Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

A Whole Pile of Family

Vignettes of our life abroad

August 22nd, 2013 - Martha's First Impressions of Barcelona

These are my thoughts for the first week of our adventure here

What I like

  1. Composting, Trash and Recycling
  2. Small living space (700 SF) – we have less to clean, pick up, organize. (Laundry only holds like 2 days of clothes so folding it and putting away takes 10 minutes!)
  3. People watching – bus counting (Abby gets really excited about all the buses)
  4. The Zoo is awesome
  5. Big Trees all throughout the city
  6. Fresh bakery bread everyday
  7. Monk Parakeets – There is a large feral population of these small parrots, indigenous to South America, throughout the city. They are cute and charming, though a bit squakey. (see picture below)
  8. Architecture – lots of beautiful buildings, from old medieval times, classic European times, modernista architects like Gaudi and more modern buildings from this century.
  9. Unique playgrounds in most parks or even random areas – and they all seem to be well shaded from the sun!
  10. No smoking in restaurants
  11. Street musicians
  12. Cars, mopeds and buses seem to be very friendly to pedestrians – that actually stop for you at cross walks

What I could do without

  1. Arriving in August. Lots of tourists in our area and lots of things closed as the local go on vacation to avoid all the tourists
  2. Fear of Pickpockets, especially as a Korean mama of two by myself
  3. Not stroller friendly
  4. The bar below our apartment
  5. Smoking all over the place

What’s undecided

  1. Metro – its clean, high tech and seems to be timely, but its not wheelchair or stroller friendly on every station and if you access at the wrong spot you are walking farther than planned. There is also a lip onto the train itself if you don’t use the wheelchair ramp.
  2. Going to the grocery store every 2-3 days. It’s a lot of work, but its also nice having food that is more fresh.
  3. Walking ramblas. I don’t get them. I can see how sometimes is more efficient for walking, but there’s 3 and 4 lane roads on either side so it’s just more area to watch my kids
  4. The Beach – We’ve only gone to one beach, it was beautiful, nice sand, some stuff for the kids to climb on, but a short amount of water for the kids to play in before being too deep.
  5. Most dogs aren’t on leashes

August 21st, 2013 - Our First Trip to the Beach

Today we went to the beach by Jeff’s work. There was warm water, nice sand, a fun climbing structure, and a shower, BUT there was a quick drop off for the water so the kids could only play in the waves and I still wanted to hold both their hands. I am hoping there is more shallow water at a different closer beach.

You could totally tell we were not natives to the area. First my kids were the only ones in sight with sun shirts on. Second, I was the only women in a 1 piece under the age of 65 and even then only 4 people were wearing one. Plus many women were without tops and I found myself nervous Abby might attempt a feeding from one of them (She’s been very into milk these days). Who knows maybe in 2 years I will be wearing ½ a bikini, Jeff will be in a banana hammock, and the kids in their birthday suitsJ

Note from Jeff: I will NEVER wear a speedo or banana hammock to the beach. Also, most of the topless women were not the type you would want to see without a top on – lots of bad naked.

August 20th, 2013 - Montjuïc

Today we went to Montjuïc, which means Jewish Mountain in Catalan and is named for the old Jewish cemetery that adorns the mountain side. The plan was to go to see some great views of the city and most importantly to Emmett, explore the old Castle at the top of the mountain. Well, we had a blast getting to Montjuïc on the metro and funicular, but, unfortunately, we didn’t bring enough cash or a Visa credit card to go on the gondola to the very top where the castle is. Note to all potential visitors: American Express is not widely accepted here.

The kids were resilient and we ended up having a great day making it part way up the mountain on foot (we are getting lots of exercise here). We ate a snack by a lower fountain (see video) and then we went exploring around the lower garden. We found the coolest playground which had pulleys and troughs for pulling and moving sand, there was a rope bridge (that Emmett mastered his first try) and a rope swing (see picture). We continued up to find a huge fountain area, with amazing city and sea views, lots of pigeons (Abby is OBSESSED!) and these fun stepping stones which crossed the fountain - Abby had no fear and I could barely get her to hold my hand. On the way down we found another smaller play area with different pulleys, levers and jumping pads that make music. Abby passed out on the way home, and I can’t believe Emmett didn’t either since he walked most of the way.

August 19th, 2013 - Our First Trip to the Barcelona Zoo

Today was our first of presumably many trips to the Barcelona zoo. We decided to trek the 30 or so minute jaunt by foot, which proved to be a nice walk through Eixample, the Arc de Triomf and the Ciutadella park. Upon entering, we were quickly impressed by the size and aesthetics of the zoo – all of the habitats looked like nice places for animals to live (the one for the Komodo dragon was particularly impressive). All in all, we had a great time there and were only able to see about half of the animals – good thing we also purchased a Zoo Club membership. For Abby, the highlight for her was when a pigeon ventured in to the dolphin show and perched in the rafters – it figures her favorite part of the experience was the ubiquitous bird. For Emmett, his favorite part was the baby and mama monkey. After going through the zoo at a break-neck pace he stopped and took a lot of time to watch the cute baby monkey play with and get groomed by its mother. For us, it was a toss-up between the orangutans, the hippos (also a great place to sit and have a snack), the aforementioned Komodo dragon, and the elephants. We are looking forward to our next visit to see more of the animals we missed (lions, tigers and bears – oh my), seeing the sea lion show and giving the kids a run at the neat looking playground in the zoo.