We have fallen in love with this city.
Myles had been gazing at a lonely, lit up church on the hill that was visible from our place and La Ramblas (where we spend stupid amounts of after dark time). He had begun to pine for this church, become desperate to see it. Turns out, all he needed to do was go to the tourist office and have a chat with a charming man there. He did so. And we were committed to going up a hill. Today.
I have to confess that Spain has made us (and by us; I mean the kids and me) lazy. We love that we wake up late and know that nothing will be open until ten anyway. We love that we look out our windows and know that the sun will be up in the blue sky and smiling at us. We know that there is all the time in the world. Myles doesn't know that yet.
So we were chivvied and chuffed out of bed and made to put on warm clothes (note this: the warm clothes business, it will feature later) and told to turn right. We were going to our local metro station and then to Catalunya where we would catch the special train into the sky.
The special train (the brown line, I think, number seven) was surprisingly short. And then, we were very north of the city (much further north than Park Guell) and near the mountain on which the church Myles had pined for was planted. But there was more news than just a church. It turns out that there was some kind of theme park on the hill - rides and what not. Possibly popcorn and fudge. Curiouser and curiouser.
From the metro we walked up the hill. On weekends, and in summer, you can catch a tram, but it was Monday and winter. We walked.
The weather was different here; the wind was cold. Paris and Zelda (both who had ignored Myles' warm clothes directive) were beginning to shrink into their jumpers. Hmmm. Even here, out in the suburbs, the residents live in medium or high density housing. Better for the services. There were some castle like houses (perhaps the very rich like it here), but I like that the city is the city. You live in high density situations. You expect good services. There are some public spaces. This is how it is.
Up and up we walked. When we got to the (first) top, we paused. This was where the funicular tram took you to the top but it had not yet begun its run (it now being about 11am and the tram was to commence at 11.45am). Myles was all for walking to the top. I put my foot down. Hard. There would be no walking up a mountain for which we had no map and no path. We would, however, go happily into Mirableu (the local cafe) and have hot chocolate. We sat right in the window with a view over Barcelona and in the sun. I was close to having a lovely nap face first into the hot chocolate.
Then we went to the funicular tram. It was there. Waiting. But the driver was also the ticket seller was also the ticket collector and he had decided that he was no longer (as we wandered in), selling tickets. So we waited for the next one. It came quite quickly.
And up we went.
At the top, we discovered it was cold. And not just a little cold. Really cold.
Those who had not heeded Myles' warning, began to turn blue. Really blue.
The rides were not open. It was too cold. There was hardly a gift shop open. We walked up to the church. Now this was great. The church was up lots of stairs and was right in the way of the almost visibly cold wind. But inside, it was calm and (in comparison) almost warm. We walked around. I was loving the stained glass (so intricate, so delicate) when one window reared up at me and it was a man in a suit. No kidding. One of the windows of the church was a man in a suit. Then there was a place in which you could put money and it would light a candle - that is, you didn't have to light the thing - a light went on. Niccolo and I kept putting money in just so we could watch more lights come on. We are strange.
There was some talk of going for a walk around the top of the mountain. But I feared for the lives of Paris and Zelda who were actually shivering. Then we returned to the bottom where things were more temperate. Hungry, cold children; it was practically an emergency.
Tapas cures all. Paris discovered the joy of fried eggplant which (in the scheme of things) I see as a major shift in the world. He has put it on the Christmas Menu (which is growing; that is for another blog).
Zelda, Myles and I went out later for a walk and shop. It was great. We really explored the gothic quarter - lots of alleyways with terrrfic little shops and lots of artwork. Then we found yet another Christmas market but this one smelled like pine cones and had all kinds of silly Christmassy things.
I'm caught, like a fish, in this net. Barcelona is something like my home town - an Other home town.