July 11, 2019: Back in New York

Thursday. GT2 Day Thirty Three. New York, New York, USA.

So going back to yesterday, since I was computerless and needed to post while I still had Internet… we left the apartment on top and went back to Brunch and Cake by the Sea for another breakfast and the girls’ favourite. Breakfast was awesome, even as our third time in three days. I had the salmon benedict again, and all the girls got the breakfast pancakes.

We lingered at Brunch and Cake as long as we could, but they were very busy and needed the table. So we left there but still had a few hours to kill. As we were walking up the street we found a place that had space and served sangria. Madeline especially had been wanting sangria in Spain, so they decided that we could stop there and wait for a while.

Dominica did not get anything. Emily, Madeline, and I all got sangria, it was pretty good. The restaurant was Mi Tio Pio (my cheap uncle.) We hung out for a while and enjoyed our drinks. But we only stayed for one, Emily was getting ancy because there might be wifi at the airport and there was none at any of the restaurants along this stretch.

So it was a bit early when we headed to the airport. We just had to take the metro over to Placa de Catalunya, then catch the Aerobus from there. We got the Placa and then Emily needed to use the bathroom again. So we ducked into El Corte Ingles since they knew where one was in there and she used that. Then we got on the bus, which runs every ten minutes from the square, and were off to the airport.

The bus to the airport was nice and easy. It was just under six Euros per person, definitely the cheap and easy way to deal with getting to and from the airport.

We arrived at the airport a bit before three. Our flight is around six thirty, so this is a lot of spare time. We got in and the line to check in with Norwegian was insane, so we jumped right in. There only had three lines open and our flight was listed on the board with the check in desks listed. So we were doing everything by the book.

We waded through a forty five minute line for the automated check in machines only to find out that they were all broken and the entire line was “fake”. The line was so long that people at the front realizing that there was no way to check in weren’t known to the people farther back in the line. So the line just kept getting longer and longer, even though it was for nothing.

I ran and got into the two hour long manual check in line. Suddenly we had gone from being nearly two extra hours early for our flight (we were there almost four hours before the flight) to worrying that we were not going to even make it! More stress. And Norwegian was doing nothing to label anything, tell people that machines were not working, direct them where to go… nothing. The lines were so long that you had no idea when you got into a line where it would even end up. It was just a mass of people.

Eventually someone informed us (not a staff person, just someone in a line) that there were new lines that had opened up out of sight just for US flights. So we got to switch to those, and there was no line at all. Probably because these were secret lines that no one already at the airport would know about. Once we got to them we were through the line in no time. We told them what was going on with their other lines in the hopes that they would do something to instruct people where to go. What an organizational mess.

After that we were right through security and into the terminal. We did some snack shopping for a bit so that we would have food now and on the plane. Dominica and I just got food for the plane. Madeline and Emily went to Burger King and got dinner as well to eat before getting to the gate.

The organizational mess continued to the gate for Norwegian. First, they used two gates, not just one and we ended up using the gate that was not listed by the airport. A little worrisome when they have so much confused already. And they called a lot of people, including Emily and Dominica, out for extra security measures very far away from the gate, but said names incorrectly and had no way to actually inform people that this was going on, and not enough time to really get there and get back for the flight. Then they didn’t board the plane when they were supposed to. They listed lines for different boarding categories, but forgot to staff the desk and open the doors, so the whole place became a mob of people trying to board a plane that wasn’t boarding, but the lines were again so long that we couldn’t tell. I sent a note to Norwegian corporate asking why we were “boarding” with the doors closed and if they plane intended to leave without us. Then the doors opened – only after “last call” had already been announced. Not our first time that Norwegian has pulled the “lock you out till after last call” trick with us. I’m convinced that they do this to try to leave people behind.

So we finally boarded the plane. Of course they made it very stressful as we were worried about all of the things that were going wrong for the last few hours. Sadly, we were stuck on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Not the worst plane, but not as comfortable as an Airbus. At least it has movies. But Boeings have bad seats and bad environmental handling, they are just super cheap planes and it shows.

To really make things worse, the Boeing had no AC at all while on the ground. So the internal temps were getting really high. There was no air movement, it was a packed plane, and there was no AC. So we were pushing ninety degree inside. Dominica was getting really sick without the plane even flying, and we were starting to really worry that they had no AC whatsoever and that they were going to try to fly a plane without environmental controls!

Once we finally got into the air, the AC came on. But the 787 has no real air flow and what we got was only a trickle. The 787’s air conditioning system was inadequate for such a full plane and wasn’t able to cool it down. Dominica spent eight and a half hours in flight fanning herself the entire way to make it possible for her to keep going. They have “vents” but almost no air comes out, and what does isn’t cold enough. I did okay, but was sweating the entire flight. There should be laws that commercial flights have a certain minimum level of cooling to keep passengers from getting sick, this is a bit dangerous allowing a plane to fly that can’t cool itself.

The movie selection on the plane was pretty poor, but at least there was something. I watching Isn’t It Romantic which was surprisingly good. Then I watched The Kid Who Would Be King which was surprisingly bad, I thought that I was really going to enjoy that, but it was super boring and not really worth sitting through if you weren’t on a plane. I watched Deadpool which everyone had raved about and while it wasn’t absolutely awful, it wasn’t good. Definitely not worth sitting through. Some crude humour and some good actors, but the writing was terrible and it is just garbage overall. But certainly the best thing I’ve ever seen Marvel turn out, but a long shot. So by comparison, yes good, but as a movie, just trash. Lastly I watched Dodgeball again as I have not seen it in a long time. That’s a well done movie, with an amazing cast.

We arrived in NYC at nine. We got to Alamo and rented our car. Originally Dominica had gotten us a pickup truck, but they had a Toyota Camry available for us, so I paid for the upgrade. And we got on the road as quickly as we could to get to Dominica’s parents’ house in Frankfort.

The drive went fine, but I was so tired. It was quite painful to make it all of that way. We arrived at two in the morning and were ready to pass out. The lack of sleep was really killing us. Of course, all three girls slept for hours in the car, so not nearly as bad for them.

July 10, 2019: Returning Home from Europe

Wednesday. GT2 Day Thirty Two. New York, New York, USA.

This morning we started in Barcelona, Spain. Our time in Europe is over. I got up at seven thirty, showered and got ready for the day. Then sat at the kitchen table, my “desk”, and worked for several hours. One upside to the teens not having much energy is that I’ve gotten in a few long walks and a lot of time to work without them missing out on anything. I had a lot more time to get to things than I had expected to get, not having realized how much more energy I would have.

Dominica got up closer to nine. She showered and then go busy packing. We had to pack up the camera and the external hard drive by a quarter after ten. So that is that, no more filming of our trip except for the snippets that I grab with the phone. I had been warning the girls that we needed to do the final travel interviews by yesterday, but like going out, it kept getting pushed off and now the time is up. We are all packed to go and they were never done. We can’t do them later, unless we pull it off at the airport, because we go right from the apartment, to lunch, to the bus, to the airport, to the flight, to renting a truck (it was all that we could get), to Utica where they are getting straight into a car and driving to Texas the moment that we arrive. So there isn’t even a moment in the US to do it before they are gone. And they are going to Texas while we are staying in New York. And by the time that we are in Texas again, it is nearly time for them to start college. So the amount of time that will pass before we see them again is really huge, and seeing them both together will be super hard. I had told them that I really wanted to get them done by yesterday early on so that we could get them uploaded for everyone back home.

The girls were awake pretty early. Maybe from all of the noise of us moving around. Emily was probably up at nine. But neither got out of bed for a long time. They did nearly all of their packing yesterday, so are ready to go in that regard, I believe. Dominica and my packing was almost all done by ten thirty. My phone is charged up to one hundred percent. My watch is running low, nothing to be done about that. It will likely die on the plane. But not a big deal, it has done its job for this trip and will definitely be still working when we get onto the flight. I don’t really need to know the time after that. I have “Mansfield Park” downloaded to my phone to listen to on the flight.

Emily got out of bed at ten fifteen. Madeline at ten thirty.

Our checkout time is eleven. So we have seven hours between our apartment check out and our flight time. That is a lot of time to kill. It is an international flight in Europe, so we absolutely need to be at the airport three hours before our flight, which is at six twenty five. So that reduces our time to kill down to four hours. We have to get to the airport, which requires a metro trip to Placa de Catalunya, and then a bus ride on the Aerobus to the airport of at least twenty minutes. So that is at least forty five minutes of total travel, reducing our time to kill pre-airport down to just over three hours.

So the plan is to leave the apartment loaded down with all of our luggage on our backs, this time I am carrying a double weight load as I am getting the overloaded pack that is going into the checked luggage, and go back to Brunch & Cake by the Sea to eat, and then somehow kill a bit more time than you normally do at breakfast, and head to the airport. That’s it. Trip is over. It’s all logistics from here on in.

July 9, 2019: Sagrada Familia

Tuesday. GT2 Day Thirty One. Barcelona, Spain.

I got up at eight this morning. Showered, went through my mail and messages, caught up on MangoLassi, did some system updates, etc. Dominica got up at nine, and showered. At nine forty we woke up Emily because the sun was shining and it was a good chance to get to the beach for the last time of the trip and get some pictures before the rain hits the afternoon, which is the expectation. But we did not expect rain the last two days, so who really knows.

By ten, Emily was about ready to head to the beach to do our last photo shoot and last beach day of the entire trip! We were out the door, just the two of us, leaving Dominica to relax and Madeline to sleep, and walked north to a different beach than we had been to before.

Overall we did about three thousand steps, just over an hour out doing the shoot, and almost four hundred pictures taken. We were back by a quarter after eleven. Dominica and Madeline were both still in bed. Dominica had already showered, though, and was just reading on her phone. Madeline was, I believe, still sleeping.

The plan for today is going on a walking tour of Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, including the Sagrada Familia. Then it is time to pack, we fly home tomorrow. But first, we need some food. We all skipped breakfast this morning, and all any of us had for dinner was French fries.

I’m very happy that I have managed to keep up with all of the media posting, and the blog posting while we have been traveling. I was worried that I would be too tired, or not have time, or that the Internet would never allow it to happen. And for much of the trip we really wondered what the Internet situation might be. It is really nice that we ended with such a good connection and can be all caught up before we leave.

While waiting for the girls to get ready to go out to lunch I managed to get all of the pictures from this morning’s photo shoot uploaded to Flickr. And I got my phone emptied, again. I have gotten down quite the media management routine this past month. I also got caught up on emails, MangoLassi posts, network equipment updates, server updates, DuoLingo practice, etc. I had a lot of time to kill, it turns out.

Packing went on until a quarter after one. Dominica and I had given up trying to find out what food people wanted and were just waiting for them to be ready to get some lunch. We were a bit hungry, but can wait.

We went out looking for food. Eventually settling on Brunch and Cake, where we ate yesterday. The food was amazing again. Dominica got some kind of egg burger with salmon. I got the eggs benedict with salmon. And the girls got some sort of pancake thing to share, and they still couldn’t quite finish it all. Some of the best food that we have had in Europe.

It got super hot and muggy while we were at lunch, so we returned to the apartment to take a little time for it to cool off before we were going to set out on a walk to see the city. I was busy working and waiting for people to decide to be ready. I have unlimited amounts of work that needs my attention, having been away for so long, so I am not idle.

The little break went pretty long. At six I prompted the girls that we need to do whatever we are going to do before it is too late. With the need for dinner, there really isn’t time to go see anything. It is not a close walk to most things, so we have to take the metro or a bus and that takes time. So by the time that we start going to see something, it is already time to figure out dinner. And then it is night and everyone is tired. So the only option was to only go to the Sagrada Familia and see, most likely, nothing else. But that is the biggest thing in Barcelona and skipping it would be a bit ridiculous.

Our big walking day turned into a short metro ride day. It was nearly six thirty when we left the apartment. We just took the metro right to the Sagrada Familia, but it is so expensive to go in and requires that you wear too warm of clothes and things that not all of us have, so we didn’t even really consider going inside, even though it would be really cool. We did pictures out front, then walked the park there. I found the playground where Liesl and I played in 2012. Then we walked around the basilica for a bit. And that was our stuff for the day.

Now to find a Pandora store and some souvenir shopping. The Pandora store turned out to be really easy, there was one right by us. They were open until eight, and they had what Emily wanted. So we popped in and took care of that. Then we hit a few more of the cookie cutter souvenir shops to find some last minute items that the girls wanted to get. They are finally done, they thing, with souvenir shopping at this point.

We checked out some places for dinner. But the place that Emily wanted, Madeline didn’t want to look at the menu (this is random, from what we can tell, but happens often.) So we couldn’t eat there. Then Dominica looked up a Pintxo place that looked well rated, cheap, and on our way. But the girls aren’t okay with open face sandwiches, two slices of bread is a rule. So that ruled that out. There is nothing at fast food for Dominica and I to eat, although we encourages the girls to just eat at one of the McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, or Five Guys that face the Sagrda Familia, but that didn’t seem to interest them. The only thing that we could settle on was going back to the Huelva sandwich chain that we did the other day.

That place was packed, again. Even though the food was more expensive tonight, because it is Tuesday. This time the girls just got three sandwiches each, instead of five and a half, but still got fries. Dominica and I each got four sandwiches, and no fries. I got some drink on draft that we couldn’t figure out the name of because they called it different things in different places. But it is something like a Latino cider with a hint of summer. It was tasty, whatever it was. Dinner was twenty five Euros again, even though it was smaller this time. There were no tables available, so we had to sit along side the wall. Overall, I’m not really all that into this place. The idea is great and they do an okay job, but the sandwiches are only really interesting once, and as my selection options are limited, that really takes it down. I’ve now tried more than I am really interested in. I like the salmon with honey mustard quite a bit. And the cheese with pesto. Beyond those two, everything was fine, but most of the items are not things I would look to eat again. If looking for a cheap option on a Sunday or Wednesday, this chain is decent. But for any regularity, I think it fails.

The plan had been to do sangria out tonight as it is the last night and for the last few nights Emily has been saying “we will go out tomorrow night”, but just finishing up dinner Emily was already too tired to go out. Madeline wanted to, but not without Emily. Dominica is tired and ready for bed. So that is that, I took them back to the apartment and everyone but me got into bed. Madeline debated going out to get sangria still, but could not talk Emily into it, so they stayed in. I charged up my phone and then went out myself.

The seen around Barceloneta is not one conducive to going out alone. Bars like we have in the US, where it is easy to go alone, aren’t common in this touristy part of the city. There are all out night clubs, and restaurants. That’s really it. So I just went walking, I didn’t stop anywhere. I did maybe three hours of walking along the beach to the north, up to Olympic Port and explored all of the clubs and restaurants and stuff up there. It is amazing how lively Barcelona is on a Tuesday night. The clubs had huge lines and thousands of people in them. Even at midnight the restaurants were packed and still had people standing out on the street inviting people in to sit down to start their dinners!

So I got in seventeen thousands steps today. And walked about eight miles. I can feel all of the exercise of this past month as I walk. I am feeling much better than I was a month ago. The good food quality helps, as well.

I got back and went to bed. This is it, the big European trip is over.

July 8, 2019: Park Guell and Gothic Quarter

Monday. GT2 Day Thirty. Barcelona, Spain.

Dominica and I were awake with the alarm at six o’clock this morning. Very little sleep for me, four hours total with only forty five minutes of deep sleep. I had tried out the new anti-snoring device that goes inside of my nose last night, but it was a total fail. Not only was it less comfortable, but it restricted my airflow so much that I stopped breathing immediately upon starting to drift off. I think that it is actually worse than having no device at all. So I lost a bit of time sleeping last night because I tried that and had to revert back to the nasal strips.

We were fully ready to walk out the door, dressed, ablutioned, packed, by six thirty when we woke up the girls. Today we are going to Park Guell and are attempting to get there via public transportation, and then to get into the park for free so that we can avoid forty Euros in entry fees just to walk around the park.

We were out the door at five to seven. Walking fast hoping to catch the V17 bus to Park Guell. Dominica has some app that said that the bus was slightly delayed, so we were looking good. We already paid for the bus passes, so we only need to hop onto the bus.

We made our bus, no problem. Busses in Spain are so easy to deal with. Cheap, clean, air conditioned, comfortable, easy to navigate. Even better than the metro, which is really easy, too.

We made the mistake of getting off of the bus two stops too early, so we had to hike uphill rather a bit to get to Park Guell instead of getting off right at it. But we only lost five or maybe ten minutes tops, so we were okay. Just hot and tired.

We hiked into the park and got the monuments area, which is the area that is restricted during the day. When Dominica and I were last here in 2012 this area was fully free and you could just enter. Now it is ten Euros during daytime hours, and is limited to just four hundred people at a time. So much harder to go to see.

We really only needed probably twenty minutes, thirty tops, to do everything that we wanted to do. Pictures, a walk through the park, and we were done. Back to the bus and a ride back to Barceloneta. Emily wanted McDonald’s, but we could not find one that was really close, and then we discovered that all of the American fast food in the area were closed for breakfast anyway – American style breakfast is not popular at all in Spain. Breakfast of any sort is not a big thing.

Dominica found a place called Brunch and Cakes, and how could we resist that. So we went there. Dominica got coffee while Emily, Madeline, and I got fruit smoothies. They were all so good. Emily and Madeline got some chocolate, banana cookie pancake thing for breakfast. Dominica got the Brekkie Board, which was a selection of different breakfast items. I got the full veggie which had vegetarian chorizo, guacamole, and all kinds of things. Probably our most expensive meal of the trip, but really good and an important change of pace and a lot of good nutrients.

While we were finishing our brunch, a storm hit and we were caught in the rain. So we waited it out at the restaurant and when there was a break we made a run for the apartment. The plan had been to go to the beach now, but the storm included a lot of lightning, so we are not doing that right away. The girls all laid down for naps. So I did some recording, uploaded videos, took a shower, worked on the blog, etc.

The napping went on for several hours. I guess everyone was really, really tired. The trip has really burned everyone out. But this is the home stretch. Just today and tomorrow to go. We can do this!

Emily got up and decided that she was hungry a little after two thirty. We had eaten this morning at nine thirty, so that was five hours and made sense. A tough time to find food in Spain, though. The girls wanted Burger King, and there was one right next door to where we had had breakfast (although apparently I was the only one that had noticed this and all three of them tried to tell me that I was crazy and had imagined the whole thing… to the point of even walking me back to the breakfast place and saying “see, here is where we had breakfast”, and they were all shocked when I looked to the left and pointed out the Burger King not forty feet away.)

It turns out that Burger King in Spain does have electronic ordering, but does not sell fish. So there was literally nothing for Dominica and I to eat there (they don’t even sell their veggie burgers that were so awful that we would not have eaten them anyway.) The girls ate at Burger King, while Dominica and I went next door to Kapadokya and got durum falafel for lunch. Which was pretty decent and not too expensive.

After lunch Dominica was not feeling great, but had not gotten onions, so we brought her back to the apartment and dropped her off. She had not gotten a good nap in earlier. Emily and Madeline wanted to go souvenir shopping. So that is what we did. The three of us set out and went for a long walk down to the beach hoping that we would find stuff there, but we did not. Then we walked way back south and into the Gothic Quarter and went all through there. All in all, we did almost five hours of shopping! And we walked, a lot. I had thought that today was going to be a very light walking day, but by the time that we were done I had about 13,500 steps in. Not a huge walking day, but more than I had expected.

Souvenir shopping was arduous, but we got it done. And if we had not done it we would not have ended up in the Gother Quarter and the girls would not have seen that important part of Barcelona.

We stopped at a grocery for some last minute supplies before going up to get Dominica. I was the only one that felt like going out, so we stayed in. The original plan was that Emily wanted to go out, like “real going out” tonight to like a club or something, so the plan was relax or nap until it was time to do that. But by the time it was late enough to consider going out, Emily was too tired. We had talked about doing beach shots this evening, but it is overcast and she is tired. The hope is that there will be sun in the morning, so we are going to attempt to get up and do that right away tomorrow.

Around eleven the three girls decided that they were hungry and all wanted pizza. Madeline decided that she would come with me, so the two of us went out to go to Kitchen to get pizza like we had on our first night. Except they ended up being closed. That didn’t work. We went to Las Fritas and just got boardwalk take away French fries for everyone. Madeline got ketchup. Emily got mayo. Dominica and I got a jumbo fry to share with melted cheddar and emmental cheeses.

That was our night. By midnight everyone was in bed, but had been laying in bed (except for me at my desk) since around eight. Mostly a lazy day, but with a lot of walking for the three of us.

Hard to believe that tomorrow is our very final full day in Europe! This trip has been planned for so long, and seemed like such a huge thing, and now it is not just underway, but already over! How can this be? This makes me feel old.

The kids, back in Frankfort, did a “How to Train Your Dragon” movie marathon tonight. I talked to Liesl a little today. Normally I talk to Luciana more because she is always on Snapchat, but we’ve heard that she has lost all of her devices because she was being ornery so she has not been online.

July 7, 2019: Walking Barcelona

Sunday. GT2 Day Twenty Nine. Barcelona, Spain.

Today is our sleeping in day. I did not wake up until nine thirty! But my watch says that I did not go to bed until after one. But I got good sleep, about eight hours of it with more than two of deep sleep. So I should be good for the day. Dominica says that I snored, but only for a few minutes before changing position and not snoring any longer.

I got up and showered this morning. The shower, which Dominica had warned me about, is crazy in that it is only super hot or super cold. Like scalding hot, for sure. Overall the shower is nice, it would be pretty great, if only the temperature was bearable. But it can’t hold any temp and so you have to do all kinds of crazy things to manage it to keep yourself safe.

We got a late start today. No one was pushing to get out the door very quickly. It was around one when we finally went out. First order of business, get some lunch as we had skipped breakfast. We just hit the tapas place on the corner, close and easy. They were open and essentially empty so that was really easy. The girls just went for normal “American style” chicken fingers with honey mustard dipping sauce. I had seen that this place had had that last night so knew that we were safe going there. Dominica and I split three tapas. We got calamari, papas bravas, and aubergines (eggplant) fried with honey. It wasn’t Granada level tapas, but it was very good. Boy have we missed Spanish food (and Spain in general.) I grabbed a glass of red wine, too. Gotta start it all off right.

Just being in Spain immediately feels like home, like nowhere else does. I love Romania almost as much as Spain, but it doesn’t feel so incredibly “home” in the same way. Romania is very comfortable, but there is just something about Spain. No other place “gets me” in the same way.

We hit a pharmacy to get more nasal strips after lunch, but the local one is out of them. I only have enough for two days yet, which isn’t an emergency, but it would be nice to have it dealt with before we head back to the US.

We got out onto the real street and walked to the Barcelonetta train station, the same one that Dominica and I used to use back in 2012, and took that to the Placa de Catalunya so that we could start the free online walking tour that we had found. We started at the plaza and the fountain there, took a few pictures, and then headed onto Las Ramblas, the famous Barcelona pedestrian way that crosses the city. We walked that for hours, shopping as we went. The entire way is full of shops.

We also stopped into El Corte Ingles, the giant Spanish department store chain. This was one of the really big ones, nine floors. The girls were amazed, this was their first actual department store, ever. They are from the outlet generation and are really only used to outlet stores (one brand) and not department stores that sell everything. But this is a classic department store a la Harod’s, or the Hudson Bay Company, or Macy’s in NYC. We shopped there for quite a while. The girls tried some things on, and Madeline finally bought the belt that she had been looking for for the entire trip. And she got it for about four Euros, a far cry from the seventeen dollars that the belt she was going to settle on at Target would be.

On our walk through the city, we took a few side detours to see a handful of Gaudi buildings like the Palau Guell, the theater, the Bishop’s Bridge (I don’t think that Gaudi made that one), etc. We found an outdoor antiques market by a cathedral and Emily went ring shopping and bought herself an antique ring.

While she was ring shopping it started to rain! Real rain, the first that we have seen since being in Europe. And really, the first since leaving Texas. It is so nice to feel rain.

The guy who sold her the ring told us how much we had to go see the “magic fountain” at the Placa de Espanya. We had heard this from a few people. Dominica checked the schedule and saw that it was going to run at nine thirty tonight, and then not again until Wednesday night, after we have returned to the United States. So if we are going to see it, it has to be tonight. So that is our plan.

It was time for dinner, Emily was pretty hungry by this point. The plan is to hit a restaurant that we had heard about from some YouTubers called 100 Montaditos, where they have one hundred different small sandwiches that you can choose from. There was one on our way near the metro station, so it would be really easy. Our hope is that that will be cheap and easy and make it very hard to hot have things that everyone will like.

We found the restaurant easily enough. It is important to point out that the YouTubers really sold this as a Barcelona specialty place, it is not. It is a franchise chain from Huelva, these are everywhere. They are common in many countries, but they are at least Spanish. But Barcelona is not Spanish. So it is culturally not even a Barcelona or Catalan place. So selling it as a Barcelona experience is a bit much. Kind of like getting Taco Bell in New York, it’s good food at cheap prices, but in no way reflective of local New York culture or cuisine. But nevertheless, it’s supposed to be great eats. We just wish that it had been presented for what it is: southern Spanish chain low cost quality food that’s well suited for travelers.

We found the place easily enough, it was packed. It turns out that Sundays and Wednesday it is the entire sandwich menu for just one Euro per sandwich! So cheap. It took some coordinating to make it all work. The girls and I secured a table, while Dominica waited through at least a ten minute line to ask for an English menu. She and I might have been able to make due with a Spanish menu, but with over one hundred menu items that would have been relatively difficult. For the girls, it was going to be super challenging. So that took some time. Then I had to wait in a far longer line, because they had gotten so busy, to place the order. At least fifteen minutes. Placing it required doing so in Spanish, not a place that spoke English, but you wouldn’t expect them to. Then it was thirty minutes to get our food made, because they were so busy. Had we spoken Spanish and come when they weren’t busy, I suspect five minutes from door to food, they make it fast, they were just so backed up, it was crazy. There wasn’t room to move in the place, and the line was almost to the door, and the outdoor seating was packed, too, even with the rain hitting on and off.

We got our twenty sandwiches, plus two orders of french fries, and drinks all around. Total bill, twenty five Euros! In reality, four sandwiches went uneated and really I should not have had my fifth one. We could have done without the fries, probably, too, or just all shared one. We could easily have gotten the total cost down below twenty Euros for quite a filling meal for everyone if we had been more ambitious and knew how big the sandwiches were.

The food was good, we really enjoyed it. Getting a variety of food for all of us was something that we have not been able to do for this entire trip. So that was a huge success.

Once we were finished eating, we had to get moving to make it to the magic fountain show as dinner took so much longer than we had anticipated. We were right by the metro, so that was easy. Just hopped on and off we went to Placa de Espanya.

We got to the Placa just in time. We were walking up the broad boulevard just as all of the fountains were turning on to alert people that the show was about to begin. We got up the escalator to the observation level. Dominica and I stood on the ground, Madeline and Emily got up on the embankment thing and kneeled there to see better. The show started about five minutes early and lasts for a little less than ten minutes, so we are really lucky that we were a little early. A lot of crowds out for this tonight, even in the drizzle.

It may be hard to believe that a fountain show can be that amazing, but trust me, the magic fountain is certainly amazing. First of all, the entire fountain seems like it must be a kilometer long! I used Google Maps and eye balled it against their legend and in reality it is about half a kilometer long. Still, wow. It starts as a waterfall at the national museum and goes into a long series of fountains with the magic fountain (that’s its real name in English) about one third of the way along. It was built in 1929 and has to be the inspiration for giant fountains all over the world, but I have never seen one that actually compares to it. It’s staggering in its size and beauty. Totally worth going to see.

There was a little boy, maybe three years old, watching it near us and he just kept going “oh my gosh, mommy look at that”, it was so adorable and exactly how I felt about the fountain, too.

Once the show was done, we grabbed the metro back to Barceloneta and walked back to the apartment. We stopped at a Supermarcat and grabbed a few essentials so that we would have something in the apartment with us. Most importantly, laundry detergent. Tomorrow is our only chance to do laundry before we return.

And that was our day. From there, it was time for bed. The plan tomorrow is to be up super early, like at six, and go to Park Guell while it is still free to enter. That should save us forty Euros and get one of our big “must do” items off our list early in the day. Then we are planning to do lunch and return to the apartment to change. And from there, it is a beach day. Our apartment is walking distance from the beach and this is likely going to be our last beach trip before we return home.