2014-04-30 (Wednesday)Raining all day in New Jersey. Cab to train station was $45 plus tip for a 15-minute ride ! Free Wi-Fi and AC power at the dinky little W Trenton train station, but I couldn't get the Wi-Fi to work.
Train came on time; long slow rainy trip down to the airport. Essentially no line at ticketing, less than 10-minute line at security, they swabbed. my hands to check for explosive residue or maybe drugs, didn't have to undress and unpack to go through the machines. Through by 4:40 for 6:45 flight. Raining harder than ever outside. No free Wi-Fi in airport.
I notice that the currency-exchanges give rates in a (deliberately) confusing way: instead of 1 Euro = 1.35 dollar, for example, it says 381 Euro = $600, I think. Which is a really bad rate (1.57) if giving Euro and getting dollars. Maybe I'm reading it wrong.
Uneventful boarding and flight. Plane is maybe 90% full. 25-30ish guy in seat next to me works at a private equity firm in north Philly, so we had lots of nice conversation about business and computers and Barcelona. Tolerable chicken dinner, a bit bland even for airplane food.
Listened to MP3's and munched powerbars and watched a couple of Simpsons episodes and dozed across the Atlantic.
2014-05-01 (Thursday)A hot muffin-thing and OJ for breakfast. Plane landed around 9:30. Through Immigration with no questions, puzzled for a moment at baggage claim (they spell Philadelphia as "Filadelfia"). Longish wait in baggage claim, then out through the "nothing to declare" exit. To the free shuttle bus, over to other terminal. Across the overpass to the train, and found price of a T-10 card has gone up since last year (was €9.80, now €10.30).
Ten-minute wait for the train, grabbed a seat, into town, off at Sants Estacio, Metro L5 to Virrei Amat. Down the side streets to Dora's apartment; I think I could have done this trip blindfolded. Buzzed from the street, into elevator and up, knocked on the door, and there's Dora to welcome me ! Very nice to be back with her. Said hi to Bryan, too. They're happy to see me, and it's great to be back with Dora.
Chatted for a while with Dora, gave her various gifts and purchases I brought with me. The baby clothes for her sister are a big hit. More talk over a simple lunch, then napped and loafed for a few hours.
Sent email to Chris to tell him I'd arrived, and he says New Jersey is flooded today, some trains stopped, and it's a good thing I left yesterday and not today.
Already Dora is measuring me to stick a needle into me. I have a bad cold, from New Jersey. She wants to do "autohemology" on me, and she says I have lovely veins. I tell her I'm going to start wearing aluminum foil on my arms.
Lovely dinner with Dora. Nice food (pic), good conversation.
Around 8, out for a long stroll with Dora, down F-i-P to Meridiana and past Hipercor, to a lovely park with several small bridges over ponds (Parc Pegaso). Eventually further down to a plaza with plenty of people sitting in bars and cafes, and a dozen small children playing in various groups and with parents. Nice but loud. Long walk back home, stopping at an ATM to get cash. Back by 10.
2014-05-02 (Friday)Online, bought tickets for a swing concert at the Palau Musica on 5/5. The building alone is worth the price of admission; the concert should be great. As always, Dora's work could be a problem; she's a doctor, and her day is unpredictable.
Looked online for events at the opera house, but none of them sound interesting.
Looked online for evening concert at the MEAM, but today's event is blacked out; I guess no tickets left.
Tried to find how to buy tickets for a minor-league football game on Sunday, and the answer seems to be to just go to the stadium at game-time.
Then Dora arrived back; her work today was canceled. So, out the door around 11 with Dora.
Caught the Metro (left my ticket from yesterday in the suitcase, had to get another) and went to MEAM, and it turns out we CAN get tickets for the Blues concert in the museum tonight. So we bought museum-and-concert tickets, and saw the museum. Nice modern art. Pics. (In this pic, Dora says she was trying to do the same fingers as the statue, but instead it's something rude; I think she's doing a shadow-rabbit.) Interesting chair at shop across from MEAM: pic.
Afterward, we walked over to the Cathedral and sat for a little while. The place is jammed, the cathedral square and even the streets up toward Placa Catalunya. Yesterday was holiday, so people have taken off today, too. But also lots of tourists.
Up to Urquinona Metro stop, and accidentally got on the wrong line. We should have backtracked at first stop (Dora's idea), but instead we tried to connect and connect, and we ended up with a long, looping ride and some long walks through connecting stations. Finally got to Placa Espanya, and walked up to CaixaForum. Turns out Dora is a Caixa member, so we got in for free. Bathrooms, locker, up to the cafeteria for juice and pastry and a half-sandwich each. Pleasant.
Then into the exhibits. A lot of 500-BC sculpture and urns, which were just okay. Into a Corbusier exhibit, and that was nicer. But Dora kept interrogating the guides about details, and I got a little tired. No pictures allowed inside, but here are two of outside: pics.
I thought we'd go home to rest before this evening's concert, but we're running late. And Dora needs to pick up a laptop that has been repaired. Back down to the Placa, into Metro, out, and then problems. Took Dora a while to find the computer place, then they were closed until 4:30. Street art: pic.
We had some juice, into the computer shop, and more problems. There was no hard drive in the laptop when they got it, which is news to Dora. Before going to this shop, she went to a different shop, which sold her a new hard drive. But neither old drive nor new drive is in the laptop. We finally left the laptop there, and she has to go back to the previous shop and find out what happened. Interesting display of motherboards and other stuff in the shop: pics.
Into the Metro, out, and to MEAM. Grabbed seats and a table, got drinks and peanuts, and relaxed. Music started at 6, and it's nice. Piano, drums and singer, doing various blues and some boogie-woogie. Lovely venue, high-ceiled room with lots of ornate decorations to look at. Pic.
I slowly got more and more tired, and slightly headachey, but it really was quite nice. Done at 7:45, out to the Metro, took an ibuprofen on the way, out near home, stopped at a bakery and then chatted with some friends of Dora's. Lady in bakery had cutely dressed dogs: pic. Home at 8:30.
Nice dinner of cheese-and-tomato sandwiches on fresh baguette bread. Dora wanted me to take a picture of it, so: pic.
Trying to figure out the situation with Dora's laptop, we resolved one small puzzle: why did her HP laptop have a Dell power adapter ? She thought maybe I left it here when I left last year (my laptop is a Dell), but I didn't (it has a European plug, for one thing). We discovered she has an old Dell laptop too and it has an HP adapter with it; she must have switched the two accidentally. And since they're slightly different voltages (but identical connectors), that might have damaged her newer laptop [later, the computer-repair people say no, that wouldn't have caused the damage].
We also established that the first computer place did indeed sell her an external (USB) hard drive and copy her old internal disk onto it. But they should have put her old disk back into the laptop.
And apparently her tablet is not getting charged from the charger I bought for her and brought with me. Arghh.
Dora wanted to do autohemotherapy on me (draw 5 ml of my blood from a vein, inject it into a muscle to stimulate immune response), and I almost agreed, but then said no. I think I'm tired, jet-lagged, have a cold, maybe still some irritation from pollen in NJ.
2014-05-03 (Saturday)Woke up at 7:30 feeling okay. Staggered out to get a drink of water and use the bathroom. Dora is up and ironing clothes, and greeted me with something like "Good morning. How are you feeling ? Are you awake now ? You can sleep more on the train." Train ? Nooooooooo ...
Back to bed for a little while, used the computer a little, then shower and eat and out the door at 9:10. Dora says we're going to Igualada.
Down to F-i-P Metro, to Placa Espanya, some confusion buying train tickets (worked out to €30 for two roundtrip tickets), dashed onto the train, which then sat for 15 minutes, leaving 10 minutes late.
Long ride to Igualada, making just about every stop, but usually we have plenty of room, so it's comfortable. But the guidebook makes it sound like Igualada is a waste; why are we going there ? Off the train around 10:45, and we start wandering. It looks dull.
After 15 minutes, it's still dull. Many things closed, not many people out. I ask Dora why we came here, and she says "well, you said you wanted to go outside Barcelona, and I used to live here so I know this place". So, a miscommunication. I said on this 2-month visit I wanted to go to some things outside Barcelona, but Igualada was never on the list.
But then it gets a little better. We find some shopping streets with interesting shops and people, and we start looking for a lunch spot. Up the hillside, using a couple of escalators. Pics. We settle on a place. The usual confusion about what the daily menu means; the price always ends up more than it's supposed to. But I'm trying to be less careful with the money this time.
Lovely food. We start with Catalan-style bread (oiled, and rubbed with tomato to get the juice), and Iberian smoked ham, and cheese. Sodas; we're thirsty. Then some delicious spinach tortellini; we inhaled it before I thought to take a picture. Two plates of black rice with calamari and other seafood in it, blackened with ink of squid, even though I told Dora I didn't like calamari and squid. And I thought we had ordered one plate of rice and one of ham. On to a nice dessert, some kind of very fluffy cheesecake for Dora, chocolate cake with chocolate syrup for me. Coffee and water to finish. Lovely tiles on the floor, too. Pics.
Then it turned out the waiter DID screw up our order, brought two rice plates instead of one rice and one ham. No big deal. Whole meal came to about €30, we spent about 2 hours there, and it was fine.
Out and wandered some more. Tried to find some friends of Dora's, but they're out of town today. Sat down at some tables in a govt playground, and a guy hustled out of a nearby bar and said those were his tables, what did we want to order ? Dora was quizzing him about directions, and ordered some water; I would have just gotten up and left. Anyway, pleasant to sit there for a while. Pics.
Wandered down to the main pedestrian avenue, I looked at the watch, and after 5 minutes we strolled toward the train station. Onto a train, it left within 10 minutes at around 4:50.
Long, slow trip back home. Out at F-i-P, scads of people strolling on the sidewalks. Dora stopped in an ATM to do some business. Into Bonpreu for a few groceries.
Home by 7:30. Nice tea with Dora around 9.
Helped Dora run anti-virus on the Dell laptop, and clean off half a dozen infections.
Took an Ebastel pill (antihistamine) Dora gave me for my cold. She wanted me to take antibiotics and something else, but I declined. I'm getting better, slowly.
2014-05-04 (Sunday)Dora has to work 8 AM to 10 PM today, so she's out early and I get to sleep late and loaf.
Was going to work on Dora's Dell laptop, which has some adware-type software, but she didn't leave it out for me as I asked. Looked to fix a falling-off doorhandle, and found it is missing a setscrew, but stores are closed today. Looked for tool set, hoping for Allen wrenches, and it's not where it was last year. In the process, found yet another laptop, a Packard-Bell. Went to look at the broken air-conditioner/heater in the small bathroom, and found the bathroom is a mess, full of stuff, one lightbulb is burned out, the fan isn't running. Spare lightbulbs aren't where I remember them being last year. Looked around a bit, still can't find tools or Dell laptop. Making everything more difficult is the fact that two or more families worth of stuff is jammed into one apartment: every drawer, cabinet and closet is full to the brim, stuff is piled on top of tables, out on the balconies, etc. This is her sister's apartment, not Dora's, so she can't get rid of most of the stuff. Fixed a drawer that was off its tracks; at least I accomplished one thing.
This evening I'm going to a local minor-league football game, UE Sant Andreu versus CD Olimpic de Xativa. Around 4:30, found that Dora won't be able to skip off work early. I asked Bryan, but he doesn't like football, and he's studying for two examinations tomorrow. So I'm going by myself.
Out the door a little after 5, and walked down Fabra i Puig. Nice door graphic: pic. Across Meridiana, still a ways from the stadium, and I hear singing and chanting. Sure enough, here comes a band of the local club supporters, maybe 50 of them, with a big banner and a lighted flare and lots of team spirit. I take pictures and enjoy the fun. Pics. They're marching behind as I head down to the Sant Andreu stadium.
No problem buying a ticket, €5 for general admission. My water-bottle got confiscated as I entered; no containers allowed. There are plenty of seats; I grab one at top-corner, good view of most of the field, and with some sun to keep me warm for a while. The band of supporters comes in and sits behind the goal near me.
Game starts at 6, and it's lots of fun. Stadium gets maybe 40-45% full, plenty of spirit, and lots of action in front of our goal. One penalty kick, which the home goalie stops (it was hit right at him). Home team scores at the other end at about the 30-minute mark, which is great. Pics.
After the break, I'm thinking this has been a very penalty-free game, when they start. A few free kicks, then a couple of yellow cards. Around the 70-minute mark, there's a collision which the referee calls against the home team, and the home player is down and injured. The other player says "you're faking it", and picks up the injured player, who immediately flops back down. Yellow card. The crowd starts booing the other team's player, and as play continues they whistle and yell every time he touches the ball. Soon a section of the stands is chanting something that involves his number and "hijo de puta", and later a song that involves "puta" a lot.
Lots of back and forth, but that one goal holds up, and the home team wins. By then, I'm a little chilly, and it's good to walk back home briskly.
Dora got home at 10.
Dora started pulling spare bulbs and tools out of various unlikely bags and cabinets. I messed with the light in the small bathroom, and something is intermittent in bulb or socket. Various other chores to do tomorrow.
2014-05-05 (Monday)Thought of going to Aigues museum today, but then realized it (and most museums here) are closed on Mondays.
Did laundry. Worked on bulbs and fan in small bathroom; can't figure out how wiring plugs into the fan, and all of the images online NEVER show it with wires plugged into it. No sign of bulbs that should go over mirror in large bathroom. Tried Dell laptop, but I don't know the password. No Allen wrenches.
At noon, quick run out to the hardware store (2 blocks away; everything you need is within about 5 blocks of this place). Went 3 for 3: bolt to use as a setscrew on the door handle, new bulb (not quite same color-temperature) for small bathroom, and the guy opened up the fan and found two wires that had been pushed inside it. €9, home, and got everything installed and working !
Went out for a couple of hours, to Parc de la Guineueta, not far from the apartment. Lovely mostly-quiet park, nice trees, lots of benches, plenty of sunshine and shade, some schoolkids playing, lots of people walking dogs. Pics. Wandered and listened to MP3's and took pictures of street art: pics.
Skype-called Mom and chatted with her.
Dressed up and out the door by 5:50. Down to F-i-P Metro, through to Urquinona stop, and then confused. The Metro exits don't have the labels I expected, and I chose the wrong one. Finally get down Via Laetana, and to the Palau de la Musica Catalunya by 6:20. Into the ticket line, and pick up our tickets, then start looking for Dora. Can't find her for 15 minutes or so, and I'm worried because the directions I gave her (and myself) were a bit wrong. But it turns out she got here ahead of me (from work) and went into the theater cafe for a coffee. Into the theater, several false starts finding our seats, then we get settled.
The building is spectacular, ornate upon ornate. But my camera is having some trouble with the lighting.
The program tonight is a "Swing" music band. The band comes out 5 or 10 minutes late. There are plenty of empty seats (the place is only half full), so we move out of our full row to an empty one, with much more legroom and space.
A fun evening. The band is 17 instruments plus conductor: four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, a piano, a drummer, a bass, an electric guitar. They all have bright ties in different colors. The conductor keeps doing little dance steps. And the music is good. All the announcing is in Catalan, with the song titles repeated in English. It lasts a little less than 2 hours.
Out to the Metro, take Yellow line to Llucmajor stop, soon home.
A little late dinner, and some late-night tech-support: I write down the info about the three laptops and what is password/good/bad/to-do about each one, and start tweaking things on the Packard-Bell (Windows 8, which I've never used, and en Espanyol).
2014-05-06 (Tuesday)Unclogged the sink in the small bathroom. Extracted some kind of nail-polish bottle from the top end, then unscrewed the trap and got an earring, necklace and ring (and plenty of muck) from the bottom end. Put the trap back together with Teflon tape. Had to mess with it half a dozen times before figuring out how to stop it from leaking.
On the Packard-Bell laptop, uninstalled about a dozen "bloatware" applications. But then they started fighting back, and installation of a "cleaner" failed, maybe because I did something wrong. Using Google Translate a lot, to try to figure out the messages and buttons. And the touch-pad is very sensitive; keeps clicking buttons and items I don't mean to click.
Dora home around 1:30. Pizza from frozen for lunch, and Dora cooking other stuff for Bryan and for later: pics.
After 4, over to Dora's old apartment, a couple of blocks away. It's just as crammed with stuff as the new apartment, clothes and knicknacks and medical books and furniture. And we have to clean it and repair things; it turns out guests are arriving tomorrow night. I start steam-cleaning some wall-sections that are scuffed. Dora is cleaning the bathroom, mopping floors, ironing sheets. Before I realized guests were coming, I press her into throwing stuff away, so we can reduce the clutter and make the place more manageable. We clear junk out of the back balcony, off tabletops, out of shelves. I make half a dozen trips down to a bin on the street. We're not supposed to use it for this kind of trash, but the big trash can't be put out until 9 PM tonight.
I start replacing burnt-out lightbulbs in the ornate flowery fixtures, and have to make three trips to the (nearby) ferreteria to buy new bulbs (about €45 worth). The guy runs out of a particular type of bulb we need. Dora announces that the washer stopped working a few weeks ago, and I add that to my list of things to see if I can do something about in a week or two, after the guests are gone. After several hours of this, I'm reaching my limit; I didn't sign up for all of this.
We split at 7:30 or so, me carrying a heavy load of stuff to the new apartment, Dora out to buy meat for some reason, and more lightbulbs if convenient. We're going back for more work in the apartment later: put out the trash, put up curtains, more cleaning.
Back at the new apartment, put the laundry out to dry, worked some more on cleaning the Packard-Bell laptop, and the trackpad has decided to stop working (while in Windows) on my laptop.
Dora came back, and we had turkey over rice with mushroom sauce for dinner.
Back to the other apartment around 9:45. We took some heavy boards and a rolling end-table and a foot-stool downstairs and set them outside the front door. Then a small vanity with mirror and drawers, which was tricky to get into the elevator. A guy was coming by with a big rolling rack, scavenging stuff people put out. So Dora invited him up, and we gave him two CRT TV sets and a set of smallish but nice barbells and weights. Dora was delighted to get rid of the stuff so easily, and he took it all down in the elevator and out.
Then we made beds and cleaned a little, and Dora started ironing curtains. I put up a few small ones, and she kept ironing and ironing. Eventually I was sitting and waiting as she ironed and ironed. Finally I was able to put hooks into them and hang them on the big windows and door in the main room. Then I left, making a stop at a garbage bin and hauling a bag of stuff to keep, getting home at midnight.
Took laundry out of the washer and hung it to dry on the balcony racks.
Looks like the Packard-Bell laptop is free of viruses and adware now.
I think Dora got home some time after 3 AM.
2014-05-07 (Wednesday)Dora was up at 6:30 or so, and writing a list of things for Bryan and me to do at the other apartment. The big item is that we have to haul a mattress from this apartment to that one. I looked at the mattress, and it's big, maybe queen-sized. That's going to be a chore, especially getting it into the tiny elevator at the other apartment. We may have to take it up 4 floors of stairs. And when I asked her where there was enough floor-space for the visitors to lay it out and use it, the answer involved major re-arrangement of all of the furniture in the main room, furniture out onto the balcony, etc.
Fixed the trackpad on my laptop; not sure why it got disabled.
Dora keeps coming up with more and more things Bryan and I have to do today with the other apartment. The written list plus the oral list is getting too long.
Out at 9:30 to do an errand for Dora and then to other apartment to put and take various things.
Out again at 10:15 or so. To Llujmajor Metro, down to Jaume I, and to MEAM museum. Bought tickets for piano concert on Saturday evening. Street art: pics. Across to Placa Jaume and into Tourist Info. As I expected, they are selling tickets for the Barca-Atletico game, but only expensive seats (€200) are available. Will have to try again the day or two before the game.
Tried to go to Placa Pi, ended up at the Cathedral, which was okay. Went into the cathedral and looked around and rested a bit. Always liked this place. Pics. Out and found Placa Pi, and asked about concerts in the church. Looks like only guitar concerts, which don't interest me so much. Back to Jaume I Metro and home.
Around 2, prodded Bryan out of his room and we carried the mattress over to the other apartment. Went pretty easily; it wasn't as heavy as I expected, and we managed to bend it into the tiny elevator over there. Bryan stayed to do things, I went back home.
Around 3, went out. To Virrei Amat Metro, and a long ride to the other end of the line, Cornella Centre. A bit of trouble getting oriented, but I was in no hurry, and sat in the sunshine and munched a powerbar. Down the hill and to the Museu Agbar de les Aigues (water and energy museum, the old water-pumping plant). Just okay, a bit sleepy, big old cool machinery, but nothing moving. Not even the entrance gate, which scanned my ticket and beeped but didn't open; an attendant waved me through another gate. Pics.
Back toward the Metro, and into a huge shopping mall (pic). Pretty sleepy on a weekday late afternoon.
Out, and wandered on other side of Metro station, but this seems to be a plain area with few parks or other interesting stuff. But I didn't go far. Back into Metro, long ride home. Near the apartment, seniors playing bocce ball. Back home by 5:30, tired and footsore. I think I'll rest tomorrow.
Dora was home by 7:30 or so, we had a nice ribs-and-rice dinner together, then she was back out before 10, to work all night. She's a doctor and normally has a weird schedule, with on-call and night shifts and stints at various departments, but today and tomorrow she also has some kind of class to attend.
2014-05-08 (Thursday)Loafed all morning. Dora was home around 11, then back out at 2.
I went out after 3, through Metro to Placa Universitat. Into the university, and lounged in the gardens for a little while. Then up into what I thought was a museum, but turns out to be corridors where they've had temporary exhibits, and there are none right now. Still a gorgeous building, and some nice art in the entryway, although the light made the art photograph badly. Pics. Loafed some more in the university grounds.
Then to the computer repair place. Gave them the caddy and disk, they installed into the laptop, booted up, and everything works. Paid the bill (€98, for fixing broken graphics circuitry) and got the laptop.
Wandered back down to Placa Universitat, sat and people-watched for a while, then back home.
Started working on HP laptop. A little confused until I realized it had no battery in it. Put that in and started charging, and set the clock.
2014-05-09 (Friday)More work on HP laptop. Installed anti-virus. Then Windows Update (win7): 62 important updates, 43 optional updates. Ran anti-virus. Uninstalled a program, set others to not run on startup.
Around 1, out the door to walk to Parc del Guinardo, to see the Turo de la Rovira bunkers and views of the city. Only a couple of miles from here, but it's a difficult walk: none of the streets to go there intersect squarely, none go directly toward the park, and the access seems to be from a point about 1/3 of the way around from where I'm coming. And the whole walk to it is uphill, gradually at first, steeply at last.
But I get there with no wrong turns ! As I got closer, I didn't see how to get up into the park, but eventually a hairpin turn and then a couple of obscure sets of stairs got me there, and up to the top. Great views over the whole city, and there's MMBB: miles and miles of bloody Barcelona. Apartment buildings and other buildings packed together, with some parks, some taller semi-skyscrapers, and surrounding hills. All the usual landmarks: Sagrada Familia, the old port, Tibidabo, etc. Pics.
Back down, and retraced my steps with little problem. But I'm tired and footsore. Eventually back near the apartment, stopped in Bonpreu to get groceries, and home by 4.
Dora home before 5. Nice ribs-rice-lentils dinner: pic.
Later, Dora is in bed, in pain. Turns out she came home early today because she's having kidney pain, and probably a stone. Fortunately, she has every kind of medicine here, and took a paracetamol-codeine thing that stopped the pain.
Later, I had a headache, probably from too much sun today, and maybe from the wine with dinner, too. Took a paracetamol.
2014-05-10 (Saturday)I'm feeling okay; Dora still is taking various medicines. She has some pretty heavy-duty stuff lying around in the apartment, and she's taking it.
Later in day, Dora feeling bad, nausea, sleeping. She got up a bit, we hung some curtains, did some laundry. I worked on the HP laptop some more, another 30+ updates. Napped.
We went out around 5:15, Dora feeling a bit better after taking some ibuprofen. To Llujmajor Metro, out at Jaume I, and to the MEAM museum for a piano concert (same place we went to a Blues concert last week).
We sat at a small table directly behind the pianist, 6 feet away. A youngish lady, Claudia C. Valetta, playing Beethoven (Sonata op 81), Enric Granados (Valsos Poetics), Saint-Saens and Liszt (Dansa Macabra), Txaikovski and Pletnev (Suite de Concert Trencanous). What I know about classical music would fit in a thimble, but it was nice, especially the Dansa Macabra and the Tkaichovski. Fun to see her fingering on the keys, and the museum setting was wonderful. Pics. Coffee and cookies included.
Afterward, Dora was feeling pretty well, so we went strolling. Various street art: pics. Over to Arc de Triomf, the Estacio du Nord, and sat in the Parc next to the station for a while. Buildings: pics. Warm, pleasant evening with lots of people out. Dora took another ibuprofen.
Eventually wandered up Meridiana toward the Agbar tower: pics.
To Placa Glories, and found the BruumRuum art installation: pics. It reacts to city noise, and people shouting into tubes, but the reactions are erratic and which tube is active changes from time to time. Sat there for a while and enjoyed watching kids play with it.
Across the tram line for a look at the new Encants market; we could see ourselves reflected in the ceiling far above: pics. An incredibly dramatic structure that houses a couple of restaurants and hundreds of stalls for an open-air market / flea market.
Into the Metro, out at F-i-P station, walked up F-i-P street, and home by 10:40 or so.
2014-05-11 (Sunday)Dora is feeling fine this morning. Later, some pain again.
Out for "breakfast", but many places are closed. To a chocolate place, for chocolate and churros. And Dora is feeling bad again suddenly, so I ate most of the churros. Not a healthy start to the day.
Found an open pharmacy, Dora bought some pills, and soon she's feeling mostly okay. We sit in Placa Soler and watch some kind of dance-fitness thing with decent music. Sit for a while longer, watching kids play and people wander around. Then back home.
Nice dinner around 3, then I crashed for a nap. Up and out around 5 with Dora, to Placa Espanya, planning to see Castell Monjuic and then the Human Bodies exhibit. Had to walk 3/4 of the way around Espanya circle to find the bus stop. Onto the 150 bus, and there are Dora's friends who are staying in her other apartment ! They're from Yugoslavia, parents and two children about 8 years old.
Up to the Castell, and it's nice. Great place, great views out to sea and over the container-port and over the city and old port, and we're here at a free-admission time. Pics.
Time flies, and we barely make it to the top level of the castle and take a few pictures before it's 7:30 and they're shooing us out for an 8 PM closing.
Dora and I start strolling down from the castle, finding a nice fountain and scenic-overlook place. But all of a sudden Dora is in a lot of kidney-stone pain. She takes a paracetamol I have, and she took ibuprofen earlier. But the pain is very bad, and soon she's cold and nauseated and walking is painful. We sit for a while, then have to get moving, to try to get home.
Fortunately, everything works as well as could be expected. We find a bus stop not far away, the bus comes in 2 minutes, and we're off. A long, painful trip for Dora, stopping a couple of times when she feels she might vomit, but we get through bus and Metro and to home by 9:30 or so. The relief of being home is good for her, and she goes to bed, has some hot tea.
Then she has me inject her with something, I don't know what (found out later: Nolotil). My first injection, and the patient survived ! I was surprised at how far the needle had to go in, maybe almost 2 inches, and how much fluid there was to inject.
2014-05-12 (Monday)Dora still in pain, a little vomiting. She had me give her another injection of Nolotil.
A cool, grey day, sprinkling very slight rain a couple of times.
Dora stayed bad all morning and into the afternoon, unable to hold down even most liquids, tired and in pain. I wanted to make soup or bouillion for her for lunch, but we don't have any in the apartment. When I said I will go out and buy some, she said we'll make some, and started a huge cooking operation. Then she felt bad and went back to bed, leaving me tending a big pot boiling 2 pounds of chicken and some carrots and peas and later pasta, a big pot boiling quinoa, and cleaning and chopping and sauteing mushrooms to make a mushroom sauce: pic.
I had some soup and chicken around 2, and Dora managed a few mouthfuls of soup broth, but by 2:45 she was saying "I have to go to the hospital". So by 3, we were out.
Walked about 5-10 minutes to a big clinic on Av Borbo near Maragall station, which looked like a pretty decent hospital to me. Inside, we only had to wait about 10 minutes before Dora got examined, but she was in pain and was irritated at the wait. They gave her a shot and directions to have an ultrasound elsewhere.
So after 10 minutes, we were out and into the Metro to go to a central hospital's Urology department. Out at San Pau stop, walked several blocks and into the hospital. Maybe a 15-minute wait there, Dora was taken in and had an ultrasound and X-ray, waited 5 minutes until someone could read the results, and learned she has two stones but they're not stuck. She came out with prescriptions for about 6 medicines, of which she already has 2. Mostly, they prescribe more-aggressive pain management while the stones come out.
We started heading for the Metro, but Dora felt cold and weak, so we sat for a minute. Into a farmacia a block away, and she paid €15 total as co-pay for the 4 medicines. Then she was feeling a bit better. Into a bar for tea and so she could take a pill. After 15 minutes, she was feeling chipper and wanted to walk down to Sagrada Familia and maybe even see if we could go inside for free, so we walked down there. Then I was urging her to head home; who knows when the pills are going to wear off, and she needs to drink more fluids. So into the Metro and home by 6:30 or so.
A big bowl of chicken soup/stew and a big bowl of quinoa-with-some-beef for dinner. Dora ate plenty of the soup, and still is feeling okay by 8 or so.
Out to Corte Ingles to mail a big box of stuff to Dora's sister. Lots of work with packing tape at a counter inside the big department store; a little strange.
2014-05-13 (Tuesday)Dora feeling fine this morning, and she's off to work ! With kidney stones still inside her. I hope she took some medicine with her. She's working only a couple of hours this morning, so not too bad.
A cool, grey morning.
Dora wasn't back until 1 PM, but she was feeling okay. She's been taking pain pills.
Around 5, out with Dora. Into Metro, out at Placa Espanya, into Las Arenas, and to the Human Bodies exhibit. Interesting, learned a bunch of things, a bit pricey at €12 apiece. Dora (a doctor) sniffed that some things were a bit too simplified. But we enjoyed it. No photography allowed.
Walked around the top of Las Arenas (pics), but it's cold today. Into the Metro, stopped at a fruit stand, home by 7:30.
2014-05-14 (Wednesday)Out between 10:30 and 11. Metro to Placa Catalunya, lots of walking inside the station, found FGC train ticket machines, a little trouble figuring them out. Apparently they don't sell a go-and-return ticket, you buy a ticket with two journeys. And one machine's bill-receiver wasn't working; had to move to another machine. Got the ticket, found the right platform and train, off to Baixador de Villvadrera, only a 20-minute ride, €4.30 for two journeys.
Out and into trails of Parc Collserola. Uphill to the info center, which sells maps but gives away nothing useful. Decide to wing it, and headed more uphill. Lots of dirt-road type trails, peaceful, lots of hills. Approaching Tibidabo and the communication tower from the back side. Some serious-looking bicyclers, a few walkers. I think this is part of a network of trails that goes for hundreds of miles, from Montserrat and up to France.
I keep strolling uphill, keeping to the main route, which makes a few turns I have to remember. It comes to a major intersection at the top, and I pick a direction and stroll a little more, until I dead-end into some kind of building. That's far enough for me today; I've had plenty of exercise, and I'm leery of making too many turns and mistaking my route. Back down, down, down. Eventually to the train-staion area. I walk out to the road intersection, but I see nothing on the other side but some houses. Into the station, my ticket works, 3-minute wait for a train, and back into town.
Through Placa Catalunya station, Metro, walk home, back by about 2:30.
Big dinner with Dora around 4, then we crashed for a nap. And Dora slept and slept; she's still on medicines. She slept until 7 or more.
Out around 8 with Dora, for a walk. Lovely evening, slightly cool but no breeze, no clouds, very comfortable. We walked up into Parc Guineueta, and found a big temporary pavilion with people doing dances from Seville and costumed groups doing Flamenco dances. Sat there and watched for a while. Then up to the ring-road, sat for a while, then over to park next to Canyelles Metro station, where we found a nice "magic fountains": water leaping in various patterns while a variety of music played. Only a dozen or so people watching, but we sat for a while and enjoyed it. Eventually back down to the circle at the base of Parc Guineueta, past Llujmajor and home.
2014-05-15 (Thursday)Out around 10 with Dora. To F-i-P Metro, out at Clot station, onto 10:40 train to Sant Celoni. Arrived there around 11:15, and no tourist info, no paper maps, no easy bus to Montseny, which is our intended destination.
We wandered into town, found that there are three Tourist Info locations, each open for a few hours each day. Finally got to one that was open, and the news is "you can't get there without a car".
So we wandered through town some more, found a creek-front park and walking/riding trail, and wandered out of town and into the woods. Nice walk up the hill, across a stream (Dora enjoyed cooling herself with the water), up to a nice view where we sat and munched fruit and cereal. More walking down some trails that went past a few little farms and such. Eventually the trails started peteering out, so we turned back. Tried another side-trail, didn't get very far, went back to town. Wandered along the creek a little, then into the town center. Pics.
Almost every shop is closed, in the early afternoon; the place is dead. Found one bar open and went in there. Had sandwiches and soda and a coffee, and Dora pumped the guy for info about trails and buses and even the coming Barca game. (Apparently the game is going to decide the champion of the league, so good luck getting tickets.)
Out and eventually found the train station, and onto a train. A little trouble getting out at Clot station; the electronic signs on board the train were turned off the whole time, we were dozing a bit, and the station had no signs on the platform. But we got off and into Metro and went home. Back around 5:15. Tired.
After dinner around 7, Dora shifting into major-cleaning mode while I did the dishes. While she was ironing and mopping, I fixed the toaster, which has been tripping the main circuit-breaker every time it's turned on. Then I beat and vacuumed carpets. We moved furniture, put carpets down, moved furniture back.
Tried to diagnose bad TV-antenna-box, but like most appliances here, it's a European model and all info about it on the internet is in French or Spanish.
2014-05-16 (Friday)Loafed all morning. Out locally after noon: bought bread, bought a birthday cake for Dora, bought flowers for Dora, bought a few groceries.
Had a nice birthday-dinner with Dora. We drank cerveza-and-Coke's, about 50/50 beer and Coke, which sounds awful but isn't bad. Usually it's more like 30/70 beer/Coke, Dora says. Pics.
Turns out the big Barca-Atletico football game has been moved from Sunday to Saturday with only a few days notice; how can they do that ? My brother Chris is arriving tomorrow, and we would like to go to the game. But it's turned into a league championship game, so we won't be able to get tickets (for any reasonable price), and now it conflicts with another event I'd really like to go to. We'll see.
Around 8:30, Dora and I went over to the other apartment. She hasn't been there to check since the guests left several days ago, and sure enough, the back door (on 4th floor) is ajar. But nothing else is wrong. She picked up bedclothes to wash and various other items to take to the home apartment. I started taking apart the washing machine, which isn't working. Got 6 bolts off, ran into a couple with special 6-pointed-star heads, so I need a tool. Done for tonight.
2014-05-17 (Saturday)Out the door a little after 8, to pick up my brother from the airport. To Virrei Amat Metro, crowded train to Sants Estacio, 15-minute wait for train there, to airport terminal T2, shuttle-bus to T1, arrived at 9:55. Ten-minute wait, and there's my brother ! Bus to train to Metro to home, arriving around 11:45, I think.
Chris crashes for a nap; Dora and I have a nice rice-salad-sausages lunch. Later, a bit of a nap.
Dora and out around 2:30 to take a big box to Corte Ingles to ship to her sister. A couple of women are shipping things to Bolivia that look exactly like bales of marijuana: rounded bundles, wrapped in brown paper and then shrink-wrap over that. But would be sending drugs TO Bolivia ? Maybe they're bundles of hundred-dollar bills.
Back to the apartment, pick up various stuff, and out to the other apartment. There, I work on the broken washer, and finally get it open. The bad news is that I can't see anything obviously broken; hoped I'd see a loose wire or a broken belt. I poke at it for a while, we try various control settings, but it keeps doing the same things: rotates the drum briefly, tries to run a little water briefly, then shuts down, and 5 or 10 seconds later tries a little more. Maybe broken or clogged pump ? If it's something wrong with the controls, I won't be able to fix it.
Back home, and rouse Chris. The big Barca football game is supposed to start at 5. We go out, and try to find a bar showing the game. But the first couple we stop at are full, and showing a different game anyway: Madrid-Espanyol. Finally someone tells us the Barca game starts at 6. Maybe they changed the time ? At noon today on the internet it still said 5.
We find a bar/restaurant that's mostly empty, and showing the Madrid game, but we decide to have a sangria at least. The waiter is a bit surly and tells us all of the tables but one are reserved; we sit at that one, clear view of the TV but it's a bit far away. Dora talks to a lady in front of us, and she's solo, so we move forward and join her at her table. Pics. Sangria comes, and it's nice, and then people start to arrive, and suddenly the Barca game is on TV.
The 2/3 of the tables behind us never DO fill up, but we watch the game and drink sangria and munch sausages and Catalan bread (wiped with oil, garlic, tomato) and have a potato-brava dish (potatoes with mayonnaise and a little meat), and later drink a little Seville beer.
The game is fine, although it takes sharp eyes to watch it from this distance. As it started, Dora cajoled us into a bet, and I have Atletico to win or tie, with €10 each at stake against both Chris and Dora. So I keep teasing her, praising good plays by Atletico and saying how nasty the Barca players are. And eventually I win the bet: game ends as 1-1 tie, Atletico wins the championship, everyone here is downcast. Chris and Dora decide to stiff me on the bet, and I wave it off anyway. Home around 8:30, feeling tipsy and tired and headachey.
Chris is going to stay home and rest; Dora and I are going out. I drink lots of water, nap for 5 minutes, take an ibuprofen.
Out around 9, maybe. To Virrei Amat Metro, out at Dos de Maig stop, up to the old Hospital San Pau. It's Nit del Museus, and tonight admission is free, the place is open until 1 AM, and there are swing-music bands. We go in, and the buildings are stunning. Designed by Montaner and completed by his son after his death. It operated as a real hospital from maybe 1910 to 1980 or so. The entrance takes us through underground tunnels and vaults that connect many of the buildings, and were used to transport patients on carriages. Then up a stairway and we emerge in the middle of the central courtyard, and there's the band and music and people dancing, and we're surrounded by gorgeous buildings. The buildings are brick or brick-colored, but with turrets and huge windows and columns and tiles and mosaics and some stained-glass.
We wander around, into a couple of buildings, listen to the music. Then into the main building, which is stunning. Up and around, and watch a slideshow for a while, then up some more and into more rooms. Eventually out and sit and listen to music for a while, and Dora danced while I attempted to dance. Some people were dancing very skillfully and/or wildly.
Photography was difficult; flash results were mixed, but with no flash, the camera took 10 seconds to gather enough light. Pics and more pics.
By 11:30 I was ready for bed. We stayed a little longer, went out and back in to see a model and other parts in the main building that we'd missed or rushed past the first time. And the one-way design forced us back up into the central courtyard.
As we headed for the exit just before midnight, the band finished. A minute later, ALL of the lights went out, and people gasped. Someone must have thrown the wrong switch. Five seconds later, they went back on. We walked another hundred feet, and the same thing happened again. Finally we went out, to Metro, home by midnight-thirty or so. Tired, but I don't feel too bad; the water and ibuprofen got rid of my headache/hangover.
2014-05-18 (Sunday)Up around 9, feeling tolerable.
Out around 10:30 with Dora and Chris, to a pastiserria on F-i-P, for pastries and coffee etc. I had a nice soya-milk, and the pastries were great. Comy chairs, too. Nice place. Pic.
Home before noon, and we loafed and did various things. Planning to go out around 2:30 or 3, and wanted a bite to eat before leaving. But Dora got into cooking-mode, which meant pots and pans and two kinds of rice and beef and chicken and lentils and salad and little tomato-and-spice things and a properly set table and wine for her and juice for the rest of us. So all four of us sat down to a big meal. Pic.
Out the door around 4, maybe. To F-i-P Metro, out at Placa Espanya, 150 bus to Castell Montjuic. Dora and I were here last week, but it's a great place, and free again this afternoon, and I thought Chris would like it. And there's an exhibition open today that we didn't see last week, about Barcelona just before WW II (including a picture of Church inquisitors: pic).
Up to the top of the castle, and it's a bit cooler and breezey today. Great views, and Chris read somewhere that today is setting a record for cruise-ship departures from Barcelona: some 32,000 people are leaving here today on seven cruise-ships. (Seven sounds like too few ships for that many people.) Sure enough, we see two cruise-ships leaving simultaneously. Pics.
Eventually out of the castle, and we start strolling down to the Olympic stadium. I'm enjoying the walk, but it's further than I thought, and Chris is really dragging. We stop for a while in the garden next to the Joan Miro museum, so Dora can use Wi-Fi and we can enjoy the garden: pic. Then down to the stadium, which also has free entry today, and fortunately still is open (it's almost 7 PM). It's nice, and interesting to feel the history and imagine what it must have been like when the Olympics were here, in 1992. Pics.
Out and across the street to a bus stop. Soon onto the 150 bus, down to Placa Espanya, onto Metro, out at Placa Catalunya. Stroll down La Rambla for a while, through throngs of people, then a left and over toward the cathedral, looking at shops and looking for somewhere to have a drink. We end going all the way to Placa Nova, near the cathedral, and turn off and find a quiet outdoor cafe. Turns out to be a Vietnamese restaurant, which is fine with us. Chris has a couple of sangrias, I have a Cobra beer, Dora has tea and some of my beer. Chris has a pork-pancake thing, I have a terrific pork sandwich, Dora has a big bowl of beef pho soup. €40 total.
We wander out and into the cathedral square, where an antique and knick-knack market is just closing down. Down the side of the cathedral, past some guitar players, over to the MUHBA square, look at some shops, eventually into Jaume I Metro.
Out at Llucmajor stop, head home, but we hear music from the Nou Barris municipal park. So we go up there, and find a full-blown fair going, lots of food stands grilling meat, other stands selling things. And around the corner of the building, lots of chairs and audience in front of a big symphony orchestra, playing in open air ! We sit and enjoy it for half an hour. A magical setting, good orchestra (big, but no string section, no piano, extra horns), a few modern arrangements I don't much care for, a couple of standard classical pieces that are terrific. Just wonderful. Pics.
Then the orchestra is done, and we head home, arriving around 10:15.
2014-05-19 (Monday)Out around 10:45 with Chris. To F-i-P Metro, down to Placa Catalunya. Wandered down La Rambla. Swarming with people, as always. Stopped at Starbucks to get a coffee for Chris, went into Boqueria Mercado, looked into Placa Reial. Down to the waterfront for a little while.
Back up La Rambla and down side-streets in the old town. Pics. I bought a calzone at a pizza place, Chris bought a gyro at a Greek place; he made a much better choice. To the Cathedral square, and sat for a while. There's a knick-knack market going on, and the usual crowds of people.
Then worked our way up to Placa Catalunya. Into Corte Ingles to use the bathrooms. Up Passeig de Gracia, stopping frequently to sit and people-watch. To La Pedrera around 2:45 for our 3:00 entrance time, and we didn't have to wait, just zipped straight in (but bags had to go through a security-scanner machine !).
Elevator to the roof. Lots of weird features up there, and great views. Pics.
Then into the attic part of La Pedrera; lighting made photography difficult. Some items from there and elsewhere in the building: Pics.
Then to a lower floor, and apartments with marvelous furniture, design features, various artifacts. Pics.
Down lots of stairs, through the gift shoppe, and out.
Rested for a few minutes, then into Diagonal Metro station and to Virrei Amat. Got a few groceries at Bonpreu. Back home around 4:30, footsore and tired. Dora isn't home yet; Bryan came in 5 minutes after we did.
Dora home around 5:30, and soon Chris, Dora and I had dinner: pasta with mushroom sauce, turkey, salad. When I got ready to take a picture of dinner, Chris got up from the table, saying the picture should have one less turkey in it. Pic.
A quiet evening at home, which is fine with me.
2014-05-20 (Tuesday)Out the door a little before 10, with Dora and Chris. To Metro, to Placa Espanya, bought combination train-bus-park tickets to Catalunya en Miniatura (€16 each).
Used the bathroom at the station, and it was like a prison bathroom: mostly brushed-steel, no lifting seat, toilet paper dispensed in the most awkward position possible (directly behind the toilet). Whole room auto-cleaned itself after each use.
Onto the train, and about 12 stops, 20 minutes to Sant Vicenc dels Horts. A brief disagreement about where to catch the 62 bus: I wanted to follow the clear, simple signs saying "this way to the 62 bus", but Dora wanted to ask three random people in the vicinity and wait at the stop that clearly said 61 and 71 buses only. Then the 61 bus arrived, and the driver took us for free to the stop for the 62 bus, which the signs would have led us to.
Ten-minute wait for the bus, then it wound through town and down a valley. Surprising number of houses out here, and another small town further up. Off the bus with vague directions to go left, but we had no problem. Good signs in various places. A little more walk than we expected, but only a half mile or so. Up and into a parking lot that served both a school and the park.
Into the park by 11:30 or so, a longish stop for bathroom, and then we had to walk halfway around the perimeter to get inside the actual models area. Kids in the woods doing tree-climbing and rope-walking and zip-lining.
The miniature models are nice; 1/25th scale, and much more interesting for Dora and me than for Chris, since we've seen many of these buildings in real life. They have buttons in various places to activate cute little mechanisms: model trains, a funny motorboat zipping around wildly in a lake, skiers on a ski-slope, a stream coming down from a mountain and turning a water-wheel, something burning and a fire engine spraying water at it, planes taxiing around at the airport, cars driving on the highway, the crowd singing the Barca football club song in the football stadium. The model buildings are very nice, the landscaping well done, the full-sized real trees and bushes labeled. And the weather is perfect: grey and not quite threatening rain; strong sun would make it too hot. We see only two other adults ahead of us here briefly, then a crowd of schoolkids behind us later. Pics and more pics.
A little disappointing to me: no model of all of Barcelona's old town. But it wasn't a very Barcelona-centric setup; it covered all of Catalunya (including the local town's police station !). Also some well-known modern industrial buildings, such as Zeta newspaper's publishing building, a couple of big warehouses/factories for companies Dora recognized, etc.
We're done by 2:30 or so, and walk out to the bus stop. We get rained on very briefly near the bus stop, and Dora pulls out a rain-poncho. Onto the bus, into town, and just about everything is closed for the afternoon siesta. But we luck onto a bar/mercado that is open, right next to a high school that is run by the same religious order as Dora's son's high school. (I tell her, any time you want to find a bar, just look next to a high school.) We have olives and potato-egg things and potato chips and iberica ham sandwiches and sodas/coffee/beer. It rains a fair bit while we're inside, but has stopped by the time we're out.
Short walk to the train station, very short wait for the train. To Barcelona, Metro, home by 4:30 or so.
We were planning to go for a late dinner at a kebab place, but by 8 we're all still full from lunch. So around maybe 8:45 we go out, heading for a close local place to have a drink. Cool evening, spritzing a little rain.
I wanted to try the nearest hole-in-the-wall bar, but Dora led us 3 or 4 blocks up to Dr. P. I. Molist and a bar on the corner there. A dozen bottles of hard liquor on the shelf, but the only drinks they seem to know how to pour are wine, sangria, and cafe-liquor (coffee-flavored grappa of some kind). I have a shot of cafe-liquor, and we all have some sangria. Then the food starts coming: a couple of rounds of Catalan bread with ham, and a plate of anchovies. Delicious, and the sangria is strong, and the cafe-liquor will put you on your butt if you're not careful. We all get happy and talkative, and have a good time. French TV on the screen, and a few locals talking among themselves. The whole bill comes to €14, a bargain.
We wobble out, and home by 10.
2014-05-21 (Wednesday)Out with Chris for a coffee and pastries. Stopped at a hardware store to see about circuit-breaker and keys; no luck.
Waiting for an air-conditioner technician to arrive, sometime between 11 and 1, to try to diagnose the broken central-air unit. While waiting, I took down the broken TV from Dora's bedroom and tried to diagnose it. Got sound, but still no picture; I think it's toast.
Buzzer from building's front door rang a few times, but it was suspicious-looking people who seemed to be trying to get into the building to steal stuff. Eventually the phone rang a few times. I don't usually answer it, but eventually I did, and it seemed to be the air-con technician, but I couldn't understand him. Then it was Dora, saying the technician was at the door, let him in. I kept going down to the street, but he's not there.
Technician finally arrived a little before 1; had the wrong street-name. He spoke zero English, I speak about 5 words of Spanish, and I wasn't here when the air-con broke. He poked at it for 5 minutes, charged €67, and left, saying he'd call Dora with the results. Seemed like an expensive waste of time to me.
Chris and I went out a little after 1. To F-i-P Metro, to Arc de Triomf (pics), and walked down into Parc Ciutadella. Sat in the big fountain plaza and people-watched and chatted for a while (pics).
Then across into old town, past Picasso museum, over to Jaume area. Did a loop around the old streets there (various street stuff: pics), and eventually into the Metro and home by 4.
Dora was home, and after a while she called the air-conditioning people, and they said something like "well, since the electricity was off, and the people there didn't speak Spanish or Catalan, we couldn't do anything". So the technician visit today was a rip-off. Dora said she told them in advance that the electricity was off, and that they should have called her while the technician was here. Would have helped if she'd left a note for the technician. Money down the drain.
Around 6:15, Dora and Chris and I went out for dinner. Stopped on the way to buy a new circuit-breaker for the air-conditioner, which turned into a 10-minute conversation with the guy about why the previous breaker burned (probably the water leak from the air-conditioner ran right down the wires and into the fuse-box, which means the other breakers are suspect, too).
To Durum Kebap restaurant. Had beer and chatted during a longish wait for the food. Nice lamps here, but the light is bad for photography: pics. Had to prompt them to bring the starter we'd ordered. Good food and plenty of it. Dora didn't eat much; she'd eaten earlier. Chris's credit-card didn't work because it didn't have an embedded chip, and he didn't know the PIN; first time I've run into that problem in Spain (but I guess I mainly pay cash here, or use my credit-card on Spanish web sites). Home by 8:30.
2014-05-22 (Thursday)Had a sore throat during the night, and took a cough drop. Hope I'm not coming down with something.
Chris and I went out around 9:45. To Metro, to Sants Estacio, bought tickets, had a coffee, down to platform onto train. It's a double-decker, and mostly empty, so we took top-level seats on the ocean side.
Down to Vilanova i la Geltru, where there are two museums: a railway (ferrocarril) museum, and an art museum (Biblioteca Museu Victor Belaguer). In the station, no Tourist Info, no maps, no maps on the walls or outside on a post, nothing. There's the railway museum, 1/2 block from the station, but I kind of wanted to do the art museum instead.
But I spy with my little eye a "Officines de Tourism" sign a block away, so we follow that. A couple of blocks to another such sign. A third points us under the train tracks and toward the waterfront. A fourth sign points us down a big pedestrian plaza that ends at the big marina. And ... nothing. No office, no more signs. I ask a young woman, she doesn't speak mch English, she's never heard of the art museum, she points us back to the station (probably the railway museum).
We get to the station, but now we're on the wrong side of the tracks, and to enter and cross, you have to stick a ticket in a turnstile. That would waste our return tickets. We talk to the guard and turnstile-lady there, they get on the radio and summon another guard and consult a passerby, but no one speaks English and no one has heard of a museum other than the railway museum. [Maybe if I had remembered to say the "biblioteca" part, it might have been different ? Probably not.] Finally the guards nicely let us through without paying, one of them takes us to the other side of the station, and points at the railway museum. So we thank him and go there.
And the railway museum turns out to be pretty terrific. But right after paying for our tickets, I see a small brochure saying where the art museum is, and it's maybe 1 block from here. Typical.
Into the railway museum, look at the some stuff inside and some fun stuff outside, then to a roundhouse or turntable where they used to turn around train cars and locomotives. And there are 20 or more steam locomotives, 4 or 5 cars of various types, and half a dozen more modern (diesel, or diesel-electric) locomotives and cars. The old cars and steam locomotives are wonderful, and we enjoy climbing into a few of them and trying to figure out the operation. They're all slightly different or more different, lots of things to figure out.
Eventually we've had enough, and out. We quickly find and walk past the art museum; that will have to wait for another day. It has signs out front with huge letters, announcing its name, so why didn't anyone know about it ?
We find a bar/cafe, and order lunch. I order a hamburger, randomly picking one type out of three on the menu. It turns out to be a veggie-burger of some kind, tasty but not what I wanted. Chris orders a grande frankfurter, which turns out to be thick and a foot long, plus another chunk of 3 inches or so added to the bun for good measure. Lots of pretty students walking past; we're in the middle of a polytechnic university.
We finish lunch, and as we leave, we see a picture of a "gigante frankfurter" that we could have ordered. It looks about 2 feet long.
Chris has a blister on his foot, so we don't wander much, mostly head back to the station. And find out there's a train in 3 minutes, so we waste no time going out to the platforms and down and across and up. And onto the train, off to Barcelona.
Into Sants Estacio, to Metro, out, get a few groceries at Bonpreu, home by 3:10.
The day's pictures: pics.
Dora is cooking up a storm, but we're still full from lunch. We eat a bit, have ice cream for dessert.
Around 7, over to the other apartment to fetch an LCD TV. Installed it up on the wall-bracket in Dora's bedroom in this apartment.
Up in the middle of the night with headache, sinus congestion and pain, sore throat, coughing.
2014-05-23 (Friday)Out with Chris a bit before 10. Up to Llumajor Metro, out at Joanic, a bit of confusion looking for the 166 bus stop, found it with the (small) bus stopped for a while so the driver could have a smoke. On and up to entrance to Parc Guell.
They have a new ticketing scheme this year; the place was free last year. We paid online last night, and now exchange our vouchers for tickets, and go in. Fewer people in the main area now that they're doing ticketing, and no vendors. We wander and take pictures. I especially like the tiling around the edge of the whole top-plaza area. Pics.
Eventually, we wander out of the paid area and into the free area, and head up the hill. Plenty of vendors, some nice musicians. We go up and up, and get a bit tired. I make it all the way to the top plaza, then come back down.
We head for the entrance/exit, our bus appears right away, but then it does a lot of twists and turns I didn't quite expect. A couple of locals tell us "there's the Metro" when we get somewhere, so we hop off. But it's the wrong Metro stop, Lesseps instead of Joanic. It will work for us, just takes longer and we have to connect at Vall D'Hebron. Out at Virrei Amat. Back home a little after 1.
Dora home around 3 (later than expected; we're hungry), started cooking ribs and rice and reheating pasta. Soon Chris and Dora and I sat down to dinner.
At 4:30, out the door. To Metro, to Sagrada Familia. A little confusion getting in; they've changed the online-ticket entrance to the other side. Inside, the basilica is wonderful, but maybe not much changed since last year when Chris and I saw it. Nice to be here with Dora, too, this time. And there's a live choir singing in the rear area. Pics.
Eventually out and down into the museum, back up into basilica, then out and down into the ordinary church underneath.
Out and started looking for a place to have a drink, and it turned into a bit of a fiasco. We walked several blocks, found a place that looked good, but all outside tables are occupied and it's on a very busy intersection, and Chris insists on sitting outside. Into Mercat Sagrad Familia, which I didn't know existed. Found a bar with outside tables, but it's right next to a playground, and we're surrounded by loud, running kids. The sangria and tapas are just adequate.
Out, sat in Parc Sagrada Familia for a while, then into Metro, out, stopped at Bonpreu for a minute, home by 8:15 or so.
2014-05-24 (Saturday)Up at the crack of 10 AM.
Out around noon with Dora and Chris, to F-i-P Metro, to Glories. To Encants Barcelona market, which is new home for an old flea market. People swarming everywhere. I tell Dora to just plunge in and do her thing, Chris and I will trail her. She looks at baby clothes, jewelry, etc. I see some things that look like they should be in museums: old adding machines and other mechanisms.
By 1:15 or so, we're out. Over past Agbar building, where it looks like the colors are painted on; how do they ever change them ? No wonder they haven't ever changed in the whole time I've been in Barcelona, this year and last. Into the modern Glories shopping mall. We find a "Dunkin Coffee" and a croissant and coffee make Chris human again. Pleasant to sit outside and watch kids play and people walk by.
Out of there, and we stop at the Agbar building on the way past. Turns out there's a free exhibit in the ground floor, so we go in. I guess the Agbar company does water projects, so the theme of the exhibit is water. Some paintings and photgraphs, not very interesting. Some wonderful leather sofas that I could sleep on for a while. But no time; we get out and into Metro. And take it the wrong direction. Out at next stop, back in, eventually to F-i-P. Stop at the other apartment to grab some food out of the freezer, home by 3. Dora starts cooking.
Pictures from Glories area: pics.
Nice dinner with Chris and Dora: ribs, rice, garlic bread.
Out around 6. To Llumajor Metro, down to Jaume I stop, to the cathedral. A nice band playing, people dancing the traditional sardana dance (partly as a political statement of Catalan autonomy), swarms of people watching or passing through. A pleasant scene, and we sat and watched for a while.
Then went looking for a cafe, and after some starts and stops, we found one in Placa George Orwell. Prices were a bit high, and the food a bit skimpy, but the sangrias were strong. We laughed at how small the food was and how long the Wi-Fi password was. Kids playing in a playground in the middle, lots of interesting people walking by. Pics (a little out of order).
After that, we headed over to La Rambla, stopping to look in a couple of shops and let Chris buy a souvenir. Walked up La Rambla, stopping to look in a church having Mass, then for Dora to buy a few tiny basil plants. Into Placa Catalunya Metro.
Home at 9:30. Had the football game on the TV briefly, then the antenna box froze (as usual). Switched to a different antenna box, couldn't find the game, and no sound on any channel. Then found it, and Dora and I watched the second half. And the game turned into a scorcher: Atletico Madrid led 1-0 all the way to the end of regulation time, and then Real Madrid scored right at the end or in start of injury time. They played two more 15-minute periods, and in the second one, Real Madrid scored twice plus a penalty shot to win it 4-1. Soon there were major fireworks (explosions) going off in the neighborhood all around us; surprising that there are so many Real Madrid fans.
Bryan was out all night, for graduation partying. Home at 6 AM or so.
2014-05-25 (Sunday)Up at 7, to see Chris off to the airport. I had hoped to walk him to the F-i-P Metro and let him go from there by himself, but no, he wants me to take him to Placa Catalunya. Okay, two more Metro tickets down the drain. Then Dora says she wants to go too, and she and I will have breakfast somewhere. Okay, so I'm not going to be able to come right back and get back into my warm bed. And Chris grouses about taking presents from Dora back to our family in USA, saying his suitcase is full, presents will get stolen from luggage at the airport in USA, etc.
We get out the door before 7:30, down to Metro. Instead of buying a new T-10 card and leaving it with us, Chris buys a one-ride ticket for 2x the per-ride price of a T-10. On to Placa Catalunya, and we see him off at the bus.
And it turns out Dora doesn't want to just have breakfast, she wants to walk through the whole town, so we walk down to the Cathedral area, through streets fairly deserted, and wet as maintenance people hose them down. An interesting view of the town, mostly empty of people.
Dora needs to go to to the bathroom, so we go into a cafe and have coffees. Then into the cathedral, which is quiet and has few people, which is nice. Then more walking through old town, down to the port, and she wants to see if we can take a boat-ride ! No, I'd like to do that some sunny, warm afternoon in June when lots of boats are out, not a cool morning in May when everything is quiet and even the tour boats don't seem to be going out.
We walk over to MareMagnum and have coffee and muffins in a Starbucks, where we snag great outdoor seats looking out over the harbor, and linger in them as long as possible, for 90 minutes or so. Around 10:45, there's a jailbreak: at least 30 sailboats come out of the marina in a bridge-opening. Lots of fun to watch them go past. But hard to take any pictures, because there's a railing and low ceiling and screen of trees in the frame.
As we leave around 11:30, the bridge is open again to let a couple more boats out, and a couple in also. One boat going in looks to me like it has engine problems: the exhaust is coming out in a bit of a cloud, with no exhaust-water coming out.
We briefly check out an antiques-fair, then across to La Rambla. I take a picture of a funny way the handbag-sellers keep people from snatch-stealing a handbag, while one vendor tries to prevent me from taking the picture. Hey, it's a public street, I can photograph anything I want.
Into Drassanes Metro station, and I buy a one-month T-50 card for €42.50; per-ride is cheaper than a T-10 for €10.30, but I have to be careful not to lose or damage the card, and only one person at a time can use the T-50.
Long ride to Canyelles station (interesting maps/globes in the station), and we walk down to Llucmajor area. Another bathroom stop for Dora, which requires buying another coffee in a bar/cafe. Then I get a little irritated at all of the dogs being walked in our way as we try to get home. I'm tired.
Today's pictures: pics.
Home a little after 1. Time to do laundry, move carpets, mop the floors, etc. Some museums are free this afternoon, but we're not going anywhere. Today didn't work out at all as I expected.
A short nap, then a nice dinner with Dora: ribs and pasta-with-mushroomsauce.
Out around 8 with Dora. Over to other apartment to hang up laundry, then for a stroll to Virrei Amat plaza and up and down Fabra i Puig. Pleasant.
2014-05-26 (Monday)Raining steadily from 8:30 to 10 or so, then still dark and cool and occasional thunder.
Out after noon, to the other apartment. Took a bag of wet laundry over and hung it up on the lines there. Worked on the washer for 45 minutes, eliminated some items as possible problems, but still can't find the real problem (drum spins for 2 seconds, stops, spins again, stops, etc, water never comes into drum; situation not helped by me not knowing how the controls work). Went to hardware store and had one of the keys for the front door altered to work more smoothly. Sunny as I came back to home apartment.
Expected Dora home at 4, but she arrived at 6. Quick dinner of quinoa-over-rice, and a beef rib. Outside, it's darker and raining a bit.
Out to other apartment with Dora at 7:45, to bring back some laundry and a few other things. Wanted to get some groceries, but stores had closed by the time we came out.
Did a little yoga with Dora (we did some yesterday afternoon, too). Need to get back into that routine.
Electrician-friend arrived around 10:45, and soon had the fuse-boox open and all power turned off. Fifteen minutes and €150 later (some of which was to pay a previous bill), power was on and the air-conditioner was running in heater mode. Progress. Tomorrow he or air-conditioner people will come and try it in cooling mode.
2014-05-27 (Tuesday)Dora started running the air-conditioner, and there are a few spots of dampness, but not water pouring out everywhere as previously described. So we'll see.
Out at 10:45 or so with Dora. We plan to go to Vilanova i la Geltru to the art museum, but we don't have much time; it closes at 2. Stop at a key-shop to have some keys duplicated (I didn't expect that one), then a long stop at a bank. Now it's 11:15, probably take us more than an hour to do Metro-and-train to V-i-l-G, so change plans. Let's go to Colonia Guell instead.
To Virrei Amat Metro, then realize it's wrong; I have us going to Placa Sants, but we need Place Espanya. Off at Placa Sants to transfer, but then we get onto the Red L1 going the wrong direction. Looks like we can catch the same train at Av Carrilet, so we go to there. Buy combination train-Colonia tickets (€15 each), down to platform, and we've missed the train by 1 minute. Have to wait 35 minutes to next train that will stop where we want. No problem, I have water and power-bars for Dora, and an MP3 player for myself.
Finally onto train, off at Colonia Guell, follow blue footprints painted on the sidewalk to the Information Office. We show tickets, get maps and a voucher, then off to the Gaudi church. Very nice, a wild mix of different forms, each pair of columns different, various details different, various materials used. And it's only the bassement of a planned much-bigger church, but the upper 9/10ths never was built.
We stay there for a while, then I realize our tickets entitled us to audio-guides too. Back to the Info center, get the guides, then we look through the center for a while. Dora is using her audio-guide, I'm ignoring mine.
Out into the little town, wander a bit, eventually end up at a cafe in the placa for ice creams, cafe for Dora, breadsticks. Pleasant.
Then we wander down to the factory area, but it's walled off and it seems not part of the package. We sit and doze for a while on a nice bench in a nice leafy area. Then Dora wants to carve our initials in a tree, and I take pictures for evidence in environmental court later. But the trees are tougher than any implement she has at the moment. (And later, Dora points out that the photo doesn't show her face, so I guess she'd beat the rap.)
I tell Dora I'm feeling very Euro-trash today: everything I'm wearing or carrying is either black or grey, right down to my underwear.
I decide to start trying to say as much as possible in Spanish to Dora; it's time I learned it a bit. The results are going to be ugly for a while.
Back up to try to find a view of the abandoned castle tower, we make a few false starts, then find the closest accessible point to it. But trees block much of the view, and every path toward the tower seems more overgrown than I feel like pushing through.
Today's pictures: pics.
Back to the train station, 10-minute wait for a train, back to Av Carrilet station. Onto L1 Metro, then 21 (!) stops to Fabra i Puig. Out and home by 5:45. We need bathroom, water, rest.
Out with Dora at 6:15 or so to buy some groceries.
Dinner: meat and rice and quinoa and cabbage-mix and a beer.
2014-05-28 (Wednesday)A quiet morning at home, waiting for air-conditioner guy to show up at some unknown time.
Then at 10:15, Dora called from work to say her sister (actual owner of the apartment) is arriving unexpectedly, so I have to move over to the other apartment (owned by Dora). Packed my stuff, made two trips, was settled over there within half an hour.
Glued a drawer whose face was coming off.
After noon, started to go to "home" apartment for lunch; the only food I brought over here is breakfast cereal. Got halfway, and realized we have no bread at "home" anyway. Got cash from an ATM, went back to the other apartment, and there's Dora ! We must have missed each other by 1 minute maximum. She left work early, and it turns out when her sister is in town, Dora stays here, not at "home".
Dora dashes "home", comes back with towels and food and cooking materials, and cooks up a storm. By 2 we're sitting down to a nice dinner. As we're finishing, Dora's sister calls and says she's not coming to town after all, she missed her plane, and her daughter is a bit sick. So we can go back "home".
Around 4:30, out to go to a free concert. But first we stop at the "home" apartment, so Dora can pick up some keys for work, and taking a few things such as my computer back over there in the process. Just as we're getting ready to go from there, we find out her sister just got a taxi to the airport, and is coming after all. So we take my stuff, and some more food, back to the other apartment.
Finally off to a bus stop only a couple of blocks behind the apartment. We're going to the NE corner of the city, not a typical destination for us, and we have a choice of a long, looping Metro ride that will go through major city center parts, or a bus that goes fairly directly. We choose the bus.
But it's raining a bit, traffic is thick, lots of red lights, so the bus is slow.
We get to the Forum area, out of the bus, walk down to the Edifici Forum, and we can see a huge "Primavera Sound" sign in the Parc Forum along the sea. We walk down there, go through a couple of levels of security (having the cap from my water-bottle confiscated in the process), and we're there. Nice bandstand, and a rock band playing loudly. And it's raining a bit. But we have umbrellas.
We stand and watch and listen, and wander around a little. The band is mediocre, their song lyrics seem very repetitive, Dora says the singer is singing bad Spanish.
There's a break, rain stops, a new band warms up, and finally they get going. And they're a lot better, in melody and song and singing. Nice, but I'm getting tired, and the rain is making people crowd together around us as we all try to stay under some roofing.
Dora has to be at work by 8. I get her to start leaving around 7:20, and it takes a while to walk out of the place; it's big. Crowds of people coming in as we left; the place will be jumping tonight. Pics.
We get out and find the bus stop for me to go home, right next to the Metro station for Dora. She says "I thought we were going to have a coffee together", but she's crazy, she'll be late for work as it is. Sure enough, after we part, I look at my watch and it's 7:39.
The bus is 10 minutes late, and in those 10 minutes, it starts raining harder, then pouring. Glad we're not still back at the concert.
Onto the bus, and a long, slow ride back. I'm tired and headachey, more from a cold than from the loud music. Home to Dora's apartment a little before 8:30. Ate some food and took a paracetamol-plus.
2014-05-29 (Thursday)Dora home from work around 9. And her sister never arrived; I guess there was some miscommunication.
Dora out for a few chores around noon, then some miscommunication about which apartment we'll be in, and we don't go out together until about 2. Long Metro ride to a "Congress" (convention) at a hotel, to pick up her sister's credentials and wander around the place. It's a medical convention for infertility specialists. We have some free coffee, wander out to the gardens of the hotel, Dora wants to score some free food but we're too late for the lunch leavings.
Out eventually, and walk down Av Diagonal to Palau Reial gardens. We sit for a while, but it starts to rain, and we're getting hungry. To the Metro, connect at Sants Estacio, then a PACKED train home. Back to Dora's apartment around 5. Tired.
After a while, nice dinner with Dora. Rice, quinoa, meat, later a figgy pudding for dessert.
After 9, hauled our stuff back to the new apartment, and we're back "home".
Late at night, news that Dora's sister is starting to go into labor for delivering twins. [Found out later, it was another miscommunication.] But she lives elsewhere in Spain, not here in Barcelona.
2014-05-30 (Friday)Loafed all morning. Grey, and raining by noon. Did a little yoga.
Out around 1. To other apartment, took apart the fill hose on the washing machine, nothing wrong with the filters or hose. Put it back on without the filters, and machine started working ! Seems to fill okay, draining makes some noises. Will have to get Dora over here and try it again and see if it's really working; I don't know the behavior of it well enough to tell if it's fully working.
Back to "home", no Dora, grabbed an umbrella, went for a walk. Down past El Corte Ingles, to Villadaura, back along Meridiana.
There's free music starting downtown about now (3 PM), but no Dora, and I had enough music-in-the-rain the other night.
Nice dinner with Dora, then she's out to the hair salon.
By 6:30, as Bryan and Dora are getting ready to go to a school graduation, there's thunder and heavy rain. But by the time Dora goes out at 7:30, it's over.
Dora comes back very late, maybe 1 AM. Bryan is out until 6 AM or so.
2014-05-31 (Saturday)Dora out at 7:30 to be at work by 8.
Loafed all morning. Out for some groceries after noon.
Out at 1:15. To F-i-P Metro, out at Arc de Troimf. Lots of people here, lots of stuff going on. Roller-skaters showing off, break-dancers, then down in Parc de la Ciutadella, a couple of bandstands with free music as part of Primavera Sound. I wander down there and listen for a while. The only problem is that the two bandstands are too close together, and often you can hear both bands simultaneously, ruining it.
I listen, wander around the park, listen some more. People throughout the park doing odd things: practicing juggling, practicing tighrope-walking, blowing big soap-bubbles for the kids to chase, a clown giving away balloons.
After a couple of hours, I walk out of the park and into old down. Down Princessa and Ferran to La Rambla. Up that and then left and over to MACBA to watch the skateboarders for a little while. Back to La Rambla, through Placa Catalunya (zillions of pigeons), up Passeig de Gracia, N on Disputacio. Eventually to Girona Metro station, to Llucmajor, and when I come out it's raining steadily. I try to wait it out, but given up after 10 minutes, and I'm pretty damp by the time I get home, a little after 5:30.
Today's pictures: pics. [Dora says: the women wearing angel's halos (or any funny costumes) probably means one of them is getting married.]
Reheated leftovers for dinner: a slightly-burnt turkey drumstick with rice, another drumstick with noodles, and a nice and big Munich bottle of beer probably left by a guest a year ago.
Headachey later, maybe from the beer. Took a paracetamol-plus, and later Dora gave me some other mystery-pill to take too.
Dora home late, maybe around 10:30.
2014-06-01 (Sunday)Out with Dora at noon to do an errand, but the place is closed. Instead had "montaditos" (small cheap sandwiches etc) in Heron City Center. €4 of fast food for two: pic.
Back home, and there's a Paraguayan festival starting up in the park across the street.
Out again around 2 with Dora. Into F-i-P Metro, out at Arc de Triomf, strolled down toward Parc de la Ciutadella. Just like yesterday. Same break-dancing going on in the Arc placa. But today there is a lot more going on in the Parc. As yesterday, two stages with bands as part of Primavera Sound. But there's also a huge children's art and games festival, and other stages with various bands, and various groups in costume or with big props. A climbing wall for kids. About twice as many people as yesterday, too.
We sit by the Primavera bands for a while, then wander through the kid's arts booths, then over to the rowboat lagoon (so green with algae that it looked like pea soup). Up to the fountain area, and we sit for quite a while, watching the swirl of groups and listening to a band, watching all the people coming through. Very pleasant.
Around 6, we have to decide what to do next, and Dora wants to go in a rowboat. So we do, and it's a blast. I row for about 60 seconds, then Dora wants a go, and she's never done it before. It's a hoot, teaching her how to row, several soft collisions with other boats, most of whom don't know how to row. Dora is happiest rowing the boat backwards, so we noodle around backwards for quite a while before I can get her to try some forwards. Finally I take over to get us back to the dock. Lots of fun.
Then we head out of the park, up Av. Meridiana, and find the Auditori, and the Museu de Musica (free this afternoon). Into the Museu, and start with a much-needed bathroom stop. There's some kind of free concert of Balinese instruments going on, but it sounds pretty discordant to me. We wander through the museum, which has lots of great instruments, but is very skimpy on explanations. No pictures allowed, too, although I couldn't resist photographing some trombones with snake-heads. Some lovely snatches of music playing in various rooms.
Out of the museum, up past the national theatre, brief swing through Encants market (they had a DJ going, during the flea market), and into Glories Metro station.
Today's pictures: pics.
Home at 8. Feet tired. Paraguayan fiesta still going strong in the park across the street, Placa Soller.
By 8:30, sitting down to a delicious meal of rice and beef-elbow. Really hit the spot.
2014-06-02 (Monday)Blinked, woke up, and it's 10:30 !
Out after 11 with Dora. To El Cortes Ingles to mail a package. Into Heron City Center for a quick breakfast. Up to Fabra i Puig, and two stops at banks for Dora. I left her at the second, and took her broken sunglasses to be fixed at an optician (€5). Home for me, as she went to work.
Out for some quick shopping: cake, flour, bread. Should have looked up the Spanish word for flour (harina) before leaving the apartment.
Out around 6 to sit in Virrei Amat plaza, read my book, and watch the pretty women go by.
Saw something online about protests tonight in Placa Catalunya, did some searching, found that Spain's king just abdicated the throne in favor of his son, and the protests want the whole monarchy to be abolished. Wow !
Dora home around 9, and we're over to other apartment soon after. Soon she's in jammies and comfy slippers, and cooking up a storm. It's my birthday, and soon I realize she's cooking not only dinner (rice-with-peas, and meat), but also a birthday cake mostly-from-scratch (and Bryan is making the icing). This is crazy; we're going to be eating very late, which I don't like, and she has to be at work at 8 AM tomorrow. But there's no stopping them. I bought a cake today, but she insists only a hand-made cake will do for a birthday.
They're arguing about the recipe. And things are taking forever. I grate orange peel and juice oranges and squeeze lemons. Turns out we're also doing some fancy dessert involving flour and a filling called manjar blanco. The kitchen here is small, limited counter-space, only room for one person (Dora) to stand in front of sink and oven and counter simultaneously. So I can't even help by washing dishes. Dora is rolling dough right on the marble countertop.
When we arrived here, I started a load of laundry to see if the washer is working properly, and it's not. Bummer. I switch it to various settings in hopes of getting more life, but it's definitely not cycling properly, and not spinning at all in the spin cycle.
Bryan finishes the icing and leaves, and maybe around 10:45 the cake is in the oven and Dora and I are eating dinner. Then the cake is done and has to be sliced horizontally, icing/filling put between the layers, then on top. Dora puts a candle on top (a "1" was all she could get, but I think it looks like a "7"), and takes pictures as I blow it out. We eat several slices, and it's good: chocolatey and lemony and a bit heavy, which I like. But I'm tired and I wish Dora wasn't doing all of this; she needs to go home and sleep. She had a long day and has to be up early tomorrow.
Afterwards, we start rolling dough again, working on the dessert. First batch of it doesn't get into the oven until 11:45.
The little cakes of dessert come out of the oven and have to be glued together with the manjar blanco. And they're very nice; delicate and melt-in-the-mouth and sugary. Pics.
Dora and I pile up the remaining dirty dishes for me to do tomorrow (the counter and floor are a mess too), turn off the washer, cover the remaining desserts and leave them, take the remaining cake with us, lights off, walk the 3 blocks home through deserted streets.
Home at 12:30. Into bed and eventually fall asleep.
2014-06-03 (Tuesday)I thought Dora had to be up at 7 to be at work at 8. But her alarm goes off at 5:45; she needs to do some studying before work !
Online, bought tickets for a concert on Saturday.
To other apartment before noon. Cleaned up the dishes and kitchen; not too bad, since Dora did many dishes and pots last night as she finished with them. Took wet laundry out of washer and brought the big item back "home" to wash and rinse in the working washer. Brought back some items we'd taken to the other apartment last night.
Out around 1:45. Got two blocks from the apartment and realized I'd forgotten to bring a bottle of water. Into Bonpreu and bought one for €0.35. To Virrei Amat, and caught the 82 bus up into the hills. Went to the end of the line, Torre Baro, even though we passed the Castell I wanted to see, about 1/2 mile short of the end.
Out and took a couple of pictures down into the valley inland of Barcelona. Walked back down the road, downhill, and followed a couple of paths to the Castell (actually an abandoned hotel). But the government is restoring it, so it's surrounded by chain-link fence and there are workers inside, and I can't go in.
Started heading downhill from there, and came to a nice overlook area, Mirador de Torre Baro. Great views of the city, and I can see landmarks in our neighborhood; I'm only a couple of miles away.
Found a dirt path down from there, and zig-zagged down the hillside, mostly under powerlines. Nice casual walk, lots of views, some nice cactus and other plants. Saw some big concrete structures with metal grills around the top and lots of graffiti; I guess they're vents for a tunnel (train or Metro).
Eventually down to Trinitat Nova Metro station. Could take bus or Metro home from here, but I've never seen this area, it's an easy slightly-downhill walk, and I decide to walk home. Feet a bit tired by the time I arrive, around 4:15. Dora has just come home; good timing.
Dinner of rice and cabbage-and-meat with Dora, then crashed for a nap.
2014-06-04 (Wednesday)Out at 1:15. Metro to Jaume I, up to the cathedral square, sat there for a while. Lots of people, a break-dancing group, but not much else going on. To Frederic Mares museum, and found my information is outdated: it's not free on Wednesday afternoons any more. Sat there for a while listening to MP3's, then back to cathedral square. Workers erecting some unknown thing right in the square: pic.
Into a Tourist Info place I haven't been in before, got some info. Saw that they have an amazing aerial photo of Barcelona as the floor of the building, but they've built a gift-shop across the top of most of it: pic.
Up to Placa Catalunya, into El Corte Ingles to use the bathroom. Sat in the Placa for a while, then wandered down to Palau Musica: pics.
Finally into the Metro (packed), out, got a few groceries, home by 6:45.
2014-06-05 (Thursday)To other apt before noon. Took out the garbage, washed dishes, took food back to the "home" apartment.
Out around 1. Into Metro, out at Vallcarca, up escaltors and stairs and into W end of Parc Guell. Made my way up to the tower-cross, which is stone and had minimal rails on the stairs up, and no railings once you're up on it. And it's crowded up on top of it. Dangerous. I stayed only a few minutes, then went back down and lounged in the vicinity for a while.
Several nice scenic overlooks and plazas inside the free area of the park, and I wandered and sat and listened to MP3's. Stopped to listen to a nice band playing, but after a minute they finished playing and started packing up their instruments ! Pics.
Eventually out the E end of the park, and sat for a while. Walked up along Carmel park, and after some confusion, found the Carmel Metro station. Longish escalator ride down into it, then an elevator after that, to get to the platform. Out at Virrei Amat, home around 4. Dora is home, and soon we're having dinner.
In the middle of dinner, the air-conditioner guy calls, and he arrives around 4:30. He pokes at it, applies a gauge set, and tells Dora the water she had a year ago probably came from apartment above (my guess, too). And the air-conditioner needs to be recharged with refrigerant, to the tune of €500 ! Not going to happen. At least there was no charge for this service call, since the previous visit by this guy was a misfire.
I'm half-tempted to buy a bottle of refrigerant and DYI-recharge the system, as I did for my boat refrigerator. I'll have to think about it. And the system is only abot 4 years old; why did the refrigerant leak out ? But Dora tells me everyone in the building has had problems with their air-con systems; I guess they are bad models or were installed badly. She has a friend (the guy who replaced the circuit-breaker) who probably could recharge the system, for money.
2014-06-06 (Friday)Did laundry. Went out to Dia for a few groceries. Weather grey and trying to rain. Threw out the TV we took down because the display no longer works.
Dinner with Dora around 3. Ribs and pasta and rice, yum. Pic.
Tried to decipher the air-conditioner manuals again. Google Translate can handle only about half of the words, in either Catalan or Spanish mode. Dora says it's Spanish. Then she confirmed what I was starting to suspect: it's a manual for a water-heater that we don't have, not the air-conditioner we do have. The brand name on the manual matches the brand name on the air-con thermostat, but that's the only point of correspondence. I think there's also a manual for a stove-hood that we don't have, same brand. Maybe the installer just dumped the wrong set of manuals, years ago ?
Then Dora called her handyman friend, and he says no one in the building has a manual for those air-conditioners, who knows what they are ? I think we're going to give up and just say the air-con is broken. Perhaps it's for the best anyway: will save electricity if it can't be used.
Out at 7 or so for a walk with Dora, on busy streets. Then we sat in Placa Soller for a while. Home, and we did a little yoga, then ate some chocolate cake.
2014-06-07 (Saturday)Out around 10:30 with Dora. To Metro, out at Glories, into Glories shopping mall. Dropped off bedspread to be cleaned, then loafed in a Starbucks for an hour or two. Home by 1:15 or so.
Pasta with basil sauce and an egg over top for dinner. Nap.
Out at 4 with Dora. Down to Metro, long ride to Placa Espanya. Out and walked up to the big art museum, MNAC, stopping several times in shady places to take a picture or cool down and catch our breath. Finally up to the main door, and in for free (free on Sat afternoons).
But we're not here to see the art. We're here to go up on the roof, which just recently is open to the public. We find the way, into elevator, then up a lot of stairs. Out onto the roof and find a shady spot to sit and rest. The view is great. Then it's near time to leave, and we find we've seen only about 1/4 of the roof. We wind over catwalks and around and eventually to the exit, which has bathrooms and an elevator. Would have been nice to have that elevator on the way up instead of the way down. Pics.
Out, and down some steps, then off to the side, and trying to find the theater. The signs aren't good, but we end up going right to it. Mercat De Les Flors, then by 5:45 for a 6 PM show. We relax for a few minutes in the nice vestibule, then try to go in, and the attendants say "not open yet". We turn away, hesitate, and 10 seconds later they say "okay, we're open now". In we go.
The program is a symphony concert of dance music. It turns out to be without dancers tonight, which is fine with me. Hard to take pictures in the lighting, and soon an attendant comes over to tell me "no photography" anyway. Pics.
There is some connection to schools and educating kids about music and dance, which I knew, but some people have brought very young children, 3 and 4 years old, to the concert, and they're sitting next to us. Plenty of empty seats, so we move. And the kids last about 10 minutes into the concert before they're both making a fuss and their mothers have to take them outside.
The concert is being radio-broadcast, so there are two guys sitting on a platform in the back-right of the stage, and what they're saying is broadcast over the PA for all of us to hear. Strangely, they're facing away from us and away from the orchestra, and even when the music is playing, they stay turned away from all of us. Bizarre. Later, Dora tells me one was talking in Catalan, the other was an Italian speaking in Spanish. As I'd guessed, they were explaining the music.
Some horn-players from the orchestra play a short fanfare to open the program, then the two radio-guys yak for about 10 minutes while everyone waits. Another horn-fanfare. Finally the first violin comes out, then the conductor. Soon, music.
The first couple of pieces are nice; good classical dance music, mostly string-instruments. With each new piece, more musicians come on stage, until finally it's a full orchestra, plus a Chinese instrument or two. The 3rd and 4th pieces are a bit strange, a piece originally for a Charlie Chaplin movie, with some Brazilian parts, and then a piece titled something to do with Nixon's visit to China. Unusual pieces, but some very nice horn-playing and melody in places. Then for an encore a nice conventional piece, I don't know what it was. Done around 7:30.
We wander out and over to Institut Del Teatre (contains Teatre Ovidi) right next door. Dora didn't know any of these were here; it's a series of three theaters: Teatre Lliure (pic), Mercat de les Flors, and Teatre Ovidi, and a theater school. We go into the institute's lounge area, and relax on nice orange sofas for quite a while. Various theater students and teacher-types wandering in and out. Pics.
Eventually out, and over to the Magic Fountains, which won't be magic for another hour or so. So we keep going, to the Metro, longish ride, out and walk home. Home by 9. I zip over to the other apartment to bring back a plate of the cookies we made five days ago, and we munch those.
2014-06-08 (Sunday)Slow day. Had been planning to take a train down to an art museum, but Dora wants to stay at home and work. At noon, I went out to sit in the plaza for an hour and read and listen to MP3's and watch people walk by.
Turns out Dora is a bit upset with me; I'll be leaving in a couple of weeks, and I haven't been saying the right things about coming back to stay with her more.
Out at 3:15, by myself. To Llucmajor Metro, out at Jaume I, walked to Born Cultural Centre (El Born CC). I'd never heard of it, and it turned out to be the old Mercat Born, which was closed for renovation when I was here last year. Apparently, it re-opened a month or two ago, and it's awesome ! And this afternoon, the exhibits inside it are free.
Huge building with lots of open space, and they excavated in the middle to reveal circa-1700 ruins. And two exhibits around the edges, one with the history of the 1714 siege of Barcelona by the French, another with pottery and various other historical stuff. No photography allowed in the exhibits. Lots of people wandering through, quite nice. Pics.
Walked to Frederick Mares museum, also free this afternoon. I was here last year, and the bottom two floors are fairly boring religious stuff, but I want to see the upper floors again. They're full of an odd collection of stuff, keys and ironwork and hand-fans and dolls and tobacco-pipes and collections of cigar-wrappers and a zillion other things. And there seem to be about 20 people working in the place; every time you turn around, there's an attendant watching you. Pics.
Walked through the cathedral square, and over to La Rambla, getting slightly off-course on the way. Pics. To Palau Guell by 5:15. It's free this afternoon; got a ticket for the 6:30 time-slot.
Walked to CCCB art museum. Expected a quiet area, but the courtyard of it is full of a flea-market, which seems to be mostly for university students, with loud music playing. Through there and down into the museum.
I was here last year, and the art was really boring. But as I hoped, the exhibits are completely different this year, and one of them is quite nice. It's about stop-action films, films made by positioning dolls or puppets and then filming one frame at a time. Some of them are really good, and pretty old, from the 1920's. Pics. There's a second exhibit, on "big data" and the internet, but I barely glance into it before I'm out of time and have to leave.
To Palau Guell before 6:30, and soon inside. And it's bigger and nicer than I expected, about as big and nice as La Pedrera. No photography allowed, but everyone's taking pictures. Lighting isn't the best, and I don't want to use a flash. Lots of walking and stairs, and I'm getting tired. But a gorgeous building, and then I'm amazed to find the rooftop terrace is probably even better than the one at La Pedrera (but views not as good). Pics.
Out, and up to Liceu Metro station. Longish ride to Vall d'Hebron and down six escalators to connect to L5, and 4 or 5 stops to Virrei Amat. Lots of people out strolling or sitting in the plaza on a Sunday evening. But I just want to get home.
Home at 8:15, tired and footsore. Tea and cake with Dora, then we watch some TV.
2014-06-09 (Monday)Slow morning. Yoga with Dora.
Out around 12:30 or so with Dora. We're at loose ends, no plans, today is a holiday so most stores are closed. We wander to Virrei Amat plaza, then I decide we should go see the El Born CC that I saw yesterday. Into Metro, transfer, out at Jaume I, walk down to the CC. Dora is impressed, and we wander around the building, reading the legends explaining the ruins. The exhibits aren't free today, so we don't go into those. We sit on benches, wander through the gift shop and cafe.
After a while, we wander out to the edge of Parc Ciutadella, but it looks like nothing special happening there today. Down Princessa, and we find a pleasant little bar and have tapas and drinks. Dates wrapped in bacon, yum ! Nice Cuban and central American music playing. Pics.
After quite a while, we head out and across Laetana, and stop for a while to listen to a nice three-piece band along the side of the cathedral: pic.
Then we check out the antique market in front of the cathedral, and I'd like to buy earrings or something for Dora, but prices seem high, even for things that aren't antiques. I suppose this is rip-off-the-tourists territory. As is any antiques store, I suppose.
We sit in front of the cathedral for a while. Then back to the Metro, with Dora walking slowly because one of her shoes is chafing her foot. Into Metro, out at Llumajor (Dora suddenly finding she's lost her sunglasses, probably left them on the train). Stopped at a couple of small stores to get groceries. Home by 4:45. I duck out to the other apartment to take some things to there and bring back other things, including cookies.
Nice dinner with Dora: turkey, rice, tamales. Homemade cookies for dessert. Long nap afterward.
2014-06-10 (Tuesday)Loafed all morning. Out before 1 to sit in Virrei Amat plaza and read. Got some groceries in Bonpreu, home at 3.
Out at 7 with Dora to do some major grocery-shopping at Dia. Filled the green rolling cart to the top, plus more.
2014-06-11 (Wednesday)Dora out to work at 8, back at 10:30, nice chicken-potato-rice lunch, out again at 1.
I went out around 2:30. Cash at an ATM. To Virrei Amat Metro, out at La Sagrera. I haven't really been to this area, and it's not very interesting. Tried to walk into the train station, but there's massive construction going on, and everything on this side is high walls and fences. Walked down Mallorca and Provenca toward Sagrada Familia.
A block from the basilica, went into big shiny cultural center and library, and sat there for a while. Small photography exhibit. Read a Time magazine, the only English-language magazine the libraries here ever have.
Wandered down to the Gaudi park next to Sagrada Familia, and sat there for quite a while, reading my book and listening to MP3's. Eventually got up and walked around the basilica and went into the church underneath it. Someone playing the organ there a little, but about one minute after I arrived, he closed it up and left ! And a whole troop of noisy people came in. So I went out, into the Metro, and home a little after 6:30.
Today's pictures: pics.
A warm evening; had some trouble sleeping.
2014-06-12 (Thursday)Lazy day. Out at 1 or so to sit in Virrei Amat plaza and read my book and listen to MP3's. A hot afternoon; I guess it's June.
Out by 7:30 with Dora. To Llumajor Metro, just missed a train, waited 6:20 for next. Down to Urquinona and out, and to Palau Musica. Picked up tickets, then around the corner to a bar for coffees and a muffin (I had hoped to go in early and wander around the concert hall, but no). Into the Palau for an 8:30 performance.
The usual confusion finding our seats; this place is not numbered well. We wisely decide to just grab aisle seats in the middle up, perfect position for acoustics and sight, no seats in front of us so we can stretch our legs, no one on either side of us.
The Catalan National Symphony Orchestra ("Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya") again; we heard them last Saturday at Mercat de les Flors. But a quite different configuration tonight: full chorus behind them, 4 singers in front, different conductor (unless the conductor lost all of his hair in the last 5 days, I whisper to Dora), an organist for the big pipe-organ here, no harp, two French horns when they none last Saturday, I think, only one drummer. Tonight, they just about fill the stage; lots of people.
This is not at all what I expected; when buying tickets, all I'd seen was "Schubert", which to me meant "piano music". I know little about music. But this will be fine.
[Online the next day, I see we heard Schubert's "Mass No. 6 in E flat major, D. 950".]
The evening starts with investing four new directors for the orchestra; two have died recently (perhaps mysterious deaths, I whisper to Dora). Finally, the music.
Starts with a lovely orchestral piece (Kyrie). Then the "Gloria" with choir. A soft Mendelssohn organ solo which is quite unimpressive (and some poor lady near us has a coughing fit which disturbs everyone, and has to stumble out). More orchestra (Credo). A Brahms organ solo which is nice, lots of bold chords. Much more orchestra and choir, another organ solo which is okay. Eventually the singers do some work, but they're the least impressive part of the program. The orchestra and choir were quite nice (and I'm not a fan of choral music).
Tonight's pictures: pics.
All in all, quite nice, but the music rolled out in a single stream, no breaks for the crowd to applaud and relax and talk, which I found a bit uncomfortable. Too formal or solemn. But I guess that's what you get with a "Mass".
Out around 10:20, having to maneuver around people gawking at the building and decrepit old people walking at a snail's pace. To the Metro (I think one of tonight's musicians was in front of us as we crossed the street), back to Llucmajor. Saw a homeless person sleeping in an ATM vestibule (pics); Dora says it's fairly common, especially in winter. Home a little before 11.
I'm tired, Dora has to work early tomorrow, and she wants to watch TV ! So we watch a little TV.
2014-06-13 (Friday)Dora up at 6 to study before going to work.
Another lazy day. Out at 1 or so to sit in Virrei Amat plaza and read my book and listen to MP3's. Got a few groceries at Dia. Did a couple of loads of laundry.
Dinner with Dora: pics.
At 9 PM, watched Spain play Netherlands in the World Cup in Brazil, and Spain got destroyed 5-1. Ugly.
Headache; took a paracetamol-plus.
2014-06-14 (Saturday)Out around 9:30 with Dora. Down to St Andreu train station.
My usual experience here: I've never yet gotten the ticket-machines here to work (no problem with the machines in other stations). First machine, we selected tickets fine, but it wouldn't take my €50 bill. Dora went to the line for the ticket window. I went back. Second machine said "sorry, can't give tickets, use another machine". Third and last machine didn't go to the right screen when (I thought) I hit the right button, went to some other screen. Gave up and had Dora buy tickets from the attendant. Electronic sign didn't say which platform to go to, painted signs say "3" for Vic (our destination) but don't say if that is "R3" train or "Via 3" platform. Attendant at window puts us right, and later I find she also said the machines won't take a 50-bill for less than 30-fare (our fare is about 25; if so, why didn't the machine say so ?). Frustrating.
Onto the train, about a 1:15 ride to Vic (stopping for 5 minutes a couple of times, for no apparent reason). At the station, the times for return trains don't match those I copied from the web site this morning. No maps either, but there's a map on a board across the street, in a tiny park in the middle of a traffic circle, where few pedestrians would go. But I know where to go, straight up a wide road into the heart of town.
And soon it's thronging with people. The whole central square is full of a market or fair, booths selling flowers and clothes and jewelry and food and books. Somewhere in here is the Tourist Info office. We go about 2/3 of the way around before finding a sign directing us to it, half a block away.
There, all I want is a map, but we get 5 minutes of Catalan spiel trying to tell us about all the attractions, a Cathedral tour, and an audioguide. Finally we get out with maps.
Down to the cathedral, in a side-door with visiting hours on it, and suddenly we're coming in near the front of the nave, and the place is FULL. A couple of thousand people in the pews, talking up a storm, quite loud. We slide back out the door, walk around to the main entrance, and go in there. Soon a procession of priests in white is coming down from near where we first came in, and they come past us and up the middle. Then some service and Mass starts. Apparently, it's the 150th anniversary of some important priest founding the parish or something.
We go out, and into the Museu Episcopal. Nice and cool and quiet in here. Big four-story modern museum, full of various art (mostly religious), and we saw about four other visitors in the whole time we were inside. Interesting temporary exhibit showing what paints were used in 1200's or so, and saying that the churches back then were full of brightly-colored art and tapestries, unlike the drab places they tend to be these days (now that the art has been removed or the colors have faded, smoke residue has built up, etc).
We spend an hour or more on the -1 and 3 floors, then go back out to the plaza in front of the cathedral. People are coming out now, and some giant statues have been set up to add to the festive air. [I ask Dora, and she says giant statues are a Catalan tradition.]
We wander off in search of lunch. After some loops, we find a reasonable pizza-type joint, and have sodas and pasta-meat-frenchfries. Filling but not impressive. World Cup highlights on the TV overhead.
Back out, and the Roman Temple is closed. Back into the Museu Episcopal to see floors 0 and 1. And use the very nice bathrooms again.
Out of the museum. We wander down to the river. Some guy washing clothes in the fountain there. The river is muddy and slow and not very wide, but has lots of ducks. It's trying to rain.
Pics and more pics.
Up across town to look at the leather museum, which is closed. To the train station. Half-hour wait for a train, which turns out to be a local. We get nice seats, which is good because more and more people poured on at every stop. Loud kids. By the time we got back to St Andreu, lots of people standing, and our seats were grabbed as soon as we stood up.
Home a little after 6.
Tried to watch some World Cup at 9, but couldn't find it on free TV.
2014-06-15 (Sunday)Dora cooked me a big meat-bread-eggs breakfast. Warm morning; running the air-conditioning a bit.
Out a little before 1 with Dora. To L3 Metro, 3 stops, out at Alfons X (Parc de les Aigues).
There's a "castelling" competition here today. Human pyramids (more like towers, actually). Three teams: Gracia from Barcelona (blue), a team from Sitges (red), and a team from Badalona (yellow). Lots of fun, with little kids going to the top, all teams cooperating to help each other keep the bases stable, each team having a little band to play some music. We watched for 45 minutes, then wandered down to an adjoining fair: kid's rides, balloons, a kids-entertainment stage, etc. Nice. Pics.
Into Metro, home by 1:20 or so.
Nice paella dinner with Dora: pic.
Out at 4;45 or so with Dora. To Virrei Amat, connected at Vall d'Hebron, out at Liceu. Someone left a nice maroon umbrella hanging in the Metro at Hebron, and Dora grabbed it. On the platform, we waited for a moment to see if anyone would run to claim it, but no, and it's ours ! But now we have to carry an umbrella. [Later, I joked to Dora that maybe a spy left it there for another spy to pick up, and we got in the middle. Or, when I opened it up, cocaine would fall out.]
Down La Rambla to Palau Guell, and got free tickets, but with an entry time just close enough that we don't have time to go to CCCB first, which also is free now. So we wander down to a bar/cafe, and have coffee/soda. By the time we're finished, it's trying to rain. Good thing we have an umbrella !
Into Palau Guell before 6. Didn't take too many pictures, because I was here a week ago. But I wanted to show the building to Dora, and she enjoyed it. And I learned some things: Eusebi Guell had a fortune (in 1880's or so) equivalent to €70 billion today ! [Looked him up online later, and it looks like his father had a near-monopoly on import/export thrugh Havana Cuba for a while, and probably made a good part of his money from the slave trade.] His wife never liked the house. And lots of other little details I didn't pick up last week. Today, because of the rain, the back portico is closed, and about 5 minutes after we got onto the spectacular roof, they closed that, too.
Out of Palau Guell, a little rain, crowds on La Rambla, into Liceu, connect again. Guy on the train looked really funny, all black, skateboarder-type with knee and elbow pads, leather gloves, ski-hat pulled well down over his head and face, iPod headphones going up under the hat; wish I could have taken a picture. Out of Metro, stop for bread, home by 8.
Tea and snacks, then look for a World Cup game on TV. But there is none.
2014-06-16 (Monday)Loafed all day. Out around 3:30 to the other apartment, to bring back some food, and work on the washer. It's desperation time; I just disconnected a sensor wire, and hoped it would fix the problem; no luck.
Sat in Virrei Amat plaza for a couple of hours, reading and listening to MP3's and people-watching. To Dia for some groceries.
2014-06-17 (Tuesday)To hardware store and bought new hose for the shower in the big bathroom.
Dora back from work at 1:30, quick rib-and-rice lunch, back out to work at 2:30.
Out a little before 4. Up to Llucmajor Metro, out at Passeig de Gracia. Took me a while to get oriented, and of course I came out a different exit than I wanted. Sat a little, wandered down to Placa Catalunya, sat some more, reading my book.
Wandered down La Rambla, through the usual hordes of people. Decided to angle over to the Maritime Museum, partly to use the bathroom, and found a band playing in the museum courtyard. Apparently part of some every-two-weeks city music series ? I keep stumbling across things like this. Small group, and they stopped playing about 2 minutes after I arrived, but I waited to see if anything good would happen. Wandered around the museum lobby a bit, which has artwork and model ships and today a 6-meter sailboat. Used the bathroom.
Half an hour later, a large jazz band (Bristol University Jazz Orchestra & Big Band Hornstars) was on stage. Heard a couple next to me chatting in American English, so I said hi, and turned out they're from Philadelphia (I'm from Trenton NJ). They're finishing a two-week vacation to Lisbon, Porto, Bilbao, Madrid, Barcelona.
The concert started, and it was pretty nice. 25 or so instruments, and the brass sounded very good. A little trouble with an amplifier once or twice. Hard to take pictures, with lots of obstructions: pics. Three female solo singers; first was mediocre, second was terrific, third was pretty good. They played 8 or 9 pieces, most of which were pretty good. I like rhythmic, melodic jazz, not free-form stuff, and they did mostly the kind I like.
Halfway through, it started to spit rain a little. Then the rain picked up slightly. When the concert finished, I left and headed to La Rambla. By the time I got there, it was raining lightly but steadily. Ducked into a nice library that I'd never noticed before. Stayed only 5 minutes, and it was raining harder when I came out. Walked and sheltered under overhangs, did it again, did it again.
To Jaume I Metro and to Llucmajor. Still raining when I came out. To Dia for a few groceries. Raining harder when I came out, stood for a while under an overhang, gave up and walked home, getting a little damp.
Back a little after 8. After I got in, it started raining harder. Started tailing off 15 minutes later.
Street pictures today: pics.
2014-06-18 (Wednesday)Loafed all morning. Dora home around 1; I thought she'd be home at 9 or so. Ribs-and-paella dinner.
Holy cow ! Just found out about a major festival (Corpus Christi) happening over next 4 days, lots of govt buildings open, artwork, a parade. Heard about it online almost by accident; Dora didn't know about it. Would have kicked myself if I'd missed it.
Out at 9 with Dora, to a local bar to watch the World Cup, Spain vs Chile. We ordered cava (local version of champagne), and it came as a whole bottle. No label at all on it, either. Soon we had a pretty good buzz on. Had some tapas: something that looked like pork-rinds to me, and bread-with-salami. Later, Dora had a coffee. Whole bill came to €8.5, a bargain.
Unfortunately, Spain didn't have a good buzz. They lost 2-0, and were eliminated from the World Cup.
Home by 11:15, still feeling buzzed. Brought half a bottle of the cava back with us.
2014-06-19 (Thursday)Out at 10:45. Up to Llucmajor Metro, slow ride with a couple of unexplained delays, out at Jaume I stop.
I have a list of 17 buildings involved in the Corpus Christi event. Most open for the next 3 or 4 days, a couple only open today.
Up to Placa Jaume, and found the side entrance to the town hall (La Casa de la Ciutat) just as a large group of schoolkids got there ahead of me. Took 5 minutes to get in, and had to run my bag through a security scanner.
Inside, the building and contents are fabulous ! Nice architecture, great furnishing, art, chandeliers. And there are "beastiaries", animal costumes or sculptures that get carried in parades or displayed, as well as giants. Apparently this tradition goes back to 1400 or so.
Photography hard at times, with glaring lights reflecting off things, and no flash allowed, and some rooms too small or too tall to get a decent view. Spent a long time in the building, and halfway through my camera freaked out and it took a while to get it back to normal operation. Pics.
Out and around the corner to find the next building, Palau Centelles. Had to ask some govt workers, to find it down a side street. A couple of nice rooms, the library room listed on the plan doesn't seem to be open, meh.
Back and forth a couple of times before finding the next place, Reial Academia de Bones Lletres. Which turns out to be mostly a garden with "dancing egg". First I've seen, and it's interesting. I don't see how it stays in place, on top of just a single solid fountain of water. Sometimes it falls off, but immediately pops back up.
On to the next stop, Frederic Mares museum, which turns out to be just another dancing egg in a garden.
Through the cathedral square, and the lattice that workers have been erecting is finished and open. It's some artistic statement about globalization, according to the legend.
Into the side-yard of the cathedral, and another dancing egg.
Out and found the archive building in front-corner of the cathedral. Another dancing egg, a few library-type rooms.
Up half a dozen blocks, to Ateneu Barcelones building. I think it's some kind of academic society or something. Another dancing egg, very nice library, nice building, people having lunch in the gardens. Pics (after town hall).
To La Rambla and immediately off it again, and to Esglesia de Santa Anna. Nice church with lots of stone and a minimum of stained glass, and a dancing egg in the garden. Ho-hum.
Out, and I've had enough for today. Only one other place on the list sounds interesting, and it's closed right now. Up to Placa Catalunya, into a jammed Metro train. Out at Diagonal, onto L5, out at Virrei Amat. Stop at Dia for some groceries.
Home by 3, tired. Dora just got home, time for dinner. Spaghetti, and salad with tuna-fish in it.
A bit headachey; took a paracetamol-plus and had a nap.
2014-06-20 (Friday)Out in late morning to do some grocery-shopping. I want to make lasagna for Dora. But almost no one sells lasagna noodles here. Finally found pre-cooked noodles in Caprabo, for 4x the price of normal noodles. Grabbed some plastic lasagna pans from the other apartment; I assume they'r oven-safe. Back home, and found a metal lasagna pan hiding in the oven; I'll use that.
A little before 2, started making the lasagna. Not sure if the directions on the noodle package are giving temps in C or F; must be C. Had to dash out for mushrooms; forgot to get them this morning. I have three times as many noodles as I need for one pan; maybe do this again another day.
Dora home around 3, perfect timing, lasagna almost done. Before 3:30, Dora and Bryan and I are sitting down to dinner. Pics. The noodles are slightly too chewy; should have added some water. But otherwise it's fine.
Out around 5 with Dora. To Llucmajor Metro, out at Jaume I, up past Cathedral to Casa de Extremosos, which turns out to be the workshop and depot for the "gegantes", the big figures that are used in parades and such. Pics. The place seems to be a hotbed of Catalan national pride, too.
Down toward Placa Jaume, stopping in a couple of places to see "dancing eggs" (Dora's been here 9+ years, and never seen them). I still can't figure out how they work, but there must be a marble inside; one we watch tonight definitely is off-center in the jet of water. [Online, I'm told there is no trick, no weight or marble, just empty out an egg and seal it, or make something hollow and egg-shaped.] Then we stop for a while in a jewelry store, but don't buy anything.
To city hall, and disappointed to find it closed. It seems I've misread the schedule, and it was only open to the public yesterday, and maybe mid-day on Sunday (we're not sure). The main point of coming out tonight was to show it to Dora.
Off to a gelato shop, and my spirits revive as we have nice ice cream and watch people pass by. It's hot this evening.
Wandered up to the cathedral square, and sat for a while. Checked out the new sculpture, which Dora hasn't seen, and there's a group of street-performers break-dancing with it as a backdrop.
Then we wander into the cathedral for no particular reason, and have another of those magical Barcelona experiences. There's a symphony orchestra setting up in front of the altar ! We grab seats, and wait 10 minutes or so for the orchestra members to arrive and sit down. Seems to be a university-student orchestra.
Then it gets weird. Woman conductor comes out, starts some familiar piece of music (William Tell overture, I think), and 1 minute in, the conductor walks offstage and well down into the side area. Orchestra keeps playing. Then she's back, they stop playing, she talks to them, they play 20 seconds that sound like the end of a concert, and they all get up and leave ! Guys come on and start removing chairs, moving microphones, etc.
Eventually a choir of late-primary-school kids come onstage, sing several songs of which almost no words can be distinguished (acoustics are not good for this), and finally leave.
The orchestra comes back, and plays 5 or 6 nice classical pieces, changing conductors a couple of times. For the last couple of pieces, the kid-choir and some adult singers come on stage, and again almost nothing they sing can be understood as the echoes and sound system are not good. All I care about anyway is the music, and the setting. Pic.
We duck out quickly at what seems to be the end. Nice, but a bit crowded and warm, and some irritating kids were distracting me as I tried to concentrate on the music.
We wander down through a couple of plazas, sit in the placa near the Metro station for a while, and finally go home.
Back before 10:15. And the big news is that Dora's youngest sister has delivered her twins, a boy and a girl. I had told Dora a joke I saw online yesterday: someone posted a picture of their newborn, saying "I ordered this nine months ago and it just arrived TODAY, dirty, no packaging, no instruction manual !" She thought the "instruction manual" part was pretty funny.
2014-06-21 (Saturday)Lazy morning, then at 1 a big grocery-shopping session with Dora.
There are too many fun things to do in this town ! Turns out Palau Musica is having an open house 10-3 today (it's almost 2 PM now, no chance of going to it). MNAC is having free swing music and dancing 5-7 tonight. But we're going to a free concert on the beach starting at 8:30; don't think we want to squeeze in MNAC too. And it's a warm day; not much energy.
Big dinner at 2:30 or so: pasta and lasagna and salad.
Since Dora's sister just gave birth, and Dora is a doctor, I showed Monty Python's "The Miracle of Birth" to Dora. She thought it was pretty funny.
We have a cream-cake for a snack around 4 PM, and I think I ate too much of it. And it's very sugary. But it's a traditional cake for the Sant Joan celebration, which is this coming Monday.
Out with Dora at 7:20. Before leaving, I have Dora take a picture of me, to show that I've lost weight and like the shape I'm in; she thinks I'm a little too thin: pic. I think my good shape is due to yoga, Dora and Barcelona.
Then a picture together: pic.
I'm feeling a little upset stomach, probably from the cake. To Llucmajor Metro, long ride to Barceloneta stop, and a huge crush of people coming off the platform and up out of the station. Throngs of people on the long boulevard down to the beach, so we took an inner road for half of it.
Down to the beach, and we don't see the concert we're looking for. We head SW along the beach, and soon see the orchestra shell, down at the end of the beach. We keep walking. Lots of people in swimsuits on the beach, and a few totally nude guys (no women). Bikes, roller-skaters, a zillion people. A hot Saturday afternoon, and the beach area is hopping.
The crowds get thicker; a LOT of people are here for the concert. As we go onto the beach and look for a place to sit, it's pretty jammed. We end up behind the AV stand, with no view of the orchestra. But we've seen this orchestra twice before (although not tonight's music program), we can hear just fine, we have a view of TV and AV people doing their stuff, and if we try to go further forward we'll really have to pack in tight.
As it is, when the music starts about 15 minutes later, we're pretty well walled in. Everyone has filled in any open space, and those moving around have to tread very close around the edges of blankets and towels and sitting or lying people. This would never be allowed in USA; there's no open lane for emergency access. Only one security guard that I can see inside the crowd, probably a few more on the perimeter.
Nice music. A bit marred by some noise from the crowd, from seagulls, and from a drone that buzzes around at about 300 feet for a while. My stomach still is a bit uncomfortable. Pics.
The music really is nice, some waltzes and Wagner and other things.
People start to leave as the last piece starts, and we edge out of the crowd. As we're walking down the boardwalk, I think they're doing an encore.
We don't waste any time on the long walk to the Metro station, wanting to beat the crowd, and I'm still not feeling 100%. Into the station, and we have to shove to get onto the train; we're packed in tighter than I've ever been on a Metro here. But after a couple of stops Dora snags a seat, then a bit later I snag one. And then a bunch of people leave, and it's normal. At one station, the doors won't open, and frantic people have to rush to the next car to get out.
Home a little before 11.
2014-06-22 (Sunday)Out with Dora around 4:30. To F-i-P Metro, out at Universitat.
To CCCB museum, and several hiccups getting in: usual entrance is closed, new entrance gives us no clear way to get up to exhibits (finally figured out: take elevator down one floor, then escalator up 4 floors). Saw the nice stop-animation exhibit I saw here a week or two ago; I wanted Dora to see it, and I wanted to see it more thoroughly. Then into a "Big Data" exhibit, which turned out to be fairly nice. A few pictures on the way to the museum, and one in it: pics.
Out of the museum, getting confused again (elevator went up instead of down). Then over to La Rambla, down it for 4 or 5 blocks, across to Placa Jaume. Good timing, and we found a nice perch to sit on. The Corpus Christi parade emerged from the big doorway in city hall, with some demonstrations by castellers, dancing of the giant figures, some musket-shots that startled everyone, some period costumes and flags and such.
We went down a side-street to try to circle around the parade to get to the cathedral square, and somehow got forced right back into the parade; I think my map isn't quite accurate. A lot of people in the same situation as us, and people coming the other direction, some rolling luggage or pushing strollers, as the parade tries to get through the narrow alley.
We got through, and there's a big Mass taking place in the plaza in front of the cathedral, with a thousand or more people in seats, a couple dozen priests and such up on stage, nice choir singing, organ playing inside the cathedral and its music being repeated on speakers outside. Priests out in the audience offering communion to people. The parade is off to the side, having gone past, seemingly unconnected. But at the end of the mass, a formation of priests and such heads off in their own parade, probably back to a convent or monastery or wherever they live. And as we're leaving, the original parade seems to be looping back around into the cathedral square. Confusing.
I made a bunch of jokes about the mass and the Church; surprising I wasn't struck by lightning. And we got a laugh out of the name on the backs of all the rented chairs for the Mass: "Casa Gay".
Pictures of parade and mass: pics.
Down to Jaume I Metro, bought a new card, uneventful trip home. Back a little before 9.
2014-06-23 (Monday)Around 3, went to other apartment. Took another desperate shot at fixing the washing machine, failed, put it back together and bundled it up to be thrown away.
To Virrei Amat plaza for a couple of hours, to sit and read and listen to MP3's and people-watch. Then the firecrackers started going off (today is a holiday, Sant Joan's day), so I went home.
Out at about 10:30 with Dora. Firecrackers and fireworks going off in the park across the street, and on every block, it seems. With all of the concrete, the sounds really carry. To Llucmajor Metro.
We're heading toward the beaches. The train slowly gathers more people, until all seats are full. Then at Verdaguer, the platform is crowded, and suddenly the train is full of standing people. The next couple of stops also are full of people, and the train becomes packed, as full as possible, and on a couple of stops, almost no one can get on (and few get off).
Finally to our stop, Barceloneta, and we get off with about half of the people. We hang back a little to try to let the crush get up and out of the station. Up to street level, and we walk down the harbor side instead of the more-crowded restaurant side. People are throwing big firecrackers into any open pavement area, making lots of noise. Lots of people heading for the beach.
We get to the boardwalk, and the explosives are pretty thick down here, along with clouds of smoke. Lots of people on the beach, and strolling the boardwalk, and some bars and cafes with loud music playing, and a World Cup game on the TV. Nowhere comfortable to sit; the place is swarming with people. Hard to take pictures in this light. Several sailboats anchored off the beach. Dora isn't liking the firecrackers at all. I'm surprised at the number of dogs I've seen here who don't seem spooked by the explosions.
But no big bonfires on the beach; I thought that was a major feature of this holiday. You're supposed to burn things you want to get rid of, including writing down bad things and burning them.
We walk down the boardwalk a little, but soon start heading back out; nothing very fun here. Halfway up the main street, we find a gelato shop and buy ice cream. Across the street and sit on some steps, and enjoy the ice cream while people throw explosives at various distances from us.
Eventually back to the Metro, the stairs jammed as usual, and I'm surprised to find plenty of people leaving along with us; I thought we'd be the only early-birds. Still swarms of people arriving. We grab seats on the Metro, and have an uneventful ride home to Llucmajor. Lots of big bangs happening in the streets on the way back to the apartment; the sound really echoes in these concrete canyons.
Home a little after 1.
Dora has us write things we want to get rid of, on some paper, and then we try to burn it with alcohol in a frying-pan, lighting it with a cigarette-lighter. Takes many tries to get it to burn; I think the alcohol is rubbing-alcohol, not very flammable.
2014-06-24 (Tuesday)Sleep until 9:45.
Dora tells me yesterday wasn't the holiday, today is the holiday.
Out after 1 for a stroll with Dora. Only bars and small food stores open. Still occasional firecrackers going off.
Watched Uruguay beat Italy in World Cup football on the TV.
Out with Dora at 8:45 or so. To the other apartment, and hauled the washer down elevator and a flight of stairs to put it by the garbage bins. Then to Virrei Amat plaza to sit for an hour or so. We're sad that I'm leaving tomorrow.
2014-06-25 (Wednesday)Awake at 6, out the door around 7. To Virrei Amat Metro, no wait for train, everyone very quiet on the Metro at 7 AM on a workday after a holiday.
To Sants Estacio platform by 7:30, 10-minute wait there, got to airport around 8:10. Five-minute wait at check-in, since I printed my pass last night, avoiding 20-minute line. Through security by 8:35.
Flight loaded slowly but seemed to take off on time. College-age woman next to me just spent 6 weeks at a small town a couple of hours north of Madrid, studying Spanish and kinesiology.
On the seat-back screen, watched episodes of "The Millers" and "Big Bang Theory", played backgammon against the computer. Halfway through the flight, at the 4-hour mark, I was headachey and ready for us to land. Took some cold pills that contain acetaminophen and other stuff.
Flight landed fine. When the PA announced "it's okay to use cellular devices now", a big "oooh" went up from a group of about 20 college-age kids around me, and almost all of them immediately flipped open smart-phones and started chattering about updates and messages they received.
Through formalities at Philadelphia airport (Immigration officer said "hmm, you've been to a lot of places, why have you been to Grenada ?"). Annoying alarms sounding continuously throughout Immigration and baggage-claim areas, until eventually someone shut them off. Out to train platform by 2:25. Train to center city, long slow train to West Trenton.
Picked up by my brother at the train station, to his townhouse by 5. Feeling better after a pee, big glass of water, watching some France-Ecuador World Cup game on TV.
Tried to Skype Dora, but she sent email that she was going to bed early.
Still headachey after dinner; took an ibuprofen-plus. Next day, took some sumatriptan.
Some pictures copied from Dora's mobile 6 months later:
Things I didn't do/see:
- Interior of Santa Maria del Mar basilica church (and concert there).
- Boat-trip out of the harbor.
- Poblenou area, and parc, and cemetery.
- Elevator to top of Columbus monument.
- Montjuic cable-car.
- Pavello Mies van der Rohe.
- Lobby of Hotel Casa Fuster.
- PortAventura amusement park.
- Trip to Madrid.
- Hiking in Parc del Montnegre i del Corredor
- Vilanova i la Geltru: art museum
- Trip to Benicasim