Day 6. Already. Wow. Time flies when you are so sleep deprived for the first few days!
It's Thursday. Another beautiful day in Barcelona. The boys had training and then about 4 hours free. Which meant I had about 3 hours to take in some sightseeing on my own while they were at training. So I hopped on the Metro and got off at Placa Cataylunia. I walked around the square and took some photos of the statues. I inquired about directions to the Arc de Triomphe. I opted to walk it through a Gothic neighborhood instead of take the Metro directly there. I'm glad I did. The streets were far less crowded and the details of the architecture were really cool. There is not a 'plain' building in this city! Even the street lights and water fountains are ornate and detailed! It was about a 12 minute walk. A peaceful, leisurely, quiet, soak in the culture, walk.
The Arc de Triomphe is reminiscent of the Arc De Triumph in Paris. The park and grounds around it were reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Do all big European cities have an arc and a park like this? I've only been to Paris, Barcelona, London and Switzerland. Being that I got an early start by European standards (I left the hotel at 9:15), there were few people around when I arrived. I took some photos and then wandered in the park. There were lush green areas, a pond, rose gardens and random statues. It was sort of like the Boston Public Gardens but not nearly as pretty. I did happen upon runners folks individually practicing yoga or Tai Chi in the park on the grass, folks walking their dogs and eventually, other tourists. There were fountains that were not yet turned on for the season and lots of pollen in the air. Truly spring in full bloom here.
I wandered through the park and sat for a bit and soaked it in along with some sunshine. Then I walked back down toward the water and back to the Metro at the other end of Las Ramblas. I basically walked in a great big circle. For those playing at home, it was about a 4.5 mile round trip. It was a nice quiet morning out with me, myself and I. And my camera. :-)
On the way back to the hotel, I picked up 2 tomato mozzarella sandwiches for me and the boy. He considered it an appetizer when he returned from soccer. I asked if he wanted to go to Las Ramblas with the other players and their families but he said no. He was tired and wanted to chill out and play with his iPod. I didn't argue. The kid has been logging close to 10 miles a day easily (I'm averaging 8 and I'm not playing soccer) for 6 days straight. He deserves a rest!
After about 90 min of resting, he took a shower/bath and we went to lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant a block over from our hotel that some other parents had recommended. It was fancy but it was a date! :-) He had home made spaghetti with Bolognese sauce and I had a ziti with pesto. It was fantastic. I forgot how good home made pasta is! The bread was also fantastic, with 3 choices of garlic cheesy bread, bruschetta style bread and bread with whole olives baked in. He ate 4 pieces of bread sticks! He also ate 3/4 of his large bowl of pasta. I could not finish mine. Neither of us had room for dessert! :-(
After lunch, we came back to the hotel. He was hoping for a foosball competition but none of the other boys were back yet. So he went back to his iPod.
Then, it was off to game 3. The bus took us a bit out of the city to a wealthy looking suburb. We ended up at a private soccer school. The grounds and field were very nice. There was a spa (I kid you not), a restaurant and cafe which of course, also offered beer, wine, and sangria, and several fields. Boys of all ages were practicing on various fields, all turf and all well kempt. The boys had a good game. They kept the other team from scoring for most of the first half of the game and although they ultimately lost, it was a close game (especially if you don't count the accidental own goal). The home team was clearly frustrated that they were not blowing this American team out of the water.
One of the things that I noted was how good these coaches were not only at assessing our teams strengths and weaknesses, but immediately changing their strategy to shut down our strong kids and take advantage of the gaps in our play. Of course that's the name of the game. I think this in part is helped and made more easy by the fact they play quarters here, not halves. This gives more time for coaching between quarters and less coaching from the sidelines. This coach had a magnet board he used to show his players what he wanted them to do visually, not just with words. I thought this was brilliant. Not all kids are auditory learners or process auditory cues. The visual helps those kids or reinforces the verbal instruction for those who *get* that. I wonder how that would work with our boys. I wonder how quarters would work, too.
No photo op at this game. Not sure if it was not requested or if the offer was declined. We'd been taking team photos of our boys and the hosting team before/after the game but it didn't happen at this one. I'm not sure why. No biggie but unfortunate.
Then it was back to the hotel for the spaghetti-o sauce delicacy of the night. :-)