These last two days have been our best and most productive yet. The weather has been cool enough to make walking a great experience - around 59 to 61 degrees F - wearing a sweater and walking rapidly has been a real pleasure. We've walked so much, in fact, that yesterday I purchased some Compeed ampullas, which are like moleskin for blisters. A little massage for tender toes!
What I've loved so much about the flow of our days has been their spontaneity. We've all awoken late (between 10 and 12pm, even Señor Aventura) and have enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and coffee before strolling our new city for hours on end to get to know neighborhoods in a way that one can only do by foot.
Day by day the character of each neighborhood has revealed itself, showing us clearly where we belong. Sarria turns out to be very beautiful but so sleepy, so quiet. The entire city like a ghost town. Only a few elderly folk here and there, walking slowly up the streets. Sometimes staring at us, as though keenly aware that we do not belong. This was later reinforced by our new friend from the international school, who confirmed that Sarria is filled mainly with the elderly and families - all of whom leave for their beach houses or the mountains on weekends.
Bonanova was a bit more full of life, a bit less tranquila, but not a place I could truly see myself walking along with kids late at night. It is just too quiet. Last night we caught "Kung Fu Panda 3" in Spanish and even the walk home from luxurious Parc Turo was a bit spooky - hardly a soul on the streets.
Señor Aventura and I discussed this at length and affirmed that we want our time in Barcelona to be full of youthful spirit and life, we are excited about the grit and hipster scene in the barrio we know best - Gracia. Interestingly, Gracia turns out also to have the lowest crime rate of all the barrios we are looking at... at least as reported by police incidents in 2015. What we love about it is the vibrant, authentic energy - something we assumed was common to Barcelona but turns out to be unique to Gracia.
Today we visited the grounds of a school that had accepted our children - and it had been our top choice just two weeks ago! We saw in person how far away it is from city center... requiring two buses and an hour of patient travel... basically in the boonies. One could not attend that school unless living there; one could not live there without una coche (a car). Nunca. This is not possible.
So here it is... in just four days of boots on the ground we have gathered plenty of information to make a clear decision. We have our school of choice, we have our neighborhood of choice. We will begin looking at apartments after Lunes de Pascua. And although our main work will be done, it is nice to have seven days in which to make new discoveries!
Tonight we dined at the most amazing Brasilian restaurant, right here in the heart of Gracia. I ordered a chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, spinach and chorizo which came on a bed of mashed squash... we shared patatas bravas so incredible, like I've never tasted before. Señor Aventura enjoyed three juicy cuts of pork while the children feasted on a Brasilian type shrimp curry and two plates of beef with flat noodles. It was like a little slice of heaven. We will eat very well this year.
Each day we are here brings a sense that, despite the many ways in which being here still seems a bit unexpected or loco at times, we are following a good path that will bring us much growth and we believe/we hope also much joy!