Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Barcelona and Santa Susanna

Arrived BCN and we were beat! But navigated through customs no issue and found a cab and headed to your hotel to meet the group. Hotel was 20 min outside the city…argh and did not look so great. And well, it was not so great. Rooms not ready so we piled on the bus and off to Barcelona for some fun.

Beautiful city, so lush and had plant covered balconies, gothic buildings, cathedrals and more. We started in Las Ramblas…touristy but quite fun. Interesting street figures and people all over. The highlight was the market which had everything one can imagine.. the candy is what really go the boys. That and well the skinned pigs, rabbits and more But it was filled with locals doing their shopping- the produce looked spectacular and wonderful tapas and bars throughout. We had great fun and then had to meet the group for lunch.

Most went back to nap after lunch but we powered through and went back to Las Ramblas and to the market- where the boys had fun for over and hour. After a long walk to the beautiful waterfront we were so fatigued and dragged ourselves back to the bus. Hot and humid. We arrived at the room around 5 and dinner was at 7, very early for Barcelona but we could not stay up any longer. I unintentionally fell asleep for and hour but rallied and we had dinner. Boys were wired, swimming and playing and then we all crashed hard at 9 and woke up to an alarm at 9:30 in a daze.

Quick morning training for the boys and then off to Camp Nou- where FC Barcelona plays futbol. Massive stadium and we had a tour, checked out the press box etc…the boys loved it. We could not see the pitch as they were setting up for a U2 concert but it was better than I expected. From there we headed to Barcelona's Montju├»c which is a really a hill with a relatively flat top overlooking the harbor to the southeast of the city centre. The eastern side of the hill is almost a sheer cliff, giving it a commanding view over the city's harbor immediately below. This is a 17th century fortress with a castle as well. There are many cannons and remains which the boys were fascinated with. JD managed to climb onto the cannon that jutted out over the cliff- many nervous parents indeed.

Next we had to check out some of Gaudi’s stunning architecture. We saw the La Sagrada Familia and it was stunning. At this point the boys and adults were hot and tired…..so we took a siesta of sort in a local park. With the hotel being out of town we could not return for a proper siesta. Shortly after, the coach and guides took the boys to dinner and the adults were free to go out for a nice meal. We found a beautiful spot outside, tree lined and outside the Las Ramblas. We were the only Americans and they did not speak English. Wonderful Tapas and regional red wine and before we knew it, it was after 11.

Final day in BCN and we headed to the Cathedral so see the locals meet and dance in the square to Catalan music. It was great fun and the boys quickly tired so we headed to some Roman ruins discovered under the city in the 30’s. It was an entire city and it had been restored and preserved. Amazing to see the laundry, wine vats and cellar, fish preparation bowls and more.

After lunch it was on the bus and off to Santa Susanna.

Spectacular drive up the coast and the highlight for the boys was the up-close view so the beaches…which of course are topless. Santa Susanna is a very touristy beach town, few Americans, but touristy for the Europeans. The boys love it and we have settled in fine.

Monday afternoon John and Riley arrived and they were excited to be here…weary and tired and we forced them to persevere and stay awake. John and I have a nice room of our own, a nice change after my former roommate JD, love the kid, but well, a kid at that.

This also was Opening Ceremonies for the tournament, Over 100 teams from 16 countries, mostly Spain and Italy. We played our first game at 4pm vs. Malta and lost a tough game 2-1. It is 85+ degrees and humid and the sun sets around 10 so it was hot. The field is about 5 min from the hotel so they had time to come back, jump in the water and head to game 2 vs. a Spanish Team. The team was massive, 3 boys over 6ft and they were all shaving. Not sure who checked passports but it not evenly matched. We lost 3-0, pretty respectable considering the team.

Late dinner and the boys had a swim and off to bed as they had 9am game today. We watched a Flamenco Show at the hotel and had our first Sangria, which is mad with Brandy; we discovered this AM as we all awoke in a fog and haze. John retired early but Riley was a trooper.

Today we played a team from Madrid and another Italian team. It was over 90 degrees at 9am and it was hot. The boys did great and we had our first win 5-0. Quick swim and back for 2nd game to a much larger team and we held our own until the last 5 minutes and lost 2-0. With only 1 win we do not advice which is disappointing to the boys.

JD and 3 others were asked by Coach to come to 2 more games this evening for his older team that is here U16 as they do not have enough sub’s. We passed on going as the field is 20+ min away and we elected to have a wonderful lunch of Paella with another couple, who also have a daughter. Riley and Shannon became fast friends this AM in the pool and are both much happier now.

As John is taking a siesta I am working, catching up and getting ready for a run. It is so hot but we decided it was good Kona training. I passed on the Cervesas as lunch and will get in a run before dinner.