Previous diary page is here.
A direct bus to Sanlucar de Barrameda is loading, but it's full, and we don't feel like taking the local bus, which takes 120 minutes instead of 75. So Dora buys tickets for the next direct bus, one hour later, and we go out to a cafe for a simple cold lunch (the kitchen is not open, at noon on a weekday).
Not so hot here, no hotter than Barcelona, but the temperature is supposed to go to 40C at 5 PM.
Smooth bus ride to Sanlucar. It's not the normal direct bus, this one seems to have come from the north, and we're just about the only people who get off in Sanlucar, everyone else is going to Chipiona, it seems.
Short wait, and Dora's sister's friend Lourdes picks us up in a small car with her daughter already in it; we barely fit in. To her sister's old apartment, which is unused while she waits for something to be resolved with the lease. We're in by 2:45 or so.
No hot water and no Wi-Fi, but everything else is fine, and we're happy to have the hospitality of her sister (who is working a 24-hour shift until tomorrow morning, I think). Turn on the air-conditioning and plug in all our devices and take showers, and we're feeling good.
Dora starts a job with an ambulance service in Jerez de la Frontera on Monday, and we have to start looking for an apartment there. We want to beat the university students, who should start appearing later in August.
Before 5:30, we started going out. First Dora put on her shoes, and said "a strap has pulled out, I thought something felt wrong today". I glued the shoe to fix it, while she put on another pair of shoes. Downstairs, got 50 meters out the door, and a strap pulled out on THOSE shoes, and the sole was making a loud flapping sound. Back home, collecting about 3 weeks of mail from her sister's mailbox on the way. I glued the second pair of shoes, while she searched all the luggage and finally came up with another pair of shoes. If these fail, she'll be reduced to bath-slippers.
Back downstairs and out. Trying to find a particular place that sells roast chicken, but we have only vague partial directions. Eventually we find it, but we're too early for this town: the place is closed until 8, then open until 11. We head toward the center, and into a Dia that I don't think was there the last time we were here.
A bit of a chore; we don't grocery-shop well together. But eventually out with two heavy bags, and we slog home by about 6:30. I have ham-and-cheese sandwiches on nice nut-bread, Dora starts with yogurt.
No TV, so we watch some videos on my laptop. Falling asleep by 9:30; to bed.
Waiting for Dora's sister to come home to her (new) apartment. Finally at 11:30 we head over there (only a block away). Meet her sister, quickly get acquainted. Then she has a patient arriving, so I get the Wi-Fi info and we retreat into the kitchen. Patient arrives, then I go out and retrieve her sister's mail from Correos.
Then I went out and bought two roasted chickens. The place is doing terrific business, I was 4th in line, soon more people lined up behind me, they're roasting and cutting up chickens as fast as they can. Went home, and the three of us had a nice lunch. Did Wi-Fi, watched some of the Olympics opening ceremony on TV.
Dora wears a pair of her mother's shoes, and soon there's a pulled-out strap on them ! She must have some shoe-destroying quality. I'll take it to the other apartment and glue it.
Soon her sister is giving Dora more shoes and purses; just what we need (not).
Headache; took a Neobrufen.
Packed up and headed back to home apartment at 5. Carrying a fan she gave, plus computer bag and my bag and Dora's purse and most of one leftover chicken.
At home, I glued the pulled-out shoe strap. Tried to light the gas water heater, but no luck. Realized the fan is brand new and needs assembly, and we don't have any tools, but put it together enough to be usable; nice. Messed with the water heater again, got the gas stove working, but still no pilot light on the heater.
Still feeling headachey. Managed to lie down for 15 minutes, then Dora was saying "let's go back to the other apartment, my sister wants to go to some shopping center to buy some stuff". Groan. Out at 6:45.
Over to the other apartment, where nothing is happening quickly. With two sisters, everything takes four times as long. No problem, there's a Barca - Liverpool game on TV. At first, I thought I'd get to see only the last 5 minutes of the first half, then we'd go. But I saw it almost to the end. Barca got clobbered.
Out, to bus stop, caught 8:14 line 1 bus. Which then did loops and zig-zags through the outskirts, taking about 40 minutes to get out to Las Dunas, a big mall outside town. We went to Al Campo, an enormous store, and Dora bought some groceries while her sister bought printer ink etc. I looked in several places before finding watch batteries in a watch/jewelry store. I thought we'd spend more time there, but was happy when we headed out in good time to catch the 9:35 bus back.
Which took 45 minutes or so, through heavier traffic, to get back. To other apartment, some futzing there, then to our apartment by 10:45 or so. I'm beat, and hungry. Dora's sister shows us how to light the gas heater, which is tricky, but it works.
Except a bit later I find that the heater's pilot light works, but the main burner doesn't turn on when I run the hot water. So, still no hot showers.
Didn't sleep well.
And then suddenly Dora is rushing over to her sister's apartment. Her sister is treating a patient, and Dora wants to watch the treatment and learn the procedure (she and her sister are doctors).
I went over there after 11:45. Wi-Fi and a not-cold shower. Still headachey; took Nolatil. Back to other apartment to fetch dirty laundry, and did laundry in sister's apartment. Chicken and rice and tomato for dinner.
Now trying to plan a trip to Romania at the end of August, for a memorial service for Dora's sister's husband, who died 7 years ago, I think. Tricky to make the arrangements, because Dora's niece is in Bilbao and might have to fly unaccompanied to here, or we could meet her in Madrid, or some of us first go to Bilbao, or something. A dozen permutations, trying to find what's cheapest and makes sense.
Still headachey later: took a sumatriptan. Eventually that nailed it.
Watched Olympics, did internet, dried clothes. Then Lourdes and her two daughters came over around 7:30, and soon the six of us went out to a cafe a block away. It had a bouncy-house thing that all the kids loved. I had a chocolate ice-cream and watched more Olympics on the TV, while the three women talked business and the kids played. Eventually out and to sister's apartment, then Dora and I home to ours by 9:45.
Out at 10:30 or so, to walk down the waterfront promenade, through a kiddie-ride fair, and eventually to the bus station. Copied down the Sanlucar-Jerez bus times. Up to the visitor's center, where there's a big (40-piece) brass or marching band (not marching) playing a free concert. Very nice ! Home before 11:30.
We hustled to the bus station, not sure if first bus would be at 0700 or 0710, and next is at 0830. Got there right at 0700, and bus is at 0710.
Felt really bad towards the end of the bus ride. Took a sumatriptan. Into Jerez after 0750. Hit bathrooms, sumatriptan is kicking in, felt a bit better. Found bus stop for number 8 bus without much trouble. Wait of less than 10 minutes.
But the route is not what I expected: it swings out to the east and then comes to our stop, Carrefour Norte, from the east instead of west. Off, and Dora is a bit overwhelmed, everything looks so big and far apart. Into the Carrefour mall, and fortunately it's open, bathrooms are fine, to a bar for coffees, start feeling better. Free Wi-Fi too, from McDonald's.
Dora is making noises about getting a taxi to work, but I convince her to walk it. And it turns out to be only 2 or 3 short blocks away.
We get there, and have a lot of trouble finding the office. It's an ambulance service, and I find ambulances, but not the office. Dora calls and gets directed to it; it's small and marked with some other name. She goes in before 9:45, comes out, says the head doctor she has to see will arrive at 10.
I go off to explore the area. Local shop says there's no shortcut across the train tracks. I head west, looking in entrances of huge apartment buildings to see if there are any "for rent by owner" notices. But no luck; everything is locked up, and even inside I see no notices posted.
I head a little south, toward the university, but it's sparse down in this direction. West and across vacant lots and back north to Av Europa, then north into the Altillo / Cedro area. More apartment blocks and some townhouses. Long loop around to the east and the south, and it's further than I thought back to Av Europa. Stop in an estanco to ask for a map and a bus card, but they have neither. Out and head back toward Carrefour, and suddenly the sole of my sandal comes away from the heel. I limp to Carrefour, and settle on a bench outside McDonald's. Wi-Fi again.
And messages from Dora; she's nearby. Soon we find each other. Work sounds fine, but the doctor had to leave after meeting her, and they want her to work 2:30 to 7 today. Awkward, since she can't go home now, and there's a gap in buses from 7 to 9, so she won't get home until 9:30 or so.
We go into Carrefour; no maps, but I buy tape to repair my sandals. Out, and into McDonald's, and settle down for Wi-Fi and conversation. Her job sounds great: the head doctor seems a good guy, and Dora's knowledge of English is a plus, and sometimes people even get trips to Japan or USA or Latin American countries (accompanying patients). [I tell her to make sure to tell them about the fellowships she's done in Japan and USA, the year she worked in Italy, and time worked in UK, and her reasonable command of Italian.] The work sounds very varied: sometimes transporting patients, sometimes standing by while firefighters fight a fire, sometimes training firefighters and others in first aid, etc. And mostly she won't work in the office; she'll either be at some training site, or on the road, or standing by at home on-call. They would pick her up by car anywhere in Jerez when she's needed, but I think it's better if she's within walking distance: less hassle for them might mean more opportunities for her.
The base salary is mediocre (typical for family doctors in Spain, apparently), but it's as promised over the phone, it's steady, and she'll get paid extra for extra work and trips. The job sounds fairly terrific; would be nice if the salary was higher.
But really she should be living in Jerez ASAP. They want her on-call ASAP. She may be able to get Lourdes to drive her to Jerez when called, but that's not sustainable. We need to get an apartment very quickly.
We have McDonald's for lunch, then I head out at 1:15 to try to catch the 2 PM bus back to Sanlucar. I find the 5 bus stop okay, going the opposite direction from this morning, and the bus comes within 5 minutes. But then it all goes wrong; the loops and twists don't seem the same as this morning in reverse, and eventually I realize we're out of town and heading further out. [Later, Dora points out my error: I thought we took the 5 bus this morning, but we actually took the 8 bus.]
The driver drops me off, I cross the street into bus shelter for same route going back into town, and find I have a 45-minute wait ! Now I'll probably miss the 3 PM bus to Sanlucar, have to get the 5 PM bus. Crap !
I wait it out, bus comes a couple of minutes late, back into town. But takes a different, shorter route back to the central bus/train station. So I have time to use the bathroom and get onto the bus, with about 3 minutes to spare.
And somehow the bus back to Sanlucar is faster than this morning's bus, taking 30 minutes instead of 40-45. Home by 3:40.
A note has been slid under the door: a neighbor has taken deliver of 3 big boxes for us. The first of the 8 from Barcelona.
40 minutes later, the neighbor is home, and I retrieve the boxes.
Loafed for a couple of hours, then over to other apartment. Unlocked the door and then realized I didn't have alarm code. Don't hear anything. Backed out and closed the door, and contacted Dora and sister through WhatsApp on my phone, which is getting Wi-Fi from inside the apartment. Soon found it is no problem, opened door again and went inside. Set up computer, messaged with Dora (who will catch 9 PM bus in Jerez), took a lovely shower.
Out to a ferreteria and had keys copied. Out again for walk and groceries and bought a computer fan-base. Dora home to sister's apartment before 10. She showered, we ate chicken and rice, watched a little TV, did internet, relaxed.
Back to spare apartment at midnight.
Looked again at flights to Romania, and the dates that Dora and her sister can fly are very limited, and we're only 2 weeks in advance, so prices are high and some flights are nearly full. Add trains from here to Madrid, and you get 3 days in Romania for E500 per person. Crazy.
Getting a headache; took a paracetamol.
Dora and I out at noon, hustled to bus station, caught 1215 bus to Jerez. Sun very hot. Trip took about 35-40 minutes. In the Jerez station, Dora changed into her new work clothes: pic. She waited for someone from work to pick her up, and I went walking.
Tried several small stores, eventually found a city map I could buy, but no bus map and everyone says there is no multi-trip card for the local bus system. Started walking E down Delicias toward the university. Very hot and sunny. Street art: pics.
Got to the university, and it's locked up tight. Checked out the surrounding area, working N. Not so interesting. Turned W, very residential. Crossed the train tracks, turned S. Eventually got W of the estaciones, nearer the center, and the area is interesting but fairly far from Dora's work. Tired and hot. Caught the 3 PM bus back to Sanlucar, which took about 35 minutes. Hot walk to sister's apartment.
At 4:45, went back to spare apartment; Dora's sister has a patient coming at 5. Box delivery notice waiting in the mailbox, but I guess the mail-person got tired of hauling the boxes; now I have to go to the post office to fetch them. Which is awkward, because the post office is open short hours for the summer.
Ran out of energy, crashed for long naps.
At 9:45, Dora arrived home at other apartment. I went over there, we ate, then more futile looking at flights to Romania.
Online, and messages from Dora say I should buy 3 plane tickets to Romania, for her two sisters and her niece, and Dora and I will not go. I like the second part, not too thrilled about being travel agent for everyone else.
Made all the flight reservations, then realized one letter in one name on one sister was wrong, so had to call Expedia and they canceled and re-did that whole reservation (the one for 2 out of 3 people). But got it all done. Managed to coordinate all the flights so the two groups of people are arriving and departing Bucharest at more or less the same time, so one trip from/to airport each time.
Took a shower. Couldn't hang up the laundry in this apartment (stopped by a locked gate), so took it to other apartment. Grabbed a quick lunch, then back to other apartment, then out and walked to bus station. Onto 2:15 bus to Jerez.
Arrived at 2:50, Dora supposed to meet me there at 3, but she didn't arrive until almost 3:45. Ten minutes later, a real-estate agent showed up, and drove us to see an apartment. We asked for a particular area, but all she has is a mile or two from there, but we want to see it anyway.
So, we saw it. Has pool and parking and nice kitchen and nice views, but everything else is bad. Wrong area (pretty much requiring a car), two floors (bad for Dora's parents), too expensive (€700/month), barely furnished (we need fully furnished), gas via bottles, 2.5 bedrooms (on small end of what we want).
Agent has nothing else to show us, so she drops us back at the bus station in time for the 5 PM bus. As we're sitting on the bus, a partner agent calls with an offer to show us another apartment (also not in the area we want), and we say maybe tomorrow.
Earlier, Dora sent me some pictures of the training she's doing. Today she was with a helicopter-firefighting crew doing ground training on medevac procedures. I'm surprised to learn she's done this before; she has some experience in medevac helicopters, but not with firefighting.
Back to sister's apartment by 5:45. Online, the sisters seem happy with the plane tickets I bought, so that's good.
Over to "our" apartment to shift two more big boxes (from Barcelona) that the neighbors accepted for us. Back to sister's apartment.
Took a shower; nice. Started looking at tickets for Dora and I to go to Romania too, and our dates are more flexible on one end. Found a cheap flight out of Malaga, but it's not easy to get there from here.
Out with Dora and her sister to a local cafe for coffees and sandwiches. Back home so her sister could have a patient come in.
Bought tickets for Dora and me to fly to Romania, for a couple days more than the other three travelers. Got a very cheap fare by flying out of Malaga, but it's not easy to get to Malaga from here. Trying to find BlaBlaCar rides. If all else fails, we could do bus-train-train-taxi to get there.
Probably the most varied set of flight reservations I've ever made:
- adult and child flying Bilbao -> Frankfurt -> Bucharest
- adult flying Jerez -> Madrid -> Berlin -> Bucharest
- two adults flying Malaga -> Istanbul -> Bucharest
But the Romania trip is going to be a little dicey. Attending a memorial service for deceased husband, taking niece to see her Romanian relatives, and also to see if we can get legal paper acknowledging her inheritance there.
Got a BlaBlaCar reservation to take us from Jerez to Malaga; €54 total.
Somehow Dora has accumulated a couple more broken straps on shoes. She blames cheap shoes and the heat, and she's probably right. The straps keep pulling out where they're glued into the sole.
Back to other apartment to sleep.
Out to Dia for groceries, and to chinese shop for glue. Over to other apartment, had lunch, glued 3 of Dora's shoes.
Back to sister's apartment, grabbed my stuff, out at 2. Caught 2:15 bus to Jerez. Arrived about 2:50, and Dora showed up around 3. But bad news, the real-estate agent who was going to show us 3 apartments has cancelled. And the next bus back to Sanlucar is at 5.
Dora has worked hard today and not eaten or drunk much. Into train station cafe for sodas and a little food. After a while, she's on the phone, and a real-estate agent can show us an apartment at 5.
Gets near 5, and suddenly Dora's work calls, there might be a forest fire they might have to go to. I'm not sure if we should cancel the real-estate agent and I hop on the 5 PM bus. But we wait for the agent, who shows up. And we're off to see an apartment, no further news from Dora's work.
The apartment is right next to Carrefour Norte and near Dora's work, the perfect location. The owners are there, place is crowded with 6 of us in it, and later a couple more friends show up as we're looking around. 3rd floor, nice kitchen, bottled gas, 3 bedrooms that are a bit small, two bathrooms, parking area. Cheap rent: €450/month. We couldn't move in until Sept 1, which is slightly inconvenient but not too bad. No pool.
Two big killers: No air-conditioning. And the owners are very finicky about the furniture and letting us put in a window air-conditioner. They don't want any changes to anything, even though Dora says the living room sofa is old and horribly dirty and has to go, and the TV is a massive old CRT model (I didn't look at either of them). The owners will replace 2 of the 3 mattresses.
We head back to the bus station, get there a little before 6, and then there's a chance to see another apartment. So off to an area I walked through the other day, a bit NW of the university. In fact it's near a lot with a dozen mules on it, something I pointed out to Dora then and now; she had some semi-hostile experience with mules in Peru, so it's a joke with us.
This apartment is on the ground floor and first floor; all bedrooms are upstairs. And two of three bedrooms are single beds, and not big single beds either. Four air-conditioner units. Bottle gas, nice kitchen, microwave, washing machine, electric stove. Parking in the area would be difficult. €500/month. I think it's unacceptable because Dora's parents would hate the stairs, I don't like ground-level, and the area isn't interesting. It's too far to walk to Dora's work, but an easy bus ride.
Back to the bus station area by 6:40. Stop at an ATM so Dora can transfer some money. To the bus station, use the bathrooms and Dora changes clothes and I recharge our bus cards. Then a panic as the bus driver seems to say the bus is full, we can't get on, have to wait 2 hours for the 9 PM bus. But he's saying the bus is NEARLY full, so we have to buy tickets at the booth. Dora does that, we're on, and there are about 2 seats empty when the bus leaves.
Arrive Sanlucar, and Dora is dragging. Home at 7:45.
Later, Dora cooked rice and egg and hotdog and turkey.
Drove a couple of blocks to an apartment building. Up to 6th floor. A very nice apartment, big and full of lovely wood trim, traditional tilework, lovely kitchen, big lovely living room. Air-conditioning. Two biggish bathrooms and four bedrooms, sleeps 6. Decent terrace, fully furnished and equipped, nice location (not close to Dora's work or niece's school, but now she's saying maybe she doesn't want to be too close to work), space in parking garage. The only downside is that the rent is a bit high, €650/month (but that includes water). No pool.
Afterward, dropped off closer to the center, and we went into a cafe for coffees and nibbles. Dora loves the apartment we just saw; it pushes all her traditional-Hispanic buttons.
She's probably going on a trip to transport a patient to Ibiza, this weekend. Her job can be very varied; she's been training helicopter forest-fire crews this week, and the TV news says there are 85 forest-fires going in Portugal right now. But most of her work is E or SE of Jerez, and Sanlucar (where we're staying temporarily) is W of Jerez. Also the company wants her to get a driver's license and share the driving.
Back to bus station and catch the 5 PM bus back to Sanlucar. Home by 5:50 or so. Horse-races on the beach this evening and all this weekend and next; we'll try to see some.
Out at 6:45 or so with Dora. Got half a block when a strap broke on her shoe. Into other apartment to grab shoes. To the beach, hordes of people everywhere, looked for a vantage point. Went through a cafe and down onto the beach, and half of the horses are in the starting gate already. Pic. 60 seconds later, they're off ! Heading a mile down the beach to the finish line, somewhere well out of sight.
Off the beach, down the street a bit, and to Hotel Donana for coffee and sangria. Quite nice, and I get a good buzz from the sangria. To other apartment, I glue the shoe, we grab stuff, and to sister's apartment. Take showers, do laundry, I got out and get roast chicken and french fries.
Out around 1. To the center, which is full of people and hot and sunny. Dora hit an ATM, we looked for a phone-card store, then had lunch in a cafe.
Dora loafed and then crashed for a big nap; I went for a walk on the beach promenade, but it's too hot for comfort. Then I napped too.
Out at 7:45 or so, down to the beach, and watched the 8:05 horse-race. They're fast; I could barely take a picture as they went by in full stride. Pics.
To a Mexican restaurant/cafe for margaritas and a chili plate. Pics.
I went out at 9:45 to get groceries. Got a bit lost, but came out eventually, to Dia and then home.
To other apartment before noon, and I cooked a big everything-omelet for breakfast/lunch.
I roughed-together the text for a web site for Dora and her sister, then it's like pulling teeth to get her to sit down and edit the text.
First her work told Dora she had to work tomorrow, then they cancelled it.
Out at 7:45 and down to the beach to watch horse-races. This time we're equipped with beach chairs and a beach umbrella. I tease Dora, saying I'm glad she can use her phone in yet another place, but she makes me laugh by saying this is the easiest on-call she's ever had: pic. A TV crew is nearby, and she's hiding from it a bit, what if someone from work saw her ? Later, she wants to take the little boy next to us home with us: pic. More beach: pics.
We're in the area behind the starting gates, which turns out to be a really good idea. We get to see all the horses circling for a while: pics. Then we see the grooms and riders struggle to get them into the gates for the second race of the evening. A couple of horse are very balky, finally they get them in, then one bolts out through the front, and soon another is bucking and jumping and it bolts out too. Takes them a long time to capture the loose horses and get all of them into the gates, then they're off.
During the 30 minutes or so between races, they move the starting gates far down the beach; the third race is a longer distance than the second. So now we're well in front of the gates, instead of just behind them. I wade in the water, everyone plays, then the police whistle to clear the beachfront for the third race. Horses trot past on their way to the gate: pics. Eventually the race starts, and the horses flash past: pics.
We sit on the beach for another 15 minutes as the crowds slowly clear out a bit, then home.
Out before 10 to go into the center so Dora can buy lottery tickets. No luck, apparently you have to buy them during the day. Stopped in a local bar to watch first half of the Barca-Sevilla game; only about 4 other guys watching, but they were rooting for Sevilla. Home at 11. Watched the second half; Barca won the game 2-0.
Around noon, went out with Dora. She bought a lottery ticket, then wanted me to go on the bus with her to the hospital where her sister is working, to pick up food ? I declined, she got on the bus, I wandered into the center.
I thought they were going to put down flowers for the Assumption Day celebration, but turns out it is a huge design (100 meters long or more) made with colored stone: pics.
To Dia for groceries, bought another computer fan-tray, then home.
Dora home around 2, pasta and meatballs for dinner.
Out before 7, and into the center to see the procession of the Virgen. We found a table at a cafe, right next to the stone-design path. (I'd read online that it was made from sawdust, not stone. But now someone says it's colored salt, and they're right.)
We're not exactly sure when the procession will start and which direction it will come from. We drink and nibble and people-watch and Dora is conversing furiously with work on her WhatsApp. Time passes, we get a bit drunk, we hear the procession doesn't start until 10.
By 10:15 or so, I've had far too much sitting, and eventually we pay the bill and leave. We ask some people which direction the procession will come from, get varying answers, eventually find it's from the other end. We try to go that way, get stuck in crowds, end up circling around. Plunge back into the crowds, find the start of the procession, and it's going at a snail's pace. A marching band, various people carrying candles and emblems and stuff, and eventually the Virgen (pic), followed by another band.
We head for home, through slowly thinning crowds, and eventually get home by 11:20.
Around 10:30, we three go out and walk about 3 blocks to a driving school. I think we're just there to ask questions, and we do get lots of info about rates, and they're going to ask someone about whether my existing NJ license gives any shortcut to get a Spanish license (I think no, Dora thinks yes). This school does theory classes here in Sanlucar, but their practical driving lessons are done in Jerez.
Then suddenly Dora seems to be committing to taking €700 worth of lessons here ! I say wait, and talk her into thinking about it for a day or two. We go out and head home, and I say 1) this school is no special bargain, 2) she heard this instructor is easy, but the test is given by a government examiner, not the guy here, and 3) we're about to move to Jerez, so does she want to have to take the bus back to here a couple of times a week to take lessons, why not find a school in Jerez.
Stop at a fruit shop, back home, and suddenly we're piling into a car to go to Jerez. Her sister has hired a car and driver, some man I don't know. We have to go to the niece's school in Jerez, and Dora has to work from Jerez today although the time is uncertain, and I'll use the chance to see a neighborhood I haven't seen yet.
We take some back route out of Sanlucar, onto the main road to Jerez, and then some unfamiliar route into Jerez. I guess we're circling around to the north side because the niece's school is there. Dora and her sister chattering on phones, and Dora says something about her sister's 10 AM patient didn't show up on time, and is calling now, at 11:45 or so.
Suddenly the car is slowing, like the guy doesn't know the directions, and I don't know what's going on. We go through a couple of roundabouts, irritating traffic behind us with our slowness and indecision. Then suddenly the car pulls over IN a roundabout, and we're piling out. I don't know where we are or what's going on.
Then the car takes off, back the way we came, and only Dora and I have piled out. We don't know where we are, but there's a police car nearby, and as we head for it, Dora says her sister screwed up her patient appointments, this morning's patient was told to come at noon, not 10, now two patients are arriving at her sister's apartment back in Sanlucar.
The police show us that we're a fair distance off the edge of my map, and they get a taxi number for us. Dora calls, taxi comes in less than 5 minutes. A 5-minute, €5 trip to the niece's school. Dora checks registration and buys books.
A 5-minute walk to a huge El Corte Ingles / Hipercor store. We find the Correos shipping desk, and Dora spends 15 minutes sending an overnight document to her other sister in the north. Around the corner and into the store's cafeteria, where we plug in phones and watch Olympics on TV and have lunch and call real-estate agents (none of them are answering). Now Dora's work is saying come in at 6:15 for an hour or so; they've been yanking her time around for the last day or so.
We pack up at 2:30, and head out to nearest bus stop, in hope I can get the 3 PM bus to Sanlucar. The number 9 bus arrives just as we get to the stop, and it goes to the central bus/train stations, so we're good. But it goes the long way around. Okay, maybe it will take 20+ minutes, I'll still make my bus. No, it stands for 2-3 minutes at one stop, and 4-5 minutes at another; it has to keep on a particular schedule. I run from bus stop to bus station, carrying a heavy bag of books, and miss the 3 PM bus by about 2 minutes. Now I have to wait until 5 PM.
Into the train station cafe, and we fire up devices again, Dora gets a drink, I learn some Spanish from my dictionary, there's a little Olympics on TV for a while, etc.
I catch the 5 PM bus to Sanlucar. Home at 5:40.
Spent a couple of hours creating a web site for the sister's medical practice. Dora's sister is on the verge of paying some guy a couple of thousand Euro's to create and maintain and advertise a web site, and I think we can do it mostly ourselves instead.
Web guy came over later, bringing Dora home, and started showing her the web site he's built. Her sister has spent a fair amount of money already. Dora came out thinking the two sisters probably will have separate sites. Later, her sister came home and the discussion continued among the three of them. I'm staying out of it.
To Dia for groceries. Online, tracked the boxes, and the 6 I sent have arrived, the 2 sent by Dora's son haven't.
Started cooking turkey and rice for dinner. Had to take a break to fetch Dora from the bus station; she was too tired to carry her heavy bag. Resumed cooking, and the stove starts flashing an error indicator. Waited, and resumed cooking, and after a while it happened again. But got dinner cooked and eaten.
Missing boxes found in Barcelona. The shipping clerk who accepted them didn't charge enough, so they've been sitting there without anyone telling us. (This is according to Dora's son. It's possible he never sent the boxes in the first place.)
Headachey in late evening; took a paracetamol-plus.
Off with Dora to carry her heavy bags to the 10:30 bus. Got there and found it had broken down; a bus came at 10:40, but wasn't going to leave until 11.
I did internet most of the day, then out around 3:50. Walked along the beach promenade, and to the bus station. Onto the 4:15 bus; Dora said she'd be at the Jerez bus station at 4:30.
Got to Jerez a little before 5, no Dora. Looked, waited, listened to my MP3 players. She finally showed up around 6:45; her whole work was delayed because of the bus problem this morning, and for some reasons our phone calls aren't connecting properly. (But on WhatsApp at 3:30, she told me to come, she should have known by then.)
She wants to stay for the real-estate agent, see the apartment, and catch the 9 PM bus. She changes out of work clothes, the agent shows up, and doesn't have the keys to the apartment. So I quickly buy tickets for the 7 PM bus, 5 minutes to spare, and we go out and Dora talks to the agent until we have to get onto the bus. In the confusion, she pays for a third ticket, and then argues for a while to try to get her money back.
Back to Sanlucar, home by 7:50. Cooked leftover turkey and rice for dinner. Out later to ATM and Dia.
Dora paid €600 deposit to real-estate agent for the apartment in Jerez, so I think it's happening ! We're planning to move in Sept 1.
Out for a walk along the beachfront, and into the center to the ATM again.
Out to bus station to pick up Dora at 3:45.
Chicken and leftover rice for dinner.
Over to sister's apartment, back to ours, back to hers, out to buy chicken for lunch.
Walked Dora to 4:15 bus to Jerez; she's working a 6 to midnight shift at some race in Utrera, home at 2 or so.
Out at 8 or so for a long walk the whole length of the beachfront promenade and back.
Dora home at 2:15 AM. The race was a 14K run/walk/stroll for Utrera; a bit dark, and she treated four people for contusions after falls.
Chicken and rice for dinner. Over to spare apartment to pack. Would have taken me 5 minutes, but Dora wanted to iron everything. After a while, I went out for a walk on the beachfront promenade. Dora finished ironing, but hasn't packed. Back to sister's apartment.
Dora staying up late to do some online test for work, something she's let go until the last minute. And she has to go to an ATM to do some banking thing tonight, too. We have to get up at 6 tomorrow morning to start our trip.
Dora finishing her test around 11:45, but printer has run out of paper.
Out to center, hit two ATMs, back to sister's apt by 12:30. To spare apt by 12:45. I was in bed by 1 or so; Dora not until 2 or so.
Trip to Romania:
Coffees in a cafe for half an hour, then our 8:30 BlaBlaCar ride arrived. As I expected, the 3 seats we bought are the back seat of this not-big car, and only one of our big suitcases fits in the trunk, so there's no extra room after we're all in.
Smooth trip to Malaga, Dora talking to the two guys in the front seat ALL the way. The driver is good. Arrived at airport around 11:15. Slow line at check-in, Dora's name wasn't quite right on the ticket (with Hispanic names, you have to map 4 names into 2 fields on a web page, and apparently I didn't do it the same way her passport does), but they fixed it. Then she got papers to sign us up for frequent-flyer on Turkish Airlines.
Through Security by 12 or so, for 1:45 flight. Found a cafeteria for lunch. Free slow Wi-Fi, but no AC power. Lots of Brits everywhere, especially back in the check-in lines.
Onto plane, uneventful trip, food interesting and reasonably good (including some hummus with peanut sauce mixed in, nice), legroom the usual bad. I fiddled with my seat-back entertainment system until I managed to make it freeze for the rest of the flight.
First time I've seen Africa; we flew along the coast of Algeria and then Tunisia. Then everyone shut their windowshades and we couldn't see any more, but we could watch the on-screen flight tracker as we went along the north coast of Sicily and then over the boot of Italy. Later, we could see the straits of Bosporus, and sea-traffic south of the straits, as we spiraled down to Istanbul airport. Slightly rough landing.
Terminal very full; hard to get a seat, and we're here for 5 hours. AC power, and free Wi-Fi (but it wants to send an SMS to a 10-digit phone number, and ours are 9-digit, so we can't use it). After an hour or so, a flight or two left, and the crowding eased. Then it eased more. Sat on floor next to outlets and charged phones and laptop and reloaded MP3 player.
Flight gets listed on the board, and I'm surprised to see it says 00:05 instead of the 23:05 on our tickets. But Dora asks an agent and we look at our tickets again, and they always were for 00:05; 23:05 is the start-boarding time.
We explore the terminal, look into duty-free shop, then go upstairs and find much more terminal upstairs, and nicer seats too. Into a cafe for pudding and muffin and coffee. None of it cheap; almost €4 for each item. More charging of phones.
Dora says she found out sending an SMS from our phones (roaming) would cost €1.6, and a phone call would cost €3/minute (maybe this is in Romania; I'm not sure). So calling is for emergencies only. Still can use the Wi-Fi (when we have it) and maps and such on the phones.
Somehow Dora has managed to break a buckle on her shoes. I can glue straps, but not fix buckles. Fortunately, the shoes still are usable.
Later, I wandered more. Saw a gate-area full of Muslims in colorful robes, with several of the women praying on mats. Flights to lots of exotic destinations such as Baghdad and Karachi, and some I've never heard of (Biskek ? A reader says: "Bishkek is the capital and largest city of the Kyrgyz Republic"). But I'm surprised to see no visible security; I expected police with machine-guns, since this airport had a terrorist attack a month or two ago, then there was am attempted coup in this country, then a suicide-bombing of a bridal party at the other end of Turkey just a day or two ago. Maybe there's increased security outside; we're inside the secure area the whole time.
Down further, and found the main terminal hub, with lots of shops etc. Went back, and eventually led Dora down there. She wanted to buy one of everything from the duty-free shop, but prices seemed high to me.
Landed at Bucharest probably on time, 1:25 AM. Hard landing, bang. Raining. Down the stairs, into bus, out at terminal, longish wait for baggage.
Out through Customs around 1:55. Quickly found the guy waiting for us, Alexander. Down a level, parking, and his car is a taxi. We're unclear how much we're going to pay for this, or if it's a favor from the family we're going to.
Long drive through rain and big puddles of water, out into the countryside NW of Bucharest. The trees and houses remind me a bit of parts of NJ, and Pennsylvania. Alexander mostly speaks Italian with Dora, some Spanish, a little English. I think I'm going to be very confused this week between English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, probably some German. As we go through some towns, big and small, some signs and business names are completely in English, some in Romanian that is so close to Spanish or English that I can read it, and some are totally unintelligible to me.
Eventually to the town of Fieni (map), and to the family hotel/alberge ("Pensione Andreea" and "Restaurant Danger") where we're going to stay. Met by Ivana, who runs the place with her husband Dan. Gave Alexander €50 for the trip. Into the room at 3:40 AM (1 hour time change from Spain, so we were traveling for about 20 hours). Wi-Fi, try to unwind, sleep.
Dora stirring around 9, for some reason, then up at 10 and out at 10:30 to see if she can say hello to various family members, get the lay of the land. I'm awake at 10:30, but not inclined to move. Some kind of grinder starts operating outside the room door at 10:45 for a little while.
Dora back at 11:15 and wants me to shower and come down to meet people and eat something. I don't feel like moving.
But I get going, and get out by 11:45 or so. Sure enough, they're remodeling the room right next to ours. Downstairs, through an empty restaurant, find Dora sitting in a corner of a disco-type area. Soon out to a table on a terrace, and I order a hot chocolate and a ham omelet, which comes with bread, and I ask for water. We're told the tapwater here is not safe to drink. Grey, still weather.
The food revives me a bit, and then we're joined by Andreu and Laura, from the family we've come to visit. Most of the talk is in Italian, although Laura speaks a little English and Andreu speaks good English (he works in Italy and visits London a lot). We see a funeral procession going up the street, everyone walking except for a modern hearse carrying the coffin. A while later, suddenly we're all piling into Andreu's car to go to a house. I'm totally unprepared, don't have anything but my wallet.
We stop at a small bakery to pick up a couple of items, then out a mile or so to a house. First to a big workshop being built a couple of doors away, where I meet Tica (Laura's husband) and Petre (his father, I think). Both burly construction guys, working in cement and steel etc. They're building this workshop.
Over to the nearby house, where a big dog goes wild at the sight of strangers. To a back apartment to see the grandmother, who is sickly but overjoyed to see Dora. Then to the main house, and we settle in and chat with Laura as she starts to cook dinner. She presses me to have a drink of plum grappa, then a pastry, then a cup of Italian coffee. Soon I'm buzzing a bit from the travel and the stimulants. Dora and Laura are talking nonstop in Italian, and occasionally when Dora turns to me to translate something for me, she finds herself just repeating it in Italian.
After an hour or two, we all (minus Petre) sit down to a very nice dinner: baked chicken, rice with mushrooms, a couple of kinds of salami and cheese and olives, tomatoes, homemade pickles. Pics. Nice conversation about travel and family and such. Eventually Andreu and Tica leave, we talk for a while more, and then Andreu drives Dora and me back to the hotel. Weather sunnier and warmer now. Into room after 4:45, and I'm wobbly.
We do internet for a while, nap for a while, more internet.
Out walking around 8 or so. Park ("Parcul Central") in front of our hotel/restaurant is packed, every bench occupied, playground full of little kids. And teenagers hanging around. This must be THE place in town.
Looked at big tourist-map billboard outside the park, but it has no "you are here" marking. Start walking uphill, get to another such map, check a nearby street name, still not making sense. And the main street has no street-name signs. We're at one end of town, so we U-turn and start walking the other way.
Walk and walk, getting darker, looking at businesses, Dora trying to find a couple of govt offices. Stop and ask a security guard, who is very nice and tells us some accurate things about a govt office and a police station. But he says those tourist signs are for a completely different town, which I find ridiculous. We've found 3 of them so far, and find a fourth smaller one later.
Farther, and Dora interrogates a cafe waiter about govt offices and legal matters, then we turn around. Back to the main park, then across the street and into a moderate-sized supermarket (Profi). Buy half a dozen things, say hi to Alexander for a minute, then to check-out. Where they won't take either Euros or US dollars, only the local currency, the leu (which we don't have). And magically all of the half-dozen other customers in the place have made a big line behind us as soon as we went to check out. My ATM card gets rejected. Fortunately, my credit-card works (42.12 Leu, which later appears as $10.68 on credit card), and we're out of there.
Sit in the park for a while, smart-phoning on Wi-Fi. We were planning to go to Sinaii maybe tomorrow, and now I see there are two castles there that are worth seeing (I think Peles Castle is a big one, and Pelisor Castle is a big house or something). Weather is gorgeous, clear and slightly cool. Lots of teenagers hanging out. Looking at maps online, it seems those tourist-map billboards bear no resemblance to this town, but I can't find a nearby town that they match.
Back to room after 10:15. Munch on groceries for dinner.
Wandered down through town, saw Alexander, got Leus at an ATM (200 Leu, showed up as $51.29 at my bank). Across a pedstrian bridge past the enormous cement plant and over the train tracks. Found tiny train station with service to a couple of slightly bigger towns N and S of here, but not to Sinaii where the castles are; that would take two buses, going far out of our way. No answer from Andreu on the phone, so I guess we're not going to Sinaii today. Pics.
Tourist map on billboard is starting to make a little more sense, but it shows only half of town, and contains many fictions (traffic roundabout it shows is nonexistent, Primaria building on wrong side, train station on wrong side of tracks, river and lake not to be found where it says, etc).
Dora's shoe broke again; a strap I glued long ago has pulled out again. Back to hotel room.
Loafed and napped for a while. Out around 3 or 3:30. Down to hotel restaurant for dinner, sat down and got menus, tried to order and was informed that the kitchen was closed ! Should have told us that first.
Through the park and up the street, all the cafes seem to be open for drinking only. Into a shop and bought glue to use on Dora's shoes.
Into Hotel Vio, and had a quite nice, slow meal. Waitress spoke fairly good Spanish. I had mushroom-cream soup, Dora had vegetable-cream soup. Dora had chicken-mushroom salad entree, I had the special plate: pork ribs, pork chop, homemade sausage, potatoes, pickles. All quite nice. Later Dora had coffee and I had a lava cafe with ice cream, and the dessert was terrific: cake hot and gooey with lots of chocolate and some raspberry, and the vanilla ice cream was very rich. Pics. Total of 93 Leu plus tip to make it 100, which is about $25.
Out, sat in park for a little while, then up to room. Glued Dora's broken shoe. A reader suggests I buy combat boots for her, and Dora gets a big laugh out of that. We loaf and nap.
At 8 or 8:30, we get a call, Tica and Laura are downstairs in the restaurant. We head down and join them. Order beers and pizza and chat while a Manchester City - Bucharest football game starts on the telly. Brief heavy rain outside.
The pizza comes and there is a lot of it, and the draft beer is fine. Lots of talk, mostly in Italian among the other three, but I contribute a bit in English sometimes. Watch the football.
We break up at 11:15 or so, Tica and Laura head home, Dora and I linger for a little longer, up to the room by 11:30. The sole is peeling off the heel of another pair of Dora's shoes, so time to glue THEM.
The other three coming from Spain arrive (to the house, not here at the hotel) around 3 AM, I think. A relief that all of their air travel went okay, since I arranged all the tickets.
Where everyone except the grandparents are still asleep. We hang around with them, have a little coffee and cake, until Dora's sister is up and doing things, then down to the main house and her other sister is up and soon the niece appears.
After a while, Laura is out and we have breakfast/lunch on the table outside. Most of the talk is in Italian, so the grandfather (Petre) and I don't do much except eat.
The niece goes around to see various animals, and later they're out down the road, and I go for a walk in that direction, through some big cows grazing across the road. Then Dora and I go for a walk to find everyone out there. Dora plays toreador in front of some cows: pic.
We go too far down the road, come back, find everyone near the stream, and niece and Tica are IN the stream. I'm not interested in going in, looks rocky and slippery and water very cloudy. Dora wades in, and I can see what's coming, and soon the niece is trying to push Dora over into the water. Then they're splashing and soaking each other, then the niece's mother is in too, and only the youngest sister and I have the common sense to stay out and dry. Eventually they squelch out and we head home. Pics.
I loaf and nap for a while in the house, various talk and socializing, then Tica is starting up a fire to grill dinner. We men have some plum grappa; they buy the raw alcohol and then add sugar and soak plums in it. Tica takes the niece and youngest sister for a ride on an ATV.
I manage to have a couple of calm talks with the dog Mike, a big Doberman Pinscher who has been going wild any time any of us strangers head into the back house. Later, the grandfather lets the dog loose to bark at a nearby cow, and then I scratch the dog and he gets friendly with me. A couple of other nieces, from the Romanian side of the family, show up. Pics.
Later, we all go to a nearby corral and a horse is brought over so Dora's niece can be given a ride. Pics.
A heap of grilled pork and sausages and some chicken for dinner. The food is terrific, but we've been having mainly bread, meat and cheese the last couple of days; we need to have some fruit and salad soon or we're going to die.
More loafing as the family has a semi-serious talk, I think. Tica takes a couple of nieces out for a long ride on the ATV: pic. While they're out, Ivana comes in a car to take Dora and me back to the hotel. Home after 8.
Out to Profi supermarket and got through about 5 minutes before they closed at 10. Muesli and nectarine and apple and yogurt for dinner.
After a while, we're piling into two cars to go to Sinaii. The niece insists on going in the fancy BMW, so Dora and I switch to the other car, with Tica. Long drive; I thought it was only 39 KM, but the roads are a bit winding and go through some small towns, but still it seems to take 90 minutes or so, too long.
We get to Sinaii, which is a fancy ski-town, and get to the castles we want to see. But we get turned back; no parking available. So we loop back through town and around to the side of the castles, and still parking is very hard. Dora and I hop out and Tica takes off to park the car, and we wait for a while. We wander down to the restaurant/giftshop area, Dora heads off to a bathroom, the others show up. Eventually we all get to Peles Castle. Into a slow ticket-buying line, and Tica and Andreu will wait elsewhere, they've seen the castle before.
Tickets are cheap, 80 Leu ($20) for 4 adults plus child, but then we have to wait another 20-25 minutes for an English-speaking tour. We don't care what language, we're willing to tag along on a German or Russian tour, but the security guard won't let us. Dora is fuming.
Finally we get in, and the place is jammed with groups, and some of our group seems to be somewhat loutish British kids. We have to put blue cloth booties over our shoes. We slowly crowd through the rooms, seeing some nice marble sculpture, nice wood sculpture, nice woodwork, some weaponry and armor, some nice stained glass, etc. No pictures allowed unless you've paid a lot extra, but everyone is sneaking pictures, and gimlet-eyed ladies are trying to watch us and stop us from taking pictures unless we have the extra permit. But the light is bad for taking good pictures.
Out, find Tica and Andreu, and it's after 2:30. I feel bad that we're occupying their whole day, especially becuae Andreu was out partying or something until 5 AM, but they don't seem to mind. We slowly head back to the cars, take forever to get loaded and get going.
Out of town and eventually to a ski-chalet restaurant/hotel. I think Tica and Andreu are familiar with this place; Tica has been a ski-instructor, and Andreu skiis very well. We sit outside at a big log table with huge umbrella over top, order food and soda. Start feeling better when we have something to drink. The food is fine; my dish is called something like Dronghea Stew, it has polenta and pork and chicken and mushrooms and an egg over top. Also we have a side-dish of great sausages, and Dora gives me some of her pork. So I eat well.
Eventually back into the cars, and Dora has opted for the fancy car, so Tica and I drive home by ourselves.
To the house. Have some nibbles and grappa, chat a little, toy with the big fierce dog for a while. The niece leads me through the back of the property, past the other dog, the chicken coops, through a long orchard, and out into a hilly meadow area, quite pleasant. Can see for miles.
Back to house, loaf, grandfather brings in a goat for some reason, loaf some more, some food, chat, snooze.
Tica gives us a ride back to the hotel. Home around 9:40. Tired.
Five minutes later, Laura shows up, so we're at the right church. But apparently the service will happen later, maybe at 10 ? Not sure. We go to the park, take some pictures of ourselves all dressed up (pics), then to the hotel and have breakfast. I go out and hit an ATM.
We're finishing our breakfast when there's a call, it's 9 and the service is happening NOW ! We hustle across the street and into the church, there are 30 people or so, and the service has started. Five minutes later, the widow and Tica come in; they've missed some of it too.
A fairly short and simple service, of which I understand not a word. At the end they give out some food which has been blessed, I guess. Some beggars have come in from the street and want money.
Half a dozen of us walk down to a cemetery several blocks away, for a short memorial service there. The priests arrive and chant/sing for a minute as we all hold hands on a basket or hold hands with each other. Then it's done.
Back to the hotel, I change out of my suit (much to Dora's disappointment), soon we go downstairs to the cafe/restaurant. We sit and have some sodas and stuff, but apparently we're just hanging out until a big lunch at 2 ? It's only 10:30 now.
Back and forth between room and restaurant. Eventually upstairs in the restaurant, and a long, slow dinner with lots of good Romanian food. Some grappa that is the straight clear stuff, probably 150 proof.
To the house around 4. I napped for quite a while, listening to my MP3 player. Later, the kids playing with the chickens, able to pick up one of them. Then we all got rides on the ATV, which is fast and dangerous and lots of fun. Dora getting ready to go out on the ATV: pic.
Miscellaneous pics from today: pics.
I started getting eager to leave, but had to wait while Dora was talking to people. Eventually Andreu gave us a ride to the hotel. Home by 9. Loud Romanian dance music coming from the disco downstairs; glad that wasn't playing last night too.
Went downstairs briefly around 10:45. It's a wedding party. The dancing is uninteresting, but some beautiful women, and we saw a cake with big sparklers on top, a fountain of sparks.
Back to the room, and try to get a little sleep. But the music gets faster, then an over-amplified singer starts singing.
Down to the street by 2 AM, and no sign of our ride. Dora contacts her sister, around 2:15 Andreu comes by, but he's off to pick up the others, he's not our ride. A bit after 2:20 Alexander shows up in the taxi, we pile in, down the road, then loop right back to the hotel and pick up some guy. He's a friend of theirs who is going to drive back for Andreu, who is too tired to drive the trip both ways.
Off we go, Dora talking in Italian with the other two, as I sat by and tried to doze. Smooth but long trip, arrived at Bucharest airport just about at 4 AM. And the other car, with the sisters and niece, are there just ahead of us. I gave Dora 200 Leu to pay the taxi, but she paid only 150 of it. Why not pay them a little more for taking us in the middle of the night ?
Out and into the airport, and it's busy. Dora and I are lucky to see our flight posted for check-in as soon as the sign changes, and we hustle over and get near the front of the line, but it's moving slowly. Get checked in, take turns hitting the bathroom, wait for a little while with her sister. But then we head for the Security line, which is slow. Then a passport-check line, which is long but fast. To the gate with 15 minutes to spare. Through the gate, onto a bus, short ride, onto plane.
Uneventful flight to Istanbul; reasonable meal on the plane. But we're feeling hammered as we stagger off into the terminal. Five hours to wait for next flight. Bathrooms here are fairly disgusting. To a cafe for coffees. In a sleepy haze.
Realized there was an earlier flight to Malaga, so did a long walk to that gate, but just as we got there they started to board, and I think they were nearly full, and anyway our luggage probably wouldn't be on the flight. After they finished boarding, Dora did get them to put our frequent-flier numbers on the next flight leg. Sat and dozed.
Flight loaded and off on time. Long but uneventful. Only two bathrooms, all the way at the back, and I'm in the front roww of coach.
Landed mostly on time, and we have 1 hour flat to catch a train. So of course everything delays us. As soon as we get off, they hold us so another group can go to a plane, then another group can go to passport check ahead of us. Pushing and crowding at passport check, which takes 10+ minutes. Finally through, long walk to baggage, and the luggage takes another 15+ minutes to come out.
Out and catch a taxi. The train station is only a mile or two away as the crow flies, but you can't get there from here. The taxi takes forever, and the guy charges us for luggage and doesn't drop us off as close as possible. €21 for a 15-minute ride. We run through the train station, through Security, everyone is helpful, we get the train with 2 minutes to spare. Sweaty and tired but glad we don't have to wait 3 hours for the next one. Someone is in our seats, but they move. Someone else has smuggled a dog aboard, and it starts yapping, but the conductor makes them get off at the next stop.
The sisters and niece all have caught their planes and connections okay, which is a relief. A long day for everyone, but no problems (so far).
Arrive at Dos Hermanas (south of Sevilla), and it's hot (35C) and most things are closed on this Sunday evening. But one bar/cafe is open, so we have salads and coffees and an ice cream and some Doritos (total €9) and enjoy the air-conditioning and bathrooms.
Onto the 8:23 train to Jerez. Arrived 9:12, across to bus station, waited for 10 PM bus. Almost screwed it up: the bus came in showing one number and route on the placard, then changed to another number and route.
To Sanlucar by 10:45, to sister's apartment by 11. She's there; she arrived around 7, coming a faster and simpler but more expensive route from Bucharest.
Some chicken and soda revives us a bit, then over to other apartment by 11:30. Dump off travel-smelly clothes, shave and shower, into bed. Slept well.
Reading rental contracts for Dora's son's new apartment in Slovakia, and our new apartment in Jerez. The Slovakia contract is in Slovak and English; ours is in Spanish (which Google Translate mostly is able to translate to English).
And suddenly we need tons of cash to pay deposits and rent on two apartments. I could transfer from USA bank accounts, but that would take several days, and suddenly everything is an emergency.
Around noon, out to the center. Hot and sunny. To ATM, and I took out a chunk of cash. To another bank, long line, Dora sends the money to her son's landlord in Slovakia. I try to take more money out of a couple of ATMs, but I've hit my bank's daily limit. She goes into another bank for something else, and shows me that (surprise) a strap on her shoe has broken. So I head back home and grab a couple of pairs of shoes for her, and back to the bank. Out, bathroom stop at a cafe, to Dia for groceries, home by 2. I'm hot and sweaty.
Slow afternoon. More laundry. We'll sign rental papers tomorrow, and get the money from my account and Dora's.
Headachey; took a paracetamol.
Panic at 8: patients for her sister show up, we weren't told, her sister isn't here. Turns out they came in cold: no phone call, no appointment. Dora gave them a little info and soon they were gone.
Didn't get to bed until 12:30; Dora doing various computer stuff, printing and scanning.
To bus station with Dora to catch 10:30 bus to Jerez. It was late; didn't go until 10:45. Picked up at Jerez bus station by the real-estate agent, drove 2 blocks as the crow flies to the new apartment.
Up to apartment and met the owners. Inspected the apartment, tested everything we could test, it's in perfect shape. The man kindly raised three of the hanging lights so I wouldn't bump my head into them. Dora talked up a storm with the others, as I wandered and stayed out of the way and took pictures:
Looked at the printed contract, and they haven't fixed any of the things I told them about yesterday. The only important item is that they left a letter out of Dora's name, so they will fix that.
Eventually lots of signing, then Dora and I and agent go out and walk a block to the banks. I can't get any cash on my ATM card, because less than 24 hours ago I took out €800 to pay for her son's apartment. Dora does something at one bank, then takes out a huge chunk of cash (€1800, I think) at another. Back to the apartment, pay.
The man shows us how the keys work, and where the parking spot and laundry area etc are. Seven separate keys (three locks on apartment door, then mailbox, parking, inside plaza door, outside building door). For some reason, the assembly of keyrings he gives us has ten keys and an electronic fob on it.
Finally a bit before 3, they're out and we're out and we get the keys and we all say good-bye.
Into the real-estate agent's car. First to Dora's work office, to get her work contract, needed for the apartment rental. 20 minutes or so waiting while she does that. Then to niece's school, but it's locked up tight. Agent finds a medical clinic Dora wants to locate (near the school), and then delivers us to the bus station. Very nice lady.
Headachey; I take a Dolocatil.
Into the station to catch our breath and use the bathroom. Recharge bus cards. Then across the plaza to a cafe. Sodas and big plates of food for total of €12. Happy that we have an apartment !
Eventually back to bus station. I catch 5 PM bus to Sanlucar; Dora will catch 5:15 to El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Home to spare apartment by 5:45. Picked up 3 boxes delivered to apartment next door; that's the last of the big boxes from Barcelona. Glued Dora's shoe that she broke yesterday.
To sister's apartment by 6. Message from Dora; patients showing up at 8, and if I'm the only one here at that time, I should let them in.
7:50, two people show up. 8:07, two more. No sister by 8:18. Dora is on a bus. I'm still headachey; took a sumatriptan. Dora and sister dash in at 8:29. [Later, they said her sister had to deliver a baby at the last minute during her shift at the hospital, and both patients had come a little early, and the taxi was a little late.]
Headache really bad around 9:45; took a Nolotil and went upstairs to lie down. Felt better after a while.
Dora cooked a pasta-and-leftover-turkey dinner which we ate at 10:30 or so.
Over to sister's apartment around 10:30. No one home. Did internet. Headache back and forth, good and bad. Shower and lunch. Dora out at banks until almost 1:30.
Still headache at 2:15; took a sumatriptan.
Online, bought train tickets for my trip to Zaragoza in October. Took a Nolotil. Big dinner with Dora at 4.
At 5, a guy with a car showed up. Over to spare apartment, brought down four of the big boxes from Barcelona, that's all the boxes that will fit in the car with us. Added some soft suitcases full of clothes and stuff, Dora and I piled in, and we're off to Jerez.
Navigated to apartment okay, drove into the underground parking garage, and managed to go right to the elevator without getting lost (actually, the garage isn't that big). Found the right key to the door on the first try, out of a ring of 10 keys. Piled stuff into elevator, up to apartment, got front door open without too much trouble. Dumped the stuff, back down to car, out and back to Sanlucar.
Debating whether to sleep in Sanlucar or Jerez tonight, logistics, etc. In Sanlucar, we get all but one big box into the car, stuff it with more bags and suitcases, off to Jerez again. Two trips up in the elevator this time, dump everything, back down. Out in the car, go two blocks, but the guy doesn't want to go anywhere for a drink as Dora had offered. Pay him €40 and we're out and he's gone. It's 8 or so.
Wandered and found a cafe with Wi-Fi and a power outlet, and ordered Cokes. Then Dora proceeded to get on the phone with our internet provider (Jazztel) and talk their ears off for a solid 90 minutes, getting transferred to multiple agents. But eventually they beat her; she's on some blacklist, and they won't give us service here under her name, and we have to cancel the service in Barcelona, and she'll probably lose the phone number.
Out of cafe, wandered a little, looking for a fruit/veg shop, but none are open.
Into apartment by 10:15. Tired, but fun to start unpacking and arranging stuff. No Wi-Fi.
Out at 9:30 or so. Walked about 8-10 blocks up to an area with lots of banks. My ATM card works again; took out a chunk of cash. To another bank so Dora could do something complicated. Then to a third bank so Dora could deposit most of the cash I took out. To a cafe for breakfast.
Back to apartment, grabbed a bunch of stuff, down and out to bus station, caught the 1100 bus to Sanlucar after it had backed out of its bay and was about to go.
To sister's apartment before noon. I dropped off stuff, checked mailbox at other apartment, then went to Correos to pick up a letter for Dora's sister. Back to sister's apartment before 12:30.
Online, trying to figure out govt offices in Jerez. Also, copying passport and residency card and printing form to renew residency. Ribs and rice for dinner.
Went out to Dia and another shop in early evening; hot.
Online, sent about $6000 to Slovakia to pay for Dora's son's medical school tuition.
Dora home at 3:30 or so, wiped out from dealing with banks and insurance and then walking home in the hot afternoon. I had cooked beef-and-vegs for dinner, which revived her a bit.
Gathering together stuff to take to Jerez. Looks like we have more than one carload, will have to leave some behind, maybe.
Car arrives after 8. Fill it with stuff from both apartments, leaving a few things behind for later. Off to Jerez, navigate to apartment, unload everything. Up to apartment. See a wedding leaving from the church down below on Medina; couple are leaving in a horse-drawn carriage.
Start sorting things out, we're missing a bottle of sherry that must have rolled under a seat in the car.
Shave and shower. Soon out to see if we can buy any food. Most shops are closed, but only a block away we find a roast-chicken place, and buy a chicken and fries for €11. Back home, eat in front of TV. Soon Dora is snoozing, she's very tired. To bed, and slept well.
Figured out the keys, sorting them into groups and putting a label on each group. Using them was hard because there are 10 of them, and several stick in their locks. So you find the right key but it won't turn, and you assume it's the wrong key and try another. Ended up with one extra key that doesn't seem to fit anything; maybe it's old ? [Later figured it out: it's for the outside pedestrian door to the parking garage.]
Out well after noon. To Mercadona for a load of groceries. Hot. Spain is having a heat-wave, and I'm out in the afternoon.
Out again before 6. Wandered into the center, walking slowly and staying in shade. Most shops closed. I'm just trying to scope things out, locate a ferreteria or key shop. Looked into Iglesia de San Miguel church just as a very fancy wedding was starting. Sign on a restaurant: pic. Found Tourist Info, closed.
Phone call from Dora, she's working in this heat, at a motorcycle race. No one told her to bring her own food, and the racetrack food is not appealing. She's done at 7 or so, but then they go to El Puerto de Santa Maria to work at a grape-harvest festival until 2 AM. Then another job starts at 8 AM tomorrow.
Wandered back home, stopping at Mercadona for another load of groceries. Hot.
Out at 8. Found a hyper-Chinese-mart nearby, bought an ice-cube tray. Found a key-making place, but they're closed. To Mercadona for more groceries. And then back to Mercadona for one more load of groceries.
Fruit and salad for dinner. Headachey; took a paracetamol.
At 11:15, brief fireworks from a nearby bodega; they're celebrating the grape harvest this weekend.
Alarm went off at 2:30, phone shows I've just missed a call from Dora, try to call her and the calls don't work, then I hear a buzzer. Dora is downstairs. I find the door-phone in the kitchen, talk to her, buzz her in. A moment later, she's buzzing again, I buzz her in through the inside door. Up the elevator and she's home.
Other than the heat, her work today was easy, it seems. But she's very tired, of course. Soon to bed.
I unpacked a couple of boxes and put away my stuff. Out after noon. Street art: pic. To ATM. To train station to copy down schedule to Sevilla. To bus station to copy bus schedules to/from Sevilla, but they couldn't tell me about buses from Sevilla to Sanlucar. Wandered and checked out a couple of small plaza-parks, then home.
Loafed during the hot afternoon.
Dora home at 5:15, hot but not really tired. Did laundry; had to stretch an extension cord across the kitchen to plug in the washer. Leftover chicken etc for dinner, then we crashed for a big nap.
Out at 10. Walked down toward center. Hot and very still, no brreeze at all. Cafe we were heading for was closed, but another was open, had Wi-Fi. And beer. Very cheap: a beer and a soda and a Russian salad and some bread came to €3.20. Online, got a cita for renewing my residencia, but it's not until Nov 8. No AC power, both laptops ran dry after a while. Home after midnight.
I went to bed; Dora stayed up until 2 or so, I think.
Did laundry (seat-cushions).
Spent an hour or so going back and forth between our building and the nearby key-making place. Had them make two new sets of the front door keys (total of 6), two new sets of the outside keys (total of 8), and one new set of the parking/laundry keys (total of 3). They were able to modify the outside-most key to make copies that worked better than the worn-out original, and then make one additional copy from a new copy. So, total of 18 keys, and they charge only €1.20 per key, so about €22 total. But I had to test each new key in every lock, and go back once to have them fix 2 copies that didn't work the first time. Still, got it all done, more easily and cheaply than I expected. Labeled each new set of keys.
Out to fruit store and then again to Mercadona. Hot.
Dora home around 2:30. I had to dash out to Mercadona again to buy shampoo and conditioner for her.
Around 3:40, car arrived with her sister in it, and Dora went down and off to a medical clinic meeting, then a niece's school meeting.
Got ready to cook. Out to Mercadona for some more groceries.
Cooked turkey and rice. I hate these electronic cook-stoves; if you use the front burners, the controls overheat and start flashing error codes.
8:45, no sign of Dora and sister. Decided to eat dinner by myself. So of course as soon as I put knife to turkey, the door-buzzer sounded, and soon Dora was up and we ate together.
At 11, out with laptops, into center to a restaurant to do Wi-Fi. Home by almost 12:30.
To station, onto bus, smooth ride to Sevilla Prado San Sebastian station, arrived 9:15. Checked bus schedule, went outside station, over near a restaurant we've been to before, and suddenly I have Wi-Fi connectivity. Send WhatsApp to Dora telling her I've arrived, and she says the plane with her cousin hasn't landed yet. I think that means an hour at least before the cousin can arrive here: land, get baggage, catch bus, and bus takes 30 minutes or more. Little chance we could catch the 10:30 bus back to Jerez, and the next one is at 1 PM.
So I wander across the street, through a big park, and over to Plaza de Espana: pics. Find a free military history museum, so I go in and look for a while: pics.
Out, and decide to head back to the bus station. Good thing I did, because when I get Wi-Fi and WhatsApp again, there's a message that the cousin is at the bus station NOW. I think she's only been waiting a couple of minutes, but still I'm late, I had been planning to be waiting as her bus arrived, but she's off and crossed the street and over here now.
I look, quickly see what looks like the cousin, but a younger woman and 2-year-old girl are with her. I say the cousin's name, it's the right people, surprise, the daughter and grandaughter came along on the trip too.
It's 10:25. I quickly lead them into the station, suggest a bathroom break while I buy tickets, get down to the right bay, and we're onto the 10:30 bus with 2 minutes to spare.
They're tired and disoriented, not knowing where they are and where we're going. And later I find out the daughter was traveling all night. But they speak to Dora on the phone, I tell them the bus ride will be about 1:15, and we settle down. We all try to keep the little girl entertained.
Arrive at Jerez bus station about 11:40, and I lead them out and about 3 blocks to our apartment. Offer them any food we have, and they go for only soda and yogurt. The daughter speaks some English, I speak a little Spanish, we manage to get settled. The little girl enjoys wandering.
Dora had said she would get home at 2:30, but then she calls and says she'll be home at 1, which is good. We're not set up for guests yet (minimal towels, for example), and the language barrier is tough at times. She arrives, they're all happy to see each other.
I went out to buy a roast chicken for dinner. Stopped first at Hiper Number One mercado to buy a little stuffed-toy for the little girl. To the chicken place, and it's closed, no sign specifying opening hours.
Home. Heated up leftover turkey and rice and cooked eggs for dinner. Girl didn't bond to the stuffed toy; she'd rather play with an empty soda bottle or the TV remote.
I went out at 3. To train and bus stations to copy schedules so Dora can go to El Puerto this afternoon. To Mercadona for some groceries. Very hot. [Later, TV news said these last two days have been record-hot days in Spain.]
Dora and cousin out at 4:35, to go to Dora's meeting in El Puerto.
Dozed. Dora and cousin not back until 8:30, partly because they stopped at a bar for a while.
Out before 9. Two blocks down the street to Mercadona for a big load of groceries. We were going to buy a roast chicken at the asador place, but it's still closed; I guess they're closed on Tuesdays.
Home, and the ladies from Italy are doing the cooking, tomato sauce with ham and onion, over pencil-points pasts. Playing with the little girl in the kitchen: pics. And this big kitchen is not so big when 5 people are operating in it. I made a salad, set the table, did the drinks.
And of course the electronic cookstove decided to quit halfway through cooking the pasta. So much for my theory that using only the back burners would keep the controls from overheating. Fortunately the water had been hot enough to continue cooking the pasta after the burner stopped, so we had quite a nice meal. The little girl is wandering around as we eat, and of course Dora is completely in love with her.
To bed at a reasonable hour for once, around 11:30.
But we got it together and dashed out the door a bit after 8, and down to the bus/train station plaza. Into a cafe, ordered four coffees and four toast-plates ASAP, and they came out pronto. So we had a nice breakfast while looking out over the plaza. Dora's ride was a little late, probably picked her up around 9:05.
Now I played tour-guide to the ladies and little girl from Italy. Walked back to the church next to the apartment building, and fortunately it was open and in the middle of a mass. So we joined that for 5 minutes.
Then out and walked over to Plaza de Las Angustias. Down toward the center, and ducked into another church for a minute: pic.
Out, and suddenly the little girl needed changing and we went into the big cafe where Dora and I have done late-night Wi-Fi. Instead of being empty, it was jammed and noisy, full of mainly oldsters. My phone picked up the Wi-Fi, so I WhatsApp'd with Dora while waiting for the bathroom operation to complete.
Across the street into another church (Real Convento de PP. Franciscanos) for a minute. Lots of people in this one.
Into the center, to Plaza del Arenal, and stopped for a moment in Tourist Info. Then down to the Alcazar, a Moorish fortress and mosque. But the admission is €5 apiece and free on Mondays (I think), and looks like a lot of walking, so we didn't do that. Over to the cathedral, which is sort of on the edge of the center. Around it and in, and paid the €5 admission. The ladies from Italy are pretty surprised that a church would charge admission.
Almost no photography allowed, but that didn't stop us: pics. Nice big cathedral with lots of side-rooms displaying various art and artifacts and religious "treasures".
Back to the center, up some narrow side-streets that required multiple map-readings. Emerged at Plaza del Arenal and went up Larga, with a stop at a souvenir shop. The girl is asleep now, and we head home. Long sunny walk back to the apartment, home by 11:45. Nice to drink cool water over ice.
Soon I went out to buy a couple of groceries at Mercadona, so we can make food for the girl. Home, and the stove is refusing to work, it flashes a "lock" icon if you try to turn it on. The instruction manual is in Spanish, so I give it to the daughter to figure out, while we microwave the girl's food.
Had some watermelon and other melon and yogurt for lunch, while cooking something for the girl (using microwave and then the stove; daughter figured out to clear the error condition). Girl refusing to eat and then crying.
I went out before 2 to recharge my mobile at the shop across the street (this location really is amazingly convenient to services). On the way back, big phone call from Dora, her parents and niece had their Bilbao-to-Sevilla flight canceled, they hope to arrive tomorrow instead of today. Big mess; already someone is driving a car to Sevilla to pick them up and can't be reached, and her father's health is not good, and now they're going to have to be retrieved from the Bilbao airport and put up in a hotel. The five of us here will move to Sanlucar late this afternoon anyway.
Dora said she would be home after 3, but arrived at 4. I wanted people to pack and maybe go eat a bite before catching the 5 PM bus, but Dora is texting and dawdling and then the women start taking showers. I coax and badger and finally we get out the door at 4:45. Hustle to the bus station, arrive with 5 minutes to spare, and then the bus leaves late, then stops to pick up one last passenger who takes forever to pay the fare, and finally we're out 5 minutes late.
To Sanlucar, and the longish walk to Dora's sister's apartment. Somehow Dora has picked up a Dutch guy who was sitting next to her on the bus, and said maybe he can stay at one of her sister's apartments ! We're into the sister's new apartment around 5:45. Dora calls her sister, and to my amazement she says the guy can stay in one apartment or the other, never alone. Great, just what we need, another complication.
I do some Wi-Fi while we're waiting for someone. Payment for son's medical school has been delayed because of the funny-looking account name; sent email to try to clear that up. Started a transfer of money to my Spanish bank account because the internet/phone/cable account for the new apartment will be in my name; Dora has been blacklisted. Tried to look for an earlier cita in Jerez to renew my residency, but the police web site forces me to cancel my existing cita before I can even search for another; not sure I want to do that.
Turns out we're waiting for someone to buy and deliver bedsheets to use at the other apartment ! There are sheets somewhere in the jumble of stuff in the basement here, but the only people who know where are stuck in Bilbao today. I go down into the basement, find a big duffel bag full of bedding, and the women pull out sheets that are acceptable.
So we head over to the other apartment. Get settled in, turn on fan and air-conditioner (which I thought didn't work, but it is working a bit today, after a while). Have a shower, which improves my mood greatly. Some talk, then I retreat for a short nap.
After 8, I'm out with Dora, and we get one block before her phone starts going nuts with messages. And she's forgotten her glasses, so I have to read them to her. Fortunately no urgent "come in right now" message from work in Jerez.
To key-making hardware store; closed. To Chinese shop, and buy a nice extension cord. To Dia for groceries. To roast chicken place to pick up a chicken and fries.
Home, and we all sit down for dinner, including Oliver, the guy from Holland. Who is a nice guy and speaks very good Spanish and has been to Peru (Dora's native country). He's just a complication I could do without on this trip.
At 10:45, people are heading for bed, but Dora and I head over to sister's apartment to pick up the new sheets and do some housekeeping and do some internet.
Back to other apartment after midnight. We find that while we were gone, Oliver sat on one of the dining table chairs, the same one Dora had used earlier, and it came apart at the seams and dumped him on the floor, maybe hitting his head. Dora checks him and he's okay. He's not heavy, he did nothing wrong, just the chairs are old and cheap, I guess.
To bed around 12:30.
He's out and the Italy crew is up around 9:30, and then we meet Dora and go to the beach. We go right to a cafe on the beach and have a long, leisurely breakfast of just coffee and big pieces of toast with jam/butter/pate. The little girl wanders around everywhere, especially interest in another little girl in a stroller.
I walk down to the water and dip my toes in for a while, then we're moving a little before noon. Down to the big pedestrian causeway, up towards the center. Statue: pic.
Dora has to catch a 1 PM bus to Jerez, and I assume we have to get home so she can grab things, but no, she's going right from here. So we go into the center and wander and wait as she does banking. I'm staying as the guide for the guests, while Dora works out of Jerez today. But the guests don't seem to want to go into the shops or anything. The plan is that Dora will be back here around 10, and with luck the group from Bilbao will arrive around 8, and maybe I'll go fetch roast chicken for dinner for both groups.
Dora leaves us around 12:45, and the rest of us head home. Stop in a supermarket for meat and other groceries. Home, and we play with the little girl for a while. I'm waiting until Dora's sister leaves her apartment at 1:45, so I can go raid there for lunch supplies such as oil, salt, cooking utensils. I wait until 2. Dora calls, frantic because she's in the Jerez apartment and can't find her work-pants, then she finds them. [Also, we left Jerez in such a hurry that I left the air-con on and someone left some windows open.] Similarly, for a minute I'm frantic as I think I've lost one of the four sets of keys I'm carrying, then I find it. She tells me her sister has gone to work now, so I can go over there.
I arrive at the other apartment at 2:10, and the sister is there with patients ! Oops. I sail through to the kitchen, grab stuff, get out of there.
Back to other apartment, ladies from Italy start getting ready to cook, and then we can't get the gas stove to light. It worked when Dora and I tried it a month or so ago, but not today. Should have tested it this morning. Eventually we give up and have sandwiches. Oliver comes in, grabs his stuff, chats for a while, then leaves.
By the end of lunch, the little girl is tired and getting cranky, then manages to take a header off a low toy-chair onto the stone floor. No damage, but they all head for a siesta, and I grab sheets and other laundry and head to the sister's apartment at 3:45.
No one home this time. Start the laundry, do internet, do WhatsApp with Dora. Tuition transfer to Slovakia university has completed.
The contingent from the North arrives at 5, happy to be home and happy to have me open the door for them and take their heavy suitcases. Soon I get my stuff and go back to the other apartment, to give them some time to unwind.
Siesta time in the other apartment. Around 7, the guests are talking about going to the beach, but I get them to wait. To other apartment, meet Dora's father coming out, we go to the spare apartment. They have a family reunion, very happy. This is the main reason the guests have come from Italy.
Soon I go to sister's apartment to check the drying laundry, and come back with Dora's mother and niece. Lots of talk as everyone is reunited.
I head out to roast-chicken place, have to wait for a while, come back with two chickens and two buckets of fries. Eventually we all sit down and have dinner.
I go out at 10:15, to get a little walk, and to bus station. Dora's sister has arrived from Cadiz; she starts giving me a sales pitch about how Dora and I should work with/for her. I tell her I'm retired; I don't want to work. Dora arrives from Jerez. She's tired and aching and dehydrated and having kidney pain. We take a taxi to home.
The talk is nonstop. I go to bed around 11:30. Dora finally into bed around 1 AM, I think. Her shoulders and arms are in bad shape from carrying equipment at work.
Soon out with Dora and several suitcases. To sister's apartment, where plans change again. We were going to take the niece to Jerez with us and to her school, but now she will go later in a car with Dora's mother. I add computers and stuff into the suitcases, and soon Dora and I are off to the bus station.
We catch the 0830 bus to Jerez. Arrive, and Dora can't face the 3-block walk to the apartment without sustenance. So plop down at a cafe, and have coffees and a huge plate of churros, total €4.20. Maybe we'll eat here more often.
To apartment by 10 or so. Unpack. Dora wants me to trail along as she goes to the niece's school to deal with paperwork and uniforms etc, but I'm not interested, so she's irritated with me. And she accidentally left a folder of important documents in her mother's room in Sanlucar.
Dora out at 10:45 or so. I went right behind her, saw her taxi waiting on the other side of the building, directed her to it. Then I headed towards the center. Into the bus system office, but there are long lines and they're not using numbered reservations, so I didn't stay.
Across the street and loitered next to a cafe we've been to, but the Wi-Fi didn't connect, probably they've changed the password. Down and into the big cafe we've used, and got Wi-Fi and my WhatsApp messages went. Into the central mercado, just to check it out, and it's reasonably nice, about 1/3 of it fishmongers, and I saw one whole tuna that was at least 60 pounds.
Out, up Dona Blanco street, into a bazaar and bought a charger for my phone. Around the building, checked out the bus system office again, still bad. Went home. And the phone-charger doesn't work: the USB cable is okay, but the AC-to-USB part is bad !
Glued a pair of Dora's shoes.
Out again, towards center. Got almost there and Dora called, she's back at the building with mother and niece in a car, where are the keys to the parking garage ? I describe where they are in the apartment. To the bazaar and tell the guy that the charger doesn't work. He tries it with his phone; no go. Takes another charger of the same model off the shelf, and it doesn't work either. Takes another charger of a different brand, and it works with his phone and mine. So he gives it to me.
Stop at the bus office again. Office for getting a new card still has a fair line, but the office to recharge an existing card is almost empty, so I go in there to ask questions. Short wait, then my broken Spanish and their minimal English. Find out they don't have any bus-maps, try again Monday. I try to ask if Dora has to be here for me to buy a card for her, and they say "hey, you can buy a card here right now, the other office is too crowded". Great ! €30 for two cards; I think about €4 of that went to overhead.
Made a pass through the big cafe to get ten seconds worth of Wi-Fi again. Back to home, and in the courtyard of the building, there's Dora. She got the keys but lost the car for a while. We go down to the parking garage and bring mother and niece up to see our apartment. Niece does her best to fill my phone with pics and video of her clowning around. Ten minutes later and they're off to Sanlucar. New phone-charger is working fine.
Dora and I had leftovers for lunch, then she's off to work around 2:30. I carried her bag most of the way to the bus station. Hot today, but not as bad as a few days ago.
Out in the evening, to ATM and then to Mercadona.
I started cooking, but Dora not home until 9:30. She's feeling good, but still on painkillers for her kidneys. Nice dinner of pork cutlets and rice; it was good.
Out at 10:30 or so, taking phones to find a cafe with Wi-Fi. Tried a couple, settled at a Chinese cafe at corner of Plaza Las Angustias. I tried Cicoques-and-coke. Cool evening, sitting outside, and after a while Dora was cold. Home and to bed after midnight.
Out at 10 to Hiper Number One store, to buy various things for the kitchen. Back home, then to bus station with Dora so she can catch 11 AM bus to Sanlucar. I go home and to bed; still have headache.
At 12:30, took a Nolatil, ate lunch, back to bed.
Felt a bit better by 2:30. Showered, did laundry.
Went out for a wander to the center and back. No Wi-Fi anywhere, not much happening, and I'm feeling tired. To Mercadona for groceries.
At 6:45, to bus station to meet bus at 7, but it was 15 minutes late. I expected Dora and father and lots of luggage, but got only Dora. Sounds like they had another crazy day at Sanlucar, mostly involving lots of family talk in restaurants. She did get to learn how to treat a patient with the laser machine, and check up on her father, which were the main points of the trip. But she couldn't find the folder of important documents she told me she stashed in her mother's bedroom; we'll have to go again tomorrow and look once things have quieted down there. The Italy guests are leaving tonight.
Still headachey; took another Nolatil. Napped as Dora got ready to go to work. I had leftover rice and turkey-bits for dinner.
Then suddenly Dora is in a panic, running out the door to the bus/train station. Took me a while to catch up with her and give her a spare battery she had been charging. Apparently the people at work forgot to pick her up before going, and now she's dashing to catch another ride. I went home and found she left lights on and the water running in the bathroom.
Did more laundry. Had some watermelon (that was getting bad) and some melon (quite good). Read my book.
Slept, ate some breakfast, slept hard until 12:30. I planned to catch the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar by myself, look for the folder of important documents, and bring back a suitcase or two of stuff. But Dora insists on going with me. I say no about 6 times; she's sick and tired and has to work again tonight. But she ignores me and comes along with me.
Out on the street, she says she's feeling better. And whole trip goes a lot better than I expected. We catch the bus, walk to sister's apartment in Sanlucar. Italy guests have gone home, and sister is at work.
But the usual upset: not only did her mother lose her mobile phone on the trip down from the North (third time she's lost a phone), but this morning her sister has lost HER mobile phone somehow. And forgotten her glasses. We search everywhere, call the phone, no luck. Father uses car to take the glasses to the sister at work. [Next day, the sister has found her phone in her bag at the hospital.]
Meanwhile, I find the folder of important docs upstairs, in a drawer outside the mother's bedroom instead of inside it. We go to other apartment and bring back lots of stuff. Play with the niece, who is showing off some gymnastics etc. Have some soup and chicken and rice for dinner.
Dora decides we won't make the 4:10 bus, we'll go on the 6:15 bus. Then the father comes home in the car, and we're scrambling out the door to get the 4:10 bus. We make it with 2-3 minutes to spare. Back to Jerez. Hard work hauling all the stuff to the apartment; home after 5.
Crashed for a big nap for a couple of hours. Still a little headachey; took a Tonopan.
We cooked pesto-zucchini spaghetti and salad for dinner.
Out at 10:30 or so to walk Dora to the taxi. Then I walked a bit, to find a bus stop to use tomorrow, and to explore a little.
Wasted my morning waiting for Dora and the owners; I thought they were arriving at 10 and 11, but it turned out to be 11:30 and 12.
The owners found a hidden power outlet in the kitchen by sliding the dishwasher out, don't know who unplugged it, but now they've plugged it in, so the dishwasher/washingmachine issue is solved. Can't get the stove to malfunction while they're here. Living-room air-con is staying bad; owner is futzing with it. No resolution on the refrigerator-door seal. Tray in freezer was cracked before we got here, no issue about that. Spare gas bottle in pantry is full; felt mostly-empty to me. Gas bottle we're using is nearly empty, so we'll get a refill for that.
The owner found water leaking in the kitchen, now that the dishwasher line has been turned on. He started messing with the main water valve for the apartment, and can't fix it. So called friend/handyman, who also can't fix it. Looks like the building water will have to be turned off, and the main valve here re-packed or something.
By 2:15, we're hungry and Dora starts cooking spaghetti with pesto sauce for all of us. We eat, then the owners leave after 3.
Gas-refill coming tomorrow morning. We have to do padron tomorrow; we've been putting it off. Plumber and the air-con company has been called; not sure when they'll come. Dora says we have to go to Sanlucar tonight, mainly to do internet and printing and scanning etc.
So, we fall into bed at 4 for a nap, and decide to catch the 5 PM bus ! Shower, throw stuff into luggage, leave empty gas bottle outside the door with money under it, off to the bus station. Bus driver is not the usual guy, and he hits a couple of curbs and misses a stop in the outskirts of Sanlucar, outraging half a dozen passengers.
To sister's apartment in Sanlucar before 6. I go out and have some keys duplicated. Then onto the computer to do some internet.
But Dora is frustrated; the sister's printer doesn't work. There's a new printer, but the power adapter for it can't be located. Then patients for her sister arrive, but no sister (as usual).
Around 7:30, Dora and I and the niece head out, stopped for a while by Dora's need to change her shoes on the street, then the niece has to go back to use the bathroom. Finally moving, can't find a printer to buy anywhere, into the center, and to a medical clinic where her sister works sometimes. There, I wait outside with the niece, then she goes in and I wait by myself. Go out to the central street and sit on a bench and wait wait wait.
Around 9, go back to the clinic, and find that Dora and niece and patients are waiting for the sister to show up. I take the niece home, and at 9:15 her sister has finished with patients and is rushing out the door to go to the clinic where Dora is waiting. Crazy.
Online, looking at a Ricky Martin concert that Dora and her sister would love to go to. But it's soon (Sunday), fairly far away (Merida), and apparently the only way to get there is by car (or BlaBlaCar). And it starts at 10 PM, so we'd be up all night, and how would this fit with their work schedules ?
Everyone finally home after 10 or so. Eggs and rice and a little hotdog for dinner. I had a sandwich and yogurt earlier.
To other apartment after 11:30. Dora slept hard.
To bus station by 7:40. But the scheduled 7:50 bus didn't arrive. The schedule has an asterisk by it, and the note is unclear. I read it to mean "skips the campus stop unless school is in session", but I guess it's supposed to mean "this bus doesn't run at all unless school is in session".
Dora's parents and the niece showed up for her 8 AM bus to school in Jerez.
Dora and I caught the 8:30 bus, which took an odd route. Arrived, and argued with the woman in the ticket office about the meaning of the schedule. I got the impression that LOTS of people have given her grief about that 7:50 bus; the description is incorrect.
Got to Jerez apartment at 9:45. Gas bottle we left has not been filled yet. Apartment owner arrived 10 minutes later. He talked to Dora for a while, then left.
I dashed out to a copy-shop and had copies made of our ID cards and rental contract. I've been trying to get us to the padron office for a week now; we need to do govt paperwork.
Back home, and frustrated again. The owner is back, with a building-maintenance guy. They leave, but they'll be back in half an hour, so we can't go do the padron yet.
Dora thinks a camera, some jewelry, and one of her coats has been stolen from this apartment, probably taken last week. With all the boxes here, it's hard to be sure until everything is unpacked and stowed.
I went to Correos to mail a couple of postcards to Peru.
Trying to get out the door to the padron office. Dora says let's go, then says "let me cook some lunch". Gas-refill guy comes, Dora doesn't like the new bottle he's giving us, makes him bring another one. Finally we grab all our stuff, which includes 3x as much as there should be because Dora wants to do bank business too after the padron and take her laptop too. We head down in the elevator. Only to run into the owner waiting outside; the plumber is coming now, not tomorrow. Back into the elevator and upstairs.
I went for a lie-down. Water got fixed while I was dozing. But the gas-heater didn't restart after putting on the new bottle. Owner eventually got it working; I assume it just had a lot of air in the line.
Out at 1:30 or so. Starting to spit rain; I had to go back for umbrellas. Raining a bit as we got to Correos. Up further and into a bank. When we came out, it was raining harder. To another bank, and as I waited outside, the rain got pretty strong. Dora finally out, and we went into the cafe next door.
Lots of food and Wi-Fi. Something strange with our phones; somehow two of our numbers have gotten switched. Maybe Lycamobile has screwed up. And Dora is trying to get some legal documents online and either email or print or scan them.
Eventually out, head home. But when we get to Correos, Dora says "I have to go in and do something". Which turns out to be 20 minutes of various things, as I wait. Finally out and home by 4:30 or so.
Opened up the phones, and am amazed to find that someone switched a couple of SIMs on us ! They must have grabbed the phones when they were charging and unattended. Switched the SIMs back.
Planned to go to local copy-shop to scan and print documents, but Dora has so many pages to scan that we decided to go buy a printer/scanner.
Out around 6. To locutorio across the street to charge Dora's 912 mobile number. To bus stop on side of our building. Lots of choices, but some buses come only every 45 minutes in the evening. Took bus 8, which went two blocks and then sat at Plaza de las Angustias for about 4 minutes, then took a long, winding route. Got to Carrefour Norte after almost 45 minutes. Place is hopping; parking lot totally full, lots of people everywhere.
Into the mall, saw a mattress store, said "let's peek at prices". Bad move, Dora spent 15 minutes talking to the saleswoman. Finally out of there, into Carrefour, a little hard to find the printers. Bought an HP 3634 with free extra BW cartidge for €40. Out, the Dora back in to use bathroom, then out. Found right bus stop on second try, bus came promptly, about 25 minutes to get home.
Home after 8:35. Had the scanner working in less than 10 minutes; no need to put in paper or ink cartridges, Dora just will do scanning tonight. Then catch the last bus to Sanlucar ! She needs to do internet tonight and sign legal papers with her sister tomorrow morning. I'm staying here.
Dora puts soup on to heat, and starts scanning.
Soup for dinner at 9:15 or so, then walked Dora to the bus station and she caught the 10 PM bus to Sanlucar.
After noon, went out to explore. Toward center. Bus system office is too crowded to wait to ask for a map. Headed south, downhill, into a part of the city I've mostly not seen. Pretty uninteresting, but fun to walk. It's a gorgeous sunny day, lovely temperature. Street art: pics.
Found the building where we'll do the padron. It's in a dead zone for buses, it seems. Walked to the E where I knew there were a couple of bus routes, and got a call from Dora saying an air-con technician wants to come to the apartment. I said I'll be home in 30 minutes, and started looking for a bus stop. Found one, waited 15 minutes for bus 8, got off at our building. Home by 2:15.
Cooked spaghetti for dinner. No sign of any air-con guy by 4 PM.
Out to Mercadona for groceries. Napped. Out to Mercadona again. Glued some detached ornaments back onto a pair of Dora's shoes.
Picked up Dora at bus station around 7:30. In Sanlucar, she emailed most of the documents she scanned, and did some shopping. But the big event she went for was a bust: she and sister and mother went to a notary to sign documents to take to Peru, but her mother forgot to take her ID documents to the meeting, and the notary had to leave before they could go back and return with the documents. [Dora also forgot to take her Peruvian DNI to the meeting, but that was less important.] So Dora will have to go AGAIN, maybe tomorrow. But she has to work tomorrow morning. I'm trying to put a stake in the ground that we'll do the padron Friday morning, but who knows ? The padron office is open only 0930-1330 each day. And Dora managed to leave one of the new printer cables in Sanlucar.
Out and down to the big cafe by 10 to do Wi-Fi. After 11, the place was closing and I rushed to buy Ricky Martin tickets for Sunday in Merida, and make BlaBlaCar reservations to and from, for Dora and sister and me. Tickets about €40 apiece, and car-rides about the same roundtrip per person. Home by 11:30. Still missing one car-ride for the return trip.
I went out. Towards center. To bus office, no luck getting a map. To big cafe, started doing Wi-Fi, couldn't get anyone to bring me a Coke. Did lots of BlaBlaCar stuff, got 3 rides to and 2 rides back all set. Still trying to get a 3rd spot coming back, but I can take that one and timing is not so important (Dora and sister have to work in the afternoon on the day after the concert, so they have to get back at a reasonable time). Laptop battery ran out. Left all the change I had, less than 1 euro, as payment for the Wi-Fi. Tried the bus office again on my way home, they have no printed maps.
Went out again briefly to buy paper for the printer.
Dora called at 3, she said a car will come at 3:30 or later to take both of us to Sanlucar, we're invited to dine with her sister. Sigh.
Glued two more pairs of Dora's shoes, just ornamental stuff that has broken off.
Dora arrives around 4, we pack more stuff, head downstairs, into a small car with 3 adults in it already. Off to Sanlucar.
Arrive before 5, and plans have changed already. Sister has to go to work at the hospital, and is off. So Dora can't go to notary with sister and mother; she'll have to go later with just her mother.
Dora and I sit down to a chicken-and-rice dinner. At 5:30, suddenly they're saying the niece must be waiting at the bus station, we forgot to pick her up. So Dora and I head there on foot, arrive just as Dora's father is arriving in the car, and the niece's bus hasn't arrived yet. Usually arrives around 5:40, apparently. Two minutes later, bus arrives, we go home in the car.
Around 7, Dora and others left to go to notary. Online, I sent apartment rent payment for Dora's son in Slovakia. Then bought tickets for me to fly back to Spain after Thanksgiving in NJ. Newark-Madrid roundtrip for about $820.
Then at about 8:05, six people (patients and partners) show up and start waiting for Dora's sister. No one told me about this, and I'm the only one here. They start waiting, and I call Dora. Sister arrived about 20 minutes later.
Another crew of patients at 10, this time the people who gave us the car-ride, come for a treatment by Dora.
Online, finally arranged all the BlaBlaCar travel so we can do the Ricky Martin concert.
Out at 11:30 or so. Caught a taxi to the govt building at the south end of town. In, waited 5 minutes, and went in to the official. Glad to find we're at the right building. Took quite a while to do our padrons; we're already in the system via Barcelona, but I guess each region has a separate system ? My padron was free, but Dora's cost €5 for some reason.
Out maybe around 12:30, caught 13 bus, got off at Carrefour Sur. Into the big mall, used bathroom, shopped at a mattress store for half an hour. To a cafe for coffees and Wi-Fi for an hour or so.
Out, found right bus stop, took 8 bus. Long and winding route, but everntually to the stop right at our building. Home before 3, tired.
Dora cooked a very nice ribs-rice-salad dinner. I crashed afterward.
Out at 6:30. To locutorio to charge Dora's 256 phone and buy an international calling-card. To farmacia for various stuff. Then to bus station at 7 to pick up her father. But his bus was very late, arrived after 7:30, lots of people (including Dora) filing complaint forms at the office.
To Hiper Number One, for various items (clotheshangers, squeegee, etc). Then to home, with Dora and father trailing far behind and stopping in a fruit shop. I dumped the stuff in the apartment and went to Mercadona for groceries.
Out at 9 or so with Dora and her father. Walked to Plaza Arenal. Lovely still night, just slightly cool, perfect weather. Trying to find some kind of wine festival supposed to be at "Patio Armas". Went to Calle Armas, couldn't see anything, did a circuit around the Alcazar asking a couple of people, back to Plaza Arenal and sat at a cafe. Had beer and tapas and watched some kind of inline-skating club set up and do various maneuvers and moves. Back home after 11.
Walked into center, to Plaza Arenal. Got two maps at Tourist Info, but the "feria" about sustainable vehicles was pretty disappointing. A bunch of bicycles and cars, and the electric-car guys wouldn't even open a hood so I could see what the motor looked like. Stopped in Carrefour for a couple of items and home before 11.
In midafternoon, Dora calls and said she needs me to pick up some leftover order at the farmacia, and her mother is coming this evening for a medical treatment. I'm getting tired of constant changes of plan, surprises, crises.
Out to the big cafe to do Wi-Fi. But someone else is using the power outlet, and I can't find the other one that's somewhere nearby. I get some things done, but my laptop's battery is exhausted pretty quickly. And Dora sends messages to say her parents and niece are arriving soon at the bus station. Errand to farmacia seems to be canceled; I can't get a definite yes or no.
Home before 6:30. Straighten up the apartment a bit. Out, and to ATM, then bus station. Get parents and niece, back to apartment. Where the niece immediately starts prying into everything; we were going to lock some stuff up before hosting her, but she's here before we could do that. I bundle some stuff into closets we can lock, and confiscate all the keys.
Dora home at 9. Dinner of leftover rice-and-noodles, some chicken Dora bought, and eggs. A drinking glass got broken in the kitchen, and on the tile floor the pieces shot everywhere.
Out to train station to check on time of a train tomorrow.
A circuit-breaker popped, and as far as I can tell no heavy loads were running, just TV and maybe refrigerator. Dora says this happened once before.
Dora doing medical treatments on her parents. I'm starting to study a Spanish drivers-license course book.
Ricky Martin concert:
Today Dora and I and her sister are going to a Ricky Martin concert, far away in Merida tonight.
Plans change once or twice, but then we're all rushing out the door around 11:35. Hustle to the stations, Dora and I to the train station and the others to the bus station. We have 5 mninutes to spare to catch our train, but the machines won't sell a ticket for a train leaving so soon (!), and there's a slow line at the ticket counter. Guy at the information counter next to the ticket counter can't/won't sell us a ticket. Finally Dora grabs a wandering supervisor, who does some override on a machine and gets it to sell tickets to us.
Train arrives 1 minute later, and we're on. Ten-minute ride to El Puerto de Santa Maria. Meet Dora's sister in the station cafeteria there, and have something to eat. We're an hour early for our BlaBlaCar ride, but the train schedule sort of dictated that.
At 1, we're looking for a black Honda driven by "Susana". A black car pulls up, the woman answers to "Susana", she's looking for Bill, but she's doing a pickup for a yoga lesson here in town. Not our ride. 30 seconds later, another black car pulls up, a guy is driving and the woman is Susana, it's our BlaBlaCar ride. The three of us pack into the back seat, to a gas station, then we're off.
Long ride, up past Sevilla to Merida, stopping once at a gas station to use the bathrooms and buy some food. Not a bad trip, but the start of a long day, and I'm cramped from being frozen in one position.
They drop us near the center of Merida, which they and we have never been to before. They're off to Madrid, where they live.
It's 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon, most things are closed, but a few restaurants and bars are open. We sit outdoors, but there's no written menu, which leaves me and us confused. We order two dinners to share among the three of us. The table is wobbly, and the meal starts with Dora's sister spilling half a small bottle of Coke into my lap and onto the outside of my small knapsack, but fortunately the concert tickets don't get wet. The food is okay but not impressive. Total €21.50, but it was okay and a nice setting and we took plenty of time, no hurry.
Wandered over to the train station, trying to see if there was a better way to get here (there wasn't), and trying to find a bus to the concert to avoid an expensive taxi. Wandered back into the center, finding a nice plaza, and Dora and sister went into a farmacia for a while. Then we found the Tourist Info office (closed), and it has a Ricky Martin poster on the door which tells about a cheap (€2 apiece roundtrip) special bus to the concert. Perfect !
We wander down towards the river, through a big plaza with a nice fountain, then past Roman ruins. Dora's shoes break, so she borrows a pair from her sister. To the river, take pictures (pic), then along river to the next bridge, and hustle onto a concert bus that's about to leave.
People in high spirits on the bus. Longish ride to the concert area, and once off the bus we have a half-mile walk to the venue itself. Which is a dusty dirt field area with a huge stage set up.
Security confiscates various plastic bottles of water and soda that Dora and sister have brought, irritating them. Then we're in, by 8:45.
Dora and sister push right up to the wire fence at the front of the general area. I hate getting wedged into the middle crowds, so I hang back at the edge. Dora tries to coax me in, but I refuse. Finally she comes out; she wants to be with me. She pulls me into the crowd further back, and we wait and get wedged in as more and more people arrive. Standing only, of course, no seats.
Some music is playing to entertain us, but it's very bassy and most just beats. As time goes on and the start time of 10:00 nears, the music gets better and people cheer tunes they recognize, by Julio Iglesias and Shakira etc. I'm bored and surrounded and my feet hurt.
Finally at 10 the concert starts. For the first couple of songs the sound is terrible: far too much bass and drums, can't hear the singing. But they fix that. I don't really know any of the songs, and maybe 1/3 of them seem good to me. But the crowd is loving it, and Dora is loving it. Except that her borrowed shoes are flats and her broken ones had 2-inch heels, and she's having some trouble seeing through people in front of us. Pics.
We dance a bit, but things are so packed that we can't really move much. And my feet are hurting more and more.
By the second hour, it's torture. I just want to leave and sit down somewhere, but I stick it out. The last half hour is mostly teases about "should we do one more song for you ?" and such. Finally, right at midnight, it's over. I hobble out of the crowd, and walking starts to restore some circulation to my feet and ankles and legs.
Bathroom stop, then I perch on some barriers while food and drink are bought, then we start the long walk to the bus area. My legs and feet are tired and aching. Finish the half-mile, and theres a long line for the buses. 4 or 5 come and load quickly, then a delay as buses are stuck in traffic. Then 2 more buses, and we're onto the second one. Which eventually gets moving. And half of the people (mostly women) on the bus are singing the whole concert again, doing a pretty good job of it, and having a great time. Lots of fun.
To the rotunda stop at town, and off. To the nearest park bench and sit for 5 minutes. It's about 12:45, I think. And our BlaBlaCar rides don't pick us up until 4 AM and 5 AM. So we walk down to the other bridge and up into town. Plenty of people out and about, and a couple of big cafes open. But we go into a smallish nightclub. Cokes and bathrooms and do a little dancing, and kill time. Some interesting local 30ish people to watch as they party.
First ride showed up right on time at 4 AM. Dora and I into a Ford Transit van, leaving her sister to wait for a 4:30 pickup. We're going straight home to Jerez; she is going to Sevilla, where she'll catch a bus to Sanlucar. [Later, we heard that the police stopped by and asked her what she was doing there. Dora found that hilarious.]
Long but uneventful ride home, with a short stop for bathrooms and coffee. Heater not really working in the van, so a bit chilly, although the guy gave us a towel and sweatshirt to drape over us for warmth. A nice guy, he talked a lot with Dora, took us right to the door of our building.
Home by 7:10. I'm starting to feel wiped out, Dora is feeling tired now too, but she has to go to work. She showers and takes a nap. I walk her to the bus station, go home, and crash into bed.
Up at 1. Legs aching. Showered. Out to main library, and applied for a library card. Back and to Mercadona for groceries.
Dora home at 2:30 or so. I made a ribs and potato-mushroom-onion-etc dinner, then we crashed for a big sleep until 7:30 or so.
Glued Dora's shoes that broke in Merida.
Dora off to bus station at 9:45, going to Sanlucar to help her parents get ready for trip to Peru. I head for the center to the big cafe to do Wi-Fi. Stayed there until they closed at 11:30.
Dora home at 10; met her at the bus station and brought home two enormous heavy suitcases, as well as other baggage. Much of this is her parent's luggage to go to Peru on Friday.
I cooked turkey and rice for dinner. Later found out that we had a lot of leftover rice in the refrigerator already, oops.
Dora out to work at 8. I went out around 11:30. To National Police office. I don't have a cita (appointment), but I'm going to see if they'll accept me anyway.
Went in, both of the officers are idle. Showed my stack of documents and my ID and passport. The lady asked if I had a cita, and I said no, can't get one until November. She said something like "I can give you a cita for Friday" and she looked on computer and in a logbook. Then instead she thumbed through the top documents for a moment, then said "The documents will be sent to Cadiz for processing. Take them upstairs to be stamped, then either you're done or they'll send you back down here." I went upstairs, the two application forms got stamped, back downstairs. She gave me one stamped application form back, took the rest of the stack, said you'll get a letter in the mail, done !
Wandered through center, then to library. I'm here to pick up my new library card, but they can't find it. Finally figure out the guy who handled me on Monday did the wrong thing: instead of just taking my padron, he should have had me fill out an application form. So I do that now, get the padron copy back, and they say "come back in 3 days for the card".
In midafternoon, to big cafe for Wi-Fi. Got settled, got my drink, and then found that the Wi-Fi was down. Stayed there for an hour or so anyway.
Later to Mercadona for groceries.
Dora home after 8. We went out at 9:45, to a cafe in the center, to watch the Barca - Atletico Madrid game on TV. A decent game, some nice ribs/roastbeef tapas. Dora feeling a bit cool sitting outside, and tired after working all day, so we left at the 3/4 mark. Game ended 1-1.
Out later to try to find Wi-Fi, but it wasn't working at two cafes I tried. Got some drive-by Wi-Fi on my phone, exchanged messages with Dora.
Dora home around 6:30. Ribs and rice for dinner. Out at 8:30 or so. To the driving school across the intersection, to find out prices. Then to Mercadona for various items.
Around 10, Dora's parents arrived, with two more big suitcases and a couple of small suitcases and a couple of bags. Now we have four of the big suitcases, about 20 KG each.
Headache in the middle of the night; took a Dolocatil.
At 6:45, herding everyone into the elevator, making two trips (other elevator isn't working). Almost left one of the four big suitcases behind.
Hustled to the train station, arriving with 5 minutes to spare. I bought tickets to airport, looked at the electronic monitor to see that the train was leaving from platform 2. We went out, struggled into an elevator, down, struggled out, across to another elevator, struggled in and out of that one, struggled through ticket gates onto the actual platform. Then within a minute realized that the train was here and leaving from platform 1, not 2. And it left before we could even get back to the ticket gates.
Back through the elevators and to the ticket office. The man says he told me platform 1, but of course I didn't understand 95% of what he said to me, and I was relying on the nice electronic display, which was wrong. Got our money back.
Out and into two taxis. Longish drive to the airport, which is well outside town. €16 each for the taxis; not as bad as I feared.
Into the terminal by 7:40 or so, and they're not yet accepting check-in for the 10:30 flight. So we hang around, the others get some coffee, I use the free Wi-Fi on my phone. Big line of Germans going back to Hannover and Stuttgart.
Eventually check-in starts, around 8:40. Fortunately, everything goes smoothly. I made the reservations correctly, we got the baggage allowances right, etc. Get boarding passes, off to the desk for wheelchair-assistance. Eventually say good-bye as Dora's parents are wheeled through Security. They're off to Peru for 5 weeks.
Hit the bathrooms, then we have a choice of bus or train. Walk to the train station, buy tickets at the machine, wait about 15 minutes for the train.
Onto train and going. Conductor comes to check tickets, and we (and others) have the wrong kind of tickets. We all have local, cheap tickets, and this is a medium-distance train. The ticket-machine said nothing about this. Dora gives the conductor some grief, while I'm hoping she'll just shut up. He's letting all of us get away without paying the difference, much less paying any kind of penalty. Finally he moves away, our station is here, we get off at Jerez station.
Dora goes off to hit several banks; I go home and soon crash into bed. Tired and still a bit headachey.
Dora home at noon, but no time to eat. I'm out with her at 1 or so, carrying her heavy bag up into the central banking area. I drop her off at a notary's office and head home. Stop by the big cafe and find their Wi-Fi still is down.
Glued a pair of Dora's shoes that had a pulled-out strap.
Out again at 5 or so. Longish walk up through Plaza Mamelon, over to Iglesia de la Victoria, past a wall-section (pics), Iglesia de Santiago El Real (pic), and Iglesia de San Mateo. All locked up tight, couldn't get into any of them. Past the cathedral: pic. Home through Plaza Arenal. Saw some street art: pics.
Dora home at 9 or so. Ribs and rice for dinner. I still have headache; took a Neobrufen.
At 10:30, we hauled the computers and phones out to the Chinese cafe at the corner of Plaza Angustias and did as much Wi-Fi as we could until batteries ran out. Suddenly Dora has to go to a medical conference in Italy next weekend, so trying to get tickets for that. She wants me to go too, but I don't want to, and I'm going to Zaragoza right after the weekend. Home after midnight.
During the night, heard that Dora's parents made it to Peru okay.
Out after noon. To plaza to get some drive-by Wi-Fi on my phone. To bus station to see if schedule has changed on this holiday. Over to university area, but nothing happening there. Saw some street art: pics. To Mercadona, and I forgot it was closed for the holiday. Home, and the elevator guy had just finished fixing a switch on the elevator door, in response to Dora's call.
Out at 4, into center, looking for a place to watch the Barca - Sporting game on TV. Ended up at bar we watched the previous game. Watched about 2/3 of the game, then sun started making the screen very hard to see. Home.
Dora home around 7. Light meal, started laundry, then out at 8 or so to the center. Tonight is the procession of the virgin, a pretty boring procession we saw in Sanlucar too. Sure enough, it's boring here, too. But flocks of people out on the streets, which is fun. We saw the virgin and a small band, then perched in a cafe for coffees and people-watched.
Home by 9:15, finished packing, then to the bus station. Caught 10 PM bus to Sanlucar. It took a very odd route, stopping at hospital in Jerez, then coming into Sanlucar the back way, and we got off two blocks from Dora's sister's house. Arrived before 11.
At midnight, online making travel arrangements for Dora to fly to a medical conference in Sardinia late next week. And her work just called to have her transport a patient to Bolivia early next week (actually, starting tomorrow evening, I think). Crazy ! I booked the flights Jerez-Barcelona-Sardinia for her, then asked what we're going to do with her niece, who is supposed to be staying with us some of this coming week, when her mother is working.
We go outside to move the car 10 feet, so it's not under a tree dropping stuff on it. I'm drafted to be the driver. It turns into a comedy: The driver's seat is adjusted for Dora's father, who is a foot shorter than me, so have to figure that out. The ignition key is some modern plastic card, so we have to figure out where that gets inserted. I get the engine started, but can't get the emergency brake off. We figure that out. Can't find reverse gear, and can barely read the shift pattern on the knob. Eventually find there's a collar you have to pull up under the gearshift knob to let you get into reverse. Move the car back.
We figure out what to do with the niece: some lady will come to our apartment in Jerez to sleep overnight with the niece, for Sunday night only, and get her to the schoolbus on Monday morning. So I will be host to them. The only reason we're doing this is because her school was told she'll be catching the bus from Jerez on Monday morning, since we were planning to have her stay with us there for a couple of days. But now Dora won't be there.
By 12:45 AM, Dora still waiting to find out what her schedule tomorrow will be, to go to Bolivia. To bed sometime after 1.
I go out to the bus station to confirm the schedule. Back home, try to sneak into the kitchen, but the sister finds me and I have to go upstairs. And plans have changed again; the niece will stay here, no lady and niece coming to Sanlucar today. Dora's trip to Bolivia still is not confirmed, but we have to assume it will happen.
I nap. Then it's 8:45 and we have to go to the bus station. So we haul all our stuff into the front terrace, sort it out and pack it up, and leave.
To bus station with 5 minutes to spare, so of course the bus is 10+ minutes late. Uneventful ride to Jerez. Home after 10:15. Well, that was a lovely 12-hour trip to Sanlucar. We were going to stay for 24 hours, do a lot of internet, hit the beach, Dora treat a patient. But then the usual craziness took over and everything changed.
I have a bowl of cereal and soon crash into bed.
By 12:30, Dora has been dropped from the Bolivia trip, so she'll go BACK to Sanlucar this evening to treat a patient.
We slept for a while. Chicken and salad and leftover rice for dinner. I walked Dora to the 5 PM bus to Sanlucar, then went into the center looking for a little Wi-Fi for my phone. The town is dead at 5 on a Sunday afternoon, just about everything closed.
To Mercadona for groceries.
Call from Dora at 11:35; she's arrived at the bus station, come help her with bags, hurry, hurry, she has to catch a train out to El Puerto at 12:20 or so. I go and meet her halfway home.
I've been meaning to explore El Puerto de Santa Maria, so I go out with her. Out at 12:10, catch 12:25 train. At El Puerto, she grabs a taxi and I start walking. Along the river and into the old town, eventually find Tourist Info, get some maps. Do a loop around much of the old town, but the early afternoon is not a good time to be walking, sunny and hot and lots of places closed. The beaches are pretty far away. Saw some interesting things anyway: pics.
Eventually I end up at the government plaza, and around 2:40 Dora calls me. Her sister has a car, we try to arrange a convenient place to meet, but they don't know where things are in El Puerto. Her sister dumps her out of the car at the hospital, and we arrange to meet walking at PLaza Toros. But Dora calls again, her shows have broken, she's in a cafe. So I meet her there.
We drink Cokes and I read a newspaper as Dora talks and talks on the phone to her mother in Peru. On and on.
Into a taxi around 4:30 and to the train station. Wait about 40 minutes, catch train to Jerez, home.
Ribs, salad, leftover rice for dinner.
At 8:30, out to shoe-repair shop and then Chinese cafe for Wi-Fi.
We went to the library by noon. My new library card was waiting. Did Wi-Fi until they closed at 2. Dora to banks, I headed home. Cooked pesto-spaghetti for dinner. Dora home around 3:15.
Walked Dora to the 5 PM bus to Sanlucar, and went to walk her back from the bus arriving at 9:45 from Sanlucar. Inbetween, I bought groceries at Mercadona, and watched the Real Madrid - Dormund football game on TV (a terrific game).
Dora home by 1:15 or so. I cooked ribs and salad and leftover rice for dinner. Then Dora slowly packing, then showering, and it's almost past time to go to the train station for the 3:15 train. We run, get there, 3 minutes to buy ticket, to platform, 2 minutes to train, then she's off. To the airport, to fly to Barcelona and then Sardinia for a medical congress. She never did find her keys to the Barcelona apartment, so I hope she can contact one of the two people holding keys for her in Barcelona. One of them has been unreachable for a while now.
Windy afternoon. I go to Correos and mail two certified letters for Dora. Home before 4.
Dora arrived okay in Barcelona, got the apartment keys, into the apartment.
I went out at 8:30, to cafe in Plaza Arenal, and watched the Barca - Byelorussia football game. A pretty exciting game, Messi not playing, Barca scored two goals fairly late to win 2-1.
WhatsApp messages from Dora as she's traveling, and she's managed to leave her eyeglasses behind in Security at Barcelona airport, on her way to Italy. A bit of a disaster: she needs them to read.
Out to local health center to ask a question about paperwork, then to Mercadona for groceries.
In early evening, assembled a nice lasagna. Went out to bazaar to buy a power cord for my laptop. Home, and put the lasagna in the oven.
Ate some lasagna for dinner. Should have cooked it a little longer, and a bit too much oil from the chorizo, but it was tasty. And it will be even better as leftovers.
To library by 11:30.
Home by 2. Headachey; took a sumatriptan, and that plus lunch took care of it.
Dora called around 6:45 and talked at me nonstop for almost half an hour. She's without eyeglasses and one of her pairs of shoes broke, but she's doing fine at her congress in Sardinia. She found a place to sleep, but it's far from the congress. I wish she had let me do AirBNB for her.
Lasagna for dinner, and it was good.
To Mercadona for groceries.
Out at 8:30, to Plaza Arenal, and watched first half of Sporting - Deportivo football game. A bit mediocre, and weather a little cool. Carousel looks nice: pic.
Didn't hear from Dora all day. Pics. Out and into Plaza Arenal and did some more Wi-Fi, then eventually home. Cooked spaghetti for dinner.
Headachey; took a Neobrufen.
Out at 5:30 or so. Walked past train station and up to the municipal stadium, Chapin, for a football game of a local team, Xerez Deportivo. Guessed which way the ticket-window would be, and guessed wrong. Started walking around the outside, realized I was wrong, figured I'd have to walk 3/4 of the way around. But no, I got about 5/8 around and hit a fence, so had to backtrack, and walk another 3/4 back around. Cheap ticket, €4. In, tons of empty seats, sat down, and soon got chased out by a group who had that seat. I didn't realize there were assigned seats. Found another empty row at random and sat in it.
A pretty good game, lots of action, ended up 1-1. Pics.
Out and started walking home. Halfway, saw a bar about to show the Barca game, so I stopped there and watched the first half. Finally made phone contact with Dora in Sardinia; her congress went fine, but her plane back to Barcelona is delayed, so she'll get into Barcelona at 1:30 AM or so instead of midnight.
At halftime, Barca was down 0-3, including an own-goal. Went home. [Barca ended up losing 3-4, so I guess the second half was pretty exciting. Later saw highlights, and the 4th goal against Barca was a giveaway by their goalie.] Still headachey; took a Dolacatil.
Phone call from Dora at 4:20 or so. She missed her plane out of Barcelona by 1 minute, and it was Ryanair so the ticket has gone poof. She can buy a new ticket out at 9 PM for €120 or more, but wants me to look online for alternatives. One of her phones has stopped working, her tablet never recharged, she doesn't have Wi-Fi, she's tired and hungry. Blech !
To library by 4:45. Looked online for flights or trains, found nothing anywhere near as low as the price she has in hand. Called her, no answer. Called later, got her.
Five more calls with Dora, and I looked at planes, trains, BlaBlaCar online, to Madrid, Sevilla, Jerez, more. No luck, she's going to have to get on the 9 PM plane if she can. It may be overbooked; she has a boarding pass but not a seat assignment. And she's supposed to work tomorrow.
Home by 8:30. Spaghetti and salad for dinner.
SMS from Dora around 9:35 saying she got onto flight from Barcelona to Sevilla. Not sure if she'll be able to get home tonight, but at least she won't miss work tomorrow.
Trip to Zaragoza:
To bus/train stations at 7:45 and met Dora coming off the train. Home a little after 8.
Back out again at 8:30, to train station. This time I'm onto the AVE to Madrid and then connect to train to Zaragoza. Sorry to have so little time with Dora, but I reserved this trip several months ago. And she might join me in Zaragoza next week.
Comfortable trip on the train. Found an AC outlet under my seat, but it has no power.
A little confusing as we arrived in Madrid; turned out the clock display inside the train was off by half an hour or so. Reasonable time to connect to next train: got to the main terminal, through security, into main waiting area, used a bathroom, then through ticket-check and boarded the train with 10-15 minutes to spare. This one does have AC power at the seats.
Out at Zaragoza. Tourist Info office right in the train station, as it should be; got a city map and a bus map. Found the 51 bus and onto it, no problem. Got off at the stop I wanted, I think, and then had trouble getting onto the 32 bus. It came right away (too soon), but the driver didn't recognize the stop I was asking for, and I wasn't sure which direction the bus was going on the route, so I backed off and it left. The sign here is no help; it lists both ends of the route, with no arrow indicating direction.
I asked some other people waiting for other buses. Lots of confusion, but eventually a guy had me follow him onto the 40 bus, we went several stops, and then he pointed a direction and I got off. Found he'd steered me right; walked several zig-zag blocks and came out onto the semi-major street I was looking for. About 3 blocks, right then left, buzzed at building door, elevator up, and the apartment owner was waiting to welcome me. In and done by 3:45. She's off to work right away, but a girlfriend of hers is staying here too.
Nice to have home Wi-Fi again; sent messages to Dora. She's at work this afternoon.
Still headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Out after 5, down the street, found a Mercadona without much trouble, bought groceries. Ate some dinner, felt better.
Out again around 7:45, for almost 3 hours. Walked a big back-and-forth pattern through the old town, and it's very nice. A mix of huge old historic buildings, typical Spanish businesses and apartment buildings, and very modern apartment buildings and bars/restaurants (Irish sports bars, Taco Bell, an American barbeque place, etc). Lovely warm evening, perfect weather for walking, quite nice. Chatted with Dora on the phone; she's heading to Sanlucar tonight. She wants to join me here for a few days, but I don't think €140 of train fares for essentially 4 days here makes sense.
Pics of buildings.
Pics of street art.
Message from Dora at 11:15. No sooner did she get to Sanlucar than her work called. She has to go back to Jerez and then go to a forest-fire somewhere, to work on the medical team supporting the firefighters.
Out around 2:30, the worst time of day to go out, most things are closed. But I'm heading for two museums that are supposed to be open all afternoon.
Longish walk. Passed by Basilica de Santa Engracia: pic. Up to the IAACC Pablo Serrano art museum (pic), only to find it's closed; I got the wrong hours somehow.
Wandered various streets and down to the Museo Goya Coleccion Ibercaja. Definitely open. Nice, and sparsely attended. The Goya works are less interesting than some of the works by his contemporaries. No photography allowed in the main parts of the museum, but I took some pictures in the lower part. But the lighting is not good. Pics. A couple of paintings I wanted to photograph: Goya, La Adoracion del Nombre de Dios and Francisco Bayeu y Subias, El Olimpo: batalla con los gigantes (click on images in the articles to see larger).
Saw a church door and stepped in for a minute; turned out to be Iglesia de la Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz, a quite nice little church. But very vertical; I couldn't figure out how to take a decent picture inside.
Home after 6, a bit tired. Various things seen today: pics. And lots of street art: pics.
Out to dinner at a kebab-shop, noticing that my apartment is about 100 feet from Communist Party headquarters: pic. Pics.
Out and down to Basilica de Santa Engracia, and in. A Mass starting, so I sat through that. Pics.
Street art: pics. Home by 2.
Headachey in late afternoon; took a Tonopan and a Neobrufen.
Out at 6:30 or so. Up past main plaza (where they're constructing a big stage) to Tourist Info. Got some brochures, then up 5 floors to limited views from the top of the tower. Back down, and into the cathedral. It's huge and very interesting, but no photography allowed, and the light is so low that photography would be poor anyway. Street art: pics. Misc view: pic.
At 9:30, went out with Luz, the owner of the apartment. It's a semi-holiday evening here, sort of a cheap-tapas-and-beer thing. Met a couple of her friends downstairs; one at least is from Ireland. Around the corner to a local bar with a jazz quintet playing on the sidewalk outside; lots of people hanging around. Had a beer and talked with another friend from Ireland, who is teaching English here. Nice guy, we had an interesting conversation about lots of things. But he's been here more than 2 years and hasn't been to any of the museums or to the events of the annual week-long festival.
Jazz combo finished, and after a while we headed back around the corner to a bar right next to our apartment. But I was not up for more talk and drinking, especially in a loud place. I said good-bye and headed off to the center.
Wandered around, nice walk, many streets empty and then some jammed full of people. Yet more street art: pics. Eventually back to do a wide loop around the area of the apartment, then home by 11:30. I'm just not a party animal. pic. Couldn't figure out how to get in. Walked completely around it. Then found that the entrance is where there's an armed guard and no entrance sign. Go past him, and there's a ticket booth with no signs and placed sideways so you can't see it from the street. But Parliament's in session now, so the public can't go in now.
Walked down to the riverfront and along it. Disappointing; no views. Stopped at Tourist Info to ask a few questions, through central plaza, home by 12:45.
Loafed all afternoon.
Out around 7. Wandered over to river and down to the SE, unfashionable end of town. Nice winding park down there, Park Bruil. Eventually back up into the center. Started looking for a place for some dinner. Would be nice to see some football, too. But no one is showing any game, and many places are too crowded and loud. I really wanted to get Spanish food, but eventually I chickened out and settled for fast-food pizza. Even there I didn't understand anything the girl at the counter said. Another long, winding stroll after dinner, and home by 9:45.
Street art: pics.
Door-buzzer at 2 AM or 3 AM: owner forgot her keys. pics.
Up to La Lonja, big old currency-exchange building which now has an unimpressive art exhibit filling the floor: pic.
Into the Pilar Basilica, where I took pictures even though you're not supposed to do so: pics.
Then to the central Mercado, where the building is not too interesting, but I bought a nice pastry.
Wandered a bit, eventually to Museum of Science and Natural History, which turned out to be free and pretty good. pics.
Then to Patio de la Infanta, inside a bank building, a totally unimpressive chunk of columns from an old mansion. But they were closing, so I didn't have time to see the collection of paintings and furnishings, which looked more interesting.
Street art: pics.
To Dia for groceries, and home by 2:30.
At 6:30 or so, out with Luz and her friends Rio (black guy from Oklahoma) and Mika (I think; shaved head, from Ireland). Up to Plaza Espana and then a parade on Caesaraugusta. I'd said I wanted to see a bit of the parade, when they mentioned it, but I didn't realize it was such a long walk away. But I don't think they minded.
Lovely still weather, just slightly cool. We stopped at a cafe for a drink, then wandered alongside the parade for a bit. It's some kind of circus parade, not a religious or civic parade. Crowded, hard to see, only got a few decent pictures: pics. Lots of streets closed off to car traffic, which is nice. Lots of people everywhere. I have read somewhere that the population of the city triples for the festival week, and didn't believe it, but it might be true for a couple of special events.
Back down to the area of the apartment. Cafe outside tables full, but we found one a bit further down. I had various sausages and a plate of potatos for dinner.
Nice conversation, a plessant time, but getting colder and windier as time went on. By 9:30, we finished and Luz and I went back to the apartment.
Street art: pics.
Out at 7:30 or so. Up into the center, eventually found a concert I was looking for, but the band was pretty mediocre. Over to Plaza Mayor, and into a church, but it was pretty plain inside. Sat in the plaza for a while people-watching, and the huge plaza was crowded. Into the basilica for a few minutes, but crowded in there too. Back to sit in plaza. Started wandering, slowly heading toward less-popular corner of old town, looking for a place to eat and watch Espana football on TV. Eventually found a good place, had a nice chicken-ham-bacon-salad and a beer, watched football. Home by 9:30.
Out after noon, to the Origami museum. Pleasant, but not exciting. Pics.
Street art: pics.
Out before 6, heading for a parade. Caught a bus, then realized I left my bus map and the parade route info back in the apartment. But no problem, got off the bus at the right place, walked up the major road for the parade, eventually found it. But it wasn't too great. It was a gigantes and cabezas parade like they have in Barcelona: some giant figures and some big-head figures. Took pictures (pics), then longish walk back to the center. Wandered around a bit, including into the basilica, then to Mercadona for groceries, then home.
Street art: pics.
Out before 10. A couple of concerts going on, tons of people everywhere, but the music isn't so great and the weather's a bit cool. Did some walking and went home. Pics.
Walked down to the Patio Infanta to see the part I missed the other day, an "exposicion" with art and furniture. Small but okay, nothing great. Walked home, stopping to pick up a bottle of soda.
Feeling a bit lonely this afternoon. And a bit irritated; one of the apartment-mates has a couple of friends and they're chattering and cooking in the very small kitchen, so I can't really get in there to make lunch. I grabbed a yogurt and some grapes.
Out in the evening. Lots of people everywhere, and a food-fair along the riverfront putting smoke over several blocks. First time I've seen this statue without a kid sitting on it: pic. Wandered for quite a while. Talked to Dora on the phone.
Home, and I'd like to watch football on the TV, but the apartment-mates are using the living room for music and a little dancing. Had some dinner. [But after they left at 9:30, I found no football on TV anyway.]
Crossed the line, up into the center, saw masses of people in the central plaza. I think there's some kind of religious celebration going on in there. Pics. Weather cool, grey, almost threatening rain.
No time to waste; the five municipal museums are free today. Into the Foro museum, Roman ruins under the small plaza. Quite unimpressive compared to the Roman ruins I've seen under Barcelona and Badalona and (I think) Tarragona.
Out and found that the Seo Cathedral has free entry; I've been meaning to get into here. Went in, and it's quite nice, but no photography allowed, and guards patrolling vigilantly. Bad conditions for photography anyway.
Out and found the Puerta Fluvia museum a couple of blocks away. Just a little bit of remains of a Roman sewer system. Heard a military flying team go over while I was in there.
To the Roman thermal baths (Termas) museum half a dozen blocks away. Also small and unimpressive. Sat and watched a video for a little while, but it was heavy on narration in Spanish and light on visuals, so I left.
To the Roman theatre museum, and that was much bigger and more interesting, but quite eroded. Pics. Saw a military flying team flash over while I was coming out.
Up the west-central part of the center, having to wait to cross a huge line of people heading for the central plaza. To the Pablo Gargallo sculpture museum, which was fairly disappointing. Nice building, but his sculpture was small or damaged and generally uninteresting.
Out, and looped around to the west side to go home, and it was hard work. Huge line of people winding through Plaza Espana and heading for the center.
Finally got through the people, and not bad walking on streets closed to car-traffic. Seems to me that the cafes have raised prices for the festival week: saw a Menu Del Dia for €25, another place with bocadillo and bebida for €8. 12 and 5 would be more usual. Home after 1.
Out in early evening. Into the center. Still fairly crowded, but at least I could get into the main plaza. The focus of today's festivities: pic. Back out and into Seo Cathedral again for a while. Out and sat for a while, wandered a little. Light rain starting, and it's getting colder. Went home.
Women's football tonight, Spain vs Germany, but I can't find it on TV. Headachey; took a Tonopan. Later, took a Dolocatil. Thought of going out at 9 to a park for music, but I'm headachey and it's still raining lightly, so I'm staying in. pics.
Wandered through the basilica for a while. Saw some parade floats nearby (pics); they're setting up the streets for a parade tonight.
Then to the Alma Mater museum. All religious, but some interesting paintings and history. Pics. They claim the Virgin Mary and Saint James came to Zaragoza in AD 40 and established the basilica here; I think I'll file that one under "unlikely". Apparently "pilar" means column, and there's a sacred column somewhere in the basilica that was brought or built by Mary and James in AD 40.
To Mercadona for groceries, then home.
Out after 6. Thought there was supposed to be a parade, but couldn't find it. Up to center, back down to apartment, started heading W, stumbled on a big crowd at Plaza Nolasco. They're waiting to get into a church for a "lighted crystal" display. I'd like to see it, but the crowd is huge, they're not letting anyone in yet, and I don't want to wait. So I keep heading W.
To the Bellas Artes section of the Zaragoza Museum. Free, and turns out to be fairly nice. Lots of paintings, some by Goya. Some modern temporary exhibits that weren't very interesting. Enjoyed the place. Pics.
Out, back to Nolasco, still long slow line to get in. Went home.
Wandered around town, into basilica for a while, more wandering, home. Pic.
Out at 10. Found three different bands playing in three plazas, but the one I was looking for in a specific plaza wasn't there. I think the program I have is not entirely accurate. Lots of people everywhere. pics.
Out at 5 or so. Wandered and walked, but just too many people on the streets and sidewalks and plazas. Wended my way to Mercadona, got groceries, home.
The woman guest in the next room, who I hardly said a word to, has left. But three Italians are staying here now, just for tonight.
Out at 9:30. Up to Plaza del Pilar and to N end of it, for a devils and demons parade/fireworks thing. Had to wait a while. Then when it started, only the people in front really could see. And it sort of started down a side-passage, so people were rushing back and forth to see.
Then someone, I think an old man, collapsed nearby. Fortunately he did it about 100 feet from the ambulance standing by at the event. About 8 ambulance people swarmed over there, soon got him on a stretcher and into the ambulance. A couple of minutes later, police cleared a lane and the ambulance left.
The show went on. Nicer colors and less explosive than the carrefoc parades in Barcelona. But harder to see, because they are parades, this is more of a dance.
The finale made the waiting worthwhile. Fairly nice aerial fireworks. Pics. pics.
The three Italian guests left, and an hour or two later another couple of guests arrived.
Out at 5:30 or so. To a locutorio to recharge Dora's mobile numbers, then a wander around town. More street art: pics.
Out at 9:45 and down to the river to watch a fireworks display which is the finale to festival week. I should have come earlier; hugely crowded, and I was a little further down the river than would have been best. Nice fireworks. Pics.
Out after noon for more than an hour. The festival organizers must be very happy: the rain waited until today, the day after the festival week ended. Not raining too hard. The workers taking down all the stages probably aren't too happy with the rain. Street art: pic.
Home, loafed, then out again at 6 or so. Still lots of people around, but no museums or anything open today, and it's grey and cool. Walked, wandered.
Into the Jerez apartment after 4, and it's a bit messy, especially since Dora brought three more boxes of stuff from Barcelona. Found a Correos notice that they tried to deliver my residency papers yesterday, which is good. Lasagna for dinner, did laundry, cleaned and straightened up the apartment a little. Headachey; took a Tonopan.
Out at 6:30, longish walk to post office, picked up my letter from extranjero. They want me to pay money, which means they're approving the renewal of my residency permit.
Ribs and quinoa for a late dinner, and watched a little football on TV.
Finally out at noon. To locuturio to get on internet and print forms. To Hipermart to buy reading glasses for Dora; she hasn't done anything to replace the glasses she lost over 2 weeks ago. To bank to pay tasas.
Longish walk to center and across it, to National Police office. Dora went in and did her thing. I had to wait for a couple of people, then in to ask my question "does this letter say I have to mail my tasa to Cadiz or go in person ?". But I'm irritated to find that Dora has asked it ahead of time, then barged in behind me, and instead of replying to me, the guy talks to Dora. How am I going to learn Spanish if this happens ? Simple question, and I said it well enough to be understood, all the guy has to say is something like "enviar via Correos" or "vas a Cadiz en persona". Turns out I'm right, Dora is wrong, I'm supposed to mail it in.
Out, and to a cafe for drinks. Then up to Deutschebank and a longish wait for Dora to do stuff. To Correos to mail papers; even there, Dora manages to make it complicated by asking for a factura so her €1.30 postage of a postcard can go as a business expense. I'm more irritated.
Hustled home, late for the refrigerator technician. I let him in, and Dora shows up 5 minutes later. He'll be back tomorrow with a new door-seal.
We have various nibbles for dinner, loaf, and then at 6:15 suddenly realize we were supposed to meet Dora's niece at her school at 5:45. We dash out and grab a taxi, then try to find out if the woman driving her niece is still waiting for us. Eventually the answer is yes, taxi takes us to the school, and no niece. We search and make phone calls for 5 minutes, eventually the answer is that they are driving to Sanlucar. So we wasted this trip.
Another taxi ride to Carrefour Norte. Into a phone store, where Dora takes forever to buy an SD card for the niece's new computer. Then another taxi ride to the bus station to catch the 8 PM bus to Sanlucar. I want to stay in Jerez, but Dora convinces me to go with her. Mainly, I'll go because Dora says all the computers in her sister's house in Sanlucar have stopped working.
So, onto the bus, arrive in Sanlucar, walk to sister's house before 9. As Dora is fumbling for keys outside the gate, up walks the woman and Dora's niece. Turns out they had a car-accident, and are just arriving now, without the car !
We go in, get settled, eventually the woman leaves. Dora fills me in on the accident: the road narrowed from 2 lanes to 1, the woman got confused and banged first one side then the other, two tires on one side blew out. No other cars hit, niece bumped her head but is okay, not clear if there is body damage to the car. But then it turns out someone forgot to pay the latest installment of the auto insurance, so the insurance has lapsed and they're not covered !
I start working on computers. Old laptop running Windows XP is okay, I happen to remember the password, but it has no Wi-Fi. Put SD card in new notebook computer (Prixton ?) for niece, get it powered up, but it won't connect properly to the house Wi-Fi. Look at Dora's HP Pavilion laptop, and the hardware has died again. We've had the graphics chip replaced at least twice, probably because of overheating. The last couple of weeks Dora ran it without the fan-platform I bought for her, and now it's indicating that the CPU has died. Nothing I can do. Sister's laptop isn't here, so I can't work on that one.
Dora cooks rice and meat and pancakes (!), and we eat. Then I do a ton of dishes. Finally to bed at midnight.
Dora wants me to go with her to hospital then car with sister to a clinic in Jerez, but I opt for the far simpler route of the 8:30 bus to Jerez. We have about €5 cash between us; I give her my last €4 and she's off to find a taxi. I get onto the bus and pay with my bus-card. Uneventful trip to Jerez, hit an ATM, home by 9:30.
Refrigerator guy came at 11:20, done by 11:45. I went to the library by noon, to do Wi-Fi.
Home after 2. Dora calls and wants me to go right back to Sanlucar, but I'm not doing that.
Ate, loafed, napped, did computer. Dora called at 7:15; she was supposed to go with her sister to a notary's office in Sanlucar at 6, but she was sleeping so hard her sister couldn't wake her.
Switched out old CRT TV and put in an LCD TV that Dora brought from Sanlucar while I was in Zaragoza. Very nice picture, but we don't have the remote, so volume is bad. And we're limited by the set-top box; no HD channels. New (to us) TV weighs probably 1/10th what the old TV does. I'm sure it consumes a lot less power, too.
Out for a short walk, but too cool for comfort. Talked to Dora. Had some drinks and snacks, and to bed.
Out after noon with Dora. To the bus company office, where I asked for a route-map for the fourth time, and was told they don't have any, then waited for 20 minutes while Dora filled out a complaint form about it. To the National Police office, where I waited for half an hour while Dora picked up a form and then quizzed them for legal advice about various things. To a cafe for drinks and desserts. To the library, where I did internet on my phone for 20 minutes and then waited for another 15 minutes as Dora picked up library card and books and then talked to them. More waiting as Dora searched for a bathroom and found one in a cafe. To Correos, where I waited for 15 minutes as Dora waited to buy a stamp. Argh !
Home, and Dora cooked beef with quinoa, Peruvian style I think. Nice.
Out at 5:30 to library to do Wi-Fi. Couldn't find a power outlet.
Around 7 or so, got a phone call from Dora, but didn't answer because I'm in the library.
Emptying sister's old apartment in Sanlucar:
Before 7:40, Dora shows up in the library. She had said she would join me there. But now she says "we have to go to Sanlucar tonight, we have to clear out sister's old apartment and return keys to the owner tomorrow". I think there's no way we'll get the 8:00 bus, so we'll have to do the 10:00 bus.
We head home, get in the door by about 7:52, and I say "if we RUN, we might get the 8:00 bus". So we dump stuff and RUN. Get to the bus by 7:59, then it doesn't leave until 8:03.
To sister's apartment by 9 or so. She's not there; she's working.
Soon Dora and I go over to the old apartment. It was mostly emptied of clothes and food and kitchen utensils when they moved to the new house, but it still has furniture, some clothes and toys and china and knick-knacks, and one room full of a ton of books and documents and medical papers etc. We start sorting and hauling stuff. A bit to the garbage bins, but most to the other apartment. Fortunately the two apartments are only a block apart. But at the new place, the stuff has to go down some slightly-tricky stairs and into the already-crowded basement. We have several rolling suitcases and a light hand-cart to use. Sister makes a brief appearance, mainly to tell me that every item is important or very important and/or fragile. I can see that much of it is old freebies from medical conferences that could be thrown away, but it's mixed in with important documents and reference books and such. Then sister is off to work.
Finally exhausted after midnight, over to new apartment by 12:30. I want to sleep, but Dora wants to cook. So pancakes and other stuff for dinner, and we don't get to bed until almost 2. And then I'm amazed to find that Dora has to catch the 7:10 bus to Jerez tomorrow; she has to work !
The plan is to meet the owners at 8 tonight and hand over the keys, so I have to be finished by then.
Rain at 11 stops me for 15 minutes. Rain starting at 12:30 and then getting harder and harder stops me until 2 or so. I go out to Dia for a few groceries; we have no soda, no cereal, no good yogurt in the house.
More rain at 6, and at 7. Light rain off and on between the heavy rains. I haul and haul stuff, and get tired and damp. I'm going to come up short by an hour or two: there's still a huge box of paper near the front door, and various small things. And I looked under some tables and found several more big boxes full of papers and books, which was an unpleasant discovery.
Dora arrives around 7:30. Meeting time has been changed to 8:30, and we'll hand over keys tomorrow, so I have more time.
We go to Hotel Donana at 8:30 and meet the owners. As expected, the meeting quickly gets very heated; lots of angry Spanish, mostly between the two women. A similar meeting 10 months ago between owners and sister and Dora's mother turned into a shouting match, I'm told. So Dora is doing all the work this time; sister and mother will stay away.
At issue is many years of utility bills, and whether Dora's mother agreed to her sister paying them, I think. The meeting slowly gets less heated. They show us the contract, which we don't have (sister can't find her copy of it), and we photograph it. They don't have numbers for the utility bills.
[Glancing at the rental contract a couple of days later, clearly there is a simple sentence saying that the renter is responsible for paying utilities: water, gas, electric. Now, I don't know if the sister ever paid any of the utilities, then stopped paying at some point ? Did the owners keep the utilities in their name, and she paid to them ? I'm guessing yes to both questions. And Dora hints that the whole rental might have been illegal, that this apartment might have a low-income-only designation. I wonder if they've been paying taxes properly. So, it's a mess.]
Dora can talk the ears off a donkey, and I think she's telling them the whole history of her family in Spain, and they're debating how things are done in the various provinces, etc. It goes on and on, with me sitting back and trying to stay patient. I understand many of the words, but not the sentences. We're in a hotel bar/cafe area, and as more people come in and it gets louder, I can't hear many of the words any more.
The man writes a document he wants Dora to sign, saying we'll keep the apartment until end of November, utility bill amount to be settled later. I tell Dora not to sign, because she wants to give the apartment back now, this may acknowledge that utilities have to be paid, she shouldn't have her signature on any document involving this situation, she may be signing her way right into the middle of a lawsuit, or into responsibility for her sister's debts. She agrees with me, tells them I told her not to sign, and tears up the document (which I thought a needlessly aggressive gesture). [I've been saying for days, her sister needs to get a lawyer, and Dora says her sister doesn't want to pay for one. We'll see how this turns out.]
Finally, after 2.5 hours, we're getting up and leaving. Half a block down the street to the old apartment. The owners look around and complain about all the wall damage that's accumulated over 12 years, and tell Dora which pieces of furniture are theirs; everything else has to go. I pick up various garbage and things and put them into bags to be dealt with tomorrow. And I'm finding nasty grease-covered pottery and stuff way up on top of the kitchen cabinets.
Home by midnight, and to bed.
I start hauling more stuff. A big metal bookcase has to be moved, but it won't fit out the door into the hallway, so it has to be disassembled. And we don't have any wrench that will fit the hex-head bolts on it. Eventually I go to the Hiper Euro store and buy a cheap adjustable wrench, and a new umbrella. Get the bookcase apart, haul the pieces to new apartment, grab quick lunch, assemble bookcase in basement. Sister said she was taking her daughter to a movie, then sleeping, but instead she went out and bought chicken for lunch and then loafed and cleaned the kitchen all afternoon. I've run out of space in the basement and am starting to fill her hallway, but she's not looking at any of the stuff.
I throw away lots of furniture from the old apartment: cheap tables and shelves and a chest of drawers. Pack stuff into bags and suitcases and haul it to new apartment, and fill the basement and hallway and into the waiting room for the medical office. I'm beyond caring; it's going to stay there until the sister deals with it.
Around 5, an air-conditioner guy appears, and we all troop over to the old apartment: I walk, sister and niece and guy drive in his car, soon joined by his wife. He starts taking out the air-conditioner, and sister and wife start packing stuff and cleaning. Any time the sister points at something and says "this is mine, this has to be packed and moved", I hand her a bag and say "go to it".
I haul a few bags of stuff to new apartment. Help the air-conditioner guy take the air-conditioner down and into his car. He hauls several big loads of stuff to new apartment (he and his wife are friends of the sister). After a while, sister is having him haul stuff that clearly is trash, old boards and stuff. Now the hallway is full and stuff is being put on the front porch. I stay in the new apartment around 6, and sister comes home around 7.
I walk to the bus station to meet Dora at 7:40, and carry her stuff home. It's raining, colder, and I have been wearing the same shorts and T-shirt and short-sleeved dress shirt all weekend; clothes are damp and I'm cold. I haven't shaved in two days, and the shower here works but is awkward.
Dora's furious about work, they didn't pick her up this morning, she had to pay €26 for a taxi.
We're meeting the owners again at 8:30, to hand over keys. I hope it doesn't turn into 2.5 hours of arguing again.
I go to the other apartment at 8:15 to take pictures of everything. Camera battery is running out, and I don't have the charger. Back to new apartment by 8:25, told meeting is postponed to 8:40.
We go to the hotel at 8:40, brief words for a minute, then I'm happy that we're going straight to the old apartment. The owners are in a hurry tonight.
In, and soon the woman is pointing to every big or little thing she wants out of there. I take down curtains and shower curtain, we find stuff overlooked on a utility-closet shelf, etc. We pile it out in the hallway in front of the elevator. Then Dora wants to me to unscrew extra lightbulbs, and I've had enough, I say no.
Finally Dora hands over keys, and they're gone by 10 or so. I haul stuff down to first floor in elevator, then haul some to new apartment, while Dora talks with a neighbor at the old apartment. Then she's out, we dump some stuff in the trash, and go to new apartment.
Some food, I haul a few things down to the basement, then I'm done, it's all the sister's problem now. I just hope the work doesn't get dumped on their parents, who are coming back from Peru on Saturday. [Later, Dora says she wants them to go straight from the airport to our apartment in Jerez, and stay there. Enough of them working for her sister. And her father shouldn't be driving the sister's car for her any more, either. She may get a cheap small apartment for them in Jerez. I wouldn't mind them staying with us for a month or so, but not full-time forever.]
Dora says "get up, it's 7:45, my niece has a headache, we need to take her to the hospital". Two doctors in the house and we need the hospital for a headache ? [But later Dora tells me, the niece banged her head in last week's car accident, so this is nothing to take lightly.] Dress, start gathering stuff, take out the garbage that has accumulated on the front porch. Still raining, but not hard.
Suddenly the taxi is there, we all pile in, suitcase and umbrellas and niece's school suitcase, and we're off. To the hospital, and I sit with the pile of luggage while Dora and sister and niece go for examination. I'm starting to drag: cold and damp and no breakfast and tired and stressed out.
They're out in 15 minutes or so [niece had an x-ray], we wait another 5 or 10 for a taxi, then we're off. Trying to intercept the niece's 8:15 school bus to Jerez, which probably just left the Sanlucar station. Confusion as the two sisters are arguing. Suddenly there is the bus coming the other direction, we blow the horn and screech to a halt in a pedestrian crossing, the two women and niece jump out. Traffic backing up in both directions, taxi driver is worried we'll get hit or get a ticket. But niece gets on bus and both women back into taxi, and we're off.
Sister wants Dora and me to stay in town another couple of hours and deal with her auto mechanic, but I say no. Back to hospital, drop off sister to work, then to bus station. As I expected, I get stuck with the taxi bill. Coffees in the cafe, but I'm still cold and damp.
Onto 9:00 bus, and I realize we left a box of china at her sister's house, too late now. Sister messages to complain that she forgot to give a tie to her daughter for today's class picture, can we buy a tie and get it to the daughter ? No.
Ride to Jerez, and as we're arriving, I realize I also left Dora's bag of work-uniforms in sister's house too. Much more serious, she's on call, if they call her to work she's screwed. She has a noon appointment here in Jerez, then will have to catch the 1:00 bus right back to Sanlucar.
Waiting in the bus station as Dora uses the bathroom and then gets an important phone call from her lawyer in Barcelona. My patience is gone. Finally home by 10:15.
Start charging devices, get out of the clothes I've been wearing for 3 days now, shave and shower, have some breakfast. Starting to feel human again.
I print the sister's rental contract for Dora. She does laundry. Then she's out the door before 11:45, to her appointment and then Sunlucar.
Some sunshine around 12:40 ! Very welcome after several days of rain.
To library after 4:30.
To bus station at 7, to pick up Dora. Who came carrying more stuff than I expected; it was a chore to haul it the 4 blocks or so to the apartment.
She spent about 3 hours talking to a financial advisor this afternoon, something I've been telling her to do for a couple of years now. But they spent most of the time talking about her sister's situation, not Dora's. The bottom line for Dora is she should get a better-paying job, and giving the Barcelona apartment back to the mortgage company (in process already) is the right thing to do. But her sister owns TWO apartments, in Barcelona and Benicassim, both bought for much more than Dora paid for hers, and both far underwater on the mortgages, in fact it sounds like none of the principle has been paid down on either one. These are separate from the two she rents in Sanlucar, one of which we just cleared out.
Beef and quinoa and rice for dinner.
Slept like a log. And Dora fell asleep in front of the TV in the living room and slept there all night.
I went to Mercadona for groceries. Started cooking turkey for dinner. Around 6:45, Dora shows up, with her 9-year-old niece in tow ! Scramble to cook things the niece will eat. Dora's too hungry to wait for the turkey, so she has some quinoa. Then the niece is crying because our TV doesn't have any of the channels she wants. Later, her mother says she'll come by taxi from Sanlucar to pick up the niece, but she doesn't show. The niece goes to sleep in our bed at 9; usually she stays up until midnight or later.
Then things get SNAFU. We're down to the street around 8:40, but not sure which side of the building the school bus will come, and when. Call the sister, she gives us conflicting info, soon we're off to get in a taxi. I hate taxis; we're going to go broke paying for taxis. To the school, where it's a mob scene of cars and buses and parents and kids arriving. But we get in and out fairly quickly, although still without getting info about the bus.
Taxi back to our building. But we go into the church across the street, sit for several minutes to calm down, then sit through the first 15 minutes of a Mass. Out, down the street to Hiper Number One, and buy two pairs of cheap reading glasses for Dora. Home by 9:45.
To library by 11. Dora tried to stop me going out the door, but she's not showered and dressed, she hasn't had breakfast, she doesn't have the address for me to take her computer to, why should I wait ?
Home after 2, arriving just after Dora. I cooked rice and leftover turkey for dinner. More bad news from Dora's sister in Sanlucar, a dispute about her main job, in the hospital there. They may be trying to drive her out of her job, because her pay is high. This is a disaster; even with a high income, she's drowning under mortgages and rents and other bills.
More hassle coming: niece is doing sports after school, so can't use normal schoolbus. And Dora has urgent stuff to do before that, and a meeting after that. And then Dora has to take the niece to Sanlucar.
To Mercadona for groceries. Tried to find computer-repair place that has been recommended to us, and it's not there (but then found I had the address number wrong by 2).
Then scrambling at 5:30. Dora longhand-writing some critical documents, has to go to locutorio to type them in and submit them on internet, then to an important meeting at work. So I have to haul two laptops to a repair shop, then go pick up the niece from school.
So I take the computers, find the shop. The guy speaks almost no English, but I drop them off and mostly get the idea across, and will have Dora call him later. Then back near our apartment and into a taxi. To the niece's school. For 10 minutes or so I can't find her, but then she comes out. Wait another 10 minutes while they call her mother to verify my authority to pick her up. Very nicely they call a taxi for us; my phone won't make any calls, I guess it needs recharging. Into taxi and home by 6:30 or so.
I cook eggs and toast for the niece, and she mostly rejects the eggs (which she asked for) in favor of pate on more toast. But it's good that she's eating; she doesn't eat anything but junk much of the time.
And things get SNAFU again. Dora is late getting back from her meeting, niece needs to get to Sanlucar to study for a school test tomorrow, we've missed the 8 PM bus, don't want to wait until 10. Dora is trying to do various paperwork at a store at a mall, but lacks things required, her phone is running out of charge, etc. Wants me to go to Sanlucar in a car with her and niece tonight, so we can bring furniture back here tomorrow. The usual craziness.
Finally things are resolved when her sister calls just before 9:30, says she's arriving by car in 5-7 minutes. I wait 5 and go down to the street and she's there already. Bring her up, get the niece, down to street, they're off. Good !
Dora home less than 5 minutes later, with big not-unexpected news: she's been fired from her ambulance service job. She's happy, the job was turning into a pain for several reasons, and the pay was not high. I'm not so happy. She has a clinic job set up already, but it's commission work: if no patients, no money.
I drown my sorrows with some sherry. We're living in the "sherry triangle"; this area is famous for producing it, Jerez is full of sherry bodegas where they produce and age and store it.
Out before 11 with Dora. To INEM (employment office). To locutorio to recharge my mobile. Then to bus/train station; the financial adviser is going to pick us up in a car and take us to Sanlucar and consult with Dora's sister. Waited a while there, finally she picked us up, then Dora had to go to a bank in the center. The adviser waited while we went there and back. Why did we do things in this order, why are we making her waste her time ?
Finally off to Sanlucar, taking a long, looping route to get out of Jerez. Driving a bit slowly on the highway. Just as we entered Sanlucar, word came that Dora's sister is not available, so the adviser dropped us at the edge and went back to Jerez. And also the moving truck we're supposed to meet won't be here now, it will be here at 6:40 tonight. Dora and I caught a local bus and went to sister's apartment. Rested, watched football on TV, and Dora cooked rice and beef.
As I was getting ready to leave before 4, the sister showed up with roast chicken and french fries and Coke. Too late. I left and caught the 4:10 bus back to Jerez. Dora is staying to meet a moving truck and transfer stuff from Sanlucar to Puerto Santa Maria and our apartment in Jerez.
Uneventful bus ride, a bit long, until we got to a stop about a mile short of the station, and the side doors would no longer open or close, they just flapped around. Driver tried several times to fix them, but gave up and drove the rest of the way with us wondering if they'd hit something on the side of the road. But he got us to the station with no damage.
To Mercadona for groceries, and as I arrived, a would-be thief (I assume; he was empty-handed) came dashing down the street with some Mercadona workers in semi-pursuit. Got my few groceries and home by 5:40 or so.
Dora called at 8:45. She's downstairs in the moving truck, come down and let them in and help. I get there, and it's SNAFU. They weren't able to deliver to the medical clinic in Puerto Santa Maria, so we're getting an examining table we don't want here, and a big echography machine will have to go to the sister's house in Sanlucar (it came from a small clinic in Sanlucar). And we're getting a big white leather armchair that is going to be a bear to get upstairs. We and the two guys dump all the stuff (except echography machine) in the building courtyard and they take off.
Dora and I get everything upstairs except the examining table and armchair. I have to take out five hex-bolts to separate the examining table into halves and take it upstairs. Off-hand, I don't see how to take apart the armchair, and it won't fit in the elevator. We leave it downstairs with notes on it saying don't throw it away. I'm not sure where the three things (machine, armchair, table) will end up eventually, and how they'll get there. SNAFU.
Turkey and rice and quinoa for dinner around 1. Then we crashed for a nap; Dora was falling asleep as she ate dinner. Later she figured out why: around noon when she reached into one of her many drawers full of pills, she took a sleeping pill instead of whatever she was intending to take.
Out with Dora around 6, having to push to get her moving. Across the street to the locutorio, where we need to print a contract out of her sister's email account. Immediately find we don't know the right password; it's not what we think it is. And she's not answering the phone. Dora starts typing some big legal letter in Microsoft Word.
Ten minutes later, we get the right password. I go to another computer, get into the email, can't find the contract. 3800 unread messages in the sister's Inbox. More calls to the sister, eventually we're told it's in the Spam folder. Get it back into the Inbox, print it. Call from computer shop tells us a laptop has been diagnosed, new Wi-Fi dongle is defective. I go to pick up the laptop, find it hasn't arrived back at the local shop yet. Back to locutorio, Dora prints her document, we save it to disk, email it to ourselves.
Out, and Dora wants to both take a taxi to a clinic here in Jerez to sign and deliver the contract, AND get a van-taxi to take the examining table and big armchair to the clinic in Puerto Santa Maria. I doubt both will happen tonight. We go to the taxi rank, talk to the taxi guys, no van-taxis available or in existence. Finally I push Dora into a taxi to do the contract at the Jerez clinic, and I go home.
20 minutes later, Dora calls, she's at Correos sending her legal document, still hasn't made it to the clinic to do the contract, there's no big taxi to move the table and armchair, we need to go to Sanlucar tonight or tomorrow morning. Bleah. I'm not going to Sanlucar again if I can avoid it. Oh, and also, the story on the diagnosed laptop has changed, they will try to get Wi-Fi working, may have to install new OS, am I SURE I backed up all the important pics and docs ? Well, 99% sure I got everything.
Dora home around 9:30. At the cost of €30 of taxis, she sent the legal document and got to the clinic to do the contract. But the director who will sign the contract is out until Wednesday, so what was the hurry ?
Figured out how to get the armchair into the elevator (by reclining it), and hauled it up to our apartment, where it will stay.
Out with Dora at 12:30. She wants to dance. I want to sleep. We don't know where any discos are. We walk a long loop around the center, finding various restaurant/bars with people eating and drinking, but nowhere to dance. Home after 1:45.
As we were getting home, Dora was telling me she has to accompany a patient from Jerez to Sanlucar on the bus tomorrow (this) morning at 9. I checked the schedule, there is no bus at 9 on the weekend, it will have to be 8 or 11.
Home around 1:15. Quick lunch, then out again. To locutorio to charge Dora's mobiles. To Hiper Number One to try to exchange broken glasses, but receipt is too old, they won't do it. To train station to check times on trains to airport. To ATM for cash. To Mercadona for groceries. Home by 2:30.
Soon out for a walk to find some Wi-Fi so my phone would send a bunch of WhatsApp messages to Dora.
I'm out at 4, to the train station. Buy a ticket, 5 minute wait for the train, 7 minutes to the airport.
About a 45 minute wait for Dora's parents to show up, from their flight back from Peru, but I had Wi-Fi so used my smartphone. Watching the clock and hoping we'll make a particular train. Fortunately the assistants brought them out with luggage already loaded onto carts, because we had to hustle to make the train. Dora's mother is not walking well. But we made it across the parking lot to the train station, I figured out the right ticket to buy (not easy), and up a ramp and through the turnstiles. Down the elevator on this side, across, and elevator on other side isn't working. So I hustled the carts up the long ramp, and second cart and mother arrived just as the train did. Humped 4 big suitcases and 2 smaller ones onto the train, and we're off !
Phone call from Dora, who just arrived at the apartment, and is amazed we're already on the train on the way to her.
Seven-minute ride to Jerez, hump all of the luggage onto the platform, and then we can slow down and rest. Wait for people to clear out, roll the luggage into the station, the parents get to sit down while we wait for Dora to arrive. She arrives, nice reunion, they sit for a minute, then we put all the luggage and people into two taxis and drive about 4 blocks to the apartment building.
Everything onto the sidewalk, then into the courtyard, then to the elevators, then up to the apartment. A scare as my little bag seems to have disappeared, but soon we find it. Done by 6:20 or so.
Ribs and rice and misc for dinner. Bringing various gifts from Peru out of their luggage, mostly foods. Parents making noises about going to Sanlucar tonight, but I think they should collapse here for the night. Dora's mother has some bronchitis, too, a recurring problem for her.
I went out to Mercadona for a few groceries; bit of a mob scene there. Back home, and I'd thought of going out to see Barca play on TV at 8:45, but the parents want to catch a bus at 10, Dora wants them to go with us to watch the game, with luggage, long walk for her mother, it just wouldn't work. So I gave up on seeing the game. Not a big deal.
And then at 9:30, they're packing up and we're out the door, four of us rolling four big suitcases. The two smaller ones are staying behind. To the bus station, wait 15 minutes, bus comes, it has no luggage compartment underneath. So we haul the suitcases inside. Dora and I back to the apartment.
To bus station and onto 11:00 bus to Sanlucar, hauling parent's two smaller suitacses and a heavy bag of Dora's papers, as well as Dora's heavy purse and my computer bag and my small bag. And of course the bus has no luggage compartment underneath, so it all has to go inside. To Sanlucar and to sister's apartment before noon.
But the niece is running a temperature. Dora off to the hospital with her. Then she got stuck there all afternoon, as the niece had an IV, blood tests, observation, high temp continued.
Dora home after 6:30. Niece will be released later. I think she didn't eat or drink much over the last day or so, got dehydrated and fever etc.
I got dragooned into applying for visas for Dora and her sister to travel to USA in November. Typed all of Dora's information into the web site, confusion about how much was being charged, clicked the Pay button and then saw "$83" hidden in small type. Dora says I must have set her nationality wrong, it shouldn't be that much. Soon after, I realized I'd fallen for a scam; I wasn't on the official US web site, but a middleman that tries to look like the official site. The visa should happen, but slowly (according to Dora) and probably no way to get the extra money back. It was put on Dora's credit card, and she has no idea how to call the credit card company, or how to access her account online. And the scammer probably would win a dispute; they were deceptive but not illegal. My fault.
Found the official US web site and did her sister's visa for $14. Wrung out from typing all of their info multiple times: names, names of parents, passport issuance and validity dates, birthdates, ID numbers, contact addresses and phones, work addresses, emergency contacts, etc. Bleah.
Niece finally home around 10 or so.
Before midnight, setting up niece's new tablet so she has access to several school web sites where she has to do exercises. Dora and mother and I trying to get niece's homework organized, niece feeling weak and tired and cranky.
To bed around midnight.
People start getting up around 8, sister arrives home from work, niece needs to go to doctor's appointment, patient arrives to pay, sister leaves, Dora doing more computer stuff, I get dragged into finding documents and printing them. Running out of time, Dora wants more and more, needed documents are in two different email accounts in messages with no rational subject lines. She has to do some legal things that MUST be done today, and one is in some other town, Trebujena.
Finally we all pile into a taxi, drop Dora at Correos, drop me at bus station with a few minutes to spare, mother and niece are off to doctor's office. I catch the 10:30 bus to Jerez, hauling a big heavy suitcase and my computer bag and small bag. A relief to get away from the craziness in Sanlucar.
Home before 11:30. Ate, napped.
Out a little after 2:30, and ran into Dora in the building courtyard. Up to the apartment with her, dumped stuff. Her trip to Trebujena was canceled, turns out the deadline was last week.
Soon out with Dora to Mercadona, and bought a ton of groceries, too much to carry comfortably.
I cooked a lasagna for dinner. But we had to go do errands before we could eat it, and Dora kept talking on the phone, ironing clothes, etc. I scanned another 50 or so family photos into the computer.
Finally out, to driving school where I found Dora has already signed up for classes, then to computer store where all the news was bad: her laptop is dead and they would charge a fortune to replace the graphics chip, and the other would take another 5 days and cost €80 to upgrade, and they bent a Wi-Fi dongle and ruined it, but deny that they did it. The good news is we got the laptops back with no charge, just loss of a €20 dongle and waste of their and our time.
Lots of kids in Halloween costumes out on the streets, but I'm not in the mood. I'm cold and hungry. Home, and the lasagna was very good.
Dora says her mother has invited us to Sanlucar tomorrow for a special meal, so I guess it's back to Sanlucar tomorrow.
Then craziness: Dora and sister are going to Madrid for a one-day medical course on Friday, and they haven't made any travel arrangements. And Dora wants me to go with her. So I start looking at buses, trains and BlaBlaCar and location of the class, which turns out to be well outside Madrid center. Later, I show the results to Dora, and she changes all the rules: she and I will go for 3 nights, and her sister knows a good place we can stay, and calls the place. At the end, Dora will fly to USA from Madrid, and I will come back to Jerez. So I buy the train tickets for Dora and me.
Then try to figure out how sister will travel, although I'm not going to buy her tickets. That sets off a flurry of her calling colleagues to see if someone else can take her shift the night before.
More talking to Dora, and she's setting up a trip for herself to USA, partly overlapping with my trip to USA. She's going to a medical conference in Las Vegas, then seeing relatives in California, then would like to be in New Jersey with me for Thanksgiving, then back to Las Vegas to fly back to Spain. My head is spinning.
And then I ended up making Dora's plane tickets to USA. Roundtrip Madrid-Newark for $505, roundtrip Newark-LasVegas $649. She'll be with me in New Jersey for Thanksgiving.
Minor crisis: Dora accidentally left her ID at the driving school yesterday, and needs it tomorrow morning for a govt office. No way to get it.
To bus station, rolling heavy suitcase and lots of other bags. Onto 9:10 bus, which left early and lead-footed it to Jerez. Home around 10.
And before 11, another crisis. It turns out we have here a critical schoolbook the niece needs for a test, one they were looking for in Sanlucar before we left. So now we start photographing all the pages, to send to them via WhatsApp. There are about 90 pages. And then I'll have to go out to find Wi-Fi to send them. I did the first 30 wrong, Dora ends up photographing all of them in questionable quality, then I go out at 11:45 or so to stand outside a closed Carrefour and use their Wi-Fi to email them.
To bus station at 9. Recharged bus cards, waited for Dora's father to arrive on bus from Sanlucar. He arrived around 9:20, just wants to go right back, so I gave him the bag of stuff he came for, and a charged bus-card.
Went to driving school to pick up Dora's DNI, but saw her coming out of it, and joined her. Carried her heavy bag of papers as she went to Hiper Number One to exchange broken reading glasses. Out and to INEM, where I waited 45 minutes or so. She came out and said now she had to go to the other INEM office next door, so I gave her the bag and went home.
Quick lunch, then out to library. Got 3 blocks from home, realized I'd forgotten books to be returned, went back and got them. To library, returned books, and the Wi-Fi is down. But after I complained it came back up. Did my stuff, messaged with Dora, etc. Home after 2. She's still out doing errands, lugging around that heavy bag of papers and heavy purse.
Dora home around 3:15. I made ribs and leftover lasagna for dinner, with melon for dessert.
Movers arrived before 7. They took the examining table I'd moved down to street level and reassembled, and then I and one of them carried the armchair down from the apartment. They're off with Dora to the clinic in Puerto Santa Maria.
Dora home around 9. Some food, some TV, and then she crashes into sleep.
Headache; took a Dolocatil. To library by 9:45.
Home by 11:20, but no Dora; I thought she would be there. We have to go out the door to the train at 1 PM. I pack my suitcase.
Dora finally home at 11:50. Ribs etc for lunch. She starts packing.
Trip to Madrid:
To Jerez train station, and onto platform with 5 minutes to spare for 1:15 train. Uneventful ride to Sevilla, waited in station as Dora did bathroom and (unknown to me) bought a couple of souvenirs, then through Security and onto the 14:45 AVE.
On the AVE, I spent the time combing through saved web pages on my laptop and distilling them into my own guide to Madrid (here), then trying to figure out what we should see. It's a crying shame that Dora really only has one free day (Saturday) in Madrid, and I only have 2.5 free days (Friday through Sunday morning). I should have stayed an extra couple of days by myself, but I didn't think of that until too late, and I have a National Police appointment in Jerez on Tuesday (although that probably will be fruitless, and I could have skipped it). I'll have to come back and spend a couple of weeks in Madrid sometime.
Arrived slightly early at Madrid Atocha station. Long walk to the Metro section, only to find that the line between here and our stop (Sol) has been cut for a year or so. Have to take a train instead, but it's free with our AVE tickets. We find the Cercania (local train) part of the station, Dora gets the tickets, eventually we figure out what platform we need. Signs very confusing, not sure which train to board, woman we ask tells us one thing, then when a train arrives on the other platform we point to it and she says yes gets on it with us.
Onto train, one stop to Sol station, up and up multiple levels, finally out to the street. Hordes of people going every direction. Up our street, find the address (21), no answer when we buzz the apartment. We call, the guy answers, the door doesn't open. We buzz and buzz. A woman coming in from outside lets us into the building, we go up to third floor and buzz the apartment there, no answer. Call the guy again, find out the correct address is 20, not 21. Down and out, across the street, soon in and up. Into the room by 6:30.
High-ceilinged apartment, big museum-type paintings hung everywhere, white-haired guy owns it and used to run it as a hostel or something. No Wi-Fi, bummmer. TV doesn't work either. Bathroom facilities are old but adequate.
Out at 7:30 or so. Walk up and down our street (Calle de la Montera) to get the lay of things, then up to Gran Via. I connect to some Wi-Fi outside McDonalds while Dora talks on the phone. Still throngs of people going all over the place; it's a bit intimidating.
Eventually we head W on Gran Via. I'm looking for a Tourist Info office. To Plaza Callao, up and down some streets asking people, and eventually find the office right in the plaza, it didn't look like I expected, and wasn't where the map on my phone said it was. Got paper maps.
Wandered down toward Plaza Mayor, for lack of any better destination. Passed a disco that Dora would like to some back to. Ended up in a Thai restaurant, where the view down on the street was nice, but the food was just adequate. €30 for a fairly big meal.
Out, and now it's colder, and I'm not wearing a jacket. Down further, a bit turned around, none of the intersections are square. Find Mercado San Miguel, hit an ATM, walk through the mercado briefly. Out and over to Plaza Mayor, which is mostly closed at this hour. Into a corner cafe for warmth and Wi-Fi and churros and chocolate and coffees.
Eventually out, and back to the disco. Went in, and I didn't like the music at all, but Dora says it will change. She gets a gin-tonic for me, a vodka-orangejuice (Screwdriver ?) for her, and the throw in free shots of something. I think Dora's is vodka, but mine is some kind of butterscotch Schnapps or something (although Dora says it's gin-based; no way). My shot is terrific.
We dance to various music, and the place slowly gets fuller, but there's plenty of space. Half a dozen of the people are smoking stuff in hookahs.
I run out of gas, and it takes a while to coax Dora to leave. We're feeling the alcohol as we walk home. One of my sandals is coming apart, which is bad news, the only other footwear I brought is sneakers that pinch my feet slightly.
In our street, well after midnight, a fair number of young women are hanging around: prostitutes. A couple of them are really good-looking, too.
Into bed after 1 AM.
Rain during the night, and lots of noise from the street, but it doesn't bother me.
I have a rude awakening at 6:30: Dora says I have to get up and go out with her at 7:30. I was going to sleep until 9 and then hit museums, while she went to an all-day class. But it turns out she has to get her medical certificates stamped at a govt office, some kind of Exterior Ministry office, and it opens at 8, and if she can't do it I'll have to go later and do it. Wonderful.
So we're out at 7:45 or so, into grey and rain-threatening weather. Into Sol Metro, buy a 10-trip card, onto train, out at Banco de Espana station. Find our way to the office, and it's closed. Police across the street say it opens at 9 for lawyers/notaries, and 10:30 for the public.
We go to a nearby cafe and have coffees and churros and a small sandwich. Dora writes up a storm of explanation and gives me her certificates and ID cards and various papers so I can give them to the govt people later.
Just before 9, we're out and down to the office again. Dora talks to some of the waiting lawyers and notaries and messengers, and then starts arguing with the police. They say she or I can't go in even at the public time, because she doesn't have an appointment (cita). They keep saying no and no, and she keeps arguing, and eventually she's let inside after all the waiting lawyers etc.
I wait outside for 40 minutes or so, and then she comes out. She talks with a policeman for a while. Then after I take my eye off her for a minute, she's around the corner and walking away. I catch up with her, and it turns out she's very upset, cries in my arms. Inside the office, one clerk was going to help her even though she didn't have an appointment, but four other clerks said no, then as Dora argued, they started insulting her, then called the police in. She argued with them, the police threatened to use force to remove her, she went out, and they threatened to file a complaint against her.
I try to calm her down, don't succeed very well. Eventually coax her to the main road. It's 9:45, and her all-day class starts at 10:30 fairly far away. She wants to skip it, but I coax her into going to it. She gets into a taxi and is off.
I walk back to our apartment, carrying her roll of certificates. Home by 10:10 or so. I need to stash the certificates, write in this file, and regroup.
Out again around 11. To the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which is loaded with art, much of it Impressionist. I was lucky, the lines got much longer about half an hour after I entered. €12 admission, and got an 11:45 time-slot to see the special Renoir exhibit. Did the second floor (religious and Dutch art), then Renoir, then first and ground floors. Phone call from Dora at 11:30, she seemed under control, her class was starting an hour late.
Lovely art and tons of it, had to pass by a lot of it with a quick glance, and concentrate on the stuff I really liked. Some of the Renoirs seemed weak and muddy to me, but half of them were excellent, great capture of face or scene or feeling. No photography allowed in the Renoir section, and only no-flash in the rest of the museum. Pics.
Walked home, feet aching, home after 1.
Out after 2. Raining harder. To a diner-type place near the apartment, for lunch (chicken club sandwich) and Wi-Fi.
Out again before 4, I think. To Sol Metro, and puzzled about how to get to Sorolla Museum, seems the two Metro lines I need are down for repair or something. Finally the info guy tells me how to take line 3, transfer to line 10, to get there. A homeless guy helps me do that on the ticket machine, and I tip him 50 cents. Onto train, out at Plaza de Espana station, find right platform. Get onto a train, realize something's wrong, dash off just before doors close. A minute later, get the right train.
Out at Georgio Maranon stop, and I have no idea what direction to go, we're off my map, none of the street names help. Ask a couple of people, they direct me, but I walk and walk, ask another lady and then a policeman, eventually get there. I think I did a pretty big U-route.
Into Sorolla museum, it's a very confusing entrance, some nice paintings and furniture etc, but barely worth the effort to get here. Pics.
Out, get pointed toward the center by the security guard, start walking. Still off my map, roads not square, but eventually hit the main road I want, straight toward home. Take a small detour to hit the Romanticism Museum, which is fairly nice. Pics.
Back out, down the road, feet very tired. Eventually cross Gran Via. Stand outside McDonalds for a couple of minutes to do Wi-Fi and WhatsApp to Dora, then home around 6:15.
Dora home around 6:30, tired and subdued. Still upset about this morning, and her class didn't really teach her anything new, she says.
Soon she was crying again, and into bed with all her clothes on, and I did my best to comfort her. A couple of Dolacatils too, for her headache and aching.
Around 10, I went out to Carrefour Express for a little food, and the diner place for a cup of hot tea for Dora. She roused enough to drink the tea and some yogurt-drink and eat a little muesli.
Went to cafe nearby to get a little breakfast and do some internet. Dora still has nowhere to stay when she gets to Las Vegas tomorrow night. At the last minute, she asked me to find something on AirBNB. So now I find a place, but AirBNB is giving me a problem it gave before: wants to verify my phone, but gives an error when given a Spanish phone number. I send messages to Support and to the apartment owner, then give up.
To apartment to dump computer, then out again. Walk to the museum area, stopping in a bank area where I saw Deutschebank the other day. But Dora stops to talk with a policeman for 10 or 15 minutes, bending his ear about what she can do to file a complaint about yesterday's police. To Caixabank, where the machine has no cash. So no point in going to the Deutschebank.
Down to El Prado museum, where there's a fairly long ticket line. We stand in the rain, with umbrellas. Line moves quickly at times, stops dead for a while at other times. Finally in and buy €30 of tickets.
First floor of art leaves me a bit cold. Lots of religious art, then some other classical art. I think I've seen too much art in the last couple of days. Some interesting and fun El Bosco paintings, but thick crowds around them, and guards enforcing a no-photography policy. We sneak a few pictures throughout the museum, but almost none of them come out well. Pics.
To the cafe for drinks; Dora has a headache, takes a pill or two. Then back to the art.
At one point, Dora steps into an elevator without me for some reason, and we're separated for 20 minutes or more. Finally we call each other on the phone and meet at the bathrooms.
But the second floor is nicer, 1700s and later, lots of masterpieces. Lots of classical themes such as Hercules, Prometheus, Sisyphus, etc. One explanation of a painting runs something like "here is the king's wife showing him the severed head of their infant son, because the king raped his wife's sister and then cut out her tongue so she couldn't tell about it, and when the wife found out she killed their son and cooked the body and fed it to the king without telling him what it was, now she's showing him she killed their son and he ate their son". Wow !
Up to the third floor, which is supposed to be smaller, but doesn't seem much smaller to me. Lots of Goya etc up here.
Out around 2:30. Still raining. Down the E side of the museum and into first restaurant we see, the Murillo Cafe. Which turns out to be terrific. Dora has French onion soup which is mostly cheese and butter, with bread and onions, and very good. I have a bacon-onion pizza which is very good. A cheap drink for each of us, €25 total. Pics.
Out and down to the big Atocha train station: pics. Haven't really taken any building pictures on this trip, too much rain and trees and pedestrian traffic and car traffic, but: pic. Saw an odd thing: human-powered tourist vehicles: pics.
We try to scope out how to get Dora to the airport tomorrow morning, and it takes quite a while. There's an airport bus, and she can get to it via a two-stop Metro ride. Finally we get onto a train and out at Plaza Sol and home by 5 or so. My feet are aching.
Rest for a while. Then out to the nearby cafe again, try AirBNB again, but the room I wanted to get for Dora has disappeared from the site, on all dates. Send message to the owner, give up for now. Back to apartment.
Out around 6:30, up and down street in the rain and heavy foot-traffic and find BBVA bank at a corner of Plaza Sol. Have to wait in line to use an ATM, but I get money. Into the station, train to Atocha station. (The Metro-bus 10-trip card we bought has been almost useless to us, since the Metro line we need is cut and we don't know the buses.) Out and around the station and to the Reina Sofia contemporary art museum. €16 for two of us to get in.
The museum turns out to be very disappointing. They have "Guernica", and a few interesting painting and modern things such as suits with slogans and such. But no photography allowed, and Dora gets very irritated at guards barking at her to stop taking pictures, don't get so close to the art, etc. I wish they'd print those placards next to the paints about 4x bigger, so you could read them from 10 feet away.
We're dashing around a bit, because the museum closes at 9 and we only have about 90 minutes to see it, and it's 4 floors with lots of long hallways and recessed rooms. Pics of us.
Finally they kick us all out. We go across the square to a Starbucks for coffee and Wi-Fi. I'm irritated because the coffee is expensive and the Wi-Fi has an unexplained trick to connect, with my phone running out of battery. Finally I calm down and do AirBNB on my phone. Try the second room I found in Las Vegas, but the security still is preventing me from booking. Finally find the proper way to send a message to Support, do that, and give up for tonight.
The rain has stopped. Back to Atocha station, dash to a train, up to Sol.
We hang around Plaza Sol for a little while, taking some pictures mainly of ourselves. At one point, a guy slides behind us and eyes Dora's purse while we're taking a selfie, but I catch him at it and nothing happens.
We do a little window-shopping (well, Dora does, with me hanging around wanting to go home and get off my feet). Home around 10:30.
Dora has a 10 AM flight tomorrow morning, wants to catch a 5:35 AM bus, means leaving the apartment at 5 AM. Yet she stays up well after midnight, maybe until 2 AM, looking at papers and doing stuff. I go to bed at midnight.
Dora finally out the door at 6:20. Now she's saying she'll take trains to the airport, not Metro to bus. She'll probably get there 7:15 for a 10:00 flight.
I'm up at 8, no problem getting into the main bathroom with the nicer shower. Haven't heard from Dora by 8:15, so I assume all is well at the airport, she should have checked in by now.
Packed and cleaned up the room and to cafe before 9 to do coffee and internet. AirBNB still not working for me. Messages and phone call from Dora by 9:15; her train-travel to airport backfired and delayed her an extra 30 minutes or so, but she got there and checked-in okay. Got hassled and patted down at Security.
Back to apartment around 9:45. The rain has stopped, and there's a bit of sun ! Which is great since I have to leave the borrowed umbrella in the apartment, and haul around my suitcase this morning. Put computer bag inside big suitcase, said good-bye to owner, handed over key, out around 10.
To Sol Metro, took line 2 to Retiro stop. Up to Archaeology museum (MAN)
Had some trouble with my suitcase. Too big for the lockers, and they won't let me leave it sitting out (with the valuables locked in a locker), and I can't take it inside the exhibit area, of course. Finally the Information Desk lady rescued me. I put valuables in a locker and she kept the suitcase (with mostly clothes in it) behind her desk.
Free entry this morning. Nice museum, four floors stuffed with artifacts. A little dull on the first floor (prehistory, hominids, etc) but then Roman and Medieval stuff later. Tired by the fourth floor, and the contents got boring again. Pics.
Down to first floor, packed everything into suitcase again, out of museum around noon. Back down to Retiro Metro station, train to Sol station, bought Cercania ticket, missed train by 15 seconds. Waited 10 minutes for next one. Off at Atocha station. Up to the AVE area, by about 12:35 for a 2 PM departure.
Into cafeteria and had a sandwich, fries, drink. Did some Wi-Fi. Let my Metro pass on the table when I left; it probably had 3 or 4 trips left on it, maybe someone can use it.
Over to the AVE after 1:30, through Security, sat for 5 or 10 minutes. Then some woman 100 feet away just lost it, started screaming "NO!" over and over at the top of her lungs. I think she was some kind of mental case, and didn't want to get on a train with her sister or whoever. Hundreds of people all over the waiting area looked over or walked over, attendants and some police ran over there, I just went the other direction.
Phone call from Dora, she had to run inside Paris airport, but made her flight to Newark. I have to report my complete failure (so far) at getting her a room through AirBNB. She may have to stay in a $182-a-night hotel tonight.
Onto train, long but smooth trip to Sevilla, arrived a little early at 4:25. Which is nice because my next train leaves at 4:45. Up into the big hall, and the sun is shining so brightly on the big departure boards that I can't read the gate number. Find a TV display with same info, down to the train, on with 10 minutes to spare.
Full train, but smooth trip to Jerez, making about 4 stops on the way.
Home by 6; all well there. Start gulping water; I didn't drink enough water through the whole Madrid trip, and drank too much coffee.
Out after 8, down to center, sat at outdoor cafe to watch some of the Barca - Sevilla game and do some Wi-Fi. Sent messages to Dora, but she's offline, probably arriving at Newark airport. Gave her some suggestions for finding a cheap hotel in Las Vegas, but I have no reservation for her. Too cold to stay long at the game; home by 9:40 with game tied 1-1 before halftime.
Sure enough, she's stuck in the airport for the night, has no US cash, airport is mostly closed, etc. She should have arrived at 10:15 PM and now it's something like 3 or 4 AM there, why is she still there ?
Out of library around 1:45. Last I heard, Dora was in a taxi going to a hotel somewhere. I'm freezing on the walk home; it's colder today than I thought, and I'm wearing shorts and shortsleeves. To the locutorio just before 2 to recharge Dora's SIMs, but they're remodeling or rewiring or something; they tell me to come back in the evening.
Go home and sleep for a while, warming up. Headachey. At 5:30, took a paracetamol-plus and went out. Weather cold, and I'm wearing shorts because my long pants are still drying. To locutorio and recharged both of Dora's SIMs. Down to stand in front of Carrefour and use Wi-Fi. Messages from Dora that she's in a hotel but not in the room for a couple more hours yet, and has to find 3 roommates to make the room affordable. I assume she's in the hotel hosting her Congress, where rooms are $182/night. Maybe after one night she'll move somewhere else.
To library for internet. Home after 2. Headachey; took a paracetamol-plus. Spaghetti for dinner.
Out at 1 or so. To shoe shop, but there was some problem, and my Spanish wasn't up to deciphering it: the two boots are different, 6 euros to replace the heel on one, but I couldn't get him to agree to do that one, and agree that it would cost 6 euros, or tell me how much to do both ? Finally I gave up and took the boots home; Dora will have to deal with it.
Home after 1. Out again to computer place to buy a disk-to-USB case. Spaghetti for dinner. Put disk drive from HP Pavilion into new case, copied files to my laptop's disk.
Opened up my laptop and replaced the kayboard in it with a shiny new one I've been carrying around for a couple of years. Kind of startling to have clean new keys that all work.
Out in early evening for a walk (big Christmas-tree aluminum framework has been put up in Plaza Arenal), do some internet to send WhatsApp messages to Dora, and to Mercadona for groceries.
Ribs and rice for dinner.
Online, bought train ticket from Madrid to Sevilla to Jerez when I'm coming back from USA in December. I had been worried about a 20-minute connecting time last Sunday. This time, the web site gave me tickets with a 5-minute connecting time between trains in Sevilla !
Home, loafed all afternoon. Out in early evening for a walk, and to get a little internet on my phone. A bunch of WhatsApp messages from Dora, and she really wants me to do airline tickets for her sister to USA, so I gave in. Also wants me to give keys to our apartment here to her parents, so they and niece can stay here while sister is in USA. I'm not sure that is a good idea: the niece tends to get into everything.
Chicken-rice for dinner.
Had lunch, did internet, etc. Leaving before 4, sister wanted me to stay and fix her computer and do something else I couldn't understand. I said send WhatsApp messages to Dora. Hustled to bus station for 4:10 bus, got there with 2 minutes to spare, and of course the bus was 15 minutes late.
To Jerez, all bus offices there closed, but schedule says Socibus goees to Bilbao once a day. Their web site lies.
Home. Did laundry. Leftover chicken-rice for dinner. Tried the heater in the living room; it works.
Out around 8, walked to Carrefour, did a little Wi-Fi. No messages from Dora, sent some to her, installed Socibus app, no seats (I think) on dates we want.
Watched some of Spain - Macedonia football on TV.
Out again twice in the evening, to Carrefour to get internet and messages from Dora. A last-minute crisis as usual: the certificate for her medical conference will cost an extra $300 unless she gets a letter from her sister tonight claiming she's on a fellowship. And the only communication we have working is email between Dora and me, and WhatsApp between her sister and me. I forward the request to her sister, but there's not a chance it will get done.
Out around 5:30. To locutorio to add money to all three of our SIMs. To Carrefour to do internet for messages to/from Dora. To Mercadona for groceries. Home. Called Lycamobile to find out a possible way to make Dora's phones work again. Out again to Carrefour to send the info to Dora via email.
Trip to Barcelona:
Into Madrid Atocha station. Up to street level to get a little fresh air, but it's chilly and I don't have much time. Back in, through AVE security, bathroom stop. Into a cafe for a soda and Wi-Fi. A flood of messages from Dora; her phones have started working on Wi-Fi; I guess they only didn't work on mobile network. I thought she was going to LA, but now she's saying something about Saratoga CA (Silicon Valley). She needs me to pay money to various places when I get to Barcelona.
Suddenly out of time, hustled to catch my next train.
Uneventful ride to Barcelona. Headachey; took a Neobrufen.
Arrived at Sants Estacio on time, around 4:30. To Metro, couldn't get the machines to take one of my €5 notes, went to coins to buy a T-10 card. L5 Metro to Virrei Amat station. Out, and everything looks the same as before (only 3.5 months ago). Except that there seems to be a power-failure in some shops on one block just up from our apartment. Walked to the Piferrer apartment. Buzzed the lady on the first floor who is supposed to give me keys, but no answer. Called a friend who has another set of keys, and he showed up in 5 minutes and gave them to me. Mailbox stuffed full and overflowing. Up to the apartment, in, everything looks fine. Relieved to find we still have electric, gas, etc, and I have a bed to sleep on, etc.
Sorted through the mail. Phone-and-internet bill Dora wants me to pay is €290 !
Grabbed a delivery notice from UniPost, forged Dora's signature, and hustled out to see if I can pick it up. They tried to deliver a week ago; might be too late; no time to waste. Long walk down to Meridiana and across and past Hipercor, getting a little confused but then finding the office. But then they told me the item is in another UniPost office I didn't know about, out from the apartment in exactly the other direction. It'll have to wait until tomorrow.
Long walk back toward the apartment. Both of the BBVA branches whose ATMs I wanted to use have been closed. To Dia for groceries. Home, noticing that the Caixa across the street also has a BBVA logo on it now. Will have to see if the no-fee policy is the same.
Quick sandwich for dinner, then out again. To Caixa/BBVA across the street, but the couple ahead of me seemed to signal the ATM wasn't working, and I couldn't get it to suck my card in.
Headed down the street to Heron City Center to get some free Wi-Fi. Exchanged messages with Dora; she's in Hansen California waiting for a bus to go north to San Jose, I think. Into Mercadona for a couple more groceries. Out and did a couple more messages. Then headed back toward home.
Stopped at the same Caixa/BBVA again, waited for two people to finish ahead of me, then managed to get it to accept my card (just had to push it in harder). Got cash. Down the block to Caixa Blue and deposited some money into Dora's son's account; he's at university and out of cash.
Home by 8, tired and headachey. Took a sumatriptan. Yogurt and bread. Watched almost first half of Spain vs England on TV. Feeling lousy; went to bed. Headache and feeling cold.
To UniPost to pick up letter. Went 5 for 5: found it, they were open, they still had the letter, they accepted my picture of Dora's passport, they accepted my expired residency card. Letter is just a notice that government completed some procedure Dora started; no big deal.
To library. Had my card and was able to guess my password, so was able to do Wi-Fi on my phone. Messages to Dora, her sister, and her son.
To El Corte Ingles, bought 3 shipping boxes. Home. Took out a load of garbage, first of many. (I'm here partly because my plane to USA next week leaves from here, but also because we're giving this apartment back to the bank, maybe at the end of this month, so I need to clear it out.) A little lunch. Several more loads of garbage. More lunch.
Out around 1:30. To library to do a little more Wi-Fi, some messaging on my phone. Into Llucmajor Metro, rode to Jaume I station. Up and into MUHBA museum, but only found part of it, very confusing entrance and layout. Wanted to go into the cathedral, but it's in the hours where they charge for entrance. Wandered over to La Rambla, then across to MACBA and CCCB. On TV last night, the news crawl said govt museums are free today, but no one at the museums has heard of that. Street art: pics. Over to La Rambla, sat for a while, ditto at Placa Catalunya. Then Metro to Fabra i Puig and walked home. Feet tired.
Dinner, then to library by 5:15. Wi-Fi with phone and laptop. Home by 8:30. Immediately out again with a load of stuff to the donation box.
To Heron City Center to get a little Wi-Fi to do messaging with Dora. Now she's talking about keeping this apartment for a while, and getting a job here in Barcelona ! I knew we were going to rent the apartment from the bank for a month or two after giving ownership back, but I thought that was just a fig leaf over leaving Barcelona completely. I guess I'll keep throwing away stuff, but nothing essential for living here. We need to get rid of this place so we can stop paying utilities, having to come here, etc. And she needs to be near her parents and niece and sister in the South. But she has a job offer in Barcelona.
Loafed all afternoon. To library by 5:45. Exchanged lots of messages with Dora but can't understand much of what she says, full of typos. Online, bought a bus ticket for her from Madrid to Barcelona on the 27th.
Wow ! Dollar continues to strengthen against the Euro, since election of Trump and maybe with stuff happening in Europe (Brexit news, far-right parties, etc). Rate has gone from $1.11 to $1.06 in the last week or so. Good for me. Rate about was about $1.35 when I started coming to Spain in mid-2013, I believe.
Home by 8:30.
Out for a walk, sit in Virrei Amat plaza for a while, then to Dia for groceries. Home, and cooked spaghetti for dinner.
To library again after 6:30. Messages from Dora; she's having a great time in California, will be taking Greyhound to Las Vegas tomorrow. Wants me to bring syringes and stuff to USA; I don't think I'll do that. Home by 8:30; light rain. Watched Real Betis play Las Palmas on TV. pic. Ended up at Caprabo to buy some jamon to take to USA as gifts. Weather grey and threatening rain.
To library by 4:15. Lots of messages with Dora. Home by 8:15. Headache and sore throat. Took a Tonopan and later a Dolacatil.
Out to Heron City Center to get a little free Wi-Fi on my phone. Lots of messages from Dora, she may have to pay baggage fees and I don't think she has dollars, maybe she can change Euros. And at the very last minute, she wants me to buy some specific candy to take to USA. I couldn't find this same stuff for her parents to take to Peru a couple of months ago, how am I going to find it now, on a Sunday with most stores closed ? And she couldn't have given me more than 18 hours notice ?
Also got email saying I can do my boarding pass for tomorrow's Barcelona-to-Madrid flight. Tried yesterday to get it while I had nice internet at the library, but it was too soon. I've had trouble with this flight before, arriving at the airport to find that they didn't have a seat for me. So now I'll have to get Wi-Fi somewhere today, to check in and get the boarding pass.
Wandered up to Virrei Amat plaza, but some political rally going on there, too loud to sit and listen to my MP3 player. Sat elsewhere for a while.
Home, got laptop, out to another plaza. Got free municipal Wi-Fi, managed to check in for flights and get boarding passes. Looks like I'll be charged extra for baggage, and they mashed together my first and middle names, won't let me fix it. But at least I have seats.
Home. Spaghetti for dinner. Printed boarding passes.
By 4, still feeling lousy. Took a Nolotil.
Out after 5. To Heron City Center for some Wi-Fi. Not good: Dora's mother is sick in Sanlucar, probably being taken to hospital. Walked, feeling lousy, coughing and sneezing, went home. Later took a Sumatriptan.
Up and down all night, blowing nose, drinking water, peeing.
Thanksgiving in USA:
I'd been nervous all night about them charging me for luggage (check-in said no baggage in the hold), and my name being a little wrong on the ticket (somehow middle name got appended onto first name, then truncated), and I got hassled about the name on the outgoing leg of this trip, 8 months ago. Slow check-in line, but then the guy just tagged and printed and stamped, done, no hassles. Through Security. Into duty-free shop and bought candies Dora wants me to take to USA.
Uneventful flight to Madrid. Still feeling pretty lousy. Took a Neobrufen.
Didn't get special-searched by Security in Madrid; I have been, the last couple of times I went through here. But the airline lady who checked my passport looked back and forth for 30 seconds, probably seeing the name difference between ticket and passport, then didn't say anything about it, just passed me through.
On the long flight to USA, took a Sumatriptan, had lunch, and started feeling better. Watched a couple of Hobbit movies. By the end of the flight, feeling worse again.
Landed at 3:30. Self-serve passport machine rejected me, Immigration officer found the airline had my birthdate wrong by one day. Officer specifically asked if I was bringing in any ham from Spain, and I lied. Waited at baggage claim, found that somehow my phone has been drawing down its battery all day long. Got the suitcase, out through Customs with no problem.
ATM outside seems to be out of money. To train station. Couldn't get Wi-Fi, to tell my brother when I'm arriving. Got train in less than 10 minutes. To Suburban Station. Had 10 minutes to catch my connection, which is an express, and I'm sure they have Wi-Fi here. Took me 8.5 minutes to connect my laptop to Wi-Fi and send one simple email; everything was pig-slow. Onto train, and it turns out to be only a very semi-express: probably skipped 6 stops out of 16 or more. Weather pretty cold now.
Arrived at West Trenton station at 6, and Dora and my brother waiting for me in my brother's new car. Home by 6:15.
Lots of catching-up with Dora. Her mother is okay for now, back home with bad chronic bronchitis, usually refuses to go to the doctor. Dora had a good time in Las Vegas and California, but spent a ton of money on Las Vegas hotels, as I feared. Her telling me about the trip at the last minute, and then AirBNB failing for me, really screwed us.
To bed early. Still have headache. Took acetaminophen, didn't sleep well. Eventually took a Dolacatil, slept some.
Out before noon. To post office and sent a smallish box to California, $18 was the cheapest option. I thought I remembered a long time ago their campaign of "2 pounds in 2 days to anywhere for $2". The lady said she's been working there for 29 years and never heard of such a thing. Maybe I'm hallucinating it ? [No, later found some mention of it online. No date for it.]
To Walmart. Bought sneakers, groceries, and then let Dora loose in the vitamin aisle with a blank check. She tends to buy one of each letter, A to Z. I think it mostly makes expensive urine. She bought about 8 things. Self-checkout was a nightmare, all kinds of errors and overrides. Usually it works pretty well for me.
Swung by Wegman's, but couldn't even get a parking spot. Gave up and went home.
And now a sudden crisis/decision to deal with. Dora's son at medical school in Slovakia wants to change (probably not transfer, maybe start over) to a medical school in Belize ! Supposedly you do two years of Basic Science at this place, then you get into USA to do 3 years of Clinical Science at a US medical school, then you apply for residency somewhere in USA. The main deal is that a license and job in USA is far better than a license from Slovakia and probably a mediocre job. I thought the Slovakian license meant he could work anywhere in the EU; maybe that's still true and there are no jobs in EU ? I'm not clear.
Anyway, we start reading some articles online. The particular school (WUHS) is on the low, controversial end of the "Caribbean offshore medical schools", which already are a questionable lot. Some say this school is a scam, some say it's perfectly real. This school changed names or reconstituted only 4 years ago, after operating for 8 years or so, and has changed location slightly several times. Some people say this signals "scam", the school says it means "expansion".
He's already accepted for admission, with no testing required. Price would be same as the Slovakia school, more or less, about $11K per year for tuition. Unclear if there are other charges. School has every incentive to let him pay for 2 years of crappy classes in Belize and then fail to get into a US medical school. Unclear if they'd give him any credit for his 1.5 years completed in Slovakia. Length of clinical program in USA is unclear. They pay for slots in clinical programs in USA; where does that money come from ? We start generating a list of questions; we're going to call the school, or at least their business office in USA, tomorrow.
I'm not sure what is behind this sudden change. At least one of his friends is moving; maybe he wants to be with her. Dora didn't know where Belize was, and didn't understand that there were no guarantees to get into the USA, etc. I'm not sure if her son understands these things. Some stories from people who went through whole offshore programs and then failed to get residency talk about enormous amounts of debt that don't match the numbers we're seeing, so maybe we're not getting all the numbers ?
One bummer about this possible change: Dora paid an enormous testing and placement fee to get him into the Slovakian medical school, which all would be wasted. Probably won't transfer much or any of his credit from there, so maybe that's wasted too. Could be $20K wasted.
Out to an ATM, and then an Indian restaurant. Quite nice dinner. But the food was not photogenic, and the lighting was bad for pictures anyway. Pics.
Home, my brother soon to bed, and I finish accumulating a ton of articles online and then dump them all on Dora (and her son, via email) to read. She reads them, we talk, to bed.
Physically, I'm feeling a lot better now. Dora may have picked up some of my cold.
Long phone call (Skype) with representative of the Belize medical school, and it sounds pretty legit. They will transfer some credit from his European medical school, there's an extra semester studying with Kaplan's for the USMLE 1 test, the tuition figures given are all-inclusive, housing on the island in Belize is not too expensive, etc.
Out around 11:30. Up to Princeton. Wandered around the univerity a little, looking into the library and the chapel, then the art museum: pics. Then to a Middle Eastern place for lunch: pic. To supermarket for a few items.
I guess we've decided to send Dora's son to medical school in Belize. Mostly because of the job opportunities in USA as opposed to Europe, when he finishes.
But later, the decision is moving the other way. My brother-in-law is on faculty and a department head at a major US teaching hospital, and he says there is a huge stigma against Caribbean medical schools, even the top few. And he looked at the faculty list for the school we're looking at, and many of them have few qualifications. Online, I'm reading more and more about the problems Caribbean graduates have getting residency positions in USA. Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. Quite nice, better than I expected. I've been here before, maybe 5-7 years ago, and it's changed quite a bit. We spent about 3.5 hours there and left a little tired, but not too much. The weather was perfect, cool but not cold, grey and almost raining but not quite. Cafe stop, lots of comfy chairs, tons of great art. Pics and more pics.
In afternoon, out for a walk in park across the river in Pennsylvania. Later, watched Barca play on TV, and they were lucky to get away with a tie.
Worrying news about health of Dora's mother. Dora really wants to get back to the South to deal with that, but she's stuck in Barcelona for a week or more doing stuff.
Finally got around to advertising my boat a little more: here.
Out to dinner with my brother at a decent Greek restaurant.
I miss Dora, and I miss Spain. Nowhere to walk to around here, and it's too cold to do much walking. And not even really anywhere very interesting to drive to, unless we wanted to go all the way to Philadelphia or New York City.
Chinese for dinner.
In the evening, out to dinner. Cold hard rain, and the highway very slow. To Rossi's, for dinner with my brother and two cousins and a friend. Lovely time, lots of nice conversation, people going interesting places, catching up on some family info. Raining harder and colder when we came out, but highway clear and an easy ride home.
Power-failure at 1:15, down for 5 minutes.
Out for dinner with my brother to a pizza place, quite nice. Tried again to take pictures of Christmas lights in the neighborhood, but the pictures just do not come out well.
More confusion there. Down 4 levels and to ticket machine, and the agent swiped my AVE ticket to get me free local train ticket. Down to platform, train arrived in a few minutes, got on. But the display is not right: it shows right destination for the route I want, but route number is wrong and all stops shown are wrong. I get off, someone else gets off too, we agree it's the wrong train. But it's at exactly the right time. More people come down and mill around in confusion. Then the agent yells down to us to get on, this is the ONLY train. We get on, me last and having the doors close on my suitcase, then open again so I can get on.
On the train, lots of consulting other passengers and various route signs. Eventually it turns out to be the right train, just the displays are all wrong. To Atocha station by 11:30.
Into a cafe for a coffee and Wi-Fi and read a newspaper a bit. Later over to the AVE area, through Security, wait, then down to platform. A little more confusion: two trains are end-to-end, long walk down to my train, long walk to my car, and then it's labeled 20 instead of 30. Duck inside, and there it's labeled 30. Stash my suitcase, into my seat. Bummer: no AC power in this car. I wanted to recharge my devices.
We start off right on time, which is good, because I have a very tight connecting time in Sevilla: 5 minutes between trains.
Anxious time as we near Sevilla, but it looks like we're arriving early. We get in 5-7 minutes early, I hustle out and over to next train, get there with 5 minutes to spare. And it leaves on the dot; if the first train had arrived on time, I'd probably have missed this one. And as usual, it's completely full, and probably the next couple are too. Might have had to wait here several hours.
Slow trip down to Jerez; nice to get off the train. To apartment, and in a little after 5. About a 19.5-hour trip, door to door. Apartment looks fine. Power outage while we were gone. Very nice to shuck traveling clothes and take a shower. Started charging my devices.
Photographed mail to send to Dora. Out before 7 to get a little Wi-Fi send messages to Dora, then to Mercadona for groceries. Nice weather, maybe 15-20 degrees warmer than New Jersey.
Studied some Spanish. Watched 2/3 of Malaga playing Granada on TV, but my eyes started closing.
Doorbell rings at 5, and there's Dora ! With 5 suitcases. She took an overnight bus from Barcelona, at 9 PM last night. For some reason my phone isn't accepting calls or messages, and she accidentally packed her WhatsApp phone in her suitcases somewhere. Wonderful to be back together with her.
Turkey and rice for dinner. Put up some Christmas lights. Out to Hiper Number One, but couldn't find anything I wanted (no Christmas lights ? no Christmas cards ?). To ATM, but it's out of order.
Tossed and turned all night; couldn't sleep.
Caught the 11:00 bus to Sanlucar. To ATM and got cash. To Hiper Euro and bought Christmas lights. To Dora's sister's house.
As Dora caught up on her mother's health and the telephone bill fiasco, I worked on TV boxes. They've had no TV since their phone/internet/TV got cut off because of the massive phone bill. The set-top box Dora brought from Barcelona is useless without the remote control, which she left in Barcelona. Her father produced a DVD/TV box, we put it together, but no audio. Plugged in the big TV in the bedroom (which was a chore in itself), connected the box to it, got picture but no audio. Tried the TV by itself, it gets one broadcast channel, maybe just needs to do a scan-for-channels operation. But the remote for the TV is missing, and try as I might, I can't get it to initiate the operation using just the 5 buttons on the side. Father produced another DVD/TV box, put it together, can't get it to put a picture through the big TV. Gave up.
Dora sorts through the phone bill mess. Turns out her calls to Peru cost €1.70 per minute, not the €0.15 per minute she's used to on a different provider. And the phone company has issued three overlapping bills, running well into the future, to her sister, then cut the service. I hand over €350 to pay for our part of the mess. I've always hated phones and the phone companies, and this is one good reason why. I wish we could get onto a strictly pay-as-you-go strategy.
Into midafternoon, and I'm starting to drag, out of energy.
Eventually we pile into the car, and off to the big Las Dunas shopping mall for lunch/dinner. To a very cheap but noisy "100 Montaditos" place, where we have loads of cheap food. Filling and reasonably tasty but all of it lukewarm. Pics.
Out to wander through the mall for 15 minutes. Then it takes us another 45 minutes to find everyone and get out the door to the car. The niece threw a last-minute "buy me something" fit that cost us the last 15 minutes.
Back into Sanlucar, confusion, then Dora and I are dropped off at the bus station. Wait half an hour, then or 6:15 bus is another 15 minutes late. Falling asleep on the ride. Into Jerez, ask at offices about various bus and train schedules. Home after 7:30. Put up the new Christmas lights, adding them to previous string.
A little fruit and veg and bread for dinner. Took 5 mg of melatonin to help me sleep.
Out in midafternoon, to ATM and then Mercadona.
Out in the evening. To shoe-repair place. To an appliance-type store. To bus station to get a schedule. To another repair place. Toward the center. Bought a few things in a €1 store. Into the center. Skating rink set up in Plaza Arenal. Wandered, looking at jewelry and anything else that struck our eye. Christmas lights: pics. Up to library, down Medina, looking at boots, eventually home after 8.
Didn't sleep well, just lying awake much of the night. Listened to my MP3 players.
She wasn't done until 11:45 or so. But the news is not good: as she expected, they want to give only a 20-hour-per-week contract, and only for 1 month or so. Not worth it, when you factor in the loss of unemployment benefits, and the fact that if she works here, she can't work in any other public clinic for additional hours, and the fact that commuting here is additional trouble. Also, she has to do a ton of paperwork first. Much of that has to be done to get any job in this province, so we'll start doing that anyway. But they want her to do a shift 3 days from now, and the paperwork probably won't get done by then.
Out and around the corner to a bus stop, and missed the number 5 bus by 30 seconds. Which turned out to be a disaster: the schedule is horribly convoluted and unintelligible. We waited an hour, and with help from some lady, decided that bus took a 1.5-hour break at lunchtime, and we were in the middle of it.
So we gave up, walked down to a cafe for coffees and bathroom. To Plaza de Toros and caught the 1:45 bus back to Jerez. Which was a local, taking 45 minutes, but it was comfortable. Stopped at train station to check the schedule, home by 2:40 or so.
Spaghetti for dinner.
Got some Wi-Fi working on the WinXP laptop.
To library by 5:50, carting two laptops. Found AC power, started working. Got Dora's GMail password reset, and she spent some time doing Yahoo Mail and GMail and looking at job stuff, on my laptop. I tried to get Wi-Fi going on the old WinXP machine, but the GSky Wi-Fi adapter doesn't show up, and the Rosewill shows up fine but usually shows no networks. Later tried them on my laptop, and both worked okay. Eventually gave up on the WinXP laptop, and did Wi-Fi through my phone while Dora used my laptop.
Home before 8:30, tired.
Took 2 mg of Melatonin. Slept okay.
Out after 3, to take an umbrella to Dora at the bus station. Cold and grey and pouring rain. But she got a fair amount of paperwork done during her trip today.
I went out after 5. Cold and grey but rain very light or none. To ATM, got cash, put it right back in to pay the huge internet/phone bill for the Barcelona apartment. To Mercadona for groceries.
Creche in our apartment: pic. Did some Christmas cards.
Cold, wettish evening. We stayed in.
Took 2 mg of Melatonin. Slept okay.
Out around 11:15. To BBVA through cold wind. Dora did some banking, I hit the ATM. Next door to Banco Popular for more banking. But the lady at the front of the line was doing something with €10K of cash for a business, and one by one all of us behind her in line gave up and left. We gave up and headed to the bus station.
Onto the noon bus to Trebujena. Arrived and I found out Dora had no idea of the location of the medical office she needs to go to. No luck asking at the government center. Out and saw a Banco Popular, so Dora went in to bank and I wandered around in the cold. Pics.
Eventually the banking was done, we started off in the wrong direction, reversed and back past the bus stop, then luckily I saw an emergency-room sign. In and it turned out to be the right place, but the director told Dora the functions she needed were back in the main hospital in Jerez !
To a nice bar for coffees and montaditos and Wi-Fi. Out into the cold, bus came right away, on and it left a couple of minutes early.
To Jerez, and got off at the hospital. A cold walk 2/3 of the way around it, found the right office. The people are friendly, but no long-term full-time work available, just some 2-week shots to fil in for people on vacation. And it's not in Jerez, it's in Arcos outside Jerez.
Out, quickly caught number 10 bus, winding route back to near our apartment. To Mercadona for groceries, and home after 4.
Out after 6, long walk to Correos near the university. Lots of people in line, but warm and I had a seat, so no problem. Picked up first of two boxes shipped from Barcelona, and trundled it home before 7.
But the box turned out to be only half-full, and contain only stuff we don't really need. Dora didn't ship her financial papers and stuff from Barcelona, for example. Argh !
To library after 11:15. Home around 1:30.
Big dinner of beef and rice and salad etc. But then I kind of conked out; a little headchey, tired.
Headache later; took a sumatriptan. Out briefly into the cold at 7:15 or so, and bought a string of climbing Santas. Wanted to buy a small plastic tree, but the closest store is sold out of them. Pic.
Headache much of the night.
Around 1, we went out walking. Not as cold as I expected; quite pleasant if we were in the sunshine. Into a nearby church for 5 minutes and listened to some of the sermon. Toward the center, into a bazaar, bought a small Christmas tree and lights and ornaments. To Plaza Arenal and looked at the kids skating on the rink. Back toward our apartment, but then to a coffee-shop I've been meaning to try. Nice place, coffees and a small sandwich and a nice slice of tart/cake for total of €5.80. Home after 2:30. Put up the tree: pic.
Dora soon out to local locutorio to do internet. Back, and we had beef-rice-salad for dinner.
Headachey again in late evening; took a Tonopan. Before bed, still hurting, took a Nolotil. At 4 AM, in pain, took a sumatriptan.
Dora cooked a nice beef-rice-egg and I did salad, for dinner.
Later, Dora feeling bad, I'm feeling a little headachey, so we crashed for a long nap. Then tea and Dolocatil for her, tea and paracetamol for me.
I went out around 7:30, to bus station to get schedules to Chipiona and Arcos. Dora is signing up for a job in Arcos, but the bus schedule probably won't fit her work schedule.
Both of us tired but mostly feeling okay by bedtime. I still took a melatonin and a paracetamol.
Slept pretty well until about 4 AM, when headache pain got bad. Took another paracetamol, which took the edge off it. An hour later, took a sumatriptan, which knocked it out completely.
Butane bottle for water heater ran empty; switched to other bottle. Looks like a bottle lasts about 3 months, for about €13.5.
I'm out, added €10 to Dora's 256 phone number, to library by 11:40.
Home around 2:15. Dora home from bank etc. Cooked beef-onion-rice-salad for dinner.
At 6:45, walked Dora to bus station so she could catch a bus to Chipiona. She's working a 12-hour shift there tonight. Afterward, I wandered through an unknown section of town, got a bit lost, accidentally did a complete circle, eventually extricated myself. To Mercadona for groceries.
I put together an apple pie, using crust dough (masa fresca quebrada-brisa) from the supermarket, three Granny Smith apples, a can of mixed berries, etc. We don't have cinammon, so I added vanilla. We don't have a circular pie dish, and the pie is a bit thin and crust-intensive, but that's fine. Put it in the fridge to cool before baking.
Butane-refill guy was supposed to come in the morning, but came at 1:30. Price has risen to €14.65.
I cooked spaghetti and salad for dinner, then popped the pie into the oven. Done about 50 minutes later: pic.
Crashed for a nap.
Had some pie, and Dora pronounced it good. It came out well, but needed cinammon, couldn't taste the vanilla, etc. I'll try some different things with the next one.
I went out at 7:30 for a walk to the center. Fun to see the Christmas tree and skating rink and vendor stalls in Plaza Arenal, and lots of people. Cold enough that I was glad I was wearing a wool hat.
Headache in the late evening. Took a paracetamol, then later a Tonopan. Slept well.
Home by 1:30, feeling cold. Hot tea and then beef-rice-salad for dinner fixed that.
Dora out at 5:30 to local locutorio to do an online test. Home an hour later; I thought it was going to take a lot longer. It turned out to be more of a survey than an examination, so Dora need not have studied for it.
Installer done at 11:45, and we DO have internet right away. Lots of fun connecting devices, then logging in to the Vodaphone site and trying to figure out the service limits. The internet data rate is 50 MB (Mbits / second ?) and there is no monthly internet data limit. They have our address wrong in the records, we chat and then call, trying to fix that, then Dora talks to them about getting one of her mobile numbers transferred to this service.
I try to get the Windows XP laptop working through Ethernet, and it's fighting me every step of the way: viruses and malware, connection up and down, Windows Update fails because ActiveX control installation fails, desktop Explorer crashes if I try to run Control Panel. Try to install some anti-virus and malware cleaners, all require WinXP Service Pack 3, which this machine doesn't have. Trying to download and install Spanish version of that, getting various errors. Got it downloaded, various errors in the middle, ended up with a system that blue-screens if I try to run a browser. Started copying files off the system to save them.
Dora off to catch 0800 bus to Arcos, to work a 24-hour shift.
Online, ran an internet speed test, and I'm getting less than 3 Mbps download (nominally should be up to 50) and less than 3 Mbps upload.
Did a load of laundry.
Out before 4, to ATM, then waited about 20 minutes for the 18 bus. Took it to the big Luz shopping center at the W edge of town. Into the Alcampo big-box store and looked at netbook/laptop computers for Dora. Can get a pretty nice laptop for €290: 4 GB RAM, 500 GB or more disk, 15" display, full-sized keyboard. I guess the main factor being sacrificed is processor speed. And the keyboard key feel is not the best.
Looked at TV mounts, power tools, no jewelry department here. Out, and a long walk around to Worten's, the only other store here that carries electronics. Same story here on laptops, and TV mounts. Out, couldn't see anywhere else I wanted to look into, sat at bus stop for 20 minutes. Bus before 6, out near home and to Mercadona for groceries, home by 6:45 or so.
Baked another pie: apple and peach this time.
Heard fireworks after midnight. Got a "Merry Christmas" phone call from Sanlucar around 1 AM.
Nice time at sister's house in Sanlucar, with sister and niece and Dora's parents. We didn't have any presents to give them, but we gave money, and they gave us clothing, and later lots of extra stuff to take home. Nice dinner of turkey, rice, Russian salad, sweet potato, cava to drink. I managed to get their heater going again (after putting new batteries in the remote, and fiddling with it for quite a while), but failed to get the upstairs TV going. Nice conversation, and we played with the niece a bit. Then to 6:15 bus, which was ten minutes late. I lugged a huge ungainly bag of stuff to the apartment, my back hurting. Home by 7:15.
We went out for a walk to Plaza Arenal after noon. Lots of people out and about, and some stores open; I thought things would be dead on this after-Christmas holiday. To a cafe for coffees.
Back still hurting in the evening. Took a muscle-relaxant before bed, and a Neobrufen at 3 AM.
Out at 1 or so. Trying to find bolts for TV stand; no luck at two places. To Mercadona for groceries. Street art: pic.
I want to take Dora out to buy jewelry and a new computer, but her throat is achey and she doesn't want to go out. I've been trying to do this for several days; you'd think she'd be eager to go.
Out with Dora at 5:30 or so. I thought we were just going to a couple of local places, but she says let's go to Carrefour Norte to buy a computer. So, to stationery store and bought an envelope, to Correos to mail two things, to a ferreteria to look for bolts, then to Plaza Angustias and quickly onto a 5 bus. Which went one stop and then sat there for 15 minutes while the driver took a break. No problem, it's warm and lots of people-traffic to watch. Finally going, wound through town, to Carrefour Norte by about 6:20.
In, to the computers, and they have some great prices. But I want to see the screens with real info on them, and for that we need a salesperson to log in, and there's a slow line for the salepeople. We stand in it, finally get served. Over to the computers, and both of the cheap ones (€240 for 4 GB RAM, 500 GB disk, 15+ screen) turn out to be floor models, no new ones in boxes. One of them has a dodgy hard disk, the other has some software problems because it's been messed with for a while. We switch to a more expensive one (€300 for 4 GB RAM, 1 TB disk, 15+ screen), the saleswoman goees to look for one in a box, and while she's gone we realize it doesn't have separate buttons below the trackpad, we want buttons. She comes back and says they have none of THAT one new in boxes either, the one on display is the only one available. We give up.
Through the store a little more, get some bolts for the TV stand, and Dora just wants to go home. So we check out, to the bus stop, soon onto the 9 bus, longish winding trip home, but it stops right at our building. Home before 8.
And of course the bolts I bought are the wrong size. 4 MM is too thick, 3 MM is too narrow. Put the TV stand together with some screws I aready had, and I think it will be okay.
I loafed all day; too much time on the internet. Spaghetti for dinner. Out for a walk in the evening.
I thought Dora would be home by 10:30 or so, but she's still at work after midnight. Guess she's working a 24-hout shift.
Online: strange, some internet test sites say I'm getting 25 Mbps, days ago others say 1/10 of that. The one I used a few days ago now says 8 Mbps; used to say 2.7. I guess these thngs vary a lot according to where the server is.
Dora feeling bad in the afternoon: sore throat she's had for a while, and more. To bed for a nap. Up for dinner. I'm headachey; took a sumatriptan.
I went out around 7. To bus station to recharge regional bus card. Into center and to Carrefour for hair-conditioner for Dora. Loads of people everywhere. To a news-stand to recharge the local bus cards.
Out again at 8:45 to Mercadona for groceries.
Did a load of laundry. Out at 11:15 or so. Longish walk to Correos, and it was crowded. Waited more than 20 minutes for my turn. Picked up letter for Dora. Walked back. To ATM. To Hiper Number One to look at TV antenna cables.
Tried to get second TV set working, and found that only one TV antenna outlet in the apartment, the one we're using in the living room, has signal on it.
Cooked turkey and rice for dinner. Dora home at 2:45. She took a Dolocatil, I took a paracetamol.
Later, crashed for a nap, neither of us feeling very well. I was up at 7:45, took a Neobrufen. Later, Dora was up, but she's feeling worse, having chills. I went out to Mercadona later for groceries.
Cooked pesto-spaghetti for dinner. Suddenly at 5:20 there are people running down Calle Medina, 6 stories down from our balcony, in various Christmas costumes. Too late for me to get down there and take pictures.
Pie into the oven at 8:20. Hastily turned it off and opened the door to cool at 9: used a different dough which is pastry-type dough, and it has risen quite a bit and may burn.
We cheated and started our New Year's celebration at 11 instead of 12, because Dora has to get up at 7 tomorrow. Pie a la mode and sherry and 12 grapes each (a Spanish tradition). The pie was pretty good, I must say. Pics.