We've had a busy last couple of weeks in our home away from home; Barcelona. Our string of visitors continued when, about three weeks ago, our good friend Cody Pauls flew in from Toon Town. With him, he brought his lovely lap top, and we were all pretty excited to get to watch a movie again (we have a television, but all it plays is black and white Catalunyan basic cable. We don't turn it on much). So a few good evenings were spent taking in good old fashioned North American cinema. We all took a day trip to Montserrat (which means "serraded mountain"), an amazing monastary that has been carved right out of a mountain. The 2 hour trip there took a couple... ill-fated turns, and for a while we seriously considered the reality of sleeping in a dive bar by the side of the road, but it all turned out, and we made the shaky train ride up the side of a cliff to the top of this mountain. Lots of it is preserved in it's natural state, so we took a nature hike to the top, and the view was amazing. Spain is all mountains and valleys, and we could actually see a genuine mountain range in the distance. The basillica was also beautiful, and quite impressive. Those monks know how to build a church. While Cody was here, we also visited Parc Guell, the park designed by Barcelona's favorite Antoni Gaudi. Even the landscaping in this park doesn't make much sense, it's all twisty paths and strange caves, with a few mosaic tiled lizards thrown in. That Gaudi was a crazy guy. After the essential trip to the beach, some sangria, and a crazy night at Anti-Karaoke, Cody flew back home. See you soon buddy!
After Cody left, Rachael and Jordyn took a trip of their own, and we recieved the last of our guests. We did a little dutch switcheroo! Rachael and Jordyn went to Holland to visit Willy at his Dad's house, while Irena, Kirsten and Georgia were visted by Irena's cousins from Boekel, the Van der Broeks. The first evening with the VDB's was spent enjoying some cross-lingual drinking games and having a generally good time. The next day was, luckily, a beautiful Barcelona day, so the VDB's got to escape the cold winter for a while and take in some 18 degrees celcius on the beach. We also enjoyed the living statues on Las Ramblas, and the high end stores and giant sky-scrapers of Placa Catalunya. After showing them some big city for one short weekend, their visit was over, but we had a great time!
While Rachael and Jordyn remained in Holland, Kirsten, Irena and Georgia took in some of the all-time-great Barcelona sights to celebrate our last week here. Out of curiosity, we took the metro as far as it goes in Barcelona, and ended up in Saint Andrew's, a sort of middle class residential/industrial area. It was interesting to look around a "normal" Barcelona area (as in, not city center), and the quiet made it feel like a new city. Still only apartment buildings, though! We also took a (scary!) gondolla ride up to the top of Montjuic, where we had a picnic in a fortress castle. And finally, we lucked out with some amazing Spanish weather, and scored a couple of great beach days. One particularily nice day, it was 22 degrees, and we went for one last swim in the Mediterannean Sea
We've had an amazing time in Barcelona, and complete with siestas, creepy men, and a doner shop on every corner, its been the best home away from home we could have hoped for. It really is a beautiful, fascinating city. Tomorrow, we're off to Prague. Good bye BCN! We'll miss you.