corte Ingles a huge department store, Mercat Santa Caterina (another covered market)and then to purchased our concert tickets at Palau de las Musica. We did a bit of wandering as well and I got a close up view of Barcelonas Arc de Triumph and the train station.

We booked our flights home to USA today. We fly to Chicago Wed. Dec. 14 arriving at 6:50 PM. We fly back to Barcelona Tues. Feb. 21. We'll spend a week in Chicago before driving to Minnesota for Christmas. Play with grandkids, visiting family, friends and doctors appointments quickly take up our time home. But we do plan to spoil Grandbaby #5 due Jan. 26 to Chris and Justin before heading back to Barcelona. Hope all is well. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

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