On the flight, happened to watch a Simpson's episode where Homer has a pen-pal from Barcelona. About 1.5 hours short of our destination, we had a medical emergency: a passenger had blood-pressure or heart problems, and had to be given oxygen by a doctor. Somehow, after departing 15+ minutes late, we landed about 45 minutes early.
But things are strange: her main apartment (actually, her sister's) has no electricity (and thus no lights, no cooking, no Wi-Fi, no laundry) because she missed paying a bill. And apparently the other apartment has no gas for cooking and hot water, because an inspection found a problem with the heater. The electricity thing just happened yesterday, and it might take a week to correct. We have a hand-cranked flashlight, which definitely is needed because neither of the bathrooms has a window, so no light in there.
My cheapo digital watch has died, which is a bit of a problem, since there are almost no clocks in the apartment.
Around 1, went out with Dora, on her way to work. Long walk down to a particular bank office, which turns out to have moved or closed. Back up to the Metro, and Dora left. I got cash at an ATM (later found the exchange rate, including fees, worked out to $1.13/euro). Stopped in a shop, then bought a couple of boxes of cereal at Dia. Back to the apartment and napped for a while.
Over to the other apartment, and turns out that's where Dora's son is holing up today. It has electricity, but the Wi-Fi has been discontinued, so I'm out of luck on that. And the kitchen is a disaster; tenants left things dirty, as well as stiffing Dora on the utility bills, then Dora came along and decided to throw away lots of excess stuff, which is sitting around in bags. So I started working on the kitchen, wiping cabinets and microwave and counters, and doing some dishes.
Fruit and granola for dinner. Jet-lag has me pretty wiped out. Headachey: took a Neobrufen earlier, a Tonopan later. Dora home from work around 9. Her son is leaving for a month with her sister in the north.
Dora home at 2:30 or so, and soon we're heading over to the other apartment with a handyman friend. He looks at the gas hot water heater, and the air-conditioners/heaters, but can't figure out what's wrong with them. He will call a friend of his who is a certified gas repairman.
Nice spaghetti dinner with Dora.
Around 6, we head out to the electricity office. Where there's no joy; they have terminated the current contract, and to start a new one, you have have to have some new inspection and certification (not cheap), and maybe have property taxes and such paid up to date (uncertain), and have the paperwork done by the owner (her sister, who is far away in the SW of Spain and busy).
To the post office, for another errand. Then to Heron City shopping mall, to have an iced-tea and use the Wi-Fi. I try to create an online electricity account for Dora, and it's somewhere in limbo, probably someone at the company has to push a button to finish activating the account.
Around 9, we head out. Long ride on yellow Metro, to Poble Nou / Sant Marti district, and walk down toward the ocean. We find the beer festival we're looking for. Nice, and plenty of people, but nowhere convenient to sit, and it's still pretty warm, and the music isn't really danceable (Dixieland jazz). Many booths selling artisanal beer, but when I try to buy some, I find I first have to go elsewhere and buy a glass, and the price of that is unclear until you've gone through a line, so eventually I give up. We wander out to the beachfront walk, and sit and admire the lovely view.
Eventually we wander back through the festival, and up Rambla Poble Nou. Nice pedestrian street, with lots of bars and restaurants. We pick an ice cream place, but find you can't get a coffee. I have a chocolate-capuccino frappa, Dora has a strawberry-papaya-something fruit drink, and both are not too impressive. After that, we find another place for Dora to have a coffee, and sit for a while. Then into the Metro, where I'm surprised to find it's 1 AM. Home and relax.
We walk home, stopping to buy a fan, and for Dora to call a friend of hers in Peru.
Then out to take things to the other apartment, the one with electricity, and then out for major food-shopping. Everything is within 2 blocks of the apartment: first to butcher, then small supermarket, then fruit/veg shop. We buy a ton of stuff and cart it home and stow it.
Lovely spaghetti and ribs and salad dinner with Dora. Then we crash for a nap.
Around 10:30, we go out for a stroll around the neighborhood. Pleasant, and a fair number of people out, but more places are closed than I expected. No real prospect of an ice cream, not that I had my heart set on one. But nice to get out and walk a little.
Out at noon. Metro to Hospital Sant Pau, which has free admission today. Lovely old hospital. We've been here before, but only on a dance night with hordes of people. Nice to see it in a more relaxed atmosphere, and it's nice and cool inside most of the buildings. Pics.
Back home by 2:30 or so. Load up a lot of stuff to take to the other apartment, including a big, heavy flat-panel TV. Carefully cart it down the street. Then, of course, the elevator is out of order at the other building. So we have to haul all the stuff up four floors.
I unpack and put the TV in place and assemble the fan we bought yesterday, while Dora cooks. We sit down to a nice turkey and rice and egg and salad dinner. Full and sleepy afterward.
After a while, we went over to the other apartment. Read for a while, then we napped.
Stirred myself at 8 or so, but Dora didn't want to move. So a bit later I went out for a nice walk. Back home, Dora still not moving, so I went and sat in the plaza across the street and listened to my audio player. Too many dogs here, and several of them are off leashes. Eventually back home, and we dozed and then slept. The heat has made us lethargic, and it's only going to get hotter.
Out in early afternoon to do a little Wi-Fi at Heron City Center.
Back to aaprtment, turkey and rice for dinner.
Out at 4. To Metro, to center city, found a language school where I want to register. They took my info but don't know if they will have enough beginner students for the (very cheap) class starting about 2 weeks from now; they'll call me Thursday.
Wandered and sat around in Plaza Catalunya and La Rambla and in the cathedral and in front of the cathedral, listening to audio and reading a book and people-watching. Nice music from buskers along the side of the cathedral.
Home by 8 or so, after stopping for groceries. Dora home by 8:45 or so, and we had some leftovers and salad and stuff for dinner.
Still can't get any life out of that TV, even using the manual I downloaded from the internet.
Around 11, over to other apartment to sleep.
Nice chicken-rice-cilantro dinner with Dora.
Dora off to bank and work. I did the dishes and hung out the laundry and started another load. Then out to Heron City to do some Wi-Fi. Then to the library for a while.
Hauled big mattress down to street and left it as garbage. Someone came by and picked it up within 15 minutes. There are a lot of recycle-men who come around.
At 8:45, found that Dora wouldn't be home in time, so I headed up to Nou Barris govt center for a free music concert. But got there, and no music. Must have read the location wrong. Back home, stopping a couple of times to note down particulars of other free events from notices pasted in doorways, but couldn't find the notice about the free music concerts.
Dora home at 9:30. Nice meal of turkey-rice leftovers and watermelon.
At 11 or so, over to other apartment to sleep.
Dora home unexpectedly, at 3:30. They changed her schedule, and she didn't get informed, probably because we don't have Wi-Fi.
Leftover chicken-rice-cilantro and salad for dinner. Watching TV and trying to learn some Spanish from it.
Air-conditioner repairman arrived at 6:30, and within 5 minutes found the problem: the system unit outside is powered by a power-cord through the external wall and plugged into an outlet behind the bed in the master bedroom, and someone had unplugged that plug. An easy fix, no charge (since the repairman is a friend of a friend).
Out for a walk at 8:30 or so. Nice stroll up F-i-P, then into a cafe to share a Coke and a triple-chocolate ice-cream sundae: pic. I wanted to sit outside at a smaller, more traditional cafe, but we got our signals crossed and ended up in a modern place.
Back to apartment, watched some TV, later over to other apartment to sleep.
ISDN guy came around 10:30. Took him about 45 minutes to pull a wire and get the ISDN working, and now we have Wi-Fi !
Read an article online, about Barcelona's tourist-overload issues. One quote: "Barcelona's visitor overload has fueled rumors that the place just isn't really cool anymore." Well, I'm moving to Barcelona, a sure sign it isn't cool any more.
Bad news on the Spanish class: they don't have enough beginner students, so no class.
Nice ribs and rice and sprouts dinner with Dora. Then she was off to work.
Around 3:45, I went out. To F-i-P Metro, to Placa Catalunya. Into Tourist Info, got a free-museum list, but they have no bus maps. Some kind of protest march went down the street. Sat for a while in the placa. Strolled down La Rambla, with the usual hordes of people. But all seats there taken. To a free "images" gallery, which was full of very modern and very bad art.
Across to Placa Jaume, where the same political protest I saw before now is in front of the government palace. People standing in front of their banners, which probably are in Catalan anyway, so I can't see what they're protesting. To the cathedral plaza, and Tourist Info there did have a bus map for me. Nice relief map of the city, and I can see both of our apartment buildings on it. Sat outside the cathedral for a while. Went to the alley down the side of it, but the music today wasn't good. Up to Urquinaona and a crowded Metro ride home, arriving tired and hot before 7. Had to stand all the way on both Metro rides.
Had some toasted-salami-and-cheese sandwiches for dinner, then out to Dia for some groceries.
Around 8:40, set out to find music in the Nou Barris park. A long, hot walk uphill, and eventually found the music deep down in an ampitheatre on the far side of F-i-P. Pics. A jazz trio that didn't sound very good, but they started sounding better when their fourth member, a saxophonist, showed up late. Dora called; she was getting out of work an hour later than expected, so she can't join me.
Gave the music 45 minutes or so, then trudged home, very footsore. Dora got home minutes before me. A shower and some watermelon and a nectarine made me feel better, but still tired.
Dora home around 3; nice stir-fry-over-spaghetti dinner: pic.
Out with Dora at 7:30. Walked up to near the same place in the park that I went to last night; tonight there's a blues festival. Hot, so we stopped once to rest. Found the music, and sat at a table and had a beer and a soda. Very nice bands; the first had a great woman singer who also played harmonica well. Second band had just driven in from France. Lovely weather, clear and comfortable temperature and enough of a breeze to make it really nice.
Back home by 11 or so, stopping at the other apartment so Dora could grab some clothes. I sort of wanted to sit at an outside cafe for a drink, but every single cafe we passed was completely full.
Online, bought tickets to see "Carmen" at Palau Musica on the 29th.
Nice salad and leftover stir-fry-over-spaghetti dinner.
Took a picture of us on the balcony, for some reason: pic.
Out after 7. To Virrei Amat plaza expecting a fiesta, but after some searching, found a school-exercise thing going on at a nearby school; not what I expected. Up F-i-P and found a band warming up outside a govt building, so we sat there and had a Coke. They sounded good when playing instrumentals, but their singing was bad. And they never did start really playing.
Into the Metro, out at Dos de Maig, and soon found an outdoor cafe. Iced-tea and patatas bravas (Dora was annoyed to find they were covered with tomato sauce instead of the traditional garlic-mayonnaise) and some disappointing croquettes. But we're on a lovely pedestrian street, view of the old hospital a block away and Sagrada Familia 8 blocks away. So we lingered for quite a while, and I enjoyed it very much.
Eventually we wandered down to Sagrada Familia, and sat in the park on one side for a while, then the park on the other side for a while. Quite nice night. Eventually into the Metro and home by 11:15 or so. pic. (Then I found we had slept very late, and this was more like lunch.)
I went out at 2 or so, for a long walk. Warm weather, worked up a bit of a sweat, but not too hot. Enjoyed the exercise, and saw some streets I haven't seen.
Nice meat and rice and potatoes and salad and lemonade dinner with Dora.
Around 8, we went out and ended up at a simple cafe/pizzeria a few blocks away. We had sandwiches and I had a glass of cava. Walked a little, then home by 10:15.
Did some touch-up painting on the living-room ceiling, to see if can get away without having to fill holes and patches and paint the whole thing. Not looking good.
Waited for gas-water-heater guy, who was supposed to show at 4; no sign of him.
Went out at 6:15. Sat in Virrei Amat plaza, walked down F-i-P, into Caprabo for groceries (little luck). Back home at 7:45, and a minute later two gas-heater guys were at the door.
They worked until 8:15. But bad news: they couldn't get the water-heater to ignite, I think they were saying it's a problem somewhere in the electronics. And it's a brand they don't do repairs on, so we'll have to get someone else, or buy a new heater. I paid them €25 for the service call.
Dora home at 9:30 or so. Nice hotdog-friedonion-egg-rice dinner.
To hardware store, but it's closed. To Dia, got some groceries, but no frozen pie crusts, and Dora says no stores here sell such a thing. Into fruit store, got some tomatoes, totally flubbed translating the amount the cashier said. I just am not learning Spanish very much. Back home, hot and a bit discouraged.
Out at 3:30. Down to F-i-P Metro, into center, out at Placa Catalunya. Down the "Angels" street, parallel to La Rambla. Throngs of people. Down to Liceu Metro, then to Placa Reial. Hooked up with a walking tour outfit. About 50 people waiting for 2 free tour routes.
Off on the tour at 4:30. Fourteen of us with guide Jessi from Australia, for an Old City tour. Everything spoken in English.
Started a little slowly, talking in Placa Reial, but I learned several little tidbits about the city that I hadn't known. Off to Placa del Pi, then Placa St Felip Neri. Chatted a bit with people on the tour, and they are from Poland and USA. One family did Montserrat this morning, which amazes me: Montserrat was an all-day trip for Dora and me. I guess this family drove there instead of taking the train, and they didn't go to the top, admittedly did a quick trip.
Into the Jewish quarter, which I've dashed through without knowing much about it. To Placa Jaume, where TV cameras are waiting for a politician to come out of the Catalunya government building. Hot, and we're starting to drag a bit.
Into the Temple Roma d'Augustus, which I just heard about the other day. It's pretty simple, just three Roman columns inside a chamber.
To the back of the Cathedral, up one side, and then into the cloisters for a few minutes. Around the front, then up the other side. A few interesting facts about how the cathedral used to look centuries ago.
To Placa del Rei for some talk, then across Laetana to the front and side of Esglesias Santa Maria del Mar.
Tour done around 7. I paid a tip of €10 to the guide. Sat in Esglesias Santa Maria del Mar for a little while, then off to Born CC. Used the bathroom there, doused my face several times, drank a lot of water. Came out and sat for a few minutes. I'm a bit wiped out.
Back through the old city to Jaume I Metro, onto Yellow line, out at Llucmajor. To other apartment, where I showered, and picked up a couple of things. Home a little before 8:30, tired and very footsore. Drinking lots of water.
Around 9, I started peeling and cutting and boiling potatoes, heating and cutting beef, peeling and cutting garlic. Then Dora arrived, and I peeled and cut onions as she took over the cooking, added spices, etc. Added leftover sprouts, and soon had a big dinner.
Headachey; took a paracetamol.
No sign of the delivery of the new water-heater.
At 11:30 or so, went out briefly. Disposed of garbage. To the ferreteria and used a fair amount of Spanish to buy E27 of patching and painting supplies. A couple of guys working on the front door of the building, and the phone/buzzer system. They spoke some Spanish to me, then called up to the apartment, then one of them came up to the apartment and used the front-door-buzzing phone. I got about half of the words, but I couldn't understand what he was trying to tell me.
Patched the ceilings with gunk; now have to wait 2 days for it to dry.
Dora home early from work, at 2 or so.
At 3:15, I went out to stretch my legs, and to El Corte Ingles to see if I could get lasagna noodles (yes) and frozen pie crust or dough (no, bought something else that turns out to be more like tortillas). Hot out.
We waited most of the afternoon, and napped much of the evening, waiting for the water-heater people, who never showed up. Dora called a couple of times, was told they were coming, but no joy.
Out around 10 PM. Strolled up to F-i-P, down that, over to Heron City Center, and had drinks and some broiled chicken in a bar/restaurant. Home by 11:30.
Headachey; took a Tonopan.
Stop at a shoe store, and Dora buys a pair of shoes. Stop at water-heater store, since they're not answering the phone today. They have our heater there, somehow had crossed it off the delivery list. They try to raise the price from €189 to €210, but finally go back to €190. Supposedly they'll deliver and install it tomorrow.
Dora heads home to start cooking; I swing by the other apartment to pick up a printer.
Dora had me cut onions and meat and tomato, and she whipped up a huge meal of rice, potatoes, stir-fry. After dinner, she had to go to work.
Unsubscribed and cleaned spam out of Dora's GMail account, cutting down from 600+ messages to 200 or so.
At 5, out to get printer cartridges (expensive !) and some fruit.
Headachey; took a Tonopan.
At 6 or so, out again. To F-i-P Metro, down to Catalunya, strolled down La Rambla. Snagged a chair and people-watched for a while. Over into Raval and started looking for the start of a parade. Had a tough time finding it, and eventually found small groups/bands gathering from several places. About 20 people in each of three groups, with drums and some trumpets and such, and a banner apiece. I wandered some more (street art: pic), and then went to the plaza that was the end of the parade. Listened to one band played for a while; a couple of good trumpet players, and several not very good. Saw a guy get arrested outside the plaza. A couple of the big-head statues ("gegantes"; pic) went by as I left; there might be another parade later.
Eventually wandered back to La Rambla and sat for a while; lots of women still wearing short, tight shorts in this town. Wandered across to Placa Angel; throngs of people there, too. Eventually to Urquinaona station. Very packed train, but miraculously I snagged a seat. Out at Llucmajor, stopped at other apartment for a shower, home a little before 9:45, and Dora arrived home about 5 minutes earlier.
Started unsubscribing and cleaning spam out of Dora's Yahoo Mail account. More than 7000 unread messages; this is going to take a while.
No sign of the water-heater guys this morning.
Installed new ink cartridges in the printer, and the printer accepts the black cartridge but not the color cartridge.
Out after noon. To ferreteria, for sandpaper (papel de lija). Surprisingly expensive, €1.20 for 2 sheets. To ink place to swap the color cartridge; no protest there. To Dia for some groceries. Home, and the new cartridge is accepted by the printer. And I can print a B&W page.
I made burritos, for the first time in my life, just in time for Dora getting home from work. And they came out pretty well, although the thin tortilla shells were done before the contents. I put ham, cheese, green pepper, leftover rice in them. A success !
Sanded the patched spots on the ceiling, and it went okay, but a couple of small divots need more patching, so have to wait another day or two for that to dry.
Headachey; took a Tonopan.
Water-heater guy says he's coming at 6. Actually showed up at 8.
Still working at 10:05. New heater is taller, so duct has to be cut shorter. And a valve in a gas line is broken/frozen, so it will be another visit later to fix that. But we have hot water ! Second guy showed up to collect €190 for the heater itself. First guy finished around 10:25, got €60 for 2.5 hours of work.
Dora and I went out by 10:45, and strolled up across F-i-P and eventually to a park we don't usually go to. Nice to sit on big smooth boulders there, and lots of people out in the still-warm air.
Eventually into a restaurant/bar. I had a mojito and a big chorizo sandwich (choricillo, I think), Dora had an iced tea and a frankfurter. My drink had lots of mint and lemon in it, and we decided they had given me the non-alcoholic version by mistake. But when we walked out, I felt a little wobbly, so I think it had alcohol in it after all.
Home by 12:20 or so, and we took showers (nice to have hot water). But near the end of my shower, the water turned cold, and I found the pilot light on the heater had gone out. Not good.
Added a "go to last day" feature in this file, due to popular demand. Click on this.
Out at 11:45 or so. Into Metro, to Sants Estacio, some trouble with the ticket machine, then caught a 12:37 train to Sitges. Very crowded, had to stand the first 2/3 of the way. Should have caught the train at an earlier station.
Wandered through Sitges, looking into shoe and jewelry shops, looking out at the sea and the beaches. Pics. Eventually to a big cafe/restaurant for lunch. I had a very nice lemonade, but the rest of the food was just okay, and the prices were fairly high. Wonderful people-watching as we were on a breezy main pedestrtrian street leading to the beach.
A little more wandering and shoe-shopping, then to the train station. Caught about a 4:10 train, back home before 5:30. Shower and lots of water and lemonade felt wonderful. Napped.
Out at 7:20 or so. To a hardware store to look for a new gas-valve, but they said we'd have to go to a gas supplier. To F-i-P Metro, down to Urquinaona, and my usual bad luck at picking exits from a Metro station: this one has about 4 exits, and I picked the exact opposite from where I wanted to come up, then went the wrong direction from there. Eventually we got straightened out, and worked our way down to the cathedral, stopping at a clothing shop along the way.
In front of the cathedral, gegants dancing, and castellers castling. Pics. A pleasant scene, and we sat and relaxed for a while. Then down to Placa Jaume, and found our way into the Palau de la Generalitat (Catalunya govt headquarters) and up to an upper-level courtyard. This was a special event: a carillon concert using 46 bells in a tower on top of the building. Unusual to be able to get into this building, and an unusual experience in general. Surrounded by about 60 interesting stone gargoyles looking down from the rooftops. We could see the musicians only by video, and could see some of the bell-tower over the rooftop, and the whole thing by video. The music was nice but not great.
Concert ended around 10, and we were able to wander a little inside the building and take pictures, which was nice. Pics. Out the front door, the one where politicians come out to face the TV cameras. Wandered down a little and found a gelato place, where I had a chocolate cone and Dora had some kind of berry-ice cone. Then down to another place to have coffees.
Eventually into the Metro, out at Llucmajor. Stopped at other apartment to pick up some things, home by 11:45 or so. Footsore but a little amped-up by the coffee.
Into the theater, and nothing's on the screen even though we should be a few minutes late. I look at the tickets, and see they are for a screening 20 minutes later. Out and back to the ushers, and it turns out the 12:10 is in Catalan, 12:20 is 3D (knew that), 12:30 is Spanish. I say go to the Catalan version, so we do that. There's only about 30 people in each of the 16 theaters anyway; plenty of empty seats everywhere.
And it's a blast ! "Els Minions", I'm able to understand a few of the Catalan words, and it's mostly a very visual movie anyway. Great music, lots of action took place in London, lots of fun.
Loafed all afternoon. Spent some more time cleaning up Dora's email.
Out around 8. Up a couple of blocks to Placa Soller, where there's some kind of small fiesta. We danced to a couple of songs from a band. Then strolled a bit, and eventually up to find a small cafe for a drink. Turned out to be a Chinese cafe, so we had Chinese bread, fried wontons, coffee, and I had a coffee-and-whiskey that was pretty evil. A little more strolling, the fiesta has ended, home.
Painted the living-room ceiling. Looks good; I think one coat is all it needs. The broken spots I patched look good.
Out at 5:30 or so. Small ferreteria sells only white paint. Gas valve will come tomorrow at repair shop. Big ferreteria didn't have any paint-chip brochure I could take to match against the apartment walls. Sat in the plaza for 5 minutes. Up Molist to a pintura store, and they had a color-chip brochure. To a shop for mushrooms, then home.
Made a lasagna for dinner. Dora home at 8:45, and approved of the lasagna.
Out with Dora at noon. To farmacia, then shoe store, then bought 5 liters of "amarillo suave" paint at the big ferreteria. Lots of painting in my future.
Headachey; took a Maxalt. Loafed all afternoon.
Out at 6 or so. Bought gas-valve at repair shop, but it looks too big, even though the model number stamped on the side is the same as the old one. Sat on the street and in the plaza and read my book and people-watched.
Headachey again in the late evening.
Removed small pieces of furniture, but the huge bed has lots of heavy stuff stored inside/under it. Heaved it out from the wall, but I can barely slide stepstools around the sides of it; I can use the nice stepstool on one side but have to use a narrower, not as nice stool on the other side. Heaved a tall closet out from the wall, but it's kind of flimsy and wants to buckle when I move it, and I have to be careful not to ram it into the ceiling light fixture. Found a big chunk out of the wall, so patched that and some places in other rooms.
Taped around the woodwork and various other edges. Just as I got ready to paint, the doorbell rang, and it was two old ladies wanting to save my soul. They handed me a brochure through the slightly-opened door and retreated.
Brush-painted all around the edges, then used the roller. A few splashes onto woodwork, which were a pain to deal with because I have so little room in here that the equipment is blocking the door, and I need to get out to a faucet to dampen towels to wipe off the spills.
Finished the rolling, put the bed and closet back in place so we can sleep here tonight, cleaned up the equipment, pulled off the tape. Bed so heavy that I almost strained myself pushing it mostly back into place. Done around 12:45.
In the early evening, out to sit in Virrei Amat plaza for a while, then strolled with Dora, then stopped at other apartment to get some things. Headachey; took a Maxalt.
Around 9, realized I probably hadn't eaten enough today. Dora asked what I wanted, and I said maybe an egg sandwich. But she never does things by halves, and soon I was sitting down to salad, eggs, toast, beef, rice and lemonade. Very nice. Also watching Barca vs LA Galaxy on TV.
Sanded and taped, and then opened the plastic can of paint. Surprised to find it's only about 3/4 full. Brush-painted the bad spots on the walls, and all the edges, and that took quite a while. Using the roller went faster, especially once I ditched the long handle, which was just getting in the way. Eventually done painting, washed the equipment, scrubbed drips up off the tile floor, and pulled off all the masking tape. A few over-brushes onto the ceiling, and a few areas needing slight touch-up; I'll do those the next time I paint. Done by 1 PM, almost 3 hours.
Went out a little after 7. Down to F-i-P Metro, out at Glories. To a fancy hotel where there's a free film being shown on the rooftop at 8:30; I'm a bit early at 7:45. But a screen in the lobby says film at 9:30, not 8:30. Get to the roof, take a lot of pictures of the great views, then ask about the film. The people setting it up admit the web site says 8:30, they want people to come early and mix before the film starts at 9:30. Great, I'm almost 2 hours early. Pics. I leave.
Into Glories/Diagonal mall for a while. Wander down Diagonal into Poble Nou, but it isn't very interesting. Eventually to Poble Nou Metro station, and a long ride back to Llucmajor station. On the way home, I buy a wedge of watermelon. Home by 9:35; Dora home by 9:45 or so.
Got a late start, and started painting one side of the living room at 11. Sanded places I patched, finished off the taping, started brush-painting the bad spots and then the edges. There were lots of edges. Painted and painted. Starting to run out of paint. Finished the edges and started rolling, which went well. Judged the amount of paint nicely, and finished at a convenient place, a little before 2 PM. Cleaned the equipment, scrubbed drips up off the tile floor, pulled masking tape off. Tired and footsore and my back is aching.
Took a shower, started cooking, Dora called on her way home from work. When she arrived, I handed the cooking to her, put the sheets on the bed, and lay down to ease my back for 5 minutes. Then up to uncover the living-room furniture and set the table so we could eat. Big dinner of rice, eggs, beef-onion-garlic. Then laid down and snoozed for almost 2 hours.
Out with Dora at 5:30 or so. Into a couple of shops to look for a bathroom fan. To the big ferreteria, where at the bottom of the stack we found another jug of the wall paint we need. To grocery store and then fruit/veg shop, coming home with tons of food.
Water-heater repairman was supposed to show up, but didn't.
Around 9:30, I flipped a light switch and there was a loud bang from the light fixture and all the power went off. Was able to see that main breaker had flipped, so got the power back on. I think a bulb in the fixture blew up and shorted out. After a while, tried that same switch again, and no problem.
Out at 10 or so. We strolled a bit, then ended up at the big Chinese-run outdoor cafe near our apartment, which we've never tried before. Turned out to be a little disappointing; not too many types of drinks, and the bowl of olives I ordered was just plain olives out of a jar. But olives, beer and a tonic came to less than €5, and we sat for an hour and talked and enjoyed some breezes.
In the sunshine, was able to see dozens of tiny pieces of glass all over the table and my laptop. Definitely a bulb in that overhead fixture exploded last night. One socket seems to be missing a bulb; I think the bulb in there just shattered.
Out after 9. Up to Llucmajor Metro, out at Jaume I, to side door of Palau de la Generalitat right on time, as directed at 9:45 for 10:00 tour. Except the door is locked. We waited with some other people, and finally it opened around 10. In and through security, and had a nice tour. Only about 10 people, and it was in English. Started with a video in an auditorium in the basement, where they had cut out some structural columns because they were interfering with sight-lines in the auditorium ! We were in this building a week ago for the carillon concert, but now we're seeing some other rooms, and hearing a lot of history that turns out to be pretty interesting. Pics.
Out around 11. Saw a wedding party being photographed in front of the city govt building across the plaza. Then over to the Temple Roma d'Augustus, which is pretty plain. Through the cathedral square, which is thronging with people as usual. Up and found a capuccino shop on Laetana; not cheap, but very welcome (bathroom, and sandwiches and coffee and hot chocolate. Took our time and loafed in the soft leather chairs.
Wandered a few back streets I hadn't seen before, then to Palau Musica to pick up some tickets. Back to Laetana, brief stop in a clothing shop, then into the Metro. Out at Llucmajor, stopped at other apartment to check on things and pick up some stuff. Home, then right back out to local grocery store. I wanted to get one thing (watermelon), but Dora came along, so it turned into getting 7 items at two stores. Home again by 2, for good.
Around 8, out for a stroll. Nice and cloudy and cool. Up to Virrei Amat plaza and sat there for a while. Down to Meridiana. I was glancing idly at restaurant and bar menus, and suddenly somehow we were going into a place and eating. How did that happen ? We have an apartment full of food we just bought. Had a beer, and tripe stew (callos); Dora wouldn't tell me what it was, but I mostly guessed. Home by 10:30.
Did a few things related to painting, but Dora is here and studying today, so no painting.
Around 2, I made a casserole and put it in the oven. Potatoes, beef, onion, garlic, two kinds of peppers, mushrooms, pepper seasoning, cheese, butter. We'll see how it comes out. First time I've cooked something like this.
And it came out fine ! Pic. Dora eventually said it was delicious. Potatoes were cooked enough, peppers not cooked too much.
After dinner, we crashed hard for a nap.
I went out around 7 to sit in the plaza and go for a nice walk. Took another walk, to Heron City Center, around 10:30.
Around 11, started working on painting the other side of the living room. Moved furniture (a real pain, tight quarters and big furniture that is coming apart), sanded, and taped. Found that my paintbrush was dead, so went to ferreteria and bought a brush and a roll of masking tape. Took out garbage. Took a break for a little lunch.
Brush-painted, and eventually roller-painted. Came out well. Washed equipment, pulled off masking tape, scraped up drips. Done a little before 2. Shower, rest, lunch/dinner.
Swept up, moved furniture around (last renters reversed all the furniture in this room, for some reason). Too-shallow screws pulling out of some of the bookcases, so they're coming apart. And I don't remember exactly where everything was before. Got the two bigger pieces done, swept up some more, enough for today.
Out at 6 or so. To other apartment to pick up a new lightbulb. To two ferreterias and then a window-blind store. Bought flashlight and window-blind-cord. For some reason, took a lot of back-and-forth to get across that I wanted three meters of the cord. Sat in Virrei Amat plaza for a while. To Dia for some groceries.
Replaced lightbulb on balcony. Fixed windowshade in bedroom. Moved some furniture to start getting ready to paint front bedroom.
Grey, cool day (nice after all the heat). Rain at noon.
Dora off to work at 1:30. I took out the garbage, then fetched a bunch of screws and cables from the other apartment. Connected up the TV, fixed a wobbly bookcase, moved it into a better position. Screwed another bookcase to the wall.
Tried to give myself a haircut, but what Dora gave me probably is an electric shaver. Had to stop before I gave myself a bald patch.
Out at 5:30 or so, to sit in the plaza and listen to MP3s and read my book and people-watch.
Online at 7:15, news of a shooting this afternoon on La Rambla, two deliberately-targeted people injured: article. Pretty rare here in Spain.
Around 8, I started cooking a big batch of spaghetti sauce, with chorizo, garlic, onion, basil, tomato, pepper. Good timing; sauce ready around 8:45, Dora home a few minutes later. She took over the cooking. Soon we sat down to nice bowls of spaghetti: pic.
I pointed to the ceiling in the front bedroom and said it looked good, maybe I don't have to paint it. But Dora gave me a sad face, so I guess I'm going to paint it.
Around 10:15, I sat in a chair and Dora gave me a bit of a haircut, using scissors. Her bedside manner needs some work; she kept laughing.
Dora home at 2. At 3:30, a big meal of leftover spaghetti, and rice-and-egg. Then I crashed for a nap.
Received email: my long-stay visa for Spain is approved ! Now I have to send my passport to the NYC consulate to have the visa applied, and have passport sent back to me here.
Out at 7:30. To red L1 Metro, to Urquinaona, still couldn't find exactly the right exit, but out and to Palau Musica. Tonight we're seeing Bizet's Carmen !
Inside into nice air-conditioning in the cafe, and we sat for a few minutes. Then inside and up and up stairs to the top. We have nosebleed seats, all the way at the top-left corner, the only cheap seats that were available when I bought the ticket several weeks ago. Our view is almost obstructed, not very good. We sit down and wait as people come in. As usual, it seems there will be plenty of empty seats, and when the orchestra files in, we move down to better seats.
The music is lovely. But when the actors start to appear on stage, we can hardly see any of them. We can see only the part of the stage nearest the orchestra and to our left, and most of the action seems to be taking place to our right. Most people in the upper section with us are having the same problem; this place isn't built with good visibility of the stage from the upper level. But the music is fine and the singing (in French) is okay.
At halftime, we move closer to the middle aisle, so have a better view for the second period. Still, much of the action is hard to see. But we do see the various knife-fights and soldiery and such. We don't really know the plot (no programs, and I should have looked it up before we came), but it's still fun. Hard to take pictures in this lighting, and as the action gets more scenic, an usher starts hovering over everyone and admonishes me once when she catches me taking pictures (not allowed), so I stop. Pics.
We're yawning and Dora has to work tomorrow and do a big presentation. So at the end we don't wait for the bows, and head out. To the Metro, out at Llucmajor, home by 11:45.
Online, printed out a UPS prepaid label, put it on envelope, printed letter and various address labels. Then back to El Corte Ingles in midafternoon, and mailed my passport to USA. Hope it doesn't disappear ! It has to go to the NYC consulate to have the new visa applied, then to New Jersey (they'll mail only to US addresses), then my brother will mail it back to me. The only way to make the timing work. Meanwhile, I'm in Spain without my passport, technically illegal. Mailing cost €13 and it should arrive in about 2 weeks; would have cost €33 to have one-week arrival.
Gas repairman was supposed to come again (!) tonight, but no-show by 9 PM. We have a stuck valve in the main gas line, and the new water-heater still is not working correctly (shuts off unexpectedly, and pilot light shuts off too).
Soon sitting down to a huge dinner: Peruvian corn with cheese, and then chicken-rice-peas-egg. Pics. Dora can cook up a storm when she gets going ! Afterward, crashed for a nap.
Out at 6:15. Saw long line of mostly girls, apparently waiting for something at a bookstore: maybe a book-signing by an author, or a hot new book is coming out tonight ? Into the big ferreteria, but they have no more of our color of paint, I'll have to go to another of their branches tomorrow. To an ATM for cash.
Online, ordered acupuncture needles, through EBay.es, from a UK vendor, paying in Pounds through PayPal, for delivery to the apartment here. It will be a miracle if this all works. Most people here don't buy much online, I think. I'll probably have to stand in line for half an hour at the Post Office to pick up the package.
Out at 7:45. To Llucmajor Metro, out at Jaume I. Right on time for an outdoor free concert in Placa del Rei, but it's started to rain. No music, and soon it's raining a little harder, and apparently the concert is cancelled, and everyone starts leaving. We head for shelter outside Frederic Mares, but just as we get there, they're closing the place. Across in front of the cathedral as it starts raining harder. Down a street toward La Rambla, looking for a cafe to have a coffee, but we've picked the one street in Barcelona that has no cafes. We stop in a few stores, and have a plastic bag and a box to hold over our heads, but we didn't think to bring an umbrella.
Eventually to La Rambla, and eventually find a coffee shop we've been to before. We drink and eat for a while. We talk about some big decisions Dora has to make soon, about her apartment and her son's college and her job. I'm a bit surprised to find she's considering moving clear across Spain to the SW corner, where one of her sisters lives, in the next month or so. I knew this was possible, but not so soon.
Basically, her medical residency is ending in a few weeks, and her hospital chain is offering only fill-in work, not a long-term contract with guaranteed hours. So she may move clear across Spain diagonally, to the small town her sister lives in, where a good job situation is waiting for her, and living is cheaper. And she may do it a month from now ! And she may end up giving this apartment back to the bank, because the mortgage is far underwater. I knew that could happen, but it may happen in the next few months (in which case why am I painting it ?). There are many logistics to deal with: will she go to the wedding of my nephew in USA in October, and when/where will I fly back to Spain afterward ? And her son needs to stay in Barcelona for a little while to take a college-entrance exam, then the financing of his college is totally unclear. Lots of issues.
We come out of the coffee shop, rain has stopped, and we wander back across town. Eventually into Metro and home by 11. Headachey; took a paracetamol. Sanlucar de Barremeda), but then move to a bigger town (El Puerto de Sta Maria) that is on a rail line, so easy to get to a much more interesting place (Seville) and several lesser but interesting places (Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz, Gibraltar) and also to Malaga.
I'd miss Barcelona very much, but I want to see other parts of Spain, and I've seen Barcelona pretty thoroughly. The climate down in the SW corner is not as nice, mainly much hotter in the summer, but the places we'd live are on the Atlantic coast, so not too bad. Probably less of a hassle to get my residency paperwork done down there; Barcelona is supposed to be tough for that. Harder to get to the rest of Europe (France, Italy, etc), but easier to get to Portugal and Africa.
At 11, went out and walked about 1.5 miles to a ferreteria. Bought another bucket of the yellow paint. Back home, making only a few small wrong turns. Then down to the local small ferreteria for a new roller, brush, and masking tape.
Gas repairman supposed to come at 2; didn't show up.
Headachey; took a paracetamol.
Dora made a big beef-rice and chorizo and salad dinner.
Finished painting in the front bedroom; took about half an hour.
Out together at 9:30 to stroll and perch in a bar and have a drink and some chicken-wings and fries and people-watch. Nice, cool evening, very pleasant. Afterward, some talk about the future and money and such.
Out at 4 or so. Metro to bus to the CosmoCaixa museum. Some confusion at the ticketing, but eventually got in for free. Enjoyed the aquarium parts of the museum, but the rest could have been much better. Sat on the rooftop plaza for a while, enjoying shade and cool breeze and all the people and kids.
Out and walked downhill and caught a bus to Llucmajor. Sat at a sidewalk cafe and had cafe-con-leche's and talked and people-watched. Very pleasant.
Stopped at other apartment to pick up a bunch of stuff, and home by 9.
Throwing away clutter and moving furniture and cleaning and patching walls to get ready to paint in the hallway. But now the patches have to dry for a day or more.
Out around 5 to dispose of garbage, go to key shop, buy fruit. Out again to take out more garbage, sit in the plaza, then to Dia for food.
Made burritos, using tortilla shells (but they have dried a bit in the refrigerator; not good). Cooked the chorizo and garlic and onion, added green pepper and tomato and leftover rice. Good timing; ready to go about 15 minutes before Dora got home from work, called her and popped them in the oven when she was near home. Should have cooked them at a higher temperature, but other than that they were fine.
Nice salad-ribs-rice dinner with Dora, then she's off to work.
From 3:30 to about 5:30, taped and sanded and painted the hallway. Five doorways, so a lot of edges and a lot of taping. After brush-painting the edges, diluted the paint a little in hopes we can finish the last bedroom with the current tub of paint. Seemed to cover okay, not perfect.
Water-heater guy supposed to show up this evening; didn't show, again.
Dora home late from work. Leftover burritos for dinner.
Out to the plaza around noon, to sit for a while. Then to other apartment to pick up various spices and foods.
Dora home at 2. Found out the gas repairman is in Madrid all week, supposedly will come here Saturday morning. Big dinner of ribs and green-rice-and-peas. Then I tried to crash for a nap, but kept drifting in and out, never quite sleeping.
Hauling lots of old papers and books out of the back bedroom and down to the recycling bin. I'm still feeling hot and tired and slightly headachey. Took a paracetamol.
Notified that the next session of low-cost beginner's Spanish class will be held starting next week; they have enough students this time ! Great !
Out at 9 or so. To El Corte Ingles, eventually to a small bar for drinks and watch some football on TV. Then home, and we found Barca playing Roma on TV.
I made felafel for lunch; first time I've tried this. Mixing went fine, but the cooking didn't work right. I was trying to fry patties, not balls. Tried low heat, high heat, less oil, more oil, all of it came out tasty but not cooked enough or burnt and/or absorbed all the oil. Left the apartment smelling tasty too.
At 2:30, received an email saying I have to come downtown today and pay for my low-cost Spanish class ! Short notice. So out at 3:30, to an ATM, to F-i-P Metro, out at Urquinaona. Helped a Japanese tourist find his way toward his hotel; he spoke English. To the language school and paid €40.
Wandered down to the cathedral square, passing a building with globes or moons all over it (pic), and sat for a while. Too hot and still to do much today. Over to La Rambla, which is a mob scene. Sat with the taxi drivers at the busy corner of Plaza Catalunya and La Rambla. Eventually into the Metro and home by 6:45.
Replaced the slightly-broken door-entry phone with a new one we happened to have lying around. No instructions, and no standards for the wiring, but the old and new are the same manufacturer, and that saved me. Had to try a couple of different jumper settings before everything worked.
Dora home at 2:30 or so, and soon cooked up a big beef-rice-egg-tomatoes dinner.
In late afternoon, taking lots of old papers and books down to the recycle bins. Then out for a quick trip to buy masking tape, and then watermelon. Hot and muggy outside.
Around 8, Dora brought out a whole bunch of vials (pic) and syringes and tried to take blood from herself, with my feeble help. She's a doctor, and wanted to do an experiment. But she has very faint veins, and couldn't get a good stick, even after 4 or 5 tries. Maybe I'll let her take my blood in a few days; I have very nice veins, she always says.
Out at 10 or so for a walk. Ended up at a cafe near Llucmajor, where we had cafe-con-leches and then calamari. Turned out to be a bit expensive, €11. But the calamari was good; I usually don't like it.
Throwing out more old papers and books.
Water-heater man came at 10:30. We demonstrated how the machine shuts off after about 2 minutes of use, shutting off the pilot light too. Separate issue: the new gas-valve I bought is the wrong size, despite having the same part number on it. I dashed out to the shop and they're closed today, of course. Never met a repairman who can't get the parts himself. Later, he said he will buy the new valve. So now I have to try to get my money back for the one I bought. He left at 11:30, left his tools here, will be back. He seems to think the problem is that the vent-duct is 2 inches shorter than the specs require; I have my doubts.
I made a lovely felafel and leftover rice dinner. Did the felafel the right way this time; instead of just straight felafel, I put felafel on a tortilla with lots of tomato, cucumber, olives, some yogurt: pic. I thought there was enough food, but the Dora went back in the kitchen and did another round of felafel, plus some beef and egg for her. Afterward, I washed the huge pile of pots and dishes, then crashed for a nap.
Threw away more old papers. Then I went out to sit in the plaza, but it's grey and windy and trying to rain, so soon I gave up. Bought a loaf of bread in Dia and went home.
Gas repairman never came back. I did some edge-taping in the back bedroom, then ran out of masking tape.
Out for a walk with Dora at 9:15 or so. Nice and cool outside, everything damp from the rain. Occasionally a few raindrops; it's still very cloudy and trying to rain.
I had a small shot of Jagermeister. Dora tried a sip and it didn't react well with her sore throat, and she had a coughing fit for about 5 minutes. pic. I did most of the cooking.
Several days ago, Dora bought some combo-pack of vegetables, and said she was going to make a healthy smoothie. So this afternoon I got them out and made her do it. We ground up a carrot and some kind of scallion thing and juiced three oranges, then blended. Looked hideous, and I didn't realize that I had to drink some of it too. The scallion-thing was a really bad idea. I tasted the first sip, then decided "all down in one" was the best policy. Bleck.
Out with Dora at 6 or so. To F-i-P Metro, change at Urquinaona, out at Barceloneta. Feeling alittle headachey; took a Tonopan. Warm in the Metro, and hordes of people, almost as bad as the major holiday when we came down here.
We went into the city-museum building, and up to the "1881" restaurant/bar on top. Nice views of the harbor, but all of the good tables have "reservado" signs on them, and the wait-staff doesn't seem very friendly. Eventually I snagged a drinks menu, and found every drink is €12 to €14; too rich for my blood. We headed down and into a coffee-shop at ground level, and had quite nice lattes and a shared piece of strawberry for €11 total, with a nice view of people walking by. Lingered there for a while. Restrooms had combination locks on the handles, to make sure only customers could use them.
Eventually out and sat on a seawall pic, and tried to guess the nationalities of people walking by. Strolled down the harbor waterfront. The sun is down and the temperature is lovely, just cool enough with a slight breeze. Loads of people everywhere.
Eventually we'd had enough, and crossed past the Christopher Colombus statue and up onto La Rambla. Some nice "living statues" there. One was a dragon-figure, scary to the small children. Into Drassanes Metro, change at Diagonal, out at Virrei Amat, home by 10:15 or so.
Dora's son supposed to arrive this morning, but no sign of him by 1 PM.
Finished taping, then painted walls in the back bedroom. Mixed the yellow and white to make sure I had enough paint. Painting over a deep peach color, and I think I'll go back and put another coat on some spots tomorrow.
Out around 1:10, over to other apartment to leave keys in case Dora's son shows up, and off to F-i-P Metro. Down to Urquinaona and into the language school for my first Spanish class.
Pretty discouraging. We played a bunch of games, saying each other's names, went through some names of countries and nationalities and foods and jobs. Everything in rapid-fire Spanish, no explanations in English, at times I just wasn't understanding anything some of the teachers were saying. It's a train-teachers class, so there are about 5 teachers, and they're all very enthusiastic. But I don't like the structure of the class at all. I'll stick with it, and some of it will sink in.
Home again, stopping for groceries. Still no sign of Dora's son at 4:45. (Heard later, he's coming at 10 PM.)
Put a second coat of paint on some places in the back bedroom. Enough, done.
Out to try to exchange the gas valve, but the place is closed. I don't know if they're closed for all of August, or just not open in the early evening.
Emptied the mailbox downstairs, and the acupuncture needles I ordered have arrived. My first test case of ordering from EBay.es, package came from UK, and it came right to the apartment, I didn't have to wait half an hour in Correos to pick it up.
Took off the masking tape in the back bedroom, and I didn't do as good a job on this room as on the others. Some problems at the edges.
Made a lasagna for dinner. Gas repairman supposed to come tonight; no sign of him by 8:15. Later he called and said tomorrow evening.
Dora's son showed up around 10. And now the apartment feels even smaller.
My passport, with long-stay visa, has arrived in NJ ! But not the other documents I wanted to get back from the consulate: doctor's letter, invitation letter, FBI criminal check. Two steps forward, one step back.
Chicken-and-green-rice dinner with Dora, then we're both off to F-i-P Metro at 1:20, Dora going to work and me going to another Spanish class.
This class maybe a little better than the first, partly because I've brought a better dictionary and just ignore the teachers at some points. They and the materials keep speaking entirely in Spanish and using a lot of words I don't know, and that they're not trying to teach us, just assuming we know. But it's a beginner's class ! Learned a bunch of stuff, came out with a headache, took Tonopan.
Into Metro, back to F-i-P, to other apartment to pick up a power strip, home around 4:45. Hot and tired, but there's a nice breeze.
Had some salad, took a nap, but my headache didn't go away.
Dora home at 9. Had some dinner. Watching Barca football on TV. Offered to let Dora stick me with acupuncture needles for my headache, but she declined, so I took a paracetamol. Then she said she wanted to do acupuncture, but I said "too late, it's one or the other". I want to see if acupuncture works, which means testing it by itself.
But by 11 or so, my headache still was bad. I just wanted to go to sleep, the dark seemed to ease the pain, but Dora really wanted to do the acupuncture. So I agreed.
She swabbed my face with alcohol on cotton swabs, then put about 6 needles into my face, and 1 needle into each hand. They stung, and a couple of them were quite painful, and I don't think they did anything for the headache, and one of my fingers started tingling and hurting. After 5 minutes, I'd had enough, and demanded she take them out. She said they should stay in for 20 or 30 minutes, but I insisted, and that was that. Still had the headache. Went to sleep and eventually felt better.
Out at 1:20, to downtown, to language class. Making more progress, but it's still frustrating that the teachers are forbidden to explain anything in English, and they're giving instructions using plenty of words that no beginner would know, and I don't know. Talked to a couple of the teachers after class for a few minutes about this. Home before 5, a bit tired and slightly headachey.
Out at 8 or so with Dora. To other apartment, where we picked up stuff and took it home. Then out for a walk, and ended up going a lot further than we planned, and got a little lost. Saw a marijuana grow-shop, and I coaxed Dora into going in, because I'd never been in one, and she didn't know they existed. I was surprised to find they sell seeds and even some plants, as well as all of the tanks, containers, lights, timers, fertilizer etc to grow marijuana.
Eventually back to our block, but Dia was closed. Bought watermelon at fruteria and then home.
And I was right. The bottom didn't get done enough by the time the top was brown; Dora says put the pan lower down in the oven. The taste was okay, maybe a little strange from the Jagermeister and no allspice. Not bad for my first effort.
At 1:20, off to language class. The same story: I'm learning, the content is okay, but having the instructions given only in Spanish, and sometimes only verbally, is a killer. I was totally lost in one exercise because I couldn't understand the directions.
Home by 4:35 or so, and Dora's home very early from work. Today was the last day of her residency, and apparently they gave her a gift and document and sent her home.
Fairly heavy rain starting at 5:45 or so; nice.
Went to the plaza around 7 to sit for a while.
Out at 8:45 with Dora. To L1 Metro, to Arc de Triomf, walked down to Parc Ciutadella. Found the free jazz concert going on by the big fountain, and sat there for a bit. Cute little kids running around and kicking a ball. The jazz was a little too modern and fragmented for my taste. Animals swooping through the air and catching bugs, and we couldn't tell if they were birds or bats.
Strolled away in the park and sat for a while, then outside and to a sidewalk cafe. Ordered cafe-con-leche's and sandwiches, and the sandwiches turned out to be huge and delicious on wonderful bread. So we sat and ate and talked for quite a while.
Eventually back up to the Arc and into Metro, and home by 11:45.
We've been here before, so did some window-shopping, but soon down to Tourist Info and got a map. I want to eat, Dora doesn't, but then we realize it's after 1 and shops are closing. We find one restaurant that I saw online, but it's fully reserved. Find the other I saw online, but it's more of a low-end take-out place than I expected. Into an Indian restaurant, Dora is reluctant but I'm looking forward to it. Soon it's raining pretty hard outside.
We have first course (sheek kabob (?), and pakora verdure), second course (chicken korma, and chicken curry), sides (rice, and pan), drinks (coke and a cerveza), postres (gulab jamun, and coconut burfi). Everything was fine, Dora was tentative but ended up eating everything, total bill was €27. Only weird thing was that the whole place was empty when we came in, but 5 minutes later they were scrunching us up to fit in a family of 4 next to us, then 30 minutes later scrunching us up from the other side to fit in a party of 3 there, while there were plenty of empty tables on the other side of the room.
Wandered through town, and eventually climbed the steps to the cathedral just before some rain started again. But it was light and didn't last long. Pics. Down to look through an art exhibit, wandered some more, found some bathrooms. Started wandering toward the train station, but soon it was raining hard. Into a cafe for coffees, and sat for half an hour or so. Quite pleasant.
Eventually the rain mostly stopped. We headed for the train station, not really in a hurry. But as we got there, it became clear the clock in the cafe had been totally wrong. We caught a train with about 3 minutes to spare.
Unfortunately, no air-conditioning in the whole train, and it was warm. And soon it was pouring rain outside.
Eventually out at Clot station, which was cool compared to the train. Into Metro, out at F-i-P, and the weather is nice (no rain) and somewhat cool.
Stopped at Dia and bought far more food than I expected. Home, hot and tired, around 7:15. But air-conditioning and cool drinks addressed most of that.
Small dinner of beef sandwiches followed by some of my apple pie. Watched a bit of Barca versus Atletico on TV. Barca got clobbered.
Out with Dora at 5:45. Into Metro, connect, out at Fontana. A big crush leaving the station, and as we got to the turnstiles, we heard a big boom, and my first thought was "a bomb". Then I realized that the parade we had come to see, part of Festa Major de Gracia", was passing right in front of the station. And it was raining. So the crush of people was people watching the parade, people sheltering from the rain, and people trying to get in and out of the station. And there were many big explosions from in the parade, so we pushed out and then fled down a side street.
Fortunately we have an umbrella. Stopped to consult a map, around a couple of corners, and found an English-language bookstore I had been to before. And it's open ! Went in, couldn't find anything by several of my favorite authors, finally bought one book and back out into the street. Down to the parade, and no more explosions. People going past on horses and in a horse-drawn carriage, throwing candies to the crowd. Immediately followed by city sanitation workers sweeping up the leftover candies off the street. Raining hard now. A couple of gegantes, a bunch of stick-dancers, and that's it for the parade. We were 15 minutes late, and it went on time, I guess.
Scads of people everywhere, and it's raining more. We head into the heart of Gracia, start looking for a cafe/bar to have a coffee and get out of the rain. We pass 6 or 8 places that looked fine to me, but Dora rejected them. I'm starting to get wet and cold. We try a couple more places, but they're full. Finally I drag her into a place, which turns out to be a nice Thai restaurant.
We have Thai teas of various kinds, and pan-tomato which looks nothing like the picture on the menu. All of it good.
The rain has stopped when we come out, and we wander up and down crowded streets full of artsy shops. Some streets are decorated overhead for the fiesta; there is a competition for best street or best house or something. Pics. We find the final plaza, where there is a band and Sardana dancing, and watch for a bit. More rain as we head back into more streets. Up one major street, and then it clogs completely with people, so we U-turn and head downhill. More nice shops, then street-booths. Dora is a bit cold and has had a bit of a sore throat recently, so this can't be too good for her.
Eventually down to Verdegaur Metro, which is warm and dry. To Virrei Amat, through light rain to home by 9.
Hmm, the laundry still is damp, including our sheets and pillowcases. So Dora showed me how to use the iron, and I used it to (mostly) dry them.
Received my passport in the mail from USA, with my new Spanish long-stay visa in it ! A relief.
Around 7, out for a walk with Dora. Stopped in several grocery stores, but they don't seem to sell allspice here (no peanut butter, either). Nice walk up and down F-i-P, then bought groceries in Dia and fruit in the fruiteria. I'm feeling weird, moody, probably from Spanish class. And it's pretty cool out tonight; I'm shivering a little.
Home, and nuked a sandwich and had some Jagermeister. Offered a sip to Dora, and she thought I was drinking cola, and start coughing when she realized her mistake. Watched some Barca on TV.
I made another apple pie. No Jagermeister this time, and added cloves because I can't find allspice here. Different pre-made crust, and it's harder to use: not on paper, and folded over on itself and hard to separate without tearing. But twice as much crust this time, so it's covered nicely. Put it lower down in the oven, and it cooked and browned nicely. Turned off the heat when brown and let it stay in the oven for more than an hour.
Nice chicken-rice-veggies dinner with Dora, and then a piece of pie. Came out quite nicely this time.
I went off to school at 1:20. Not a bad class today, learned some stuff, but as usual much of what the teachers said was too fast and used too many words I didn't know, and they were reluctant to repeat, and are not allowed to explain in Spanish. A Chinese guy in the class said to me "I'm totally lost". I'm keeping up mainly because I knew a lot of vocabulary before I started the class, and I bring a dictionary to class. I can't imagine why all of the other students don't also bring dictionaries.
After class, wandered to street of Angels, and sat and people-watched while I listened to MP3s. Then to La Rambla to do the same; was lucky to find a seat. Then home by 5:30 or so.
Over to other apartment to take some pictures of the fuse-box for Dora, and found that the place looks like it's been ransacked. Lots of stuff out on the floors in a couple of rooms and the hallway. I don't think there's been a break-in. Back home, and this is news to Dora, so she'll have to go look for herself. Her son stopped in at that apartment this morning, but either ignored or didn't notice the mess.
So over to other apartment with Dora around 6:15, and immediately it's clear it's a burglary. She starts looking around, I'm telling her not to touch anything. Looks like the thieves were looking for jewelry, and she lost a lot of rings, an oldish laptop, and maybe a couple of small statues. But they didn't take TVs, and small appliances such as microwave, iron, breadmaker.
Dora goes downstairs to talk to the neighbor she knows, and comes back up with the neighbor's husband. They look around for a while, he leaves, then she says the police have been called. So I say I'd better go home and fetch my passport; without it, I'm illegally "indocumentado". I go and fetch my passport and Dora's mobile.
5 or 10 minutes later a couple of police show up. Dora does all the talking, they check her ID, but ask me for nothing. The situation is complicated slightly by the fact that this is her sister's apartment, not hers. After 15 minutes or so they leave. But now we have to go to a police station to make a report. Dora says the police say that thieves have keys that work in all of these doors, or some kind of half-key that can be hammered in to open a door.
Back home by 7:45. I have a slice of apple pie to fortify myself. Out the door after 8. Up to Llucmajor Metro, but it's closed for some unknown reason. Fortunately we almost immediately catch a bus going where we need to go, but it's packed, and gets more packed. But we only have to go a couple of miles, to Trinitat Nova police station.
We have to wait for 20 minutes or more while several people ahead of us go in. Some agitated guy was there when we first arrived, but he left. Dora says he was saying he wanted his knife back. Then I wait another 20 or so while Dora is inside reporting.
Out, wait for bus (which stops running in another 20 minutes or so), out at Virrei Amat, walk home. Home a little after 10.
Other police will take fingerprints at the other apartment later. Dora has to make a list of stolen items, and check to see if anything else was stolen. Dora's sister wants her to sleep in the other apartment to stop the thieves from coming back, but I talk her out of that.
Quick rice-and-chicken dinner.
Out at 1:20, to Spanish class 2-4, wandered around Angels and La Rambla a little, then home by 5:15.
Nice chicken-rice dinner with Dora at 7:45 or so, then out the door at 8:30. To Metro, to park next to Estacio du Nord, and a free jazz concert in the park. Lovely evening, but the music was a bit soft and too free-form for my taste, and the wooden bench made my butt sore. Lots of dogs and little kids running around.
Afterward, we went to a cafe for coffee and ice cream. A brief stroll through the Arc de Triomf, then into the Metro and home by 11:30.
Headache in middle of night; took a paracetamol.
Dora made a nice stir-fry-and-rice dinner, I did the dishes (as usual), then off to school. Spanish class went fairly well, using a lot of vocabulary I already knew. Strolled around the center for a little while before going home.
Dora home very late, after dealing with locksmith (changing lock on the apartment that was burglarized) and going to the police station again.
Dora's handyman friend came and replaced the lock on the apartment door here. €110 for new lock and keys, €50 for the labor to change it.
Nice egg-sausage-cheese sandwiches for lunch; really hit the spot.
Went out to one of the same ATMs again, and this time it worked.
Out with Dora to buy a heap of groceries.
Out to the plaza to sit for a while and listen to MP3's and people-watch.
Two water-heater guys came around 9:30, but at 10:15 they tested the new situation and the heater still shuts off. As I expected; I couldn't believe that the exhaust duct being 2 inches shorter than spec would make any difference.
Out with Dora around 6. Had hoped to get out at 5:45. Then on the street, she stopped to talk with a neighbor for 10 minutes. So I guess we're not getting across town in time for a 6:30 parade.
Into Metro, to Placa de Sants, and some trouble getting oriented. Found lots of streets decorated for the fiesta (pics), found the train station and adjoining park, but no sign of a parade anywhere. So we wandered and looked around. Some nice decorations, and fun little amusement park rides.
Back across, and into a Syrian restaurant. I had a mojito, full of mint, but I think they cheated me on the alcohol; it may even have had no alcohol. Dora had a coffee, we shared a nice lamb-and-beef shawarma tapas, then a small dessert.
Out, wandered some more, started walking down toward Placa Espanya. Some interesting painted shop-doors: pics. Accidentally found a small parade in a side street: a brass band and a bunch of baton-twirlers. They were just standing still in a narrow street, performing while lots of people stood around and watched.
Walked further, down to Hostafrancs Metro, sat for a while, then decided to go home. Into Metro, grabbed seats, and then a crowd came on at Placa Espanya and the train was jammed for most of the rest of the trip. Home around 10:20.
Soon out to the other apartment to take some stuff, and back around 11. Tired.
At 7:30, out with Dora. Long walk down F-i-P to Narcis Sala football stadium, and in (€10 for two tickets). Watched the local club beat another team 1-0. Fun, on a beautiful clear evening, with only about 500 people in the stands. We were sitting next to the local fan club (only about 15 of them; last time I was here they had 50 or 60). Their songs seemed to consist mostly of "lo, lo, lo" and then calling the other side various things related to "puta".
Out at 9:50 or so. Still have a headache; took a Tonopan. Long walk home. Looked for a cafe, but Dora passed several by and then we ended up just skipping it. Home by 10:20 or so.
Dora out in a hurry to meet someone about a parking space, but they didn't show up. At 11:15, I went out to Dia for some groceries. Looks like all of the small stores are opening up again, after being closed most of August for vacation.
Soon I went out to the limpisteria and exchanged the gas-valve for a different size. They were very nice about it, automatically refunded me €5 because the new valve is cheaper. Many small shops here won't do refunds, and sometimes not exchanges.
Out to class at 1:20, wandered downtown afterward, back home at 5:35. Had rice and some rib meat and soup with Dora for dinner.
Stupid headache was back by 8 or so. Took a Tramadol.
Out at 8:45 with Dora to Dia for some groceries. I'm going to cook something new tomorrow.
Dora home just before 1, as I was eating some of the casserole. Too much cilantro and other spices, I think. Not surprising since the recipe is more intended to make a sauce to go over noodles or rice. But it's okay, and Dora thinks so too.
Out to school at 1:20, and Dora went with me to the Metro stop. Class was okay, a little frustrating. Wandered around the center for a while and then home by 5:20, a bit hot.
Dora is struggling with a lot of big issues right now: financing her son's education, finding a job, financing the apartment. Also several lesser issues.
Headache in the middle of the night; took a paracetamol.
To Metro at 1:20, language class at 2, six students, I had a tough time starting about halfway through. Got through it, wandered in town center a little, to Metro, home by 5. Dora home by 5:30 or so.
Various grocery-shopping. To other apartment at 10 to pick up things.
And that was the last day of Spanish class. I learned a lot, much from their teaching, some just from putting in all the hours on class and reviewing at home. But I'm still very bad at understanding spoken Spanish.
Apparently the water-heater manufacturer's technician came today, and said the exhaust duct has too sharp a bend and something else about the far end, causing it to overheat. So the local installer has to come back and change that.
Dora out to other apartment, and half of her family arriving there around 7. I'm staying here; it's going to be a madhouse over there for a while.
Out to the plaza to sit for a while, and bought some watermelon (sandia) on the way back home.
At 9, over to other apartment to help Dora fetch stuff home. Said hi to her mother and her niece, who I've met before. Brought back 4 suitcases/trunks of stuff, including one enormously big and heavy suitcase that apparently is full of books and papers.
There's been some miscommunication: they told Dora not to straighten up the apartment after it was burglarized, they wanted to see it as it was, but now she finds out a potential renter or rental agent is coming to see the apartment tomorrow ! So they have to straighten up frantically tonight. And the other family with the babies are arriving late tonight instead of Saturday, and the third sister tomorrow.
Back to the other apartment at 10:15 or so. Fixed the kitchen sink drain. Four more suitcases of stuff to bring home. Trying out my new Spanish on everyone. Lots of fun to try to talk with Dora's niece.
Had to dash out to Dia to buy some food and detergent; some of ours migrated to the other apartment yesterday.
Out at 11:45 or so, to language school. We're having a little fiesta, a little celebration. Plenty of food, but I didn't eat much of it, mainly talked to several of the teachers. About 5 students, 15 student-teachers, a couple of supervising teachers, so the noise level got pretty high. They gave out certificates to the graduating teachers. When there was a lull, I slipped out, having had enough. Maybe they gave certificates to students later, I don't know, but I was informed by email that I didn't pass and should take the class again (or a more-expensive class), so no certificate for me, I think.
Wandered into the center. Heard a really good little street band (Jinx Jazz Band), but they played only one song and then stopped for a while. Pic. Down to the cathedral square. Eventually to Jaume I Metro, transfer at Maragall, home by 2:45 or so.
Dora home, napped, had dinner at 4 or so, napped some more, I went out for some more groceries. Water-heater guy was supposed to come but didn't show up.
Visit from other apartment at 9:30 or so, then we went over there at 10 or so. It's a madhouse, baby crying, boxes and heaps everywhere, debates about what to do, Dora's sister trying to convince her to move to the South, 7-year-old niece bouncing off the walls. We loaded up 4 more heavy trunks of stuff and took it home. Got there around 11, and Dora's father is staying here to sleep; he can't get any sleep in the other apartment. Now our apartment is full of heaps of clothing and suitcases full of clothing, books, jewelry, cosmetics etc.
Dora starting to sort through the huge cases and heaps of stuff. I took one load of DVDs down to the recycling bins.
Out around 1:30 to hit ATM, sit in plaza, walk a little. Sunny and hot.
In late afternoon, took a load of papers down to the recycling bins.
Around 9:30, over to other apartment. Found the door not properly locked, and the circuit-breaker for the front lights turned off, but nothing else out of order. Had spaghetti-and-turkey dinner using turkey left for us, and some ice-cream bars for dessert.
Out, and started looking for a bar to have a drink and maybe watch some football; I'd heard there were a lot of Premier-league matches today. Soon realized Barca is playing right now, the game is almost over, and all the bars are full because of this. Out to Virrei Amat, into the big bocadillo place, and they have some tables. We sit down, watch the last 2 minutes of the game, and then lots of people leave. I'm a little bummed at our bad timing, but immediately a Real Madrid - Real Betis game starts ! So we watch first half of that, and it's a good game. We have fruit drinks. Out and back home by 11:30 or so.
Hot day. Loafed, cooked a big spaghetti dinner, did some more cleaning and trash-hauling. Out for a walk and to sit in the plaza.
We kept going, off at Can Ros and walked to the health center, but Dora wouldn't go in and at least make an appearance. Wandered through a shopping center, back to train station, dashed onto a train. Long train and Metro rides back. Stopped at butcher shop for a lot of meat. Home by 1. Hot and a bit tired.
Big ribs, rice, salad dinner around 3, then soon crashed for a long nap.
Dora sorting through lots of the clutter in the apartment, slowly making progress. But there's plenty more to bring over from the other apartment.
Someone else is cleaning out or moving an apartment in this building; elevator often busy, stuff piled up by the front door, small truck, recycling bin full.
I went out around 7:30 for a walk and to sit in the plaza. It's a bit of a madhouse out there, first weekday after the end of the big vacation month. Hordes of people out sitting and walking and shopping, more car-traffic than I've seen coming up F-i-P.
Out again to buy some fruit; we're running out.
Over to the other apartment at 9:45 or so, but we got almost nothing done there. Chatted with everyone and had ice-creams and came back with only one suitcase full of stuff.
Unexpected visitor supposed to arrive tonight, but their plane is late and they probably won't get here until 2 or 3 AM.
Visitor arrived around 3 AM. I didn't even see them.
Dora disappeared with the visitor. I thought they went to the other apartment, but later I went there, no Dora. To Dia and bought some groceries. Home, still no Dora.
Later, Dora showed up, and our visitor has moved to stay with a relative. Over to other apartment, played with the niece, had dinner, loaded more suitcases. To Post Office again, but their computers are down. Back to other apartment, hauled several heavy suitcases home. There is a huge pile of furniture pieces and such at the curb in front of our building; someone else has cleaned out an apartment, maybe after someone died.
At home, I took apart the top half of the bunk-bed in the third bedroom and hauled the pieces down to the street, for garbage pickup. Also put out a rolling table and a small glass-topped cabinet. Tired, time for a shower.
Out to ATM and fruit shop. Then a nice chicken-egg-rice dinner at home. And then a shower.
Eventually Dora showed up, and she sorted and discarded, and we did runs to the garbage bins or the other apartment.
Ribs and rice dinner with Dora.
Around 5, the water-heater guy came again, to put in a whole new vent-tube. And promptly found the old vent clogged full of birds-nests. So now we wonder if the old heater was fine, and this repairman should have found this problem in the first place, before we spent €250 and 6 weeks of grief trying to get this figured out. But at least when he left this time, we have a working water-heater.
In the evening, over to other apartment and hauled lots of garbage to the bins, and several trips with loaded suitcases etc back to the home apartment. Making progress, throwing away a lot of stuff, but still left with piles of clothing, linens, books, shoes, some jewelry, etc. And we still have to move 3 or 4 big pieces of furniture across. But there's no room for that in the home apartment right now. (Dora keeps saying how thin I am. Weighed myself: 93 KG, or 205 pounds. Right at my good/normal weight.) Quit for tonight around 9:30.
Soon had a nice chicken-egg-rice dinner, courtesy of Dora. Then took a shower.
In the evening, more work sorting through stuff at our home apartment. Had a nasty encounter with a bottle of lab-grade hydrogen peroxide; I didn't realize what it was at first, and later realized it had started burning my fingertips, and they still were burning. Ran my hands under water for a while, a couple of times.
Around 10, Dora's father came over. He's going to sleep here tonight. And I found out later, Dora gave him cortisone shots for his sore shoulders. We all had some Tunel, a sweet liquor from Mallorca that is delicious (and it has a plant inside the bottle).
Over to other apartment after noon. Made the mistake of taking the niece out to the park to hit a ball back and forth with paddles; I hoped it would tire her out, but instead she hit the ball in all directions and I ran myself ragged. Back to the apartment, hauled stuff back to other apartment, a nice lunch cooked by Dora's mother, then hauled stuff home. Laid down for a while. Then more hauling.
Raining outside. More sorting, with Dora sometimes pulling things back out of the garbage bag as quickly as I can put them in. Other stuff going onto the balcony in a box, when I'd rather it was thrown away. Just postponing the Day of Reckoning.
Eventually back to other apartment after 6 or so. More hauling and sorting over there. As we were leaving, the elevator stopped working, which is a major pain. Now we'll have to haul everything up and down 1.5 floors worth of stairs.
Home, and Dora made a chicken-egg-rice dinner. Delicious, but I don't like to eat so much so late.
And Dora has told me she and her son are leaving town on Sunday morning ! He'll be starting medical university in Slovakia; he just passed the entrance exams.
I've been counselling against this university thing. Her son got bad grades and didn't graduate high school on time, did a make-up year and finally passed the govt high-school graduation exams. Then Dora paid €1900 to an agency to get him on this medical-school entrance-exam thing. She's far underwater on her mortgage, no savings. Now she's obtained a short-term bank advance on her paycheck (even though she doesn't yet have a permanent or full-time job), and still is short the full amount to pay for the first semester, so has asked the school for a cut in tuition.
And now they will be travelling to Kosice, Slovakia, just as tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are stuck in train stations, trying to go the other direction, sort of. They have a plane to Vienna, then bus to Bratislava, then train to Kosice. And no return tickets yet for Dora.
Turns out everyone will be leaving Barcelona tomorrow morning at 9 or so; her parents and niece are leaving from the other apartment to go to the south. So I'll have Barcelona to myself, and can play tourist again. Dora will be back early Saturday morning, if all goes well.
Hauled a couple of loads of clothes to a donation bin. Over to other apartment for a quick visit, and carried some stuff home.
Dora and son out in afternoon to do clothes shopping for him. I sat in the plaza for a while, went home, then out for a walk for a while.
Dora home at 4:30 or so, and we had a nice dinner.
Over to the other apartment after 7, and lots of loud arguments over there. And I thought we were in a hurry to haul out everything tonight, before everyone left, but that plan seems to have changed. Hauled some stuff, including a heavy exercise-treadmill, to home.
At 9:15, suddenly realized the España-Slovakia football game had started at 8:45, and found it on TV. While clearing a path to the sofa, I found the missing tablet computer that everyone in the other apartment had been looking for frantically for the last couple of days.
Around 10:30, Dora's father and niece came over, and soon we all went out. To a cafe near Plaza Virrei Amat, for beer and soda and tapas and montaditos. Some wild car-chase-and-fighting movie on the TV screens. The niece knows the drinking saying: arribe, abajo, al centro y al dentro (up, down, center and through the teeth).
On the way home, the niece wanted to be carried, so I carried her four times, to great protest from my lower back. Said good-bye to them, and up to our apartment before midnight.
Dora sent me email at 4, saying they'd made it to Vienna okay on the plane, and had just boarded a bus to Bratislava.
I went out around 5:15. To Metro, connect through Diagonal, out at Drassanes. To the Maritime Museum, which has free admission today. Nice, but nothing new in the museum this time. Walked up along Rambla Raval, past MACBA, to CCCB. Up to the top, where there are some nice views over the city. Then to the exhibits, where the only interesting thing was a video of lots of scenes in Medellin Colombia. Out and over to La Rambla, and sat for a while. Then into the Metro and home by 8:30 or so.
Over to other apartment to fetch all of the food out of the refrigerator and bring it home. Lots of apples.
Watched an old Barca game on TV, where Messi scored 5 goals.
Started trying to clean up the apartment a bit, sorting out the heaps of stuff brought from the other apartment.
Sat out in the plaza for a while.
Email from Dora after 6 to say they made it to Kosice.
Headache; took a paracetamol.
Went for a walk. Hordes of people out on F-i-P.
Loafed most of the day. Did a little cleaning up. Exchanged some email with Dora in Slovakia. Mopped the building entry area; it's our turn to do that. Went for a walk and sat in the plaza; lots of people out. Beef and rice for dinner. Out for a late walk. Drank a little Tunel and watched some football on TV.
Loafed most of the day. Out to see local Don Quixote art exhibit, but it was just some posters (but they were interesting). Walked and sat in the plaza. Later went for another walk.
Made a big spaghetti dinner. Went for another walk. Watched Argentina play Mexico on TV.
Weather cleared in late afternoon. Went out for a couple of long walks. A political rally going on in Placa Soller across from the other apartment. Went to the other apartment, all okay there, brought back the contents of the freezer.
At 8, tons of car-traffic as lots of people are leaving town; tomorrow is a big holiday, the Day of Catalunya.
Cooked turkey and rice for dinner. Out for a late walk. Then watermelon for dessert.
Went down past the Arc and into Ciutadella Park. Down to the far corner of that, to the Parliament building, which is open today (rare). My timing is perfect; opened at 10, I'm here at 10:30 or so, and when I came out at 11:15 or so, crowds were starting to pour in.
Nice building, lots of marble and great chandeliers and woodwork and such. As expected, had to go through metal-detectors, and lots of security/guides standing around everywhere. Pics.
Out and wandered up to the Arc. Booths and games operating, starting to get a bit crowded for my taste. Pics. This afternoon and evening it will be packed, and there will be a huge march down Meridiana all the way from Can Drago (near the apartment) to Parliament building, distance of about 5 KM. I saw people setting up on the sidewalks of Meridiana when I came in, and there were more as I was getting home. Lots of people wearing the Catalan flag or waving it around. Home by 11:40.
Had a big spaghetti dinner around 2.
Out at 4, and over to F-i-P. Big busses double-parked the whole length of the street on one side. Hordes of people heading down to the intersection with Meridiana. Got down there and out into the intersection, and there's just a ridiculous amount of people here, lining the whole route into downtown, filling the whole (very wide) street and wide sidewalks, just a small lane clear in the middle. Saw one gegant, and a crew of castellers who weren't doing any castelling. I don't like being in the middle of crowds, and soon had to work my way out of there. Hard to get any good vantage point for pictures, too. Can't really see much except people.
Wandered a couple of blocks away, sat in a plaza for a while, wandered back near Meridiana, wandered away and up to Virrei Amat. Sat for a while. Wandered back toward Meridiana. Four helicopters close together, filming. Pics. Gave up and went home, figuring TV is the best way to see this.
Home by 5:30, and there's Barca playing Atletico Madrid, and the game's almost over; I thought they weren't playing until 8:30 tonight. Maybe it's a re-run of an old game; they never indicate that on TV here, it's confusing. [Later, realized the game is tomorrow evening, not tonight.]
Found the parade on TV, and runners are carrying a giant yellow arrow down the route, to the Parliament building, I guess to signify a vote for independence. Loads of people on the route, all the way down. Truck just ahead of the arrow almost got stuck when it went over some big yellow letters that spelled "independence".
But at 6:15, the arrow was stopped at Glories, and some guy was giving a speech. So only about 2/3 of the way to Parliament.
Out again at 7:15. Massive traffic jams and people everywhere as the parade is breaking up. Sat in the plaza for a while. Still traffic jams after 8.
Out for a walk at 9:30. Things back to normal, except for lots of litter down at the intersection with Meridiana.
Went to sit in the plaza around 11, then to Dia for a few groceries. Online, ordered a pair of sandals through Amazon UK.
Out at 4 to walk, look in a shoe-shop, hit an ATM, sit in plaza, get a few more groceries in Dia. Weather grey and trying to rain.
Out again at 5:30. Up to Nou Barris govt complex, for a concert as part of the Day of Catalunya celebrations. Several gegantes there, and a band to play some traditional music. Pics. Afterward, there will be a classical music concert.
But of course, right at the start time of 6, the rain started. Some suit made a speech, the gegantes and their band came out and danced, a couple of suits talked some more, two more gegantes danced to music, the band played something that probably was a Catalan national song, then they cancelled the classical music concert and everyone started leaving. So I went home through the rain.
Baking a lasagna. Forgot to get mushrooms. So I stopped cooking and dashed out to Dia.
Dora home at 7:35, and talking a mile a minute about all the stuff she did in Slovakia to start her son at university. They lucked out and got a good apartment at the last minute. She forgot to take her Spanish ID card, but fortunately had her passport. An acquaintance had a relative who gave some key help with the university. But, as I expected, the school is not going to let her pay on an installment plan, so she has to come up with more money ASAP.
Can't find the football game on TV. And the lasagna is delayed; the oven got turned down accidentally. We didn't wait for it to cool properly; I was too hungry. But it was pretty good anyway.
I went out before noon. To a couple of hardware stores to look for an AC outlet tester (one that uses LEDs to tell you if the ground is bad, the hot and neutral are switched, etc), but they either don't have them or have never heard of such a thing. To Dia for groceries, and home. Intended to make an apple pie this afternoon, but then realized we have to finish off the leftover lasagna first, it's in our only baking pan.
Out at 1, and over to the health center where Dora is working. She wasn't sure when her lunch-break would be, so I sat and listened to MP3's and walked around the neighborhood a little. She finally came out at 2:10, and we had a little trouble finding a good lunch place. And it turned out that she'd sort of wanted me to bring food from home, which would have been fine with me, our refrigerator is overloaded. We could have walked home, but that would have taken another 5-10 minutes each way. In the event, we found a little place where the food was plentiful and fine. But we had to rush a bit because she had to be back at work at 3.
Dora home after 8; at least at this job they don't keep her late after the stated closing time, as they often did at her residency job.
Went out for a walk and to sit in the plaza.
Baked a mostly-apple pie (threw in a nectarine and some orange marmalade, too). Went for a couple of walks.
Dora home after 8. Had a salad. Headachey; took a Neobrufen. Had some apple pie; a little burned on the bottom, but otherwise excellent. Had some watermelon.
Still headachey at 11. Dora gave me some kind of muscle-relaxant pill, which helped, and sleep helped.
Out at 12:30 for a longish walk to a delivery service, to pick up a letter to Dora. Which turned out to be fairly routine paperwork. To Dia for groceries on the way back.
Home, and a big rice-cabbage-meat meal. Crashed for a big nap.
Out with Dora before 5. Down to F-i-P Metro, and all the schools have big crowds of kids and parents in front of them. Into Metro, out at Universitat, to a medical clinic where Dora has an interview. I walked around the block and sat for a while, waiting for her. Then we had coffees at a cafe across the street. Back home after 7:30.
Out again at 8:30, looking for somewhere to watch the Barca-Roma game. To Heron City and back, giving up, and found a place right down the side street from our apartment, and grabbed the last table inside. Hot and noisy, but we had a beer and coke and the game was good. Left at halftime, and back home. [Found out later that there was no scoring in the second half anyway.]
Around 7, I started making ravioli, from scratch. First time I've tried this. The dough came out okay, but I probably should have made twice as much, or somehow made it stretchier. Put the filling in, and many of the raviolis aren't fully closed. I plan to fry them, but later Dora said to boil them in a thin layer of water.
Dora home at 8:30 or so. She had someone at work take a bunch of her blood, and now she's centrifuging it here. And then injecting it into herself ? She's slathered herself with beauty cream and is now in the bathroom injecting. I want to cook.
Argh ! What's the point of making fresh pasta if there's a 90-minute delay before you cook it ? Finally started cooking at 10:15 or so. Dora emerged and we ate. The pasta came out too thick, they're big and misshapen, and Dora says I didn't boil the ravioli long enough. But they tasted fine. Only cooked 6; we have 10 more for another day.
Turns out Dora was taking the blood extracted from her, injecting the plasma back into herself, and discarding the leftover red blood cells. Something about the platelets stimulating healing or something.
After eating, she put on a facial mask that made her look like something from a nightmare. I took pictures but won't put them on the internet.
Before noon, headache and backache; took a Neobrufen.
Around 4:30, over to other apartment to bring stuff back.
Out at 6:45. To Virrei Amat metro, change at Maragall, out at Jaume I. Up to Placa Jaume, which is jammed with people, the parade to open La Merce festival is supposed to end here. No sign of any parade. Went back a block to buy a book at a store that was advertising books in English. Up to the Cathedral square, where there was a band and sardana dancing. Sat there for a few minutes.
Over toward La Rambla and then down to Ferran, hoping to intercept the parade route somewhere. Back to Placa Jaume, and the parade has slipped past us somehow, and now gegantes are dancing. Dora wormed her way into the center of the crowd, so I had to follow; I hate being stuck in the center.
At first the show was stuff we'd seen before, the big gegante king and queen dancing. A band up on a stage; some of the music was plain, some was nice. But then they had dragons spouting spark-fire, and people wearing horse-bodies to look like knights in armor on horseback fighting each other, then a lion and then a rooster dancing, then a small group of castellers, then a bunch of devils running around with spark-fire spouting. Pics.
As each group finished, they lined up in front of the govt building, next to us. At the end, we left and went to the next plaza over, and then fireworks started launching from the top of the govt building. They were low and some were very loud, and with the all-stone buildings and streets, the sound really carries and echoes and bounces. About 5 minutes of fireworks, but it was nice. Over by 8:55 or so.
Into a cafe for coffees and relaxing. Out again at 9:30, and headed down toward the waterfront, then over to Barceloneta metro and past it. Nice, big, lighted ferris wheel operating near Barceloneta beach.
Big fireworks on the Vila Olympica beach starting at 10, but they were pretty far away and low and buildings were in the way. So we just found a spot along the street where we could see through a gap between buildings, and watched what we could see of the fireworks. Which was fine with us. Nice fireworks, and parts were very loud even from a distance. And fireworks in USA seem to go up higher than they do here.
Into the metro, to Llumajor, out onto quiet and cool streets. Home at 11. As I expected, most of the pictures I took were garbage; the lighting was bad.
Rice-beans-beef dinner, then a long nap in the afternoon. Over to other apartment around 5:45, and hauled a lot of stuff back home. There's still a lot more to be sorted, here and there.
Out around 7:15. To Eixample, to the Estrella Damm brewery for a free concert. Turned out to be in the street in front of the brewery, rock music, lots of people. We ran into someone Dora knew, and while they chatted, I fetched a couple of beers, one a pretty nice Estrella Lemon. Pics.
Fun to watch the crowd; lots of students, some families, a few older people. A long interlude of recorded music, then a live band came onstage, and they were okay. But I'd had enough of the crowd and noise, and it was time to head out anyway. Saw some fun street art: pics. Eventually we ended up at Sagrada Familia, sat for a few minutes, then into the Metro. Connected, then out at Vila Olympica. Part of a big crowd heading to the beach. We found our way to a decent spot at the edge of the sand.
Fireworks at 10, and they were pretty nice, and we had a fine vantage point. Pics.
Back to the Metro, and we're tired but the evening went well. To Llucmajor, and home by 11:15.
Dinner around 3, crashed for a big nap.
Out around 7:15. To Metro, to Jaume I stop, and into a crowd for the big La Merce "Carrefoc" fire-parade. The big street Via Laetana is closed to traffic. Not as jammed as I feared it would be. Firework litter from the children's parade, which took place about an hour ago. We walked down the street to try to get to the start of the parade, but everyone else had the same idea, and the crowd was too thick. Picked a sidewalk spot, then moved nearer to a small plaza, so we can escape from the fire-sparks if we need to.
Which turned out to be a very good move. The parade was slow and not that great, and VERY hard to photograph. It started with some drumming, and nice foreworks going up amidst the tall buildings. We put on ear-buds for some hearing-protection. Dora was bundled up with scarf and jacket and glasses, as people are warned to do. Eventually the devils came through with pitchforks spouting lots of sparks and then going off with a big bang, and people pushed back from the street shrieking and ducking. I of course was fearless. Some nice dragons, but the fireworks they spouted made them hard to photograph; alternately too bright and then too dark. Pics. A unique parade, but not as impressive as I hoped.
Got tired after a while; not much variety and the parade was slow. Retreated and sat on a stone wall for a couple of minutes, then headed up to the cathedral square and sat there briefly. Parade still going on, and we looked at it for a couple more minutes, then started heading home.
But we tried to go into one cafe, only to be told they didn't have coffee and were closing soon. Bad move, with 20,000 people nearby for the parade. We walked down a block to the start of the parade, and ducked into another cafe, which had the Barca-Levante game on TV.
Our timing was perfect; 2nd half started 15 seconds after we sat down, the score was 0-0, and within 15 minutes Barca had scored 3 goals. We had coffees and a foccacio and watched the whole second half, and Barca won 4-1.
Up to Metro, ride to Llucmajor, home at 11.
Soon out again, to other apartment, to fetch some stuff, and a big outdoor storage closet. Which wasn't heavy, but was bulky, and then came apart as I was trying to wrestle it up the stairs to the lift in the hom apartment. Got it upstairs and we put it back together (mostly) and out on the balcony. Done by 11:50.
I'm expecting a package. At 1, someone buzzed. Instead of buzzing them in, I went down, maybe that was a mistake. Only took me 30 seconds to get down there, but no one there, so I hope they didn't just buzz and then leave immediately.
Dora home after 2, and we had dinner.
Door-buzzer rang at 4:15, it was my package being delivered, and the guy says he didn't come earlier today. So I guess that was something else.
Out at 7:15 or so. To El Corte Ingles to look at a suit for me. Nice slim blue-black suit for €169. Then went to FEMA on F-i-P and looked at more suits, cheaper but not as nice. To other apartment, and picked up a lot of stuff and hauled it to the home apartment after 9.
Loafed all morning, except for doing laundry. Out after 1 to El Corte Ingles, to pay the electric bill, then to Dia for groceries. Out to other apartment to haul more stuff back home. Out to sit in plaza, then to fruiteria for veggies. Over to other apartment for more hauling. Felafel for dinner. Out for a walk and to sit in the plaza; a little chilly tonight. Home, and tried some blood-orange-vodka drink from a bottle that's been hanging around for a couple of years, I think. Gave myself a bit of a haircut. (Probably should have reversed that order.)
Out at 7:45. To Metro, transfer, down to Drassanes. A parade of gegantes forming up between Maritime Museum and Columbus statue.
Very hard to take decent pictures, they're in front of streetlights. This seems to be somewhat of a "silly" parade; some of the gegantes have funny signs on them, several are wrapped up (I think a reference to the baggage pileup at the airport a month ago ?). Pics. Some pretty good drummers. They headed up one side of La Rambla and turned off to head to Placa Jaume. I strolled up La Rambla, sat and people-watched for a while, then into the Metro.
Home by 10:40. A little achey; took a Neobrufen. Gave myself more of a haircut.
Out at 5. Metro to Catalunya, to see a La Merce parade, supposedly the biggest one. Found the staging area and took lots of pictures: pics. The parade itself was crowded and very slow and mostly nothing I hadn't seen before, so I gave up on it and wandered around Placa Catalunya for a while. Eventually back into Metro, and home by 7:30.
Gave myself a bit more of a haircut.
Dora's flight boarding a little before 10; she'll probably be home after 1 AM. And she has to work tomorrow morning, probably at 8.
At 10, finally found the right TV channel, and watched the La Merce finale: fireworks and music over the Magic Fountains of Montjuic near Placa Espanya. Quite nice fireworks, and well-synchronized with the music. But I was happy to be watching from home on my comfy sofa with a drink in my hand; there were a zillion people there in person, the Metro would be a mob scene afterward, and on TV the views were better and the audio better and subtitles named the music. Finished at 10:30.
Watched some of the replay of the most recent Barca game, the one where they got clobbered 4-1.
Dora arrived to the airport and got outside it by 12:20, but didn't get home until 2:50. She took a bus, when it got into the Universitat area there were lots of rowdy drunks on it so she got off, and then for the next hour every bus she could use was completely jammed full. Eventually she took two more buses to get home.
Online, bought tickets for my next trip to Barcelona. $960 roundtrip from Philadelphia, Oct 14 to Feb 15. Nonstop except for a brief connection through Madrid on the return flight.
Out to sit in the plaza. To ATM, but it was broken. To Dia for groceries, they have no mushroom soup. Home, and soon a buzz at the front door. Dora tells me to ignore those buzzes, but this one turned out to be the mailperson, and I signed for a letter from the gas company.
Baked a turkey-noodle-mushroom casserole.
Dora home at 3. The turkey casserole was okay, but I need to learn how to use spices better, and it really needed some mushroom soup to glue it together.
A bit of a nap. Out to the ATM, where I had to wait through a short line, and maybe it wasn't working for one lady, but it worked for me.
Out with Dora to El Corte Ingles. Paid a gas bill, then bought a suit to wear to my nephew's wedding. The salesman gave us a break by letting us mix pants and jacket from two different pairs, but then jammed me by "accidentally" selecting dollars for the payment, and then claiming he couldn't change it to euros. So I paid $199 instead of €169, which is an exchange rate of 1.18 instead of the current 1.12, so he nicked me for an extra $10. Didn't expect that trick in a big department store. We should have insisted he cancel the transaction and start it again. But I'm happy with the suit. Pic. It looked mostly-black to me in the store, but Dora said it was blue, and in the light at home it looks blue.
Later, out to grocery stores.
To the mercado, and we bought some ribs. Back home by 1:45, and I'm hungry. Had a nice ribs-rice-lentils dinner. Took a little nap.
Thought about going out to a bar to watch Barca play at 4, but we're sleepy and we're going to be doing a lot of stuff tonight, so we gave it a miss.
Out before 6:45, late. Into Metro, out at Diagonal, met a friend of Dora's. Into a cafe, and had coffees while they chatted for about an hour and a half, in Spanish. They tried to include me a little, but mostly I just sat and looked around.
Out, and we strolled down Rambla Catalunya. Strolling slowly as they talked, and by the time we got to Passeig de Gracia Metro, it was 9 and we had to hustle. Into Metro, longish walk to platform, onto train, connect, out at Marina, hustle up Meridiana to L' Auditori. A few minutes late for our 9:30 concert. Into the building, against a tide of people leaving from some other event, and we can't find our auditorium. Eventually find that the event is not in a auditorium, despite the tickets which carefully assign seats. It's on a patio out back, under open air.
I'm a bit annoyed at first, but we find a concrete wall to sit on, and clouds go away to reveal a big full moon, and I chill out. The music isn't quite what I expected either, it's a swing-type band, but playing more jazzy music. A few nice numbers, and we dance a little to them, and the instruments and singer are nice, but most of the music is too free-form for my liking. At one point, we wander inside and sit on a nice sofa for a while. Pics.
Concert ends, we head out and up to the "Bruum Ruum" light-display, and play and sit there for a while. Then into Metro, and home a little before 11:30.
Back home after 8, then Dora wants to go out and vote, but it takes a while to get going and find the voting card and figure out where the polling place is. Turns out to be the nursing home right next to the other apartment, so we go there, and she's in and out in 5 minutes. But she came out saying "there was no yes/no vote on Catalan independence, as I expected; it was just voting by grupos (parties)". Turns out she should have brought the big voting brochure she got in the mail, but she threw that away. [Trying to figure it out later, it appears she voted opposite of the way she intended.]
Then to other apartment, and finally she's donating and throwing away a reasonable amount of stuff. But soon I'm getting hungry; we haven't had any breakfast.
Back home by 11 or so, and eggs and toast for breakfast.
Big turkey-casserole and turkey and rice dinner in midafternoon.
Out to plaza to sit for a while. Sunny but cool.
Been trying all day to print boarding pass for my flight tomorrow, but it keeps failing. I think because two airlines are merging, and their computers are a bit screwed up.
Out to dump garbage and buy power-bars. Over to the other apartment to load up a couple of suitcases with books, pick up a big plastic storage closet from the front balcony, and haul it all to the home apartment. This closet is about 6 inches deeper and wider than the other one we brought over a while ago, and this one won't quite fit into the elevator. So we humped it up the stairs to the 4th floor and out onto the back balcony. Done by 10.
Up at 6:30, showered, and found email from 3:30 AM saying my flight is delayed by an hour and 15 minutes. Then, at 6:50, another email saying the flight is back on schedule ! [And they robo-called my brother in NJ to tell him so, waking him at midnight-45. :-( Later, my brother said the flight mess probably was caused by the Pope's visit to Philadelphia in the couple of days preceding my trip.] Took a Neobrufen in anticipation of a long day.
Out of the apartment at 7:20. To Metro, and it's packed for rush-hour; had to stand all the way. Nice in Sants Estacio: they've installed escalators, so no longer have to hump suitcase up 3 flights of stairs. Onto train platform by 7:55, train at 8:11. Also packed (I really should board in Clot, not here), but fortunately I snagged a seat. To airport, shuttle bus, to airline check-in by 8:55.
And there it's a disaster. Lines not terribly long, but they're moving extremely slowly. Nice roving attendant printed out a boarding pass for me at a machine, but even the bag drop-off line was painfully slow. Got to the front, and they're asking a lot of security questions, and some of the baggage-tag printers aren't working.
Through that by 9:45, and off to Security. Lines not long at all, but I got a full pat-down.
Through there, and long slow lines at Passport Control.
To the gate area by 10:10 for 10:45 flight. Hit the bathroom, waited until the line died down and they called "all passengers should board now". Go up to the agent, and they say "you have been selected for random security screening". So back 50 yards to a special area, where my stuff gets run through a scanner again, I get patted down again, and I have to turn on a couple of devices to prove they're not fakes.
Back to the gate, through and down stairs, and we're loading onto a bus. Off through the airport taxiways, to the plane. Finally on board and settled, and I end up with an empty seat next to me; nice.
Uneventful flight, but long. Land at Philly, no problem through Immigration and Baggage (chatted with guy next to me, who lost his phone somewhere before boarding the flight) and Customs. Hit an ATM, then wait for the train.
Train a bit late, and it's a local, but I don't have to change at 30th St station. Headachey; took a sumatriptan. To West Trenton by 4. Soon picked up by my brother, and home by 4:30.
Dora has come to the USA ! To me in New Jersey. Pic. I took her to meet my Mom, used my rental-car to give Dora a little driving lesson (she loved it), walked in a park, took her to malls to buy a dress, walked around local neighborhood. She tried a tiny bit of American peanut butter and hated it.
Then an 8-hour drive (with my brother and a friend) to Cleveland to attend a wedding. Smooth trip, until we arrived at the hotel and somehow both of my MP3 players disappeared in the confusion of unloading. Had a hotel guy look in the garbage bins for them, but no luck. Last seen when my brother was heading to the garbage can, but my brother thinks he handed them to someone, instead of dumping them. I think he threw them in the trash in his anxiety at arriving and parking. We'll see if they turn up.
Out for wander, dinner, wander some more.
Pic: The Arcade.
Pic: Dora in The Arcade.
Pic: Debby and Dora in front of Federal Reserve Bank.
Pic: Bill and Dora in front of Federal Reserve Bank.
Pic: The Galleria.
Grey and a little rainy on Friday morning. Tried out the hotel fitness center; something I haven't done in years. Pathetic. Breakfast with much of my family. Then bad news: back in NJ, our mother has had a stroke and fallen, and soon will be admitted to the hospital.
Helped get flowers out of a car, while an armored car was doing something at the Federal Reserve and guards were eyeballing us suspiciously.
My brother doesn't want to take us to museums, so we borrowed a Mini Cooper (stick-shift!) from my sister and brother-in-law, and Dora and I went off. Pic. More pics. To University Circle, lucked into a decent paid parking lot at a church, and to the big art museum (free!). A wonderful museum, the art and the building and the people. Pics.
Out, and it's grey and windier and cooler. Found a Middle Eastern place for lunch, and dawdled. Then across the street to the Contemporary Art museum, but it's expensive and we're told the art is not good. Stopped in the church where we parked, and they have free Wi-Fi, so Dora did some ! Pics.
Back to downtown, through it, and found a nice boardwalk along the Cuyahoga River. We wanted a view of the Lake, but settled for nice views of bridges, a freighter, and several big freight trains going through. I think this is one of the major freight routes of the country, coming right through here. Pics.
Back to the hotel, parked, a little shopping, and into the cathedral across the street, which turns out to be quite nice. Pics. To hotel to rest.
Out at 6:15, about an 8-block walk through cool and windy conditions. To a pedestrian street crowded with people queuing to get into the bars and clubs. To the Butcher & The Brewer brew-pub, and downstairs where we have the room to ourselves.
Very nice "rehearsal dinner". I met a dozen relatives-by-marriage-or-about-to-be, had lots of nice conversations. Great beer: I had a Dunkelweisen and then an Albino Stout. Nice nibbles, then pumpkin salad, beef main course, some side dishes, nice dessert. Everyone was interested to meet Dora and hear our story. Pic1. Pic2. But by 9:30, Dora was starting to wilt; she's still on Spanish-time, and woke up at 4 AM this morning.
Came out at 10 or so, and now the pedestrian street is completely packed, hard to get out, people shuffling along in single files. One of Dora's shoes is a little broken, so we had to go half-speed through cold and windy weather back to the hotel. Home by 10:15 or so, cold and Dora falling asleep.
Borrowed the Mini Cooper again around 11:15 on Saturday. Off to find the Natural History museum. Overshot a bit; I think the roads I was using crossed but didn't connect. Stopped to ask, easy correction, came in perfectly and right to the museum.
Museum was nice but not great. Live fox and otters and coyotes. Pretty good dinosaur exhibit. Mineral and gemstone exhibit, and a docent at a table with lots of minerals was happy to look at Dora's ring and tell her it was Iolite; she had been worried that a jeweler a while ago had cheated her and switched stones. Into a large exhibit of taxidermied animals and American Indian art and artifacts and such, pretty nice. Pics.
Had to rush home to return the car. A wedding, with a stretch Hummer limo, at the cathedral across the street. Did a little shopping, then a quick lunch and back to the hotel.
At 5, off to the wedding, which is about 20 miles east of here, at the Holden Arboretum. Nice old stone house. An outdoor wedding next to the house, fairly informal, presided over by a Unitarian minister. Drinks on an outdoor patio behind the house, then dinner in an enclosed arcade on the other side of the house. Great conversation, good food, fun. Pics. But it was cold by the time any music started, and the music and dance floor were outside, and they started with various rap music songs the youngsters liked, nothing danceable. Dora and I did a little dancing anyway, but by 9:30 or so we were leaving, and back to hotel after 10, a bit chilled.
Sunday breakfast gathering at Urban Farmer restaurant at 8. A nice time. Pics. Back to hotel, then on the road shortly before 10. Long ride home to NJ, stopped 3 or 4 times for bathroom breaks and stretching, ate lunch on the road, home by 5:30, tired. Dora sick during the night.
On Monday, visited Mom in the hospital (soon to get out and start rehab; her stroke and fall could have been FAR worse), gave Dora a tour of Princeton (pic). In the evening, Dora met with a friend from Peru she hadn't seen in 15+ years.
On Tuesday, a little walk around the neighborhood (pics), some shopping, another driving lesson, visited Mom in rehab, then dropped Dora at the airport.
Out at 1:45 to meet Dora after her class. To a cafe for coffees. Metro to the harbor. They're having a boat-show, but admisson is €12, and they've arranged things so you can't see anything with going inside. We sat on the bridge for a while, watched a couple of bridge-opening, then wandered up through Old Town. Today is Car-Free Day here, and a dozen street-segments are closed off. We listened to a pretty horrible band for a while. Into the Metro, out at Llucmajor, another street-party there, with a band and group dancing, then a big exercise-class dancing on the other side of the street. I danced for a while to make Dora laugh.
Home, spaghetti dinner. Out to a bar before 8:30, to watch the Barca game. Watched 3/4 of it, went home when the score was 5-1.
I typed up budgets and we plugged numbers in, and Dora's numbers are making me suicidal. Real estate underwater with big mortgage, bank debts, son in university, huge medical association dues, paying minimum monthly payments on everything, etc. After a while, I suggested we fake our deaths and go live on a sailboat in the Caribbean.
Out for a walk with Dora, bought some roast chicken for dinner, out for a walk by myself later.
Out at 7:30, to Mass at St Eulalia church. Then to other apartment to haul some more stuff back home.
Planning to go tomorrow to govt office to put me on the "padron" (census), and suddenly realized I need to have certain documents and need an appointment. Fortunately I seem to have everything, and made an appointment online.
Lots of stuff to do, wanted to get out the door by 9 or so. But Dora futzed around and didn't go out until 10:45 or so.
I followed 15 minutes later, to meet her, but her first bank stop took a long time, then her seocnd bank stop was short. To the Metro, to Placa Catalunya, and I waited in cool, windy weather while she went into the medical association building to battle the bureaucrats. Which took a long time, then she came out saying she needed one more photocopy, which took some scrambling to do, then back in and I was waiting more. Not too bad, I have a Spanish-language newspaper I'm slowly translating with my dictionary, and the people-watching is good.
Dora didn't emerge until 1:05, and we're going to blow our appointments at the Nou Barris local govt office. And she didn't finish the paperwork here, because they're asking for a piece of paper she left at home.
Into the Metro, out at F-i-P just about at the time for my appointment, the first one. Dora dashes for a bus to get there fast and stall them, I fast-walk to the apartment to pick up all the papers (I expected us to come home for lunch between errands, but the late start killed that). Then I fast-walk to the local govt building.
I arrive probably a couple of minutes before 2, the time of our second appointment. The battleaxe at Information won't let me in for our 1:40 appt, but scans the paper for 2 PM and gives me a ticket. I go in, and no Dora anywhere. Our number is flashing, our appointment is now, finally I walk to the clerk's desk and say "mi senora no aqui", and they move on to someone else.
A few minutes later, there's Dora hustling up to the building with a coffee-cup in hand ! I could have killed her, but later got the explanation: the bus only took her 1/3 of the way, then she had to use a bathroom, so bought a coffee in a cafe.
Anyway, the battleaxe wants to keep us out, but Dora talks her way in on the strength of our 2 PM appointment. Then talks her way onto a service desk. Later, she tells me she asked for a couple of simple things, then it turns out the machine to do her procedure (digital certificate) has been down all day, so she said "okay, instead of that, please do the procedure that we missed at 1:40". So the lady nicely did my padron procedure.
Then Dora pumped the lady for lots of other info, including my residency stuff (which is a completely separate agency). But darned if she didn't get results: the lady gave us a map to a different office and a couple of URLs that are different from what I've been using, so maybe these will work. [They didn't.]
Home at 3, a bit wrung out. But Dora wants to head back to Placa Catalunya again today, to finish the medical paperwork she started. I say we need some lunch, suggest a quick sandwich and fruit, but Dora insists on cooking up leftover spaghetti, some leftover roast chicken, a couple of eggs, and cucumber for salad.
I'm trying to get her moving toward the door around 3:40, when she gets a call from work, and someone didn't show up, they'd like her to work. So before 4 she goes out to work, and I can type and then nap.
Out several times in the evening, to buy more envelopes for Dora, to fetch a lamp from the other apartment, and to buy some groceries.
After trying on and off for a couple of hours more, I may have succeeded in getting a residency appointment online. But the very last web page of the process came up completely empty, and I don't have the appointment number so I can't confirm that it actually exists. I know the date (Nov 19!) and time and place. Sent email to ask for the number. But the response came back: you have no appointment.
Happened again a few hours later: got all the way through the process, to the last web page, which hung forever and stayed empty.
Out at 1:35, hauling a bag of clothes and a heavy bag of books. Put the clothes in the orange donation box, and onward to govt complex for Dora's 2 PM appointment. Get there with 10 minutes to spare, Dora on the phone saying she forgot her document, she will come. She arrives just about at 2 PM, soon in to the service desk. She drags me in after a while, but I haven't brought any of my documents. As she did yesterday, she's doing 5 transactions, asking a storm of questions, and it's all working. She has the lady make 3 more appointments for us for tomorrow ! To the library to donate the books, and home by 2:50.
Quick, big dinner, then out again at 3:45. To Metro, to Placa Catalunya, and another long wait for me as Dora did paperwork in the govt building. She came out having accomplished her goal, but fuming that everything they had done yesterday had turned out to be wrong, and today she had to wait through the queue three times with various forms.
To a nearby language school, then into the Metro and home.
Watched Barca play, on TV.
I went out for a few groceries, then we cooked a stir-fry; Dora did the rice and I did everything else. Came out pretty well.
At 1, out to the district govt office for a couple more hours of fun. We got digital-signature certificates, and Dora asked a lot of questions about running a home medical office. Home after 3.
In early afternoon, went to the library and got a library card (carnet). Later, out to sit in the plaza for a while
Dora home at 3:20, and has to cancel her 3:45 appointment across town. Leftover stir-fry for dinner, then we crashed for a nap. After a while, I got up and took apart the bathroom sink trap to retrieve a wayward earring. Then I went out to sit in the plaza some more.
Out before 7, and I walked her to a cafe where she was meeting with a potential patient [who wasted 2 hours of her time for nothing]. I sat in the plaza, then bought a few things.
Out to do some grocery shopping.
Dora home briefly at 2:30. I've started putting email labels on all our portable devices, in case one gets lost and someone finds it. Dora carries four phones in her purse.
Out before 3 with Dora. Longish walk down to another health center where she might get some work. I waited in the plaza outside.
Home, dinner, I crashed for a nap. Later, Dora out to do battle with the electric company. At 6:30, I heard drumming, and looked out to see a small parade in the street in front of the apartment. Went down there, and it's some kind of high-school Halloween parade, behind a banner "Nit d'Animes". I followed them a for a few blocks. They had a couple of fire-breathers, some good drummers. Pics. Fun.
Headache; took a Neobrufen, and later a Zomig.
Over to the other apartment a couple of times, to haul back a microwave oven and then a ton of books and papers. Pics.
Out, and to a cafe for coffees and the bathroom. We lounge there for quite a while.
Over through the cathedral square, which is jammed with food-booths today. Across to La Rambla, and into line for Palau Moja. 20+ minutes in line, and we're in. Several nice rooms. Pics.
Out, and Dora is tired and weak from hunger and wants to find a restaurant. I want to go home; we have plenty of food there, and we can't afford to be spending too much money. A power-bar fortifies her, and eventually we're into the Metro. Nearing home, when she runs into a friend she hasn't seen in a while. I'm not too happy, I want to get home, and I'm even less happy when he wants us to sit down and have beers at the cafe where he's hanging out. Dora has a coffee, he has a beer, and of course she ends up paying. Finally home by 3:30 or so.
Nice pasta dinnner with candelight. Later, a nap.
Over to the other apartment to clean, throw away a bunch of stuff, haul a lot of stuff back home. There's some kind of a kid's Halloween thing going on at the side of Placa Soller, with a haunted house, I think.
I went out at 9:20 or so, to Llucmajor, Metro to old town. To Esglesia Mar church, where there is free public access to the roof terraces today, as part of the Open House Barcelona. Got there right at opening time at 10, and there's already a huge line. Stood in it for 20-25 minutes, and it hardly moved at all, so I gave up. Street art: pic.
Over to another place, which turned out to be the Marijuana Museum. Stood in that line for 15 minutes before realizing we were there before opening time, they weren't going to let us in for another 20 minutes. Gave up, walked over to Hivernacle, where only the courtyard was open. Up to the Arc, where the line is longer than yesterday. Into Metro and home by 11:40.
Did three trips to the other apartment, hauling stuff back.
Made a vegetarian lasagna, using eggplant as well as pasta, tomatoes, mushroom, onion, cheese, tomato sauce.
Dora home after 3:30, tired and with cold symptoms. We napped a little, then had lasagna. She liked it, I thought it was a little bland and needed a nice spicy sausage to perk it up.
Headachey; took a Zomig.
Around 7, over to the other apartment yet again, to meet someone, to throw away some stuff, and to haul more stuff home.
Dora out in the morning to fight with the job-center bureaucrats, home for dinner, out at 2:45 to work.
I made three trips to other apartment to throw away stuff and haul stuff home.
Dora home after 8, and we went to the other apartment at 8:30 meet the new renters and the agent. There for 2 hours, then home with another load of stuff.
Did another trip to the other apartment, hauling back stuff. Out to sit in the plaza. Got a few groceries.
Dora home around 3:30, and we gulp down a big dinner of leftovers and then dash out again. She has to go to a remote part of town to pay her medical association dues, which are holding up lots of important stuff. We hustle to F-i-P Metro, out at Catalunya, hustle through there and grab a train with 5 sconds to spare. Off at Sarria, fast long walk to the association building by 4:30.
I start a long wait. Dora comes out after 80 minutes or so to say she has to pay €370, so I give her all of my cash, and she heads back in. By 6:15, she's out, and she's happy. They straightened out several things, did a lot of paperwork, and she has a plastic card showing that she's certified in her speciality (family doctor), which will open some doors.
Back to the train, then Metro. Out at Virrei Amat, through the evening crowds. To an ATM for me, then a butcher shop for a lot of meat. Home around 7:10, tired.
Over to other apartment to haul a little stuff back. Went to meet Dora at lunchtime; she's working 8-2 and 3-8 today. Out in the evening for a long stroll up and down F-i-P.
Dora's sister appeared downstairs around 8:45, and Dora a few minutes later. Soon they were talking a mile a minute, and I was just staying out of the way. Dora cooked up spaghetti for dinner.
Sister gone around 10:30, and by 10:45 I was going to the other apartment to hand over a key, and got roped into disconnecting a dishwasher and pulling it out. Tomorrow is moving-day over here, and looks like I'm going to get roped into that, too. Home by 11.
Gathered up my nerve and went over to the other apartment at 11:45, to see if they needed any help. Stood around for half an hour, then guided Dora's sister to the government office to deal with back-taxes and a power of attorney, I think. Waited there for more than an hour. Back to the apartment, then out to a bank. Then to a rotisseria to buy roast-chicken lunch for the workers and ourselves. Home by 2:45 with her sister, but no Dora, started eating. Finally she got home from work at 3.
They went out at 5 or so. I went out at 7, they weren't at the other apartment, I went for a sit in the plaza and a long stroll. Home around 7:45, Dora home shortly afterward.
Around 3:30, Dora came home, and the scramble started. Got some food and drink into her as quickly as possible, then the phone started ringing, and around 3:50 we hustled over to the other apartment, where her sister was frantic about several issues. Got out of there around 4:10, with another bag of stuff and the three of us trundling a couple of suitcases. Down to Piferrer, and Dora and her sister caught taxis, Dora going to a work appointment and her sister heading for the airport. I was relieved to go home and have some peace and quiet.
Out for a sit in the plaza and a couple of walks. Small cute trick-or-treaters out on the sidewalks.
Dora home at 6:15 or so, and she's signed up for a full-time job (but it's the 6 PM to midnight shift). Soon she was out to see a patient at 6:30.
Dora home at 8 or so, crashed for a while.
Both of us out at 11:20 to go to a work dinner-party for Dora. Walked across Meridiana into Sant Andreu area, a place we don't often go. Got to the restaurant around 11:45. Upstairs, and about 20 medical people at tables. They've eaten already. We have a couple of desserts, then they bring out a cake and we have that too. It's noisy, I can't hear what anyone is saying, and it's all in Spanish or Catalan anyway.
I thought we were going to put in a half-hour appearance, but we stay upstairs for an hour, then go to the basement disco for dancing. The music is okay, but loud, and soon I've had enough. But Dora keeps dancing and dancing. Finally by 2 or so, we leave. My ears are ringing.
Walk home through fairly empty streets, and it's a bit of a dodgy area. We see one couple where the woman is barefoot and bare arms and sort of being hustled along by the guy, looking for privacy. It looks like a prostitute and her pimp or something.
Home at 2:20, and fall into bed.
A messed-up day. Wasted most of the morning, Dora doing lots of ironing, when we need to be throwing stuff away. I bought some groceries.
Out after noon, to bank, she couldn't do the transaction she needed. Decided we were hungry, so instead of going downtown as she planned, we went back home and had a big ribs-and-rice dinner, then crashed for a nap. Dora slept and slept, until at 4 she woke and her work called to say she was supposed to there at 3, news to her. So she went out at 4:30. Later, I went out for a sit and stroll.
Dora home at 10:30 or so, and she wants to go downtown to see if anything is happening for Halloween. I'd assumed we'd just stay in, but she's full of energy.
Out at 11:30 or so, wearing Halloween masks from Italy. An odd feeling, takes a while to get used to them, but it's fun. Walking down to F-i-P Metro, slightly scaring one child on the way. A few dozen people in costume on the train, mostly young people with faces painted to suggest vampires or zombies, and wearing black capes or such. No one with anything resembling the masks we're wearing.
Out at Placa Catalunya. For the first time in a while, the placa is empty, no booths or stage built on it. We take some pictures and then stroll down La Rambla. I'm a little nervous because this is pickpocket Central, and we're a bit vulnerable in these masks. And I'm not usually here at midnight. But there are plenty of people. The cafe-touts and street-people seem a little more aggressive than usual. Nothing bad happens, except halfway down some street-guy half-playfully pokes a hand toward my mask, and I give him a shove and snarl in return.
We turn into Placa Reial, then into back streets, then emerge at the plaza that's back one from Placa Jaume. Find a bar and take off our masks, but when we try to order, we find all they're serving at this hour is alcoholic drinks. So we leave, head through Placa Jaume, find lots of the normal gelato shops and such are closed, and end up at one of our favorite coffee-bars on Laetana. Watch a little football on the telly and have cafe and churros and chocolate.
Pics. Eventually out, put our masks on again, into the Jaume I Metro, and ride to Llucmajor. Walk home through pretty empty streets.
Home at 1:45. Putting out laundry (curtains) to dry. I got to bed at 2:20; I think Dora stayed up until 3. I kept my mask on as long as possible, as a joke, but eventually it got too hot and clammy.
Out in late morning to buy fruit.
Dora out in midday for a couple of hours, to Mass.
Out in late afternoon for the long Metro ride across to Placa Espanya, and up to MNAC. A big Manga conference going on, lots of people in Japanese comic-character costume. Our timing was backward: MNAC was closed. And a chill wind was whipping across the terraces. Down to the fountains, through some side-streets, had coffees in a cafe. Back to Espanya, crowded Metro rides, home by 7 or so.
Getting ready for my residency appointment tomorrow, checking documents and making photocopies.
Loafed most of the morning. Did go out to buy some heavy groceries.
Getting ready to leave at 12:15, when Dora called to say someone had stolen her smartphone from her room at the hospital (first day she's working at this place, too). Had to find some numbers for her to call to turn off the service.
Out the door, and it's starting to rain, but too late to go back for an umbrella. To F-i-P Metro, change at Clot, out at Sant Marti. Found the National Police building without problem, but it has about 4 entrances and no signs, and I went into the wrong one and wasted 5 minutes before I was directed to the right place. A few minutes late for my time-slot of 12:57.
But it makes little difference. Stand in line, find out it's not a line, finally get ticket at 1:07 after probably 10 people got ahead of me because of the confusion. Sat down to wait. 15 minutes later, Dora joined me, having taken a taxi (wish she hadn't done that).
Waited until 2:30 to get in; I'm in the last dozen or so people there today. We sit down in front of the lady, who then proceeds to waste 5 minutes doing nothing but argue with some coworkers. Dora tells me later she was the boss and they were complaining about having to stay late.
Finally get going, and it turns out to be easy. Check my passport and padron and application form, take electronic fingerprints of my index fingers a couple of times, I hand over a photo. She gives me a "tasa" form to go pay at a bank, tells us where to pick up my residencia card in maybe a month, we're done.
Back to the waiting room, and now it's started pouring rain. We wait 5 minutes, then hustle up to the outside arcade, wait another couple minutes, then dash to the Metro station, getting pretty wet. Through to F-i-P, and a long fast-walk home, getting drenched. We also get separated, and I arrive a couple of minutes before Dora. Home by 3:15 or so.
Changing Dora's email passwords, because the stolen phone had them stored.
Dora starts cooking dinner, but she's also fired up both heaters, and soon the main breaker pops.
Dora off to work at another place at 5:30, through rainy and windy conditions.
Cold, rainy, windy all evening.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Dora home from work before midnight, but then didn't get to sleep until 1.
Out in mid-morning to sit in the plaza and then do a little grocery-shopping.
Made a no-pasta and mostly-vegetarian lasagna. Only one link of chorizo.
Dora home at 2:45 or so. Good news: she found her mobile phone, it had ended up in a coat somewhere when she changed clothes a couple of times. But the SIM still works, which mean the carrier (Jazztel) didn't turn off the service after she called them to report it stolen.
The lasagna received only an "okay" from her, but I thought it was fine.
Out at 5:45, Dora going to work again at a different place, me going to Correos to pick up a letter. Got there at 6 PM, perfect, place is empty, no lines. But of course my letter is still in a deliverer's bag somewhere, I can't get it until tomorrow. Went for a bit of a walk and sit in the plaza.
Headache in late night; took a Dolocatil, which seems to be paracetamol plus codeine.
Dora out to work a 3-to-7 shift at one place, then a 7-12 shift at another.
In late afternoon, out for a walk, sit in plaza, then to post office to pick up a package.
Out again later for a walk.
Wow, the exchange rate is down below $1.09/Euro, lowest I've seen it.
Out with Dora at 10:45 or so. To bank, then Metro and down to Universitat so Dora could do medical association paperwork. Done by 12:30, sat in Dunkin Donuts for a while, home by 1:40. I started dinner, Dora took over when she got home ten minutes later.
Nice ribs and rice and wheat dinner, then Dora dashing off to start a 3-to-12 shift (actually, 3-6 in one place and 6-12 in another, I think).
Opened up the old microwave, hoping to find why the rotisserie started making a grinding noise. Couldn't see any problem, put cover back on, no noise.
Bummer: the very cheap Spanish class I wanted to take again doesn't have enough students, won't be given this month.
Out for a couple of walks.
We hustle up to Correos, get there a few minutes before 8, they're not open yet. Dora decides she can't be late for work, so we hustle down there (not too far away, fortunately). She goes in, I wait 10 minutes, then she's back out, she was wrong, she doesn't have to start work until 9.
Back to Correos, where it turns out they don't open until 8:30. We go to a bar so Dora can have a coffee. Back to Correos, they open 5 minutes late, and although Dora is second in line, the lady who's first is doing the exact thing Dora needs to do, so Dora has to wait for the same desk.
Finally out of Correos, Dora hands me €910 cash and a page of instructions, and she dashes off to work. I go home, count the money, pick up my passport, head out to the bank. No problem there, deposit the money and get receipt, home by 9:30.
Out for a stroll and sit and groceries in early afternoon.
Dora home at 2:30, doing a whirlwind of stuff, ribs and leftover rice for dinner, out to another work at 5:45. I went out with Dora, planning to walk her to work, but turns out she was catching a taxi to the work furthest away, near Maquinista. So I went for a stroll and sit in the plaza. Went for another stroll later.
We're tired. To McDonald's for coffee, then wait for the bus, into Metro, out, walk. Home before 1:30, tired and hungry.
Then we go right back out. To other apartment, to check for mail and test mailbox keys. To wool shop to pay a bill, but it's closed. To key shop to duplicate a mailbox key, but they closed a bit early and won't be open tonight. To fruit shop for fruit and veggies. Home after 2, more tired and hungry.
Big dinner of ribs-and-leftover-rice, leftover lasagna, wheat. Later, we crashed for a nap.
Out with Dora at 5:50, with her heading to work and running late as usual. Damp and slightly chill evening. And on a Saturday evening, there are no taxis to be had. We walk half a mile or more down Janeiro, looking and phoning a cab company, and the best we find is a parked cab in the cab rank at Heron City with no driver inside. Finally I leave her at a major intersection and walk back to El Corte Ingles, where I have a key duplicated. Home before 7.
Dora home from work after midnight.
Dora slept some in the afternoon, too. I went for a couple of walks.
In the evening, still scrambling to find a room in Miami for Dora. And her AirBNB account is hosed, not working.
Then over to other apartment at 9:30 to fetch some stuff back.
After 10, to McDonald's in Heron City. Wanted to get out to somewhere, and have a drink, and use a different Wi-Fi (getting some errors at home). But the Wi-Fi had the same errors. Used my AirBNB account (and paid on my credit card) to get Dora a room in Miami for the whole week she'll be there. A big relief for me; she has a much more careless attitude, go there and things will work out somehow.
Home around 11:45.
Up until 2, designing and printing business cards for Dora, while suddenly she's going through the heaps of clutter, organizing a lot and throwing away some.
Finally got her out the door by 8:15 or so. And of course she's packed the main suitacase as heavy as possible. To F-i-P Metro, said good-bye at the turnstile, I was back home by 8:35.
Loafed, slept some, loafed the rest of the day too. Out for several walks in the evening.
Got email from Dora in Miami, all is well.
Headache; took a Neobrufen.
Went to my 11 AM appointment at the local govt office, to tell them that my digital certificate wasn't working. Zipped in with no wait. Explained to the guy with my baby-Spanish-and-pointing and the screenshots I'd brought. He switched to English and told me he couldn't test it here, since he's logged in as administrator, and he hasn't seen this problem before. He could either delete my certificate and make a new one, or I could email central Support. Just about then, the lady clerk next to him started talking to him, and soon he said to me "I am talking to you in English, but I don't have to", so I guess she was giving him grief for speaking in English. I chose to do the email thing, thanked him, and left.
Went for several walks during the afternoon and evening. Still headachey; took a sumatriptan. Spaghetti for dinner. Over to the other apartment three times; finally they were home, and gave me a water bill that came in the mail.
Lots of bad news this week about my mother's health; she's fading.
Did a load of laundry.
Out to hit ATM (with fees, exchange rate $1.09/€) and get groceries.
Cooler again in late afternoon. Out for a walk, and to a couple of stores.
Out before 7:30 and to a civic center about 2 blocks away, where there's a free jazz concert tonight. Got there and of course the room is packed full, and they won't leave the door open so we can hear the music out in the hall. Hung around for a little while until the music started and I could hear some of it through the walls. Maybe I'll go to see them somewhere else tomorrow night.
Home briefly, then out again. To Metro, and to Catalunya. Wandered hafway down La Rambla, then over to Raval. There's supposed to be some kind of neighborhood festival starting tonight, with music, but I can't find it. Found 4 or 5 drummers with a small crowd, and enjoyed them for a while. Back toward La Rambla, and saw an excited crowd around some celebrity being driven away from the Filmoteca. Across La Rambla and over to the Cathedral, but not much happening. Eventually into Metro, and home after 10.
Chili for dinner.
Out at 6. Took 132 bus, then it turned opposite direction from what I expected. Off, and saw that I'd just missed the 73 bus I wanted. So started walking, and 15 seconds later another 73 bus zipped past.
Walking into an unfamilar area, and trying to find how to get to the huge shopping mall on the other side of the major railroad track area. Started going the wrong way, asked someone, got on course. Longer walk than I expected; my map of this area is sketchy.
Finally into Maquinista shopping mall, and it's humming on a Friday evening. Walked my legs off, didn't buy anything, eventually out and long wait for 11 bus, which then got stuck in traffic. Home by 8:30.
Soon out for a walk and sit in the plaza.
Spent an hour or two in the park, enjoying the views and the visitors and the vendors and the architecture.
Eventually out, and stopped at a church I didn't know about, the Real Santuario de San Jose de la Montana (pic). Couldn't get inside, but the courtyard was very nice.
Walked downhill through Gracia, saw some street art (pics), past nice shops. Eventually walking on Passeig de Gracia (pic), and soon to the part full of tourists and shops. Found a complex of antique shops that is as good as a museum; I should come back here some other time.
Eventually down to Placa Catalunya. People are accumulating a small shrine to the victims of terrorist attacks in France yesterday. Into the Metro, out at F-i-P, walk. Home after 5, tired.
Looked around for a while, then decided not to walk NE along the ridge, a walk I've done a couple of times. Went back to the road and waked SW, up and down a couple of hills. Nice views from the peaks. But the last downhill was a bit tricky, and I was happy to start winding my way back to the edge of town. Came out back on the road, not too far from a bus stop, but my Metro card is empty. So I walked down, through some apartment complexes I've been through before, and came out at the Canyelles Metro station.
Into Metro, bought a card, connected through Vall d'Hebron, out at Virrei Amat, home by 2:45, tired.
Lots of straightening up the apartment. Out for a walk in the evening.
Dora arrived shortly after 11. Her suitcase (my suitcase) is very heavy, full of photocopied handouts from the course she took.
Nice stir-fry for dinner; Dora did the rice and I did the rest.
Dora off to work at 5:45. I went out later and walked. Into a hardware store, but they don't seem to do GFCI outlets here.
Going to bed at 11:30, turned off the overhead light with the switch at the head of the bed, and there was a big spark and a loud bang and all electricity went off in the apartment. Slowly weaved my way out to the fuse box and grabbed a flashlight. Two breakers flipped. Everything came back on okay, except the overhead light in the bedroom is dead. The switch seems to be physically broken; doesn't flip properly.
Dora home by 12:30 or so.
Headache in the middle of the night; took a Sumatriptan.
Out at 2:45 or so with Dora. Walked her down to the hospital on Rio Janeiro. Then I went to Llucmajor Metro, did two connections, out at Marina. To Nidec store and bought pepper-spray for Dora to carry on her late-night trips home. Street art: pics. Walked over to Parc Ciutadella, then Born CC to use the restroom, eventually up to Jaume I Metro.
Home at 5. Quick dinner.
Dora called at 5:30, wants me to meet her at the Post Office. Sigh.
Out soon, up to the Post Office, and wait while Dora negotiates and gets money. She gave it to me, she headed back to work, and I got home again by 6:20. Tired.
Out at 7 to sit in the plaza and then buy some fruit.
Headache; took a Neobrufen.
Dora home after midnight.
Out for a walk.
Dora calls before 3, says she's on her way home, I should start cooking stir-fry. So I start cooking, and everything is hot and ready at 3:25, but no Dora. So I have my dinner, and she arrives at 3:45.
After dinner, we crash for a nap, then she's back out at 5:45 to work at another hospital until midnight.
Out for groceries.
Out again later. To another grocery store, no luck. Walked, sat in plaza.
Online, bought Ryanair tickets to go to Slovakia in January. Low airfare, but then baggage fees and paying for seat-assignments and forcing me to pay in US dollars at a slightly unfavorable rate about doubles the price. About $290 total for the two of us roundtrip Barcelona to Budapest (then we'll take a bus to Kosice Slovakia).
Dora home by midnight-15.
I go out at 10:40, walk to Dora's work, and wait for her as half a dozen patients zip in and out with simple paperwork. Dora out at 11:10, and we hustle to a nearby cafe for hot-milk-with-some-coffee's, and she eats the lunch I made for her this morning. Done by 11:45 or so, she heads for work, I head for the Post Office. Miraculously, there are no lines at Correos, and I do Dora's errand (money into bank acct) in a few minutes. Home by 12:10.
Took apart the green steam-cleaner, with the loan of a custom-made tool from the local ferreteria guy. And he and I agree it's dead: water has leaked into the sealed circuit-board that controls the whole thing.
Getting windy in the afternoon; there's supposed to be cold weather moving in, ending the nice warm November we've been having.
Dora home at 3 or so, and we have a lentils-rice-wheat-beef dinner, then crash for a long nap.
Up at 5:15, walk Dora to F-i-P Metro at 5:40, she's off to work the 6-12 shift. I go to El Corte Ingles to pay a water bill, then sit in VA plaza for a while, then buy fruit and go home.
Windy and getting cooler in the late evening.
Dora home well after midnight.
Out with Dora. Weather has turned sunny. To ATM. To wool shop, where I waited outside for 45 minutes while Dora chatted. To a butcher shop, to a shop for a small battery, to fruit/veg shops. Home by 1:30.
Big chicken-greenrice dinner at 3:15 or so.
Dora off to work at 5:45.
Barca playing Madrid tonight, in "El Clasico". It's not on my TV. I hear someone setting off fireworks every now and then, so I think Barca must be winning. Sure enough, online I find they've won 4-0. [Late, I found out that Dora got to watch just about the whole thing on TV at her hospital !]
Out for a walk. I'm wearing a hoodie with hood up, and a coat over that, and I'm chilly.
Dora home at midnight-thirty. We had sort of been planning to go out to a disco for dancing. But it's cold and we're both tired and we soon talk each other out of going. And Dora is overworked and sleep-deprived, and someone's coming tomorrow morning at 10; I'm very glad we're not going out dancing until 4 AM or something.
Then Dora pulls out a surprise: a TV-projector device she's bought somewhere. And at 1 AM, she wants me to set it up and get it working so we can watch TV in the bedroom !
I soon figure out it has no TV tuner; you need something to supply content to it. Plug it in, get a little life out of it. Unplug the TV-antenna box from the living room, bring it into the bedroom, no way to cable the two together. Give up on that, fire up the computer, copy a movie onto an SD card, plug that into the projector, no go. Try several sets of batteries, eventually get the projector's remote control working, still no go. Back to the laptop, put a TV show video on a USB stick, and now I'm able to play that through the projector. Put a couple more videos on the stick, and we watch one show (Parks And Recreation) and a little of another before falling asleep.
I went out for a walk. Chilly and breezey. Got to VA Plaza and found a music-school orchestra setting up to play a free concert. Hustled back home and put on my coat and a baseball cap. Back to the plaza, with hood up and gloves on. Barely warm enough while listening to the orchestra. They played about 5 pieces and then called it quits. Pleasant.
Big rice-plus leftovers dinner around 2:30.
Out for another walk later; cool but little wind.
Into Metro by 9:30. Out at Diagonal, very hard to get oriented, every exit has pretty much the same name (Rosselli / Rambla Catalunya), and a passerby gave us exactly backward directions. Sorted it out and found Discoteca Duvet (also called "Imperator").
€24 to get in. But inside, it's nice, pleasantly warm, not too crowded, nice soft sofa-booths, not too loud, not too bright or too dark. Recorded music, and the crowd is fairly old (our age or older). The music is Spanish or South American, and sort of traditional dance music from Dora's parent's generation, according to her. We have a couple of big gin-and-tonics and start a cycle of dancing a couple of songs, then sitting down for a couple, then dancing again. I like it, but Dora keeps giggling about how the music is old, and the people are old (our age or older). Pics.
Over the course of the evening, we get some more modern music mixed in. I'm having a good time, but I get tired. Dora could dance until the cows come home. Some of the people here are pretty good dancers, and I think this might be a regular thing for them to come here on Sunday evenings. One group looks like a dance club or class; they coordinate for a couple of numbers.
The crowd starts to thin out, and eventually we start thinking about leaving. We get out, and find the weather cold and the Metro closed. Turns out it's 1 AM or so.
But we get lucky. The nearest bus stop has two night buses running through it, and one of them will work for us, and it comes in less than 5 minutes. Dora is falling asleep. Up and over past Vall D'Hebron, off at the top of Valldaura, and it's colder and windy and we don't have hats, it's going to be a long, cold (but downhill) walk home. But quickly we find a bus stop for another night bus that will take us to Virrei Amat plaza. A cold 7-minute wait for the bus, which is lucky again, these buses run every 20 minutes or longer. Out at the plaza, home by 1:50, fire up the heater and make some hot teas. To bed.
Out at 11:30 or so, to tag along with Dora as she did errands. To bank, to shoe-repair shop, to post office, to wool shop, to another bank Home by 1:30, cool and tired.
I made a stir-fry for dinner, then Dora off to work at 2:30. She's doing 3-6 at one place and then 6-12 at another, I think.
Cold in the apartment in the evenings now; have to run the heater at intervals to keep from getting too cold.
Strolled down to Universitat (street art pic), into Metro, out, stopped at fruit/veg shop, home around 1. No sign of Dora.
Dora home at 2. We had a little wine to celebrate my residency card.
Dora off to work at 3. Online, I bought air tickets to go to Seville.
Watching Barca play Roma on TV.
Headache; took a sumatriptan.
Went to bed, turned off the light using the (new) switch over the head of the bed, and it went bang! and blew the breakers, just like the old one did a week ago ! Argh !
Online, bought tickets for tonight's Madonna concert. €101 total for two tickets, cheapest possible seats, and we were lucky to get two seats together. Dora is wild to go.
Then I see where the concert is, on back side of Montjuic, and it's going to be a major pain to get there and back. Nominally starts at 9, but Dora says Madonna won't start until 11 or 11:30. Dora is supposed to work until midnight, but she'll duck out early. The hall will be hard to get to, and the trip home will be horrible, because we'll get out at 3 AM and the Metro will not be running, and 25,000 people will get out all at the same time.
Dora wanted to go to a financial place near the airport this morning to wrangle about her mortgage, but time is ticking away, and soon there's no chance of doing it today.
Out at 11:15 or so with Dora. To VA Metro, transfer at Sagrera, transfer at Clot, out at La Pau. Then we walk, and eventually find we should have gotten out at Sant Marti stop instead. We go into one of Dora's many banks, I wait, she comes out frustrated with them and also she forgot to bring her ID card.
Around the corner and into a bar for coffees and tapas lunch. Time is melting away, and we don't leave until 12:55, and have to get to 1:20 and 1:40 appointments at the local govt office. And Dora has to stop at home to get her ID card and clothes for tonight's concert.
Through the Metro, connect at Clot, out at F-i-P, hustle home. I keep hustling right past it, and up to the govt office. Too late for the 1:20 appt, but in time for the 1:40 appt. I have them add my residencia to my padron, then they start working on revoking my digital certificate and making a new one with proper email address. I'm expecting Dora to be right behind me, but 20 minutes go by before she gets there. She notices that they've printed my certificate-revocation in French for some reason; I have her tell the lady that my Espanol must sound like Frances.
We get both our certificates done, she talks some more and gets some more copies of our padron, finally out around 2:20. I drop off Dora at the bus and get home by 2:45. A typical Dora-experience.
Looking online, getting home from the concert tonight might not be too horrible; the night buses are pretty convenient. But if we get out at same time as 25,000 other people ...
Coordinated with Dora, and left the apartment around 10:35. I hustled down to F-i-P Metro, two stops to Torres i Bages, crossed to the line going the other way. Just as a train arrived, Dora and I saw each other, and motioned to get into the same train.
A dozen or more stops, to Placa Espanya. Where we hit the first wrinkle: I didn't know the normal buses stopped running at 9 or 10. So we took a taxi up to the concert.
Police had the road blocked near the concert, so we got out and hustled up the road. We can hear the music. Thought for a while that the taxi driver had let us off on the wrong side of the stadium, but then found a good entrance. Lots of security, full pat-down and a couple of bag-inspections. Inside by 11:30.
Where we find plenty of empty seats. Although the internet ticketing made it look like the concert is sold out (at least the cheap seats), the hall is only about 55% full, probably 14,000 people. They've closed the third level, and we just sit at the end of a row on the second level. I like it, plenty of leg room, and soon no one right next to us.
The show is fine. The music is good, Madonna's singing is good. Her patter with the audience and her vamping is ridiculously saccharine and campy and faux-naughty. But Dora is having a good time. And one of the dance numbers has a great effect we haven't seen before: guys on top of flexible poles a bit like pole-vaulter's poles, bendy and surging back and forth, down close to the audience, at one point picking another dancer up off the stage and putting him down elsewhere. Pretty cool. [Someone else's picture of the poles-thing, from a prior concert: pic.]
Then at 12:30, adios and it's over ! Someone had told Dora the concert usually went to 2 AM or 3 AM, but no. So, nominal start time of 9, the warm-up is an hour or two of recorded music, Madonna probably started at 10:30, we got there at 11:30, over at 12:30. But it was fun. Pics.
The trip home was as expected, not bad but long and slow. We walked with the crowd over the top of the ridge and down past MNAC, to Placa Espanya. Into a hotel for a bathroom break. Out, debated where to catch the bus, I'm totally disoriented. Dora found the right bus stop, not too many people waiting (I had feared thousands). But the N1 bus is not coming. Finally I figure out that most of the N buses are going to Placa Catalunya, and Dora confirms with a driver, so we get on N16 or N17 and go to Placa Catalunya.
The bus stops a bit down La Rambla, we have trouble finding the right stop for the next bus, and we miss the N6 bus by 10 seconds. A 20-minute wait for the next one, not too bad. On and a longish ride to VA Plaza. Out and walk through empty streets. Home at 2:45.
Turkey-rice-sweetpotato dinner in honor of Thanksgiving. The Dora off to work at 1:30.
Out for a walk, sit in plaza (too cold), groceries.
In the evening, started trying to figure out the Spanish income tax system and get registered in it. Soon decided to have a rum-and-juice.
Dora home at 3. In a dither because she's supposed to go to some job interview, but her phones are dead because they didn't charge overnight (which is why no alarms this morning), and she's lost the phone number and location. I can't find them on the internet, given the info she does have. Eventually the person calls, and apologizes for not sending email and text message (it went to a different doctor named Dora), and clarifying and rescheduling.
Dora off to another work at 6:30, and I went off to Maragall. To some kind of tree-lighting, I think. A crowd gathered, street closed off, and at 7 quite a nice little band and singer started up. Half an hour of music and stuff, then someone threw a switch and all the Christmas lights up and down the streets went on; no tree. Still nice. Pic. Walked back, to fruit shop, home.
Out at 1 with Dora. Up to Correos, thinking it was open until 1:30 or 2, but it closed at 1. Into Metro, transfer at Verdaguer, out at Diagonal. Strolled over to Passeig de Gracia and down it, looking into lots of shop windows and a few shops. Hordes of people Christmas-shopping, lots of sales.
Into the complex of 73 antique shops. Spent a while there, enjoying lots of window-shopping. Sat in the middle, in a kids-activity area, and was a bit surprised to have a couple plop their toddler down on a table nearby and change his diaper right there. Not very sanitary; these tables are used by kids in some kind of coloring or other play activities.
Upstairs to see the hardcore antique shops, then down and down to find the bathroom. And into a Nespresso shop to have free espressos and see how they sell coffee beans and premade espresso shots and such. Quite a big store.
Out and down P d Gracia some more, stopping in shops. Insanely high prices in many places: men's simple wool coat for €3000, small purses for €500, etc. A few interesting displays: pics.
Eventually to Placa Catalunya, across it, down La Rambla a bit, and over to MACBA. Found the food-truck fair around the side of the building, and bought sandwiches. No place to sit, and no hot coffee being sold. But the pastrami sandwich was fantastic, and the pork sandwich was pretty good. Pics. Finished them, strolled up toward Universitat, found a pastry shop to sit and have coffees.
Eventually out, into Metro. I went home, Dora headed for work a bit early.
More wrestling with the Spanish income tax web site. Ended up with three bug reports active.
Google says exchange rate is $1.06/€. ATM including fees gave me $1.075/€.
Nice turkey-rice dinner. Then Dora crashed for a long nap.
Out with Dora around 7. Walked across Meridiana and into Sant Andreu. Some street art: pics. Found the street-festival we were looking for, and it was bigger than I expected, with lots of great rides for the kids. But although we looked and looked, we couldn't find the "rumba jam" I was looking for. Started heading out, and found a poster confirming that it should be here today. Dora got into a conversation with half a dozen other people about it, and they went on and on. Finally they pointed us to a couple of plazas a couple of blocks away, and we went there, but none of it was what we were looking for.
Gave up, found a decent cafe, had coffees-with-liquor and a piece of cheesecake and loafed for a while. Pics. Asked the waitress, and we're coming to the conclusion that the rumba thing was yesterday, even though the poster clearly says it should be today. Bummer. But we enjoyed walking around here anyway, seeing lots of people and shops, and the evening wasn't as cold as I expected. Walked up F-i-P, doing a lot of window-shopping, and home by 10 or so.
Late-night meal of fried sweet-potato.
Dora off to work at 3. She called at 4:30, I whipped up a nice spaghetti dinner, she was home soon. Back out to work after 7, to work until midnight.
In the middle of the night, I had some lower-back spasms; too much sitting at the computer all day.
Out at 9:30. Yarn shop closed, bought flowers for Dora. Out again later, yarn shop open, don't have the kind Dora needs.
Out with Dora at 11:30, carting about 30 pounds of documents. Stop at one work place, to retrieve her agenda left there by accident. Into Metro, transfer, out at Universitat. Coffee and donuts. I waited while she went into the medical administration building. Out, into Metro, home by 3:30. Tired.
Dora off to work around 6. I soon went out. To another yarn shop, no luck. Bought several items at hardware store. Looked at fake Christmas trees, didn't buy one. To Dia for groceries.
More wrestling with web browsers and Java for the Tributaria web site. Finally got one piece of the site (Notifications) working.
Dora home at midnight-thirty; I had to go down and pay for her taxi.
In the evening, watched Barca play on TV. Barca had the 2nd or 3rd team in, and still led 4-1 at the 2/3 mark. Final 6-1.
Out of the store, and Christmas shoppers are thronging. Tonight is a special event, turning Passeig de Gracia into a pedestrian street, special shopping. But it's a letdown: only one or two blocks are closed, and full of food-trucks. Some nice rock music. I stroll up PdG, across one way, back across to Rambla Catlunya, through some shopping malls, down Balmes, eventually to Placa Catalunya and sit on La Rambla for a while. Pics.
Back into the Metro, home after 10:30.
Dashed out at 1:30 with Dora, late as usual. Hustled up to the govt office, right in to try to get Dora's digital certificate fixed. Took almost half an hour to do that. And the guy is saying this certificate may not work with the Tributaria web site, so I/we may have to go to another office later to get a different kind of certificate.
Out, stop so Dora could write some prescriptions, to farmacia to drop them off. On to Heron City, where Dora headed for work and I went into El Corte Ingles. Long wait at the postal center just to get one envelope and one stamp, but got it done and mailed [it arrived in NJ about 12 days later]. Home by 3:30, a bit wrung out.
Online, finally got Dora's digital certificate working. Applied for an FNMT cetificate for myself.
Headache. When Dora got home after midnight, she gave me some Nolotil. Pics. Couldn't find yarn or set-top box or candles, bought some socks etc for son, bought E40 worth of jewelry for Dora.
Out, into Metro, to Universitat. Wandered, found a TV store, bought set-top box and cable and coffee. Out with about E15 in our pockets, sat in one cafe, but they weren't friendly. Found another, better, cheaper one. Coffees and sandwiches and relaxed for quite a while. Interesting bakery: pics. Home after 4:30.
Leftovers dinner. Dora off to work before 6. Later, I went out to ATM and several stores.
Dora home after midnight. We had been planning to go to a disco, but she doesn't like either of the places I've found (tango, and salsa), and the third place that looks interesting is playing hip-hop tonight (which neither of us like). So instead we head for a movie, just a couple blocks down the street in Heron City Center.
The 12:50 showing of "Ochos Appellidos Catalanes", in Spanish. A romantic comedy. I enjoy the scenery and the acting, I can grasp some words as they fly by and get a sense of things, and a few times I ask Dora to interpret. The movie is a light wedding-farce set on the backdrop of Spanish regional frictions and politics: the Andalucians don't like the Basques don't like the Catalans. So I get a lot of the jokes and symbols; Catalan independence has been a hot topic in the news here for a year or more. And in the end the right people marry each other. Fun. We stumble home around 3 AM.
A slow day. Dora doing lots of sorting out clutter. I made a nice stir-fry dinner. I went out for a walk.
Out at 8:30 or so with Dora, to El Corte Ingles for some strolling and shopping. Ended up buying boots for her niece as a Christmas present. They were turning off the lights as we left, and I was wrung out from strolling and waiting so long while Dora dickered with the clerk. Home before 10.
Out to recharge money into Dora's cell-phone plan.
Out to Mercadona for some groceries. Always interesting to shop in a new supermarket.
Out to Dia for more groceries.
Made a big lasagna for dinner, with zucchini and chorizo and mushrooms etc.
Dora home at 5:20, but announces she has to go right back out to work at the other place. I thought she had tonight off. Fortunately, the lasagna is just about done, so we eat some. She heads out again at 6.
Out at 10:30 or so with Dora, not sure where we're going, maybe into the center to find a cafe for breakfast/lunch. Mistake at the first stop: at the Metro, I try to buy two 1-zone T-10 cards, and instead buy one 2-zone T-10 card. The attendant says he can't exchange it, we have to go to Sants Estacio. So we do that, we'll find somewhere to eat around there. Get to the station, attendant there says we have to go to Diagonal. So we go there, and the office is open, and the lady couldn't be nicer. She quickly exchanges the card, refuses the 30 cents I offer to make up the price difference, even gives us two free 1-ride tickets. Dora still files a complaint form about the other attendants not helping us and one giving us the wrong info.
Out of the Metro, and we're at Rambla Catalunya. Into a church we've been in before, and a Mass in Catalan is starting. So we attend the first 15 minutes of that, then leave. Stroll down RC, going into some shops. Eventually into a Haagen-Daas shop for coffee and ice cream etc. Nice place, but not cheap.
Out again, more shops, bathroom stop for Dora, down to Placa Catalunya. Pics. Home by 2:45 or so. I'm tired.
Dinner of leftovers at 4:15.
We're out again at 4:45. Down to Sant Andreu Arenal train station, where we miss a train by 2 minutes, have to wait 15 for the next. Headachey; took a Neobrufen. Got the train, 25 minutes up to Sabadell. Totally disoriented, asked someone, got to Dora's friend's house. Gave her various items, and they chatted for half an hour.
Out, over to the Rambla, and it's turned into a pedestrian street tonight, lots of people strolling. We shop and window-shop, then find a cafe for a bathroom and coffees. Then more strolling. Eventually U-turn and head back for the train station. Overshoot, ask someone and get corrected, go in, and realize it's the wrong train station. Ten blocks to the right station, inside, and by the map I can see why we were so disoriented here: there are two stations in the center, one for FGC and the other for Rodalies, both with trains to/from Barcelona.
Home by 9, tired.
Out to ATM for cash; I'm burning through it fast, since Dora's jobs are a month or more late paying her, and we're traveling and such.
Out with Dora. To a couple of yarn shops, bought a lot of yarn. Bought some meat in the mercado. Stopped at a patient's house and I waited forever outside. Finally home, and the bleeding continues: all of the mail is bad news, and the internet/phone bill has an extra €70 or so it, because it looks like Dora's smartphone went crazy and texted 50 people in a 2-minute span.
Dinner, then Dora off to work 3-12.
Dora home after midnight, we're sleeping by 1.
To F-i-P Metro, irritated at each other, and we manage to waste a couple more minutes, and miss one train. We get to Clot and have missed the train to the airport by about 3 minutes; next one in 25 minutes or so. Dora mad that I chose to come this way instead of Metro to the center and then a bus to the airport. We might miss our flight. It's on Ryanair, the place might be a zoo, the airline has a reputation for being inflexible.
Train comes, and we get to the airport a little before 8, for a 9:15 flight. Fortunately, essentially no line at check-in, and also at Security. (Incredible to me: the big flight-status boards don't tell you the current time, and there are no other clocks anywhere. I've used this airport before, but not this terminal, and never noticed that before. Insane.) So after some last-minute shuffling of luggage to stay under the weight limit, we're in the boarding area with 20-25 minutes to spare. We're a little worried that our carry-ons might be over the weight limit, and we have our pockets stuffed with heavyish stuff.
No problems. All the Ryanair staff is quite friendly. Eventually onto the plane, and all is fine except the overhead bins were mostly full, and Dora made me put my nice soft carry-on back inside a bigged rollable suitcase, so my hand-luggage is stowed 13 rows behind us.
Uneventful flight, both of us dozing as much as possible, eating some powerbars and granola. I've been in a bad mood for more than a day now, but I feel myself starting to relax. Land at Seville around 11, get baggage, out to bus. To main bus terminal, buy tickets, find a lunch place.
Onto bus before 1, grabbing the prime front seats. Off, and a longish ride through several towns. I started looking for words to translate using my phrasebook, to learn some more Spanish. Joking with Dora; we're back in good spirits.
Into Sanlucar de Barrameda by 3:30 or so, soon picked up by Dora's father. To her sister's apartment, met her mother, soon sitting down for a small meal. Nice to relax.
To bed at 9:30 or so, but then Dora got up and did treatments for her mother. Finally sleeping after 10.
Dora's sister never came home, working through the night, first one place then another.
Up at 7. Stupid cold/lukewarm shower; the plumbing here is bad (the heating is not so great either). Online, changed our return flight to be 1.5 days later, because Dora is going to have some (mostly free) eye surgery here.
Bad news from USA; my mother is sedated in hospice and maybe will die within a couple of weeks. I will fly back for the funeral.
Rush to the car and drive to the bus station a little after 8, to deliver niece to schoolbus to Jerez, and Dora and I to bus to Cadiz. And found out that the paper schedule here disagrees with what I saw online, and there was a 7:15 bus that we should have taken.
Onto the buses, and over an hour to Cadiz, winding through several towns. Found out that I have the plan wrong, as usual: I thought we were staying in Cadiz all day while Dora attends a class, so I prepared a list of things for me to see in Cadiz. But it turns out we're here for a doctor's appointment, then the afternoon will be in Jerez, and then Dora starts the class in the evening in Jerez.
Out, had to walk a bit to find a taxi rank, and a taxi around to the opthalmology institute by 10. Dora went upstairs and I went walking.
No map, and this town is confusing, so I tried to be careful. Also didn't know how long Dora would be occupied. Did several loops, bought some snacks, saw lots of nice shops and a couple of plazas and a nice church and the waterfront with view of two forts. Pics.
Dora out at 12:30. Her pupils are dilated, so she's a little unsteady. Showed her the nice church, then we worked our way across town, looking for a branch of her bank but not finding out. Into a bar/restaurant for lunch, and the food was tasty but not as much as we hoped and a little pricey. I think every time we've ordered the menu del dia in Spain, we've been confused and a little disappointed; we should stop doing that.
Hustled to the bus station before 2. Dora onto a bus to Jerez to attend a class, me onto a bus back to Sanlucar. Tired, and a bit crowded after the halfway point. Finally out at 3:30, tried to hit Tourist Info but it was closed.
Found my way back to the apartment with no problem, but then I wasn't sure which door it was on 4th floor, when trying to get buzzed in. Got it with some help from the person in 4A. Home a little before 4.
Niece home before 6. I came out and managed to communicate that I wanted to eat something. Dora's mother started me cooking some pork and making a salad for myself, which was fine with me, but when I thought it was finished she managed to convey that it was not, and took over. She browned the pork some more and added rice, and soon I had a filling meal. Niece off to a tutor at 7 or so. The grandparents back to watching a telenovella; the TV here is always on a telenovella or a kid's cartoon show.
Niece back later, and we had some fun with music and stuff. Dora called at 8:45, she's in Jerez and the next bus out is at 10, so she won't be home until almost 11, and she'll be exhausted.
More play with the niece, and she's a terror. Headachey; took a Neobrufen.
Dora and sister arrived at 11, looking more energetic than I expected. I went to bed before midnight; most of the others stayed up later.
Around 11, tried to take the niece out to the park in front of the house. She doesn't get out of the apartment enough, except to go to school and tutors. I said let's kick a ball, she said she wanted to roller-skate, she said fine, then she spent 10 minutes changing. And when we went down, her grandfather went with us, and we headed to the other apartment her sister has just started renting, not to the park. There, we did a few light jobs, and I kicked a ball with the niece.
Then it was time for me to go. Borrowed keys, back to other apartment to grab my stuff, back to other apt and returned the keys. To the bus station, stopping at Tourist Info to grab a map.
12:20 bus to Jerez was 20 minutes late. Uneventful trip. Out of the station, got oriented, started walking to Dora's class building. The walk was longer than I expected, but pretty straightforward at first. Not many street-signs. And at the tricky turns at the end, I hit an intersection with no signs at all, and made a wrong turn. Good help from one lady, wrong info from a guy, then very good help from a nice lady, and I arrived 5 minutes early for our 2 PM meeting. Found Dora out early for lunch, in a bar/restaurant.
We had a simple and very cheap lunch. But Dora is extremely tired. Back to her class building, we found a sofa in a dark end of a hallway, and napped for 15 minutes. But then she had to go back into class at 3.
I went out, with 4.5 hours to burn until Dora is finished. I don't have a map for this place. But found a major avenue, with signs pointing to the center, so walked down that. Map on bus stop is useless. Kept walking, making notes of landmarks. Got near the center, and started having to make several bendy turns. Onto the main pedestrian street, and it's humming.
Walked through the center a bit, trying to stay on a straight route to avoid getting lost. Following signs to the Tourist Info office, but it's locked up tight. Saw another later, also closed. Found the Alcazar (Moorish fortress/palace) and it's also closed. Sat in the center for a while, then started heading out, taking a couple of side-trips to check out interesting streets or plazas. Pics.
Back into the vicinity of Dora's class by 5:30, which was lucky, since she got out early. If the class ended at 7:30, we would have had to wait for the 10 PM train. But the bad news is that she's sick.
We grab a taxi, get to the bus station in time for a 6 PM bus, then find that there is no such bus: buses at 5, 7 and 10 on Saturdays. Dora starting to feel worse. Fortunately I have a couple of types of medicine with me, so we buy a tea at the train station and she takes the pills. But soon she's worse, fever and chills and feeling weak. We wait in the bus station, Dora bundled up and trying to get body heat from me.
Bus comes about 15 minutes late, and it's pouring rain. But it's warmer on the bus. Dora feeling terrible most of the way home. But as we get into Sanlucar and get off the bus, no rain, and Dora's starting to feel better. We walk home, and she's feeling still better by the time we arrive. She gets into PJ's. Tea for her and chicken-rice-salad-frenchfries for me, and Dora starts swiping nibbles of my food, and then is watching TV and talking with her family.
We have some chicken soup. Soon sister and niece come home; they were out at a Zambomba party. I saw some partied in Jerez, and didn't realize that's what they were.
To bed around 10 PM.
Out at noon, the usual Chinese fire-drill as we try to get out the door. We're walking, we're going in the car, all of us are going, just some of us are going, we're going to store and then a church, the store is closing now, Mass is starting now, etc. Finally Dora and I walk to a church (San Francisco de Assisi) and attend Mass, which is pretty nice, lots of families, the church a mix of needing-some-work and beautiful shrines, outside very plain. Pics.
Out, and into center, where supposedly Dora's parents are shopping. Get to the right plaza, no sign of them, eventually find out they're back home. Typical. We buy some cheap jewelry in one shop, nice cake in another, then head home.
Fixing up a laptop here, installing Skype, removing malware, installing anti-virus, Windows Update, etc.
Big chicken-rice-fries-salad dinner with everyone, but all the Spanish going right over my head.
Before 5, walked Dora over to a friend's house nearby to visit, then I went for a long walk around town.
I was home by 7, but Dora was out until 9:30. She and her friend were talking business, went to a restaurant, etc.
Skyping to Dora's son on one laptop, trying to call relatives in Peru through Skype on my laptop (no answers). Chocolate cake for everyone.
To the station for the 10:15 bus to Cadiz, only to find that only runs on Saturdays. Into the center to hit Tourist Info, ATM for me, bank for Dora. Back to the bus station and caught the 11:15 to Cadiz.
I thought Dora was late for a noon medical appointment, but then she said it was for 2 PM, and later said it was for 2:30 PM. So we got into Cadiz, hit Tourist Info, walked across town, used bathrooms in clinic, Dora went up to talk to someone for half an hour, then we grabbed a quick lunch. Decent food but a bit pricey.
Then Dora in for her appointment, and I'm left to wander around town for an indeterminate time, at an hour when most things are closed and everyone's home for dinner and siesta. But at least today I have a map. Strolled around and saw some nice stuff, decided the cathedral was no deal at €5 admission. More strolling, nice squares and streets, headed back toward the clinic. Pics. Decided it's not such a great town; it's like Venice, out on a peninsula and crowded in by the sea on all sides, some nice plazas and people and shops and history, but limited.
Perfect timing: sat down a few blocks away and almost immediately Dora called and said she was done. Met her, into a taxi, to the bus station. Soon caught the 4 PM bus, into Sanlucar by 5:15. Her parents showed up and we all met the niece coming home from school at 5:45 or so, and home. A little chicken and fries and rice and chocolate cake for dinner.
Dora was talking about touring Chipiona and Rota tomorrow to see if we want to live/work there, but we have to be in Cadiz for a follow-up medical appointment, then Seville to fly out, no time.
Online, it sounds like my mother will not live much longer. No point in me trying to rush to USA; she hasn't been very lucid for a week or so now. I'm sure she will pass soon. And it will be fairly merciful; she has been tired and fairly blind for a couple of years now.
Dora out again at 7, to meet someone here in Sanlucar, about an employment opportunity. Then she called at 8:45, said she was at a friend's to do an aesthetic treatment, home in 45 minutes or so. Unsurprisingly, she actually got home around 11:30.
We did some Skyping to her son in Slovakia, and relatives in Peru.
The usual confusion getting going. I thought Dora had an appointment here in town at 9, but no, and she was out at 10. I went out walking with her father and then again by myself, and got the boarding passes printed.
Expecting Dora back so we could catch the 11:15 bus to Cadiz. But she called and said pack up, her father will drive us to Puerto Santa Maria so she can meet someone, then we'll catch a bus to Cadiz. She has a medical appt in Cadiz today, then we have to take the train to Sevilla to fly out to Barcelona. We're starting to run out of hours.
Wait for Dora, eventually she calls with another change of plan, her father is driving her to Puerto and back, we'll skip Cadiz, take bus to Sevilla later today.
I do more packing, more computing.
Around 12:45, Dora's mother cooks some lunch for us, then Dora calls with the latest crisis. She's finished with her talk in Puerto but can't find her father and the car. She has to get back here so we can catch the 2:15 bus to Sevilla. Her mother is fuming in Spanish, and I can understand about half of it. More phone calls, still hasn't found him by 1:25.
At 1:45, I say good-bye to Dora's mom, and start heading for the bus station. Dora is catching a taxi from Puerto (€32) and will intercept the bus at one of the stops. I get to the station with 10 minutes to spare, the bus is right on time or a minute early. We get stuck in some traffic, wind around thrugh town, and finally there's Dora ! She's on and we're off to Sevilla.
A long ride, finally arrive at 4:35 or so. Bathroom break, to a cafe for some dinner, across the avenue and wait 10 minutes for bus to airport. Which is much longer than I remember, and I start to worry that we'll be late for our flight.
Arrive at the airport at 6:15 or so for a 7:20 flight, but the good news is that our flight is listed as delayed 25 minutes to 7:45. I thought I had the luggage under control, but then realize we have 3 carry-ons instead of the 2 allowed; my computer bag has to go inside one of the other bags, and they're all crammed already. And I had hoped to leave my coat inside a bag, but now remember I was wearing it with pockets full of heavy stuff on the flight down.
We bicker a bit, finally get it mostly-sorted, I'm off to the check-in line. Which is not long, but slow. Still bickering and re-arranging luggage, Dora tying a book in a plastic bag to the back of my belt under my coat. Get to the front, our checked back is 1 kilo light, so I tear off the bag/book and put it in there, and Dora adds some more stuff.
Through check-in, and the security line is long but quick. But we have zillions of electronic devices, and they all have to come out, which means unpacking both of our carry-on bags again.
Finally through Security, long walk to the gate area, and it's jammed and has a long line. And two attendants immediately put stickers on our carry-ons to say they have to go in the luggage hold instead of in the cabin with us, and Dora is outraged at that. She sails off to argue with someone about that, and I head to a bathroom. I gulp several handfuls of water and wash my face a lot, and feel revived.
No sign of Dora; she's somewhere ahead. I get onto the line, and it's slow even though the signs are flashing "last call" for the flight. Eventually through the gate, down ramps and a stairwell to the tarmac, loop around, hand my carry-on to the baggage guys, slow line onto the plane. Find my seat, next to Dora.
We're in an exit row, which means plenty of legroom but no reclining, and no carry-on with us. Dora is outraged again as an attendant re-arranges the bin above us, where she has put her stuff, to add someone else's stuff.
Plane takes off around 8. Uneventful flight, but we're tired and I'm wrung out and I ran out of clean clothes about a day ago.
Land, out, to baggage claim, everything is there. Out, and to train, with Dora saying we should take the Aerobus instead. But that costs €6 or more apiece. We get onto the train platform, wait time counts down from 13 minutes to zero, then they announce up to a 30-minute delay because of vandalism of something.
The announcement repeats a couple more times over the next 5 minutes, and we decide this could be indefinite (and the Metro stops running at midnight). So lose our 2 Metro rides that we used to enter, go back out and across, and luckily catch a 46 bus at the last second. Driver soon stops the bus and jaws at me for my suitcases blocking the aisle; hey, I'm still putting away my wallet and getting settled.
Eventually to Placa Espanya, off the bus, into Metro, down flights of steps, 4-minute wait for the Metro. Just as it arrives, a drunk nearby vomits, falls down in it, and vomits again. Lovely.
Onto Metro, out at F-i-P, walk through cool streets, rolling the suitcases. Circus at F-i-P and Meridiana has a spotlight beam rotating up into the sky.
In the door at home at 11:30. Groans as we shuck off shoes and socks and layers of clothing. Dora into the shower, I chug a big glass of water, start up the computer. Then my turn for a shower. Then Dora has made a big ribs-and-rice dinner, which I didn't particularly want, but is delicious.
Out for few groceries. Out again at 2:30 with Dora. To El Corte Ingles, waited while she sent a fax, waited again as she had the optician help her remove the contact lense (turns out it was just a simple lense, nothing special, but Dora's never used one). Left Dora walking to work, I got another grocery item, home.
Dora home at 7, out to work again at 7:40.
Online, trying to buy tickets to fly to USA for my mother's funeral. Thought I had a confirmed reservation, but didn't get email confirming it, called, they gave me same price but with first leg (Barcelona-Madrid) knocked out. Still waiting for email confirmation that I have the other 3 legs secured.
Dore home after midnight.
Whole trip will cost about $1215, which is not too horrible for a last-minute dates-not-very-flexible trip. But I will miss New Years and Epiphany with Dora, and apparently she considers them bigger deals than Christmas.
Dora home in midafternoon. I cooked spaghetti for dinner. Went out for a walk. Dora back out to work later.
Dora home before 1 AM, and she has to work again tomorrow morning. And she's fuming about how her schedule and contracts and hours are being yanked around; her bosses are not being straight with her, they're trying to force her into working long hours all through Christmas, etc. This situation has been building for a while.
Dora home after 3, dinner, nap, out again before 6 to work again.
My mother's obituary is online here.
I went for a walk at 10:45 or so. Up F-i-P and surprised to find several restaurants/bars there doing gangbuster business, even 20 people in line waiting to get into La Esquinica.
To ATM for more cash. At this point I'm keeping the household afloat. Dora's jobs aren't paying her yet, and she owes tons of money to 8 places, plus has her son in university. So I'm buying the food and paying the gas and water and electric and phone bills, as well as paying for the travel. And her sister's family in the north is in bad shape, everyone sick, no childcare, running out of money, so we need to send some money to there.
Dora home at 12:40, then worked on the paperwork and computer until 2 or so.
Out with Dora before 9, and we fast-walked to one of her clinics before she had to take a taxi to another to start work. I went to El Corte Ingles and stood through a slow line to pay the water bill. Bought a couple of baubles at a nice little local Christmas-fair.
Out about four times in the evening, to do various grocery-shopping and walking.
After 9:30, out to the bank twice, but couldn't figure out how to use the ATM to deposit cash.
Dora home at 1 or so. We had planned to go out dancing, but we're tired (naturally), and she has to go out to a clinic to get a prescription for her eye, she wasn't able to get it done this morning. So we go out around 1:45, and home by 2:15 or so. Along the way, we stopped at the ATM and confirmed it's not working for what I need to do.
Out at 1:30 or so. To polling place so Dora could vote. To Caixa in Virrei Amat plaza, where the ATM worked fine to let me send money to Dora's sister in the north. To a cafe for coffees and pastry. Tried to stop at butcher (not open), stopped at ATM but Dora couldn't send money to her mother. Home at 3:45.
Out at 8 or so with Dora. To ATM and she succeeded in sending money to her mother. To farmacia so she could order lots of medicines for her sister in the north. Stopped at the Christmas fair and bought a bauble. To El Corte Ingles, we came out of the perfume department smelling like a brothel, bought a grocery item, got out without any more damage.
Dora home briefly at 5:30.
I went out to butcher to buy a couple of kilos (dos kilos, mas o menos) of pork ribs (costilla de cerdo) cut lengthwise (a tiras largos). Out again to hit ATM, then to buy a Bluetooth keyboard (teclado) to go with Dora's smartphone.
Online, tried to buy a football game ticket. But I'm using a USA credit card on a Spanish web site with language set to English. For payment, the page gives me fields First, Middle and Last names, but forces me to put my last name in the Middle field (not allowed to leave Middle blank, says it is "first surname" field), then credit card validation fails. Tried it a couple of ways, no go. Argh !
I'd like to take Dora to that game, as well as to a Strauss concert-and-ballet on another day, but she's working a ridiculous schedule for the rest of the month, right through the holidays. [At 1 AM, she sent email that she's changed her work hours so she can go to the game.]
Out again to buy turkey legs for Christmas dinner.
Dora home well after midnight.
I went out to a nearby travel agency that's supposed to be a Ticketmaster outlet, to try to buy football tickets. But they can't see the right event on their screen. To Bon Area and found they have plenty of turkey this morning, so bought four more packages of it.
Out again later, to another branch of same travel agency, but same story, event not on their screen.
Caulking in the bathroom. Dora out doing errands. I thought she had to work at 3, but she didn't get home until almost 3. Then I found out she's having problems with the eye she had Lasik surgery on, and the opthalmologist just gave her a "stay out of work for 10 days" paper. Good for us, but it will make her bosses furious. [Reminds me of that joke: someone calls in sick to work, asked what he has, says blindness: "I just can't see going to work."]
Nice ribs-and-rice dinner.
Out to Correos, then a couple more errands. Street art pic.
Online, tried to buy tickets for the football game 4 days away and a concert/ballet 4 or 5 days away, but seats are scarce.
Both of us a little headachey in the evening; took Dolocatils and tea. But it's nice to have a quiet evening together. I went for a late walk.
Dora out to appointment in afternoon, then back. At 5:30, her son arrived from university in Slovakia.
Turns out Dora's smartphone got a virus and sent a bunch of SMS's, which she has to pay for. Installed a checker and an anti-virus, have to tweak the configuration.
Dora's laptop is freezing. Maybe heat-related ? Has a couple of viruses, but it freezes before I can get the virus-checker to finish.
At midnight, Dora and son are having a heated argument about luggage he should take to her sister in the north, and also he won't give us the keys to his apartment (which Dora is paying for) for our visit to Slovakia in January. I go to bed and close the door. Dora is up until 1.
Someone has destroyed a city garbage can next to the bus stop. We debate if it was hit by a vehicle; I don't see how it could have been, but it took some serious effort to tear it off and drag it down the side of our building, spreading garbage and broken glass everywhere in the process. Dora gets a phone number from a sanitation worker, calls it in, and a few hours later it's all cleaned up.
Out after noon, heading for a Tributaria (tax) office. I figured it was a bad idea, they'd close early on the day before Christmas, but Dora says Christmas is not such a big deal here, the 26th and New Years and the Epiphany are bigger. Metro to Horta, elevator up several levels, found the office, and it's closed. Says only one central office is open today. So we wander down through shops and narrow sidewalks. Eventually down to a park in Villapicina, where we rest and Dora does phone stuff for a while. I do my good deed for the day: a Unipost deliveryman goes by and drops a letter on the ground, and I walk after him and give it back to him. To F-i-P and home.
I make a big spaghetti dinner for us, then I crash and try to nap, but don't get much sleep.
Out at 6:30 or so. Walk up to Llucmajor, have trouble finding the right building, eventually get to Dora's friend, Felicidad.
A nice lady, 81 years old. She shows us her apartment and lots of pictures and mementoes and such. Dora brought a small gift and a card, and we expected to have coffee. But instead Felicidad has cooked a traditional Catalan soup (consomme with several odd meats in it), and brings out a whole spread of various breads and meats, some olives, some cheese, wine, Coke, later some coffee. So we stay until 10:30 or so, eating too much, Dora and Felicidad having a great time talking, me trying to ask some interesting things, we watch a little TV, look at the views off the balconies, etc. Felicidad gives us half a dozen books and a small Barca knick-knack. A nice time. Pics. Home by 10:45 or so. On the walk home, we noticed cars parked everywhere, including up on sidewalks. Apparently parking rules are relaxed because so many people crowd into the city to visit relatives.
Online, tried again to buy football tickets for the Saturday game, using a different credit card, and failed again. Hispanic names are a bit crazy: Dora's full name has four parts adding up to 35 characters plus 3 spaces, her credit cards and various documents truncate it or skip one or more parts in various ways, and on most web forms it's unclear which places to put each of the 3 or 4 parts. Same with mapping my American first-middle-last name onto Spanish nombre-apellidos form fields. I try to be consistent in using first-middle as nombre, and last name as apellido, but sometimes it just doesn't work.
Out at 11:45 or so, to midnight mass at Sant Eulalia. A long mass, with kissing of the baby Jesus, blessing of some kids Baby Jesus dolls, communion, lots of incense, lots of songs in Spanish and Catalan. [Using Google Translate the next day on the song lyrics, Dora tells me that a few of the words in the Catalan songs are made-up, just put there for rhythm !] Then afterward we scored some free tickets to Sagrada Familia, and some snacks. Home after 1:30.
Dora has been cleaning much of the day, and in late afternoon started gathering up all of the clutter in the living room and made it disappear (mostly onto the balcony). Then she started laying out the fancy tableware and decorations for our Christmas dinner. After 5, we had a lovely dinner of turkey and rice. Pics. An old bottle of wine whose cork came apart, but eventually we got some drinkable Rioja out of it. I gave Dora a couple of sets of cheap but nice earrings; we aren't really exchanging gifts this year. Later, she called her niece in the south and Skyped to her family in the north.
Out for a long walk at 7:30.
Online, booked a hotel for our trip to Budapest (was going to be a trip to Slovakia) in January.
Wanted to bake cookies, but one ingredient we have turns out to be not what Dora thought it was, and spoiled also. So no baking.
Out, and up Rambla Catalunya looking for a lunch place. Dora is taken with the name of the "Obama" bar, but it's American/English and expensive, I'm not interested. Duck into Ciudad Comtal, crowded and noisy and fancier than I want. Finally find Bar Nolla, and it's perfect: great decor, reasonable prices for food and coffee, soft seats, mostly empty, quiet. We have a nice small lunch of coffee, bread-with-tomato, patatas bravas, meat on a skewer, chocolates for dessert. Pics.
Into Metro and home, stopping for a long chat with the lady on the first floor, a small tour of her apartment, get to pet her cat. Home before 3.
Out to ATM, and a long walk to find some bread (almost everything closed on this Saturday afternoon after Christmas). Soon out again, and lots of walking to try two banks and El Corte Ingles to pay the phone/internet bill, but failed everywhere.
Out at 6:30 or so with Dora. To Metro, long ride to Collblanc, up to the stadiums. Into the Mini Estadi, where there's a women's game, Catalunya versus Euskadi, free entrance. We've missed the first 18 minutes, but that's okay. We've never been in this stadium, nice crowd, we're fairly close to the action. A fun time. Euskadi scores a bit after halftime, then Catalunya ties the game with about 1 minute left.
With most of the crowd, we head across to the big main stadium for the men's game, also Catalunya versus Euskadi. In and find our seats, and the game starts within about 15 minutes; I thought we had more time. We're in lowest level, but in the back of a corner section, not the best seats. But we can see fine, and have a good time. Loud singing of the Catalan anthem at the start, lots of regional flag-waving throughout the game, we do the "wave" which goes all the way around the stadium three times. Pics.
Euskadi scores halfway through the first half. We've had enough about halfway through the second half, and head out early to beat the rush to the Metro. Hear the crowd roaring several minutes later; I think we missed a goal. [Found out the next day that we didn't; game ended 1-0.] Cold walk to the Metro, long ride, home by 11:50.
I had a sandwich, then Dora made noodle-garlic-egg-vegetable soup.
Out for a couple of walks and to try various ATMs to pay the bill; no luck.
Made the dough for some cookies, in bathrobe so I didn't get my clothes dirty: pic.
Around 4:15, out with Dora. To Metro, out at Sagrada Familia, and into the basilica. We have free tickets for a special event: investiture of a new bishop. We find seats, the proceedings start, then 10 minutes later they open up a roped-off section of seats and we all scramble into them, for a much better view. Pics.
I find the best way to get through a Mass (being atheist, and also not able to understand most of the language): listen to my MP3 player.
Some nice hymns. New bishop told some funny stories that had the congregation laughing. Communion, church getting colder, then soon we were sneaking out early. Stopped at a couple more banks, still no luck paying the bill. Home by 7:20 or so.
I continue the cookie-baking.
Dora needs to do a big online test for a medical certificate, but she's very tired, and as usual she's left the test to the very last hours before the deadline. She takes a nap.
Cookies done: pic. Dora says they're delicious, then proceeds to add more sugar, and open them to add more sweet-milk in the middle.
Dora is up until 2:30 or so doing her online test, which cuts her off before she can answer all the questions, probably because she was past the deadline.
Out by 6, to Virrei Amat Metro, to Sants Estacio, through security and into the AVE waiting area by 6:30. Looks like a half-full train today; line moves quickly, plenty of room for luggage, etc. AC power at my seat, but no Wi-Fi. More people board, train maybe 3/4 full.
Smooth train ride. Pretty dark until 8:15, then foggy, and maybe some dusting of snow on the ground in places. Hard to see the speed/temperature display in our car; 190 KPH and maybe 8 C ? Terrain doesn't look interesting.
Stopped at Zaragoza at 8:30. All seats full now. Very foggy. Sun up by 8:40. Speed 300 KPH.
Arrived at Madrid Atocha station about 10 minutes early, 12:40. Up escalator, 50 yards to train ticket gate, helpful attendant scanned my AVE ticket in the machine to get my free train ticket. Down to platform, train arrived in several minues, no problem.
I thought this was the C-1 train, going all the way to the airport. But it went to Charmantar station and everyone got off. I was a little slow, but eventually figured things out and got off. Some women I'd helped slightly in Atocha station returned the favor by telling me had to find another train to the airport, so I followed them upstairs. Soon about 8 of us trooping over to an information desk and getting pointed to the right place. Ten-minute wait for the train.
To airport by about 10:45. Off the train, and all of us had to queue to go through one elevator (two others not working) up several floors to the departure hall. No signs to the various airlines, asked someone, eventually found an American desk, soon moved across to the main American check-in line. Ten minutes there, no problem, got boarding pass. Pics.
Followed signs, down lots of escalators, onto a train, fairly long ride to satellite terminal. Through Security, through gift-shop (all the airports in Spain seem to force everyone to walk through the gift shop), long walk to gate area. Showed my ticket outside there and was taken aside for extra security check; I think it's the third time in a row this has happened to me, my last three trips. Waited there, got the full search and pat-down, finally to gate. Ten-minute wait there, then they started boarding at 12:15 for 1:05 flight. A little headachey, took a Dolocatil.
Uneventful flight, watched TV programs and listened to some music and tried to learn some Spanish from my book and dictionary. Still headachey, eventually took a Zomig.
Landed a little late in Philadelphia, then an hour-long line in Immigration. Through, got baggage, out of Customs, hit an ATM, and missed a train by about 2 minutes (I thought it had gone 10 minutes earlier, else I would have skipped the ATM).
Got some free but flaky Wi-Fi at the airport train station, so was able to tell my brother I'll be late. And the trains don't quite connect at 30th St Station, so I'm going to be a lot late. Will get to West Trenton at 8:21 instead of the expected 6:26 (if everything had gone perfectly) or 6:45 (more likely).
No problems with the trains, very glad to see my brother waiting at West Trenton, got to his place around 8:45. I've been traveling since midnight East Coast time, so it's been a long day.
Nice dinner at Lo Spiedo restaurant in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Had my mother's funeral. It went well, lots of her friends and relatives in attendance. Mass in church, interment in cemetery, lunch at Mastori's diner, smaller immediate family get-together at my sister's house.
Caught a bad cold-and-headache, and was miserable all through New Year's [finally felt well on morning of the 4th]. Dora in Barcelona was sick, too.
Bought Powerball lottery tickets; jackpot is over $200 million. Didn't win the first time through; trying again second time. Bought a ticket for Dora, too.
Went to Princeton with brother and sister, went through Princeton University campus, and to the art museum (wonderful). Pics. Then to a Middle Eastern restaurant for lunch.
Next trip diary is here.