S: Nuestra Aventura de Barcelona-Agosto 2010-Julio 2011
FC: Nuestra Aventura de Barcelona y Europa 2010-2011
1: Barcelona August 2010-July 2011
3: Gaudi's Park Guell This defunct residential community turned park is more like an outdoor art museum. Among the acres of walking trails and native plants are buildings, tunnels, and open market spaces that all reflect Gaudi's incorporation of the natural environment. Organic rock walls merge with intricate mosaics and fountains. Home of Barcelona's famous Magic Dragon, Guell is a hot spot for local musicians, artists and people seeking respite from the concrete of the city below.
4: The master's (as yet unfinished) masterpiece: La Sagrada Familia de Antoni Gaudi. It's been under construction since 1898...
5: How about living in one of these apartment buildings, Casa Batllo or Casa Mila?
6: Overlooking Barcelona, Parc Labirnt d'Horta is a quiet retreat from the city crowds.
7: The largest fresh market in Barcelona and located on Las Ramblas, La Boqueria is the go-to place for all your culinary needs: marinated garlic, squid on a stick, fresh rabbit, seasonal mushrooms, nuts, spices, fish and produce.
8: The Gothic quarter is a labyrinth of narrow streets, medieval churches, markets and the ruins of Barcino (the original Roman City over which Barcelona now stands).
10: Las Ramblas,in the center of the Gothic quarter, is a pedestrian zone that connects the port to Placa Catalunya (a great place for pigeon herding). It's always packed with tourists, artists, living statues, and merchants peddling flowers and junk, but it's the place to go to experience the crazier side of Barcelona.
11: Parc Ciutadella is right next to the chocolate museum and Barcelona's Arc de Triomphe. You can paddle around the pond, explore a Gaudi fountain or visit the zoo. Barcelona's port has tall ships, a monument to Columbus with anatomically correct gargantuan lions and a maritime museum in the original 16th century shipyard with beer bottle mosaic floors.
12: Montjuic Park, a mountain in the city, has commanding views of the port and city, lush gardens, amphitheaters, playgrounds, and a fortress with a functional drawbridge. Every time you visit there is something new to discover: just don;t get caught climbing trees!
14: FundaciónJoan Miró at Montjuic | Finally, a cheery, albeit quirky, modern artist!
15: Placa España The Catalan National Museum and Magic Fountain, all of which were just a few minutes' walk from our apartment.
16: Sports are central to life in Barcelona. We enjoyed the 1992 Olympic museum, toured Camp Nou, attended Barca soccer, handball and basketball matches, saw an F1 qualifier and a "bull jumping" exhibition (less gory than a fight but still takes big cojones). And what a year for FC Barca: Champions League winners and 3 wins over Real Madrid!
18: Sarria and Pedralbes, high-end neighborhoods above Diagonal, have lovely gardens and monasteries.
19: Everything in Barcelona screams art: the port buoys, random Miro statues, | the blending of classic and contemporary architecture, and even the graffiti.
20: Daily life was an adventure in itself: mini apartment and mini washer with a line in the alley; cooking without an oven; the shops on our block (butcher, fish monger, produce, bakeries); mopeds on the sidewalks; Manolo; and a lovely view of the prison from our kitchen window at Rosello 27.
21: Colegi Pare Manyanet Our Spanish concertada was amazing! The boys transitioned easily into the local Catalan school, made great friends, loved their teachers, participated in school sports and excelled in their classes. | Nate in PRIM 5C (5th) with Aco Brendan in ESO 1B (7th) with Roman
22: But school wasn't just about hitting the books: Nate hit the slopes for a week of skiing in Andorra and Brendan hit the street of Les Corts with friends, participated in an overnight sports weekend, and a took a trip to Port Aventura amusement park in Valencia.
23: Manyanet basketball for Brendan and handball for Nate
24: Food and Friends...paella, bravas at Bar Tomas, pan con tomate and calcots with wine from a purro... all introduced to us by and shared with amazing friends...Ana & Miguel, Anna & Jaume, Natalia & Xavi, Juan & Sonia, Karin and.Dana...Each of them opened their homes and lives to help us create fantastic memories.
26: Catalan Traditions From the mac-daddy of festivals, La Merce, in September, to the general habit of lighting things on fire, the Catalan people love to party.
27: During La Merce, Gigantes parade through Placa Jaume and then the crowds move to the Corre Foc (fire run) with drum lines to wake the fire-breathing dragons who parade through the streets.
28: Christmas is the time to choose your caganer (the pooping guy for the nativity scene) and caga tio, and hope that the three kings bring gifts as they enter Barcelona on the eve of Ephiphany.
29: Chocolate Monas for easter come in all shapes | The Passion, re-enacted in gruesome detail on Good Friday | The Feast of Cassanova is a day for celebrating "Catalan independence" | FCB wins Euro League...a good excuse to light stuff on fire, the typical Catalan way to celebrate
30: Catalan Castellers...that's some crazy stuff
31: Take me to a tree! City life for country boys meant we took many day excursions to the mountains, lakes, beaches and smaller villages surrounding Barcelona. Cork trees on a hike near Montseny
32: Pedra Forca
33: Collserolaand Tibidabo
34: Nearby beach towns of Castelldefels and Sitges
35: Girona walking the old city wall
36: El Viaje por los Pirenos August 14-24, 2010 Our first travel adventure through the Pyrenees Mountains on the border of Spain and France included stops in Figures, Olot, San Sabastian and La Rioja, Spain, Lourdes, France and Andorra. This trip had it all: Dali museums, breathtaking natural beauty, medieval villages, religious zealots, beaches, wine country and culinary adventures.
37: Art, art everywhere: "Gala," a famous Dali in Figueres, Nate posing and the giant apostles at Montserrat | Our first, but definitely not last, random Spanish street celebration. This one in San Sebastian.
38: In Olot we climbed up to extinct volcanoes with churches inside and down to Castellfollit de la Roca, a city on a cliff. We also visited a monastery that opened about 900 A.D. and had a great hike (with goats and everything).
39: In tiny Andorra, we passed a few days mountain biking, riding go-karts down the ski slopes and playing on the ropes course. | Next stop" Lourdes France. By day a picturesque French village but by night a candle-lit healing pilgrimage destination. Can you say Junk for Jesus?
40: Lunch in Salies d'Bearne, France (a stop on the Tour d'France where Nate tried the duck), beach time in San Sebastian, the view from our 13th century room in Saltes, and a wine tour in LaGuardia, Spain
41: La Rioja, the wine region of Spain, is not only great for wine tasting but also for medieval walled cities, not to mention being on the Camino del Santiago. All pilgrims should definitely stop at Bodega Fabulista for a taste of the local red.
42: Belgium October 7-13, 2010
43: We kicked off our Belgium extravaganza with a great day in Ghent, eating waffles on the Grote Markt and visiting the torture museum in Gravenstein Castle.
44: Brussels With Liesbet and Ignace as our tour guides, we set off for a day in Belgium's capital (no, Belgium is not the capital of Brussels). We found Manneke Pis, both the real one and chocolate version, explored St. Michael's Cathedral and of course, stopped for pintjes where Iggnace forced the waiter to speak Flemish!
45: The villages of Belgium are filled with great friends who after 25 years welcomed us into their homes once again. We visited Dentergem and the historic home of Leen and Frank where the King of Belgium once enjoyed trysts with his mistress. We also spent a day in Oostende at the seaside with Dr. Stuyck learning card tricks, playing crank organs, and touring a tall ship, A return to Herentals and Vorselaar to see Mieke was by far the boys' favorite: time to play outside on the farm, ride horses, bike in the woods and re-live memories with old friends. How fantastic to introduce the boys to this amazing little country.
47: Kasteeldorp, Vorselaar (left) . In and around the Soetman farm and Mieke's leather shop.
48: Rome December 2-8, 2010 Ancient Rome, the Coliseum, Forum and Palatine Hill, was definitely a highlight of our year. The sheer scale, longevity, and ingenuity is truly inspiring (and may have inspired Nate right into a History major...we'll see).
50: Ostia Antica, the original port city of Ancient Rome, is a great place to explore the past: vast and varied ruins, mosaic floors, an amphitheater and a plethora of headless statues.
51: We hit all the major sites: Vatican City, Catacombs, Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon (it took all four of us to circle the pillars at the Pantheon) and our tour guides, Ale and Sammy, made sure we knew where to get the best gelato.
52: Christmas in Vienna | The Spanish Roding school, a quirky clock museum, the House of Music, the Hofburg Museums of Art, Armor and Instruments and a private tour of a medieval crypt were all one the agenda. The boys' first ice skating adventure was a success and the coffee warm and strong but the best part of our stay was spending the holidays with family.
55: Fussen, Germany January 2-5, 2011 Brrr....Despite the bitter cold, Fussen was the winter wonderland of fairy tales. Neuschwanstein Castle, the model for Cinderella's Castle, did not disappoint and the supreme quaintness of the village (horse drawn carriages, snow-packed lanes, candlelit windows and big beer steins in cozy guesthouses) fit the bill. To top it all off, we found a great sledding hill and managed to escape with all our teeth.
58: Andalucia, Spain March 2011 A castle in Alicante, the Alhambra in Granada, a prehistoric cave dwelling in Moclin, an arhcheological site in Alcala a la Real and olive groves as far as the eye can see. What a fantastic week of discovery in historic southern Spain.
60: Moorish arches and wooden doors, intricate mosaic tiles,endless manicured gardens and white washed buildings are staples in Andalucia. | While Alhambra is impressive, the Moorish and Christian ruins in Alcala la Real have it beat and also have the best churros and chocolate in Spain.
63: Spring in Malaga | A perfect Andalucian escape: a few days with the girls from Belgium at El Patio Villa. | The village of Mijas, a nice walk from El Patio | Malaga, May, 2011 | La Azcazaba in Malaga | Belgium reunion with Leen, Hilda, Leen, Els and Mie
64: Costa Brava, Spain April 2011
65: The Costa Brava, stretching along the Mediterranean Coast from Barcelona to the French border, boasts quaint medieval villages, scenic vistas from the rocky Pyrenees and of course many beautiful, secluded beaches like Sa Riera
66: Tossa de Mar with its small beach, walled city and fortress overlook was a favorite for a scenic city escape.
67: Palafrugell, just off the beaches, has a great B&B, disorienting one-way streets and an Easter parade, complete with horses, Roman soldiers and bleeding Jesus.
68: Peratadella and Pals where winding, wagon -rutted passages lead to bodegas and medieval churches. Its like stepping back in time, except for the votive candle vending machine.
69: Montasario St. Rodes and Empurias. The monastery atop a mountain forces you to contemplate the serenity of monastic life while a coastal Greek and Roman city causes you to marvel at the genius of the ancients...what a day!
70: Portugal June 29-July 9, 2011
71: Palacio de Pena, Sintra | Palacio de Monserrate, Sintra
72: The Moorish Castle in Sintra: rock walls guarding against the infidels on a cliff whipped by ocean winds ... | Want to experience how Hobbits lived? Visit the Monestario de los Capuchos, Sintra
73: Cabo de Roca, the western most point of Europe, offers spectacular views, awesome hiking, and incredible beaches at the bottom. (just be aware of the tide schedule.)
75: Of the million castles we visited, St. George in Lisbon was right at the top of the list. Add the distinctive "Manueline" architecture of the Belem Tower and St. Jeronimo's Monastery to complete the magical picture of this city of a thousand mariners. | Lisbon
76: Ross & Diana joined us for a week of "Barcelona Outdoors:" picnic and soccer on the beach at Sitges, wild boar encounter at Colleserola, Montjuic, Parc Guell, and Labirnt d' Horta. With Diana there as trinket shopping in the Gothic quarter, finding the worst meal in th city, cookie baking, tacky Christmas decorations form the Chinese shops and pastry after pastry after pastry.
77: Grandma Camp, Spain...lots of park time and exploring, beach days, hiking the Camino de Ronda, walking the city, Sagrada Familia, basketball and handbol matches and even cooking school! Typical week with Lynda.
79: An awesome spring break with the Foulks...Barca, churros, tapas, Palafrugel, Empurias, the Magic Fountain, city sights and glorious beach days
80: Parachuting Jesus at Sagrada Familia, Gaudi, Park Guell, Picasso, telerific to Montjuic, the port, churros, patatas bravas at BarTomas in Sarria, Casteldefels., yoga...a week of laughs with Kirsten.
81: Fussen, Germany | Alicante, Spain | Rome, Italy | CollserolaBarcelona | Empurias, Spain with the Foulks | Sintra, Portugal | Shadow Pictures..something we started somewhere along the way