4th October 2013 Ethan's 14th Birthday.
I did have a lot of special things planned for today, unfortunately the stars did not align and it was not the top notch celebration I had in mind. We still had fun though, just the unexpected kind! Our day started out with breakfast in the room. David went to the market and bought us fruit salads, yoghurt and smoothies - it was great. We gathered all of our cameras, snacks and bits and pieces and headed off for the day.
We had plans to go to Montjuic and the Fontana Magica later today, so we stayed local for the morning. We followed the lonely planet Barri Gotic Walking Tour. It took us past many special sights beginning with the Roman Tombs - Placa de la Vila Madrid, a sunken garden with various Roman tombs. Next, and perhaps the highlight of the walk for me, was a small church Esglesia De Santa Maria. The church itself is from the 12th century. It is very dark but the artwork in the church is beautiful. There is a Gothic cloister which was peaceful, with a well and a garden. There are hardly any tourists here, it is peaceful. The walk took us next to Palace Walls of Guifre El Pelos. I must confess that we could not find this place! But we were very close to a shopping complex and needed to use the bathrooms, so we went in. It was a shop similar to Myer, multi levels of one department store. We found the rest rooms but just decided to stay and have a look around. David & I bought a birthday card and put 50 Euro in it for Ethan to spend. He didn't find anything he liked.
The map was scrutinised, then we found our way back on to the tour and stopped to gaze at La Cathedral. It is impressive so we walk around her and then continue on. Bullet holes on a wall get our attention and it is the next stop, Esglesia De Sant Felip Neri. It is machine gun fire and it is assumed that some executions happened here by pro-Franco troops. There are a couple of mansions along the next part of the route and then we are at the end.
By this time it is lunchtime and we spot a souvlaki/gyros shop. David gets one, and it is only after we see his being made that Ethan & I quickly jump on the band wagon and have one too. Shaved chicken from the spit, lettuce, tomato, tabouli, yogurt sauce and flat bread. There's nothing like sitting on steps, watching the pigeons while you eat your lunch.
Ethan wanted to go to the wax museum so we found our way back to La Rambla and walked down the lane way - it was closed. He was fine when we said that we would come back tomorrow. Our afternoon plans were to go to Montjuic so we hopped on the Metro and off we went. We caught the Funicular to a station nearby and tried, with much frustration, to find where we needed to go. We could see many people heading for a castle at the top of the hill so we joined them to see Castle Montjuic. It is very high and there are views of the docks, cruise ships and cargo, and all of Barcelona. There are several cannons still on the parapets which David & Ethan delighted in having a close inspection of. It had been drizzling on and of now for about an hour. The views were not brilliant and it was a day where you would much prefer to be having a coffee somewhere while it passed.
We wanted to follow another of the Lonely Planet walks, this time around Jardin Montjuic. We were getting rather mad trying to find the first stop on the walk. After trying to get help off several people, and it now being 5pm, we decided we would just head to where the fountain was for tonight, and maybe get a drink. We found our way there eventually. One thing I have found amazing here is the outdoor escalators! There were 6 at the fountain, 3 up and 3 down. It is very good when your legs are tired. There were people all gathering to try and get the best spot to watch the show. It was now 645pm and we had 15 minutes to go. We got a great position right up the top, and could see everything. We heard a gurgle and the pool in front of us sprouted out 3 sprays of water and drenched us! I wondered why it was so easy to get a position up close. We thought the show was in the pools down the bottom, apparently it uses all of the ponds!! So we, and about 50 other people are quite wet and scrambling for another spot as the show is about to start.
I look to the skies and say to David, "That sky looks a bit ominous, do you think there is a storm coming?" At 7pm on the dot the show starts, we don't have excellent position but I manage to get a few shots, then the heavens open. Rain, huge drops of rain, fall from the sky. Thunder rumbles and lightening shoots through the sky. Hundreds of people are running around crazy trying to find a small amount of shelter. There are two covered areas that can fit about 20 people each. We run and squeeze into one of those. We are on the edge and water is running off the roof down the back of our shirts. We decide to just get out the umbrellas and go and watch the show from close up, it has eased slightly. We are now the only people watching the fountain show from in front of the fountain. Most people have left and others do not want to get hit by lightening. A flash lands about 200 metres away from us and then we think it may be time to go. I shoot another couple of photos, the show is just warming up! We go to leave and the stairs have created another water feature - water cascading over them so deep we have to use the escalators. We walk through ankle deep water to the Metro and go back to our hotel. What a night!
It is still warm so our clothes dry quite quickly. It is Ethan's birthday so we let him choose where he would like dinner. He said he would like to go back to where we went last night and so we do. It is a great night and we laughed about how ridiculous it was to stand out in a storm. We agree it was a birthday he would never forget.