Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring and Easter in Barcelona

Spring has arrived in Barcelona.  Like at home, this is my favorite time of year.  The leaves are starting to bud, flowers are blooming, people are coming out of hibernation and it's just an awakening to the senses.  You can't help feel good this time of year.  We've just come off two great trips with the kids - Valencia and DisneyParis - and while a lot of fun, definitely exhausting!  So it was nice to get back to "normal" this week.

Well, I'd like to say normal but in reality is life ever really that simple?  Liam has actually been sick all week.  I'll spare you most of the gory details but after throwing up upon our arrival home from France, he then proceeded to run from the other end for several days.  Poor kid!  Late in the week I attempted to take him out for a stroll down to the beach stopping at our new "favorite" lunch spot, McDonalds (gulp, did I really just say that?  Someone hurt me please!), when he decided that perhaps McD's was not such a good idea and vomited all of it up right in the middle of the sidewalk and on himself.  So maybe we should have laid low for another day or so...

Liam likes to go to "work" all the time.  If only we could all enjoy work that much!

Because we were in Paris for Easter Josh and I decided we would do easter eggs with the kids this past weekend.  The kids still believe in the Easter Bunny and we would have felt bad not doing something to celebrate.  In Barcelona they do not have the Easter Bunny, nor do they have plastic eggs or egg coloring kits (thanks Sue for sending both of those!).  Kids here receive giant chocolate art - mostly in kid themes like Smurfs, Simpsons (soooo popular here), Disney, etc.  I checked one of the smaller ones out and it ran around 60€ so not cheap.  But these are what the kids get here and the bigger the better!  Aidan of course wanted one but I told him it was the Easter Bunny from the US that was coming to him.

Chocolate figures for the kids of Barcelona.  I actually took this after Semana Santa so there were very few left on display but you get the picture.

Now Aidan's a smart cookie.  He knew thru talking with kids at school this week that Easter had already happened.  So he questioned me on it.  It went something like this:

Aidan:  Mommy why is the Easter bunny coming this weekend instead of last weekend?
Me:      Well honey, we were in Disney for Easter and so he understood that we couldn't really celebrate there and he didn't want you to miss out on finding those easter eggs.
Aidan:   How did he know to come this Sunday?
Me:       The Easter Bunny and I were texting and he told me he could come here on Sunday
Aidan:   Do you speak Rabbit though Mommy?
Me:       No Aidan, but that's what google translate is for

That's all it took. I do love this age just for that kind of reason. It was a lot of work trying to put a basket together for the boys. First off, they don't have Easter baskets here. So I finally found a sand bucket for each of them (to the tune of 3€ each for a tiny bucket!). Then trying to find a small toy to put in each bucket was a challenge. Candy however, easy. Barcelona definitely has a bit of a sweet tooth so candy was plentiful!

So now we are prepped for Easter on Sun.  Friday night we had a low key night.  I went out for a pedicure appointment that I made on my own.  However, I was almost late because Josh was running late.  Why was he late?  Because on his way home he was almost pickpocketed.  They say that you should really just plan on getting pickpocketed here.  That it's the most common crime here in Barcelona.  On one side it's nice to know it's a relatively non-violent city - on the other hand, I'm not so keen on having my wallet stolen.  I've heard so many stories in just three months and am hypervigilant about my wallet at all times.  Thankfully Josh realized what was happening and chased down his attempted pickpocketers to whom he shared many a not so nice word (of which they probably understood very few since they were all in English). 

Saturday morning was slightly more exciting.  On Thursday we realized that Sailor couldn't walk.  She was fine after returning home from the kennel on Monday evening as well as Tuesday and Wednesday.   Thursday I went to let her out for dinner and she couldn't get up.  The poor thing.  I had just found a vet that morning and set an appointment for some vaccinations and so I decided to wait out the night and see if she had perhaps slept on it funny.  On Friday she still wasn't doing well so I walked down to the vet's office and he said he could take her immediately.  My problem?  No car and I had Liam with me.  So I made the appointment for Saturday morning.  Still, we had the issue of how to get her to the vet which is about 3/4 mile from where we live.  She's 70 lbs and it's not like it's realistic to carry her that distance and no taxi is going to allow a dog her size.  Being innovative and using what we had, we put her in the stroller.  Yes, Liam's umbrella stroller.  Just kind of propped her up in it.  And no, I don't have any pictures though I wish I had because it was a sight to see.  You should have seen the looks we got walking down the street that day.  Both kids walking with us and a 70 lb black lab in a stroller. 

The vet was incredibly nice.  Very small office and I think only one, maybe 2 exam rooms.  There was no wait and given the amount of dogs in Barcelona (surprisingly an amazing amount for a city - it's very dog friendly here sans the taxis) it was surprising.  They took Sailor in immediately for an exam and asked about her history (and yes, they spoke English) to which we told them that she has had several surgeries in the past - both knee and hip.  It was her knee this time and it was very inflammed.  She also had a fever.  He did not xray her which concerned me and I voiced my opinion about and he said he wanted to see how the anti-inflammatory drugs would do first before taking that step.  So we have a follow up appointment next Mon.  And even more surprisingly I received an email from him today asking how she was faring.  I can tell you that I have spent thousands of dollars on my dogs and never once has my vet at home called or emailed to see how one of them was doing after any kind of incident.  And the bonus?  Full exam, 2 shots, 2 prescriptions - 80€, a bargain!  At home that would have easily have run us $300 or so.  Take that Lloyds - sorry but true!! 

But thru this experience we also had our first trip to the pharmacy.  My understanding is that many drugs used on people can also be used on animals, albeit in different doses.  For example we've used Benedryl for Jake for his allergies.  The vet had given us a prescription for amoxicillin for Sailor and told us to go to the pharmacy next door.  I walked in, handed her the prescription... again NO wait.  30 seconds later, she came back, put the amoxicillin and the prescription in a bag, charged me 3€ and out the door I walked.  No questions, no insurance, just wham bam, thank you mam, you are all set to go.  I may get to like this place after all... at least from a veterinary and pharmaceutical standpoint!

Josh took Aidan to the movies Saturday afternoon and it was Aidan's first time going since we've been in Spain. They have what is called VOS – versiĆ³n original subtitulada (or version original subtitled) - in other words, the movie was in English and they only have it in one theater here to my knowledge. So Aidan was super excited to go see How to Train Your Dragon, which he gave a thumbs up. 

After the movie Josh and Aidan met Liam and I by the metro station and we walked down the street to a playdate with new Aidan's new friends Sophie & Hannah and their parents, Nikki and Dave. Sophie is in Aidan’s class and they live about 3 or 4 blocks from us – super close.  It's really nice to have some kids his age that live close and we've spent the last 3 months in a bit of a funk thinking no one really lived close by us.  At Aidan's parent teacher conference the teachers told me that two of his classmates actually live a matter of blocks from us.  Then a few days later I picked up Aidan from the bus stop and he said, "oh that was Sophie that just walked by us."  So I contacted her mom and this was actually our second playdate.  We really like the parents a lot and can totally see us hanging out with them more often; laid back, intelligent and funny. We met up with them in a Placa (or plaza as we would call it in the US of A) in Gracia which is really just an open plaza with some open area and a bunch of tables that go with the restaurants there.   There were a ton of kids were playing – we honestly weren’t even watching them which is good and bad. The Spanish live like it’s the 70s at home… very trusting and caring about kids. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be alert and perhaps especially more so with Liam I should have been in hindsight but they had so much fun just running around. Though I guess Liam climbed into a water trough … again hindsight there, perhaps should have been watching closer and I will in the future.

So we were there just hanging out, kids were playing, adults chatting and having some drinks, and then suddenly a festival started!! There are tons of festivals in Gracia and this one we believe was for Sant Jordi which actually isn't til next week. There were fireworks and sparklers and a LOT of noise along with performers, musicians, and Castellers. What are Castellers? They are these human towers that are famous here. This was actually the first one I saw and I actually missed most of it and only caught them on the way down. For more information check out this website: The kids had a blast but got home late around 9. All in all though, a perfect spring evening!

Left:  Castellers     Right:  Fireworks and sparklers for all.  Looks safe doesn't it??

 Liam looking on in the crowd and Aidan's new friend Hannah poses for him to take her picture.
More fireworks and then the kids watch a street entertainer do some juggling.

Our busy weekend was in no way over yet.  On Sunday early morning the Easter Bunny made an appearance at the Marcus apartment with baskets (or buckets) for each of the boys and hidden eggs for them to find.  They were both so excited!!!

On Sunday late morning we had a birthday party for another of Aidan’s classmates, Santi.  It was up in the Sarria area at an indoor playspace called Waki Park.  It was a cute place and the kids had a ton of fun (it was very nice of them to include Liam too).  From what I can tell, I think that you invite all of the classes – so for 2 kindergartens, that’s 36 kids that you would invite to a party. Even Aidan said that he’s heard that at school… so no one gets left out. I need to look more into this before I plan something for the boys for their birthday in a few weeks as that could get expensive depending on how many RSVP! 

After the birthday party we had one more stop before calling it quits for the weekend.  We still had an Easter Egg hunt up in Valldoriex, a suburb on the other side of the mountains, maybe 15 mins from Aidan's school (going north).  Nick and Brenda know how to entertain and we were thrilled to meet so many ex-pat families and hear their stories about how they ended up here in Barcelona.  The kids had fun searching for easter eggs, ok Aidan did.  Liam realized that they had a pool and immediately became more fascinated with that than with the hunt for candy (must not be my kid).  It was also nice for us to get out of the city and into the 'burbs again.  We have only been to other cities so far but hadn't seen what life was like with a yard and grass and yes, I missed it.  But at the same time, city life must be getting to me because it kind of seemed a bit ho hum there too.  Though I have no doubt that I want to return to the burbs again someday but right now, right now I'm ok with life in the city.  I was really anxious that going to their house and seeing an actual house instead of an apartment, a yard, a pool... I was afraid that I was going to have a breakdown but was pleasantly surprised that I'm happy with where we are right now.  Will I still want the city life after a year or 2 years?  Who knows, but for now, I kind of like it.  Wish it had a little less dirt and some more grass, but hey I like it otherwise.  The boys weren’t interested in playing with the other older kids – they were the two youngest there with the exception of one little girl. I think Aidan was tired and being shy because normally he may start off shy but eventually will get into playing with other kids and today he just didn’t seem to care. Got home around 6 so it was a loooonngggg day but fun way to end the weekend!

Left:  Group of kids getting ready for the hunt.  A much smaller (and slightly older) group than we normally have at home but still a good time.  Right:  Liam and the Easter Bunny!!

And they're off!!!  These were the only two eggs Liam got because after he found these, he found the pool.

Aidan with his stash of eggs.

Ahhh the pool.  He keeps forgetting he doesn't actually like to go in the water though.  He was perfectly happy just splashing by the side however.

All in all, it was another great weekend.  Every week I feel like we are getting more and more settled.  Today I went to Bauhaus, the Home Depot of Spain (on a smaller scale).  My mission - patio furniture and a grill.  And without speaking much Spanish I managed to get across everything that I wanted AND the fact that I needed it delivered.  We shall see on Friday if I get everything I ordered.  I was surprised, well sort of, that they had none of the furniture actually on display but all still in boxes.  So you only had the catalog to go back - no toca (as Liam would say which means no touch) - I would have liked to have the opportunity to check the cheap quality to see if it was far superior than the other cheap quality option that I had.  So I went with cheap quality option A which was probably no different than option B.  Stay tuned as there will be before and after pictures of the back "yard" when it's semi complete (we'll need some greenery to make it complete so we'll have to do this in stages). 

On the way home from Bauhaus (I decided to walk which was probably a good 4 miles I'm going to guess - I'll have to mapquest it another time) I walked thru Placa Espana which I hadn't done before since it's on the other side of the city.  I'm going to go back here to explore on another day when I have a sitter again but it was a scenic area and looks to me like there is lots to see if you head up towards Monjuic and the Magic Fountains. 

Left: Former bullfighting ring that has been under construction for last 5 years to become a mall.  Not very efficient!  Right:  Behind the museum is Monjuic.  From what I understand, there is a fountain in front of the building that is similar to the fountains at the Bellagio in Vegas.  Again, something I'm going to have to go back and check out again.
Center of the Placa Espana.
Have a great week everyone!!


No comments:

Post a Comment