Today dawned showery. It's Easter in Barcelona.
Our alarm woke us at 8 am. Neither of us wanted to get up. It was loud around our room last night and we slept poorly until about 1 am. Our hotel room is nice by standard European hotel standards, but the beds are rather uncomfortable. Not that we cared. Especially last night. We were SO tired!
Turns out the shower in our room does not work, so tub baths it is. The sight of me kneeling in the tub to wash my hair under the faucet is amusing, I'm sure. Yet it works. Tub baths are not the worst thing. In fact, small boy prefers them. While not as efficient as a shower, they accomplish the same goal.
After our breakfast we hung out for a bit, then departed as a group to ride the Metro to Las Ramblas. It's the old city of Barcelona. Most of Barcelona is a grid system. The old city is not. There is a main 'drag' if you will, that is straight, but many amazing rambling little narrow side streets that house great shops and restaurants. It's easy to get lost, since there are no street signs. Seriously. What is up with Europe and the lack of street signage? Las Ramblas is a sight to behold. There were tons of people, even on Easter Sunday. Like, TONS of people. A pickpocketers paradise. We had a chuckle when the first thing one of the boys spotted was a likely cross dressing Marilyn Monroe on the balcony of the erotic museum of Barcelona. The large '69' signs made the adults chuckle, too. Ah, Europe!
Our group split into little sub-groups and we wandered the city for several hours until our pre-determined meeting time of 4 pm. We toured with the boy's friend Tyler and his dad for a bit, then ran into his friend Toby and his dad. The 6 of us enjoyed meandering about and exploring. The boys were truly boys. Being silly at a playground for much younger children, leap frogging at the water front and chasing pigeons. They were in and out of the little souvenir shops until they realized they all had the same merchandise. Every storefront had something Barca related. We left with a Barca scarf and hat for my son.
We happened upon a great little Italian place for lunch. It was our waitress' first day and she was very nice and spoke enough English that the boys could order themselves. We had pizza and what I thought was regular water, but was basically Gatorade sugar water. Along the way, the boys got some ice cream, too. Aside from the people watching and admiring of architecture, we saw the Cathedral of Barcelona, the court building, the Christopher Columbus monument, and our friend's apartment! After our day of exploring we headed back to the hotel and had dinner. Rice with tomato sauce?! It was...well... icky. But I ate it. Well, some of it. Also a skirt steak (i did not eat) and fries that were pretty icky, but I ate those, too.
The highlight of the day was walking to Camp Nou to see FC Barcelona play! The walk there was an experience in itself. Crazy crowds of people decked out in their Barca gear. The stadium was not sold out but it holds 80,000 people! It was amazing to me the strong police presence, especially around the area for the opposing team's fans. The boys had an amazing opportunity to see some of the best soccer players in the world and experience what enthusiastic fan support is really like. The songs and chants of Barca, Barca, Barca could be heard throughout the game. I had video of a goal Messi scored on a free kick and the fan response was deafening! Unfortunately, our group was not seated together, so we were off by ourselves but we had VERY enthusiastic Barca fans behind us. When they scored they sang and danced and were very loud about it! :-) To make the night even more amazing, they got to see Barca win at home! The walk back to the hotel was also accompanied by singing and chanting by happy Barca fans. The boys were so wound up, it took a while to fall asleep, even though it was midnight.
Tomorrow, Monday, starts their training. The real reason they are here. Soccer.