Barcelona, Spain Day 3 - Tibidabo

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Thursday, July 24, 2008

The way our apartment is set up, with a large living room and dining area together with several large windows (none with dark blinds), ... it ends up that we bring the kids portable beds in to our room with us so that they aren't woken up by the sun in the morning. Our bedroom has black drapes that allow us to keep it nice and dark at any time of the day.

This morning, Ella is the first to wake up ... then me. I turn over and ask Janice, "Should we wake Samuel up by singing him Happy Birthday?" It is agreed. What a great way to start the day! We've told him today is his actual birthday so that we could go to Tibidabo, a famous Barcelona amusement park (, before the weekend crowds hit. Yesterday, I showed him the name of the place in our guide book and told him we were taking him there for his birthday. Of course, he had no clue as to what in the heck Tibidabo meant, so his anticipation grew and grew all night long.

We leave our apartment and start walking towards the Metro when Janice spots a little bakery. Its Sam's bday, ... so we stop in and let him pick whatever he wants. He chooses a heart shaped sweet bread type thing covered in powdered sugar, which we all share ... its gone in 5 seconds flat. Poor Ella. While we broke the treat in to pieces, she became the recipient of a powdered sugar shower!!

Then, to the Metro ... a couple of connections later, we take a special train out to a connection on Barcelona's last remaining trolley that services the mountain Tibidabo is located on. Then, once atop the mountain, we catch our last connection (another tram sort of thing) ... which takes us right to the entrance the the park.

The views of the city are AMAZING. Barcelona is HUMUNGEOUS! Tibidabo sits at the very top of the mountain, ... the rides and shows and restaurants are on six different levels, all connected with various stairs, paths, and elevators. 'Tibidabo' comes from the Latin phrase where Satan tempts Jesus in the desert by offering him 'all of this'. ... And its a lot of fun! Samuel is grinning ear to ear and says several times throughout the trip things like, "This is the best birthday EVER!" and "This was a great surprise!" ... which makes Janice and I beam with delight. Its fun making your kids happy. The park experience is great, the kids love it.

But its a weird thing here in Barcelona, not just at the park, but everywhere ... you never know what language you are going to get. Sometimes Spanish, often its Catalan, but there are people speaking French, German, Russian ...everything. On the one hand, its good because I suppose 'nobody feels like a stranger' (like the tour book says), but on the other hand I can't imagine if I lived here that I'd like the complete mix of languages and cultures. Its awkward walking up to order a drink for instance, and not knowing what language to start in. Also, Catalan is just similar enough to Spanish that whenever I see it written, I THINK I can read it and end up wasting my limited brain power turning the wheels of my noggin' trying to interpret the unfamiliar words. Janice doesn't struggle with it as much as I do, she can easily tell when its in Catalan or Spanish. ... All of the shows we see (puppet show, 4-D movie, a song and dance routine) are in Catalan, but they are still enjoyable for all of us despite the fact we have no real clue as to whats being said.

Two memorable event at the park, ... one is our jaunt through the Castillo Mysterio (Sam's choice), and the other is our last ride of the day. The way we planned our day in the park was for each of us to take a turn choosing a ride or event and then we all go do it. Sam chose the Mysterious Castle (he loves the Haunted House at Disneyland). We get there and make our way up the crazy undulating ladder and wander through cramped, barely lit hallways full of creepy sights and sounds. My name for the place is Seizure House, because it has all sorts of strobe lights and fog disorienting you, along with shaking, rotating, and undulating floors also meant to keep you off balance. We make it through about 90% of the castle and the kids are having fun ...very little fear involved. Then, just as we rounded a corner, a door popped open and a gust of wind scared Janice so badly that she screamed like crazy for like five seconds (a pretty long time really) ... and that made Samuel scared, and the poor little guy almost lost his nerves. He nearly started crying, but thankfully we were only a bit away from the exit and he kept his cool to the end. It was hilarious. We were all cracking up. ... The second memorable thing was also about Janice being scared to death, this time atop a really tall ride. The basic ride is to hop in to a cart attached to a really really long arm sort of thing that rotates a bit like a ferris wheel. Just two carts though, with no seatbelts, no top to the cart, nothing ... just us four, and a stranger, standing up on top of the world. And its HUGE. Half way up, Janice starts really panicking. She is literally white knuckling it as we get to the top, and then BOOM. The ride stops (to give us a view of our surroundings), but it stops so suddenly that it causes our cart to rock back and forth very suddenly and unexpectantly. Scared me to death. Janie shrieked and kept laughing and yelling and saying, "No. Don't do that! Don't move!" to me as I pulled the camera out of my pocket to take some photos of the church nearby. I swear that Janice has had ten times her normal exposure to heights in a year already in the past month!

We got to the park around 11am, and we decide to head out around 8pm. We catch all the trams and metros and such back to our Bari Gotic (where the apartment is) and let Sam pick the restaurant for dinner. Originally the plan is to repeat our stop in at "Pizza & Love" below our apartment, but as we walk towards home, Janice spots a Mexican restaurant that sounds really good to us both ... and lo' and behold, Samuel too! ("YES!", with fist pump, as Samuel has taken to doing recently...). We head in and share Nachos, Quesadilla, a Chicken Burrito and some beans and rice. Its wonderful to taste food that reminds us of the type we eat back home.

We end the night by me walking to a nearby upscale restaurant with a 'WI-FI HERE' sign in the window. I can't get it working. Grrr. Back home to hang with the fam and we all hit the sack. A great day today. Both the kids were thrilled, the park entry was discounted because of the Barcelona Card thing we have, and it was perfectly sized ... big enough to be a great experience, but not so big that it was overwhelming or that we felt we had to rush through to get to everything. In the 9 hours we were there we saw three or four shows, and hit up every ride we wanted to ... no problem.

OH! Almost forgot. At Tibidabo, we saw a Muslim woman (I'm presuming) ... who was wearing something I've never seen before. Anybody know what it is? (photo here... yes, me risking life and limb again) ... It almost looked like a mouth guard or medical device one might wear after a broken jaw or something, but it appeared from a distance to made out of bronze, and I'm wondering if it has some religious significance. Anybody know?
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