Saturday Funny

Joe and I went out on Saturday in persuit of milk. Milk is different here in Europe. They pasteurize it at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This method kills all of the bacteria so it can be stored unrefrigerated for a long time. They do have American milk here, sometimes. They also don't sell it by the gallon. You can imagine how much milk four kids can go through. So, we run out a lot here. Saturday was one of those days, hence the trip to the market in our new car.
The car is a Chrysler. It's a minivan, although after spending a month driving a smaller six seater, it feels much bigger. Mucho Grande. I was having a crisis of self confidence while driving to get the milk. The parking garage entrance seemed to have shrunk and the outdoor parking was full. So, I decided to venture a little further to a stand alone store, where we missed the exit.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed I looked at Joe and remarked, "I really need a vacation...in the South of France or something." Joe very calmly replied, "Mom, you *are* in the south of France."


We got mail!!!

Grandma and Aunt Mo sent us postcards and they came today. We've gotten a few bills but nothing that made it feel like we lived here yet. Until today...4 wonderful postcards. We also got the most beautiful invitation to our good friend Rachel's Bat Mitzvah. Thanks guys for thinking of us.


La Merce

Or...looking for a festival...

Today the kids had off of school. It's La Merce, or the biggest feast in Barcelona. Wikipedia has it described this way:

La Mercè is the "most important festival" of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). It has been an official city holiday since 1871, when the local government first organized a program of special activities to observe the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. (In Catalan, La Mare de Déu de la Mercè -- The Merciful Mother of God; in Spanish, La Virgen de la Merced -- The Virgin of Mercy.) Although the actual date of the holiday is September 24th, the festivities begin a few days before.
The year 1902 saw a new impetus to the celebrations, with parades containing the first appearance in Catalonia of paper mache "giants" (known as gegants i capgrossos in Catalan or gigantes y cabezudos in Spanish), the first Castell competition and the importation from the Emporda region of a dance that was spreading throughout Catalonia: the Sardana. The holiday has enjoyed immense local popularity ever since.
Among more recently introduced traditions are the annual Catalonian Wine Fair, a special "correfoc", a marathon race, and the particularly popular pyromusical, which is a spectacular display of synchronized fireworks, water fountains and music conducted at the base of Montjuic hill. *end Wikipedia quote*

Sounds like fun doesn't it? So we set off this morning...ok at noon to take the train into the city. Our new friends, the Adams went with us. We arrived at Placa de Catalunya to balloons, tents and a stage. Unfortunately, the band was leaving as we were arriving and all the tents in the Placa were information tents and we don't know Spanish well enough yet. The kids spied The Hard Rock Cafe and it was decided we'd head in for lunch. About two hours later we went out to find something festive. I really wanted to see the gegants or the Castell towers. They had big huge screens up in the Placas showing live coverage of the Castells, which are basically human towers. We thought it was being held at the Sagrada Familia, which was a little too far to walk to so we headed off through the Barri Gotic, the artists quarter. The pics are a little scrambled. I haven't figured out this upload thing yet. Mostly I have no idea what I photographed just that it was pretty or interesting.

A really beautiful building caught my eye off a side street, so I drug the kids down the alley.

Then, I read the sign and about died. It's the 4 cats, or Els Quatre Gats, a favorite hang out of Pablo Picasso, Ramon Casas and other turn of the century bohemian intellectuals, the site of Picasso's first exhibitian. (OK below is one of those out of order pics. It actually is one of the first I took. It the kids in front of an old fountain.)
Hmmm these seem really out of order. We're back to interesting buildings. The Barri Gotic is one of the older districts of the city with buildings and ruins that date back to Roman times. To the left is one of the walls of the Catedral de Barcelona

The Roman walls..or parts of them. The tv had the Castill competition on it, it was actually going on through the alleyway but we didn't realize it. I'm going to upload a picture of the castills but it'll probably end up at the beginning and I'll have to figure out a way to explain it...(yep, it's at the top.)

Alexa walking through Barcelona...My Alli Cat in the alley.lol We thought it was funny. Maybe you had to be there.
Back to the original side trip down the alley to the 4 Cats.
The poster behind Joe and Jess is the cover of the menu that Picasso did. I'm pretty sure it's not the original.

Some cool light posts in the Barri Gotic

One of the sections set up for street vendors.
This was just up on a wall. I thought it was beautiful.
A small placa we entered. There was a little cafe and a man serenading the diners. It was beautiful. It's not a great pic. Behind the guy is a very pretty fountain.

Just a funny store name... At least now we know where we can get some when the kids get whiney...

A better picture of the Roman walls.

I think this is another angle of the Catedral, but I could be wrong. We really didn't know where we were at this point.

We arrived at the Placa de Sant Jaume just as everyone was leaving. We noticed a few of the Castillors still milling about. It seemed everytime we got some place everyone was leaving. We were always just a little behind. But that was ok. We saw some really interesting things along the way. We never did get to see the Gegants. Maybe next year...


School Calendar

Hi Everyone,
We've had a couple of requests for the kids schedules to help arrange visits. Here is the link

If you click on the Agenda option above the calendar it lists the dates. I find that easier when looking for a wider range of time


Picture spam: Along the way to the bus stop

The walk to the bus stop is a little more than a half a mile now that we found a shorter way. We have to go up a hill and then down again to get to the bus stop, which totally reminds me of my parents stories of their childhood in Steelton and McAdoo PA....walking up hill both ways to school. Now, my kids will be able to tell similar stories to their kids. All the houses have gates/fences around them. At first we thought that meant that the neighborhood was unsafe. But, now that we've gotten more settled I think it's more of the Spanish idea of not showing off what you have so you don't get mugged/robbed. Everything is hidden behind walls, some more fortified then others. So, mostly along the way we see walls of varying heights and construction.But upon closer look there are real moments of beauty.

Here is a picture montage of our journey which is more back to front because of the way they uploaded but what can you do. Please take note of the steep hill along the way, which doesn't look as steep in the photos but trust me it is. I call it my butt burner hill. Don't laugh...I'm losing inches. ;)
Above and below are the pictures of the town center, the bus stop is directly behind me as I take the picture. It's not pretty so...

Here is an example of the castle wall, as the kids put it.

Our steep hill...

A sign on a house along the way

Another view of the hill

One of many snails...

a street sign

Here is our house from the street.

The kids have really enjoyed reading the comments and emails regarding the blog. Thanks for taking the time to connect with us. It makes a world of difference to the kids and me too. Please keep the comments coming.
We love you and miss you all!


Kids answering questions...

Aunt Mo (and anyone else who wondered),
This is Andrea... The first day of school was fun and exciting. The kids at the school understood what position we were in because they have all gone through it before. We made a lot of friends really easily on the first day. Mr Pover's English class is my favorite because it's telling the truth about how humans act. He assigned reading to us because "it makes us smarter." I brought in Mom's Persuasion by Jane Austin. I'm liking it so far.

Alexa here, I had an easier day than anyone else because I already had one friend from summer camp and two friends from orientation the day before. History is my favorite class so far because we're going to be doing a lot of really cool activities like, a radio broadcast that will be on the internet and a youth assembly where we will get to pretend to be real student council and make real changes in the school. English and Science are ok. And Math is awful because Mr Maadini is really strict. (Andrea likes him though)

Joe says, On the first day of school I had a great time. The lunch was good except one problem...the excrutiating pain in my legs from having to go up a steep staircase. I have to go up three flights of the steepest stairs you'll ever see. My favorite subject so far is Spanish Catalan studies because he already has us learning a special regions in Spain such as Castilla la Mancha. I've made a really good friend named Ben...we think we might have the same great great great great great great great great grandmas since we both have family from Czechoslovakia.

And don't forget about me...as if you could. Jess here...school is awesome but it's hard because I don't see my siblings even though I feel like I'm supposed to. I ride the bus with the them though. My Spanish teacher is very nice. Her name is Miss Amy. She speaks in Spanish so it's really hard to understand her except she uses her hands to help us. Mr Hupp is my homeroom teacher. He's the only 4th grade boy teacher. (There is only two 4th grade teachers) There is only 5 girls in the class now but there might be one more. There is 10 boys. I like having a small class. There is one boy in my class I like...don't tell Dad.

Dad is going back to Massachusetts this weekend. Only him...he's leaving us here...to take care of the puppies and go to school. Keep the prayers coming they have helped us get adjusted.

Aunt Kim,
Ikea is the same but there is a food court that is on the top of Dad's list of places to eat in Barcelona. He likes the swedish meatballs. We've been there a lot. We got some nice furniture there and some comfy beds.

Mrs Canestrari,
Soccer hasn't started yet. I'm still debating over whether I'm going to do it or not. I want to do it because I really enjoy it. They have soccer at school for the girls but it's not a team. I can join a team that at a sports club with some kids from the school but it's co-ed..
Apparently girls don't really play soccer here.I've been playing it at home instead. I'll keep you posted on what we decide.

Jessica misses Friendly's very much...Alexa wants add most restaurants...like Fridays and Applebee's. We can find McDonalds and Burger King. We even found Kentucky Fried Chicken...although Mom wasn't with us and still is upset about it. We miss being able to read the menu. Andrea can though...sometimes.

We miss poptarts...rootbeer...Dr Pepper...normal hamburgers...sweet and sour sauce...beef meatballs...pancakes...syrup...kool-aid...gatoraid...juiceboxes of anykind...(Thier juiceboxes taste like soap, Dad thinks it is some type of yogurt drink)...grape jelly...Jiff...Yankee candles...Alexa misses Basketball but not to eat...to play. Mom misses Rao's spaghetti sauce...her spices...baking soda...progresso bread crumbs...progresso soup..bagels...tostitos tortilla chips...

Cool things we found here that we like though are...crustless loafs of bread, nutella, chocolate croissants, bikinis (sandwhiches sort of like grilled cheese with ham), Fanta soda and Schweppes limon, fruit tarts, blackberries on the trail by school, cannolis, pastries, Nespresso coffee, Pizza at the mall that tastes like Jersey Shore pizza, colorful popcorn, Gelato especially the banana chocolate..not regular chocolate that tends to have peanuts, smints

Places that we've seen so far that we like...
Gaudi places,
The town center at Valldoreix
The Zoo
The Olympic Movie theater
The Aquarium

Places we want to go
The Assassins Museum
La Pedrera
Sagrada Familia
The Chocolate Museum
Medival town near here
Tarragona (Roman ruins)
Rome, Italy
London, England
Franfurt Germany

Places where people we've met are from
West Virginia
New Jersey
Gettysburg, Pa
Cambridge Ma
Great Britain

It's very cool... We're learning lots.

Coming soon...a photographic journey along the way to the bus stop...


picture spam

Poster from Nick's going away party at work...

The kids on Passeig de Gracia on a trek for Nespresso coffee for our new machine... Where we saw Le Pedrera a house designed by Gaudi. We didn't get in because the line was too long. The kids toured it during their time in camp during our July visit.

The next pictures are of the interior of Casa Batllo, another house designed by Gaudi. He's a big deal here in Barcelona. There are quite a few houses and parcs designed by him as well as the Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that is still under construction.