Madrid airport pic), plane, shuttlebus, train, Metro, walk, and I'm back with Dora ! Very tired, body clock totally screwed up, migraine headache, but it's great to be back with Dora, and it's fairly warm in Barcelona.
Out at 1:30 or so. Did some local errands, then into Metro and down to Placa Catalunya. Walked up to Fondacion MAPFRE on Diputacio, and got in line. Turned out to be the line for tickets, and it took almost half an hour. Got tickets for 15 minutes later (2:45), so we dashed to a local shop for a coffee. Back to the museum, started to wait for our time, soon realized we didn't have to wait, and went in.
Lovely building, a little crowded, great art. But only one or two pieces each of the really big names (Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, etc). Lots of pieces from Cross and others in the same school. No photography allowed. Pictures of some of what we saw are in an article here.
Out, and I'm starving. Found Mahatma Gandhi restaurant on Balmes and had a very nice meal, not particularly cheap but good, nice atmosphere. Pics. I'm a bit tired and getting a little headachey; instead of dessert we took pills.
To Placa Catalunya, into Metro, two-stop ride to Drassanes, into Art Santa Monica. The basement is a cavernous concert area, now sprinkled with odd video art slide/film displays. Lovely leather sofa we sat on for 5 minutes.
Upstairs, more odd displays, then we went into the main feature, a display of puppets and marionettes, and unfortunately got stuck in the middle of a crowded tour group in narrow winding rooms with no way out except through the crowd. I don't like being stuck in a crowd. But the puppets etc were very nice. Bad conditions for photography, but got some: pics.
Eventually out, wandered down to the waterfront, sat for a few minutes, then it started getting a bit cool. Into Metro, connect, ride and walk, home by 7:30 or so.
I'm tired and headachey and crashed for a nap for a while. Later took a Diazepan and a Dolocatil.
At halftime, we moved to empty seats in the centerfield area, and had a fine view from then on. A very nice time, and they played the Blue Danube waltz and a couple of extras at the end. Pics.
Home by 9:30, Dora's feet hurting from fancy shoes, but otherwise very happy with our evening.
Out with Dora at 4, rolling two small suitcases loaded with all of her career/work documents. Metro to Universitat, up to 3rd floor office, and I waited for 90 minutes in a fairly comfy chair while she tried to find out why she had been dropped from the work roll. She got lots of help, but it's still a bit of a mystery.
Out at 6 or so, longish walk up to Diagonal, had a snack in McDonald's while she wrote some more prescriptions. Then to nearby farmacia, where I waited for an hour in a chair while she submitted a stack of prescriptions and discussed some expensive medicine. Then of course her credit card didn't work, and I paid €210 for the prescriptions. Between grocery shopping, some clothing shopping, and this medicine, the €300 I got from the ATM yesterday evening has gone poof!
Home by 8:30. Dora's son arrived after 9, home from the north of Spain. We had ribs and rice dinner.
Online, filed my ETE (worldwide assets declaration) form to Bank of Spain. Several unknowns in the process, couldn't get any answers, but better to file than to skip it.
We didn't win the $1.5 billion Powerball lottery; bummer.
I went to the local govt office to see if I could get an official copy of the ID page of my passport. Didn't know if such a thing is necessary or possible (have gotten varying answers), and after much consultation, they said it wasn't possible and I didn't need it.
I made a nice stir-fry and had it ready just as Dora walked in the door. And she loved it.
Dora came at me with a needle, and I let her stick me. Influvac vaccine for flu.
Out in the evening with Dora to buy some linens. Then dressed up and out again at 8:15, Metro to Glories, and to L'Auditori. Attended a symphony rehearsal (free tickets), the last general rehearsal before their first performance tomorrow evening. "La Novena de Beethoven" by Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya (OBC).
Seats in 4th row, same level as the orchestra, about 30 feet from the violins. The musicians in semi-casual clothing. The conductor addressed the crowd in English; we guessed he was Italian, but turns out he's Dutch. Marvelous music, then a full chorus and four solo singers. A couple of very nice pieces, a few repeats of passages as the conductor refined a few things, then Beethoven's 9th. Lovely. Pics.
Out at 10:45 or so, coffees in the L'Auditori bar, chatted for a while, into Metro and out at F-i-P, walk home through chilly grey barely-raining weather, home by midnight.
Online through Expedia, bought air tickets roundtrip PHL-BCN for March-November, and the system did the same thing it did to me in December for the tickets for my mother's funeral trip: get all the way through to the finish, and very last page says "congratulations, you have your tickets, and surprise ! the return flight leaves from Madrid instead of Barcelona". They drop out one of the four flights and keep the price the same. Some problem at Iberia or American.
In December, I let it go, since it was a last-minute purchase, and took the high-speed train from BCN to MAD (for an extra $100 or so). This time, I spent an hour on Skype to Expedia until they fixed my tickets.
Dora home at 9:30, I made a quick stir-fry, she fell asleep on the sofa and slept and slept.
Nice conversations as we walked up to Torre Baro castle. Went upstairs in the castle and enjoyed the view. Then we continued over to the village of Torre Baro, and past it. We walk along the ridge a bit, then start turning away from the city. I'm starting to think of turning back, and then Dora calls me and wants to meet me back at the restaurant on the other side of the castle. So I say good-bye to a couple of people, so they don't think I got lost, and turn back.
To the bus stop at the castle, wait 20+ minutes, but Dora has just missed the bus. It arrives, no Dora, I call her again, we decide I should go down and meet her. Perfect timing, the bus is there in 2 minutes, I catch it and meet Dora in a bar/cafe at Virrei Amat. We chat, then head to a tailor shop, then to a farmacia. Home after 2.
Turkey and rice dinner, then nap. Feeling tired and headachey. Took ibuprofen. Dora coughing.
Out before 5 with Dora. To Virrei Amat Metro, out at Diagonal, walked down several blocks to a church. Up to a 4th-floor meeting room to attend a talk on Islam. Some slides in English, most slides and all of the talk in Catalan, so I didn't understand any of the lecture but I could figure out most of the slides. Dora falling asleep halfway through.
After the talk, Dora chatting with the lady who invited her, and the priest, who was a character. Then we ducked out as they were setting up for some kind of Bible-reading and hymn-singing or something. Back through the cold to Metro, out at Virrei Amat, to fruit shop and then farmacia, home before 8:30. We're both tired and cold, and I'm headachey.
Dora had me try on a sleeper she was wearing last night, and she laughed and laughed as she took pictures: pic. But then I gave it back to her to wear; too small for me. Ate some sandwiches and then lentils-and-rice.
Took a Dolocatil and went to bed early. Still headachey later, took a Nolotil, which worked. Pic. Dora crashed for a nap around 5, I napped for an hour, then I got got up and Dora kept sleeping until 11. I went out for a walk, and that was it for the day.
Out at 11 or so, did three trips to El Corte Ingles shipping counter to pack and send a letter to USA and two boxes to north and south of Spain.
Dora home at 9:30, tired, it was non-stop patients in Emergency today.
Out before 1:30. To Metro, connect, out at Bac de Roda, Dora appeared after 5 minutes. To a nearby bar/cafe for a pleasant lunch. Interesting paintings in the bar: pics.
At 3, Dora was back to work (8-8 today), and I went walking. Walked over to Rambla Poble Nou, finding the lovely Parc del Clot, somewhere I'd never been before: pics.
Down the Rambla to the waterfront, seeing lots of nice shops and some interesting buildings. Back inland and found Llacuna Metro. Long ride to Llucmajor, home after 5.
Around 7:30, I started cooking turkey with garlic and onion.
No language class being offered in early Feb. Out and walked to Placa Catalunya, found place to wait for Dora, and then she appeared behind me. She came back out of the Metro and stopped for a bathroom and a coffee, it turns out.
Long, slightly cold wait for Dora as she is in the medical administration building. She comes out around 12:15, only to say she has to pay tasa at a bank and go back in. So we do that, and I wait again. Finally she's out just before 1.
Into the Metro, and head for home. She's talking about going to a govt office where she had an appointment at 11:30, but there's no time for that. We get home after 1:20 and start packing frantically. Her son doing his best to get in our way. I pack and dash out for some fruit. We head out the door 5 or 10 minutes to 2.
Trip to Budapest:
To F-i-P Metro, to Clot, 9-minute wait for train to airport. To airport before 3, short line, but a worrisome hiccup as we check in: the lady says "he has no visa for Hungary, go check at desk 54". We go across there and they stamp my ticket, no problem. But now I'm worried I might get turned back at Budapest.
Through Security, to gate area in plenty of time, use bathrooms, find gate, go back and eat at Burger King. Back to gate area, and 4 huge lines as 4 flights are boarding simultaneously. As usual, Dora has brought one bag more than allowed, and wrangles with the attendants. They let it onto the plane, but it ends up 8 rows behind us, and Dora is steamed. Same thing happens every time we fly; I threaten to take separate planes next time.
Uneventful flight, except that Dora further irritates me by spending €19 on lipstick from the onboard catalog. She's laughing at me as I'm eating granola out of a partial bag I brought from home, and laughs more when a flight attendant sees me and gives me a napkin without asking me.
Arrive at Budapest, and it's cold but no snow. Cold somewhat-long walk into the terminal, then a long wait for the baggage. We grab maps and I get cash out of an ATM: 60,000 Hungarian Florins (about US$200; later found exchange rate about 286, not as good as I hoped). Of course it gives me only big bills, HUF 20,000 each. I give one to Dora, and she's delighted with having so much money (big numbers).
Out through "nothing to declare", and we're out, no passport check at all. Dora onto a slow line to buy bus/Metro tickets (HUF 1200 total). Outside, bus waiting, on and soon it went. We took a while to decipher the maps and figure out what Metro stop we need. Local maps say the distances are about twice what my printed Google Maps say.
Longish bus ride, from one end of the line to the other. A little confusion finding the Metro entrance, but in and validate our transfer tickets and down to the platform. Train is waiting, straight on and it goes.
Cold air blasting from the vents inside the train; I joke that they have good air-conditioning.
To the central Metro station, Deak Ferenc ter, and little problem getting from the 3 line to the 2 line.
Out at Blaha Lujza ter stop, and disoriented. Guess right about which street is Rakoczi Ut, but the first two people we ask can't tell us which direction is toward the Danube River ! Third person confirms we're heading the right direction.
We find our street, and it's starting to snow. Hostel is right there, in and register, no problem. First bad news: the Wi-Fi is available only in the lobby, not in the rooms.
Up to the room by 9:45 or so, and soon find that there are no towels, no soap, no shampoo. Web site forgot to mention all of this stuff. Heat in the room is fine. Two single beds, which is a surprise. They're labeled "1" and "2", and so are the halves of the closet, so two unrelated people could share the room. Of course Dora gets to be "1". But the room and bathroom are fine.
My suitcase turns out to be half-full of Dora's stuff. And she quickly appropriates my robe, too.
Out at 10:30 or so. At Reception, found that they do have towels. Went to corner store and bought shampoo; seems all labels here are in Magyar only, no English or Spanish. Walked a few streets looking for a cafe/bar, but when we got serious about picking one, they all were closing at 11. Found the "Slang Bar" which was willing to feed us, and had chicken wraps and Cokes. Total HUF 3675 (about US$12) and I left HUF 325 as tip; we paid in HUFs, but we could have paid in Euros at a horrible exchange rate. Back to hostel, and left a €10 deposit to get two towels. Back to room at midnight.
Soon I headed down to lobby to do a little Wi-Fi, and ask how to get the TV to work. Never did get it to work.
Later found out that breakfast is not included with the room, so went upstairs to pay, but it's a flat rate (HUF 750 or about US$3, per person) so not bad at all. Asked about various concerts, but they all take a break in January, no luck.
Upstairs and then out before 11. Cold, especially when the wind catches you. Hustled down to near the river (not as far as I feared), then up Vaci ut, a tourist pedestrian street. Went up, up to the chain bridge. Into the Gresham Palace / Four Seasons, to get warm. Got directions, found the Duna Palota theater a little before 11:30. Various street pictures: Pics.
There we intended to buy tickets for the noon boat-cruise on the river, everyone assembling at 11:30. And we find out that particular cruise doesn't run in the winter. Do we want to choose one of the other (more expensive) cruises ?
We cogitate for a while, then sign up for the 2 PM drink-and-cruise boat (HUF 4200 each). Out and around the corner and into the Gresham Palace again, into the dining room, and have tea. Lovely table at the window, Dora greatly impressed by a stool they brought to set her purse on. Dora typing away on her smartphone on the Wi-Fi, we sat and Dora warmed up for an hour or so. Two pots of tea for HUF 2100 (US$8), not as horrible as I expected in such a fancy place.
Bathroom break, and lots of pictures inside this gorgeous building. Pics.
Then out into the cold. Headed toward the basilica square, stopping in a couple of shops. Cold. Diverted into "California Coffee Shop" for big muffins and a hot coffee for Dora.
Back out into the cold, back to Duna Palota for the 1:30 assembly for 2 PM boat, and we're informed there's a technical problem with the boat and it won't go today. Do we want the 7 PM boat with live music, or 2 PM boat tomorrow ? We choose tomorrow. I see only 2 other people waiting for the 2 PM boat, and wonder if they cancelled it because of too few passengers.
Out into the cold, and into St Stephen's Basilica. Which turns out to be almost-free entry, and stunning inside. Soaring and ornate and gorgeous. Pics.
Eventually out, cold walk down to Deak Ter Metro, fumbled a bit buying tickets from a machine (HUF 700 for 2 tickets). Easy ride two stops to Blaha Lujza ter stop, out and went into Spar supermarket to buy a few things. Out again into the cold, home a little after 3.
Got the TV working ! And got Dora warmed up; she wasn't dressed quite warmly enough today. The weather is right at freezing, quite tolerable until the wind starts blowing.
After downloading all the pictures and writing the log file, and having a rest, thought of dashing out to the National Art Museum, which isn't far away. But Dora is down for the count, and the museum closes in less than 2 hours. Some other day.
Down to Reception to try to book tickets, but the folklore show also is on hiatus for January, and the opera I'll try myself through their web site. Down to the bar to do Wi-Fi.
Couldn't figure out the opera seating / purchase web site, went back up to Reception, they were a little help, went back down to do it some more on my laptop. Only adjacent seats for semi-reasonable price are HUF 12,000 each (about US$41), and separated by a railing, I think. But I decide we're only in Budapest once, and try to buy them. Much wrestling with Magyar-language web pages, get myself registered and get my credit card info entered, purchase seems to work, can't find the actual tickets. Log back in and find them and download them and send them to Reception to be printed. Finally get the paper. Success !
Upstairs, crashed for a nap for a while, had to stop Dora from eating all my powerbars.
Out at 8 or so. Comfortable until we turned right up the big street, and the wind hit us. Stopped at an ATM and got another HUF 20,000 (that's what I remembered, but receipt says I took HUF 40,000 and so does my bank; $139.52, rate 287).
Walked up the big street toward the river, looking for a place to eat. Homeless people sleeping outside in this weather; we've seen a fair number of them here.
Didn't find anywhere good to eat, got to the major intersection, turned right, and soon we were reaching our limit. Into a Wok place, which turned out to have fine decor, nice comfortable place, but barely adequate food. We had pho-noodle-type dishes, warm and nourishing but disappointing. Sat for quite a while. Pics.
Out and headed toward home. Pic. But found an interesting bar with live music, and went in. Dora had a Bailey's Irish Cream, and I had a "Unicum", something I've seen listed all over the place. It turns out to be an herb liquer that is pretty bitter and vile, but I drank it. About HUF 1400 (US$5) total for the two drinks. Pic.
60's music, things like "Maybelline" and some California surfer music and other things. Decent band, they can play their instruments, but everything seems to be about 50% faster than I think it should be. Some older women dancing to it and whooping with laughter, but I'm running out of steam.
Eventually out and head toward home. We pass a wall with engravings in three languages, saying we're in the Budapest Ghetto, an area about 8 blocks square that was teeming with more than 50,000 people living 14 to a room, under the Nazi occupation. More than 10,000 of them died. Our hostel is inside this area.
Home by 11, and I'm ready for bed. Nearly-full moon shining through the skylight in the room.
Out at 9:45 or so. Cold and windy walking to the nearby Metro station, Blaha. Bought Metro-plus-bustransfer tickets, HUF 1060 total. Onto the Metro, out at Deak, asked someone and found the 16 bus, jumped onto a nearly-full bus.
Up and across Chain bridge, and wound its way up Castle Hill. Got off where everyone else did, and soon found a coffee-and-pastry shop. Lovely warm sunshine coming in through the windows. Dora asked for a traditional Hungarian dessert and got a nice slice of cake that she immediately pronounced too fattening, so I took her cake and she grabbed my chocolate croissant. Out of there for about HUF 2200 (US$8), I think.
Out and downhill slightly to the museum area, but we're not sure which museum is which, and there are a couple of guarded buildings too (president's residence, I think, we found out later). Went to one wall to find only a view of suburban Buda, not interesting. Over to other side and there's the Danube and old Pest, good views. Pics.
To nearby museum, and it turns out to be the Hungarian National Gallery (Magyar Nemzeti Galeria). In and pay HUF 4400 for two admissions and one audioguide. Museum full of lovely art, really should take about 4 hours to go through it, but we have to be on the other side of the river by 1:30 to catch a boat. So we do the museum in about 2 hours. Lovely sculptures, paintings, most more modern than I expected (1500-1900). Wonderful building, too. Pics.
Out at 1, quick stop for a fortified hot chocolate, then down a bunch of steps and paths to the base of the hill. Walked across Chain (Lanchid) bridge, not too windy now, still a bit cold. Over to the other side, around side of Gresham Palace, arrive at Duna Palota just about at the assembly time, 1:30. A dozen other people congregating.
Then wait until almost 2 before we all get going. We're led out and back to the river, north up the waterfront a little, and onto the "Millenium I" riverboat. (I point to the air-conditioner on the side of the boat as we're boarding, and Dora laughs; "they have air-conditioning !" has become one of our standard jokes here.) We're sorted into those who paid for lunch and those who didn't (3 couples including us), given free welcoming glasses of champagne (nice), and settle in to comfortable seats gratefully. Reasonably warm, tons of space on the boat, fine.
Soon we're moving, and we go north past the Parliament building, up to the Margaret (Margit) bridge at the south end of the island, turn around, down through Chain bridge, through our (Erzsebet) bridge, to the Szabadsag bridge, and back up. We do it slowly, there's nice music and some commentary, we have coffees (included) and nice nachos (HUF 1050 or so), and it takes about 90 minutes. Quite nice, we take lots of pics, have a good time. Pics.
Off the boat, and head inland to a Metro stop. Find it north of the basilica, buy tickets at the machine, down and soon onto a train. Three stops, and quickly find the Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum). Not quite sure what this is or how much it costs, but it turns out to be cheap (HUF 500 each). A welcome bathroom break, then start seeing the museum. Downstairs are old carved stones, some Roman and others later, not very interesting. Soon up to next floor, wonderful domed room, then lots of old artifacts, maybe 1500 BC to 500 AD. Eventually up another floor, and wonderful exhibits from 1850 or so to modern times, film from 1910's, communist era stuff. We spend a solid 2 hours, finally leaving as they're closing at 6. Camera battery exhausted, took only a few pictures. Pics.
Walking home, still not windy, a bit cold. Stop in Tesco for some groceries to eat for tomorrow's breakfast, then go into an African-Caribbean restaurant ("Savannah") right next to our hostel. We're the only people eating in the place; there's a disco or party room downstairs, but I think it doesn't get going until 10 PM or later, and they charge an admission fee (maybe not in winter).
We have mango African fruit wine (more like fruit juice), palm wine (more like fruit juice, not good), fish appetizers (quite nice), fried bean paste appetizers (not so good, needed sauces), roast beef (adequate) with spicy tomato sauce (nice) and french fried potatoes (very nice), and chicken-rice with peanut sauce (nice). Nothing but the fish was quite as expected when ordered, but still a nice meal. Whole thing came to HUF 10,030 (about US$35).
Home by 7:45, a bit tired and ready to stay in for the evening. Nice symphony concert on TV; we've gotten tired of 6 channels of only-Hungarian-language programs. Then Dora crashes for a big nap, and I join her for a while.
At 10:30, down to the hostel bar to do Wi-Fi. Bar is mostly empty and closing, on a Friday night. Pics.
Out, and walked S along the river to the spaceship-building mall. Most spaces empty in there, and some of the occupied spaces were closed on this Saturday at noontime. Through the mall and out to the skating-rink area at the S end, which was fun. Lots of cute kids being taught to skate by their parents. Pics.
Back through the mall, up to the metro, great elevator down to the platform, where we find there are no ticket-machines, we have to go right back up and take the stairs and escalators down. Ticket machine fails to return my HUF 300 (US$1) change, and Dora wants to berate every official she can find until we get reimbursed, but I drag her into the Metro.
Green to blue to yellow and longish ride to City Park. Out and a cold walk to the Vajdahunyad Castle and some kind of national museum. Into the warmth, tickets total HUF 1800 (US$6). Up the dramatic stairs to a stunning room, then more great rooms. The exhibits aren't too interesting: some nice schoolkids drawings, a bunch of farming and horse and exhibits. Down to first floor, farm-life exhibits, etc. Pics. More pics.
Eventually out, around back side of castle, see the skating-rink area, have a little trouble trying to find the main street, Andrassy St. But suddenly there's Heroes Square. Pics. Take pictures, then duck into a nearby museum to warm up for a minute. They want HUF 1800 apiece (US$6 each) for some avante-garde light-art thing; not interested.
Out and start to walk down Andrassy St, but it's cold and this looks pretty barren, embassies and apartments and such. Decide to take the Metro, forgetting about an asian art museum that wasn't too far away, would have been nice to see that.
Down to Oktogon stop and out. Looking for a certain cafe that's supposed to be very nice, but I had three addresses on this street confused in my head, and we missed it. Cold, and suddenly we've walked out of the interesting-shops area and we're in expensive-restaurant territory. Then expensive shops, and Dora is seeing lots of jewelry and dresses she likes in the windows. Keep going, and we find a nice coffee cafe.
We spend a couple of hours there, having various coffees and a couple of sandwiches; total bill HUF $4825 (about US$17). Pics.
Out, and we go into a couple of adjacent clothing stores, each more expensive than the one before. When Dora starts fingering fur coats that cost HUF 3 million (about US$10,000), I get nervous and wait outside. Eventually she comes out. Look at prices in the window of a real-estate company, go into an Israeli jewelry shop (Michal Negrin) where Dora would like to buy one of everything.
Then we're near the Basilica, and I want to go in even though we were there two days. Turns out a wedding is taking place, us tourists confined to a back corner. 10 seconds of pipe-organ music as we enter, then 30 minutes of readings and vows in Magyar, then some nice pipe-organ as the couple parades out.
Fairly short but cold walk to the Deak metro, half of the ticket machines are out of order, two stops to Blaha, cold walk to our hostel. Home a little after 5, cold and a bit tired.
Out at 6:15, and it's snowing. North on back streets, eventually out to Andrassy St and the Opera House. Inside, nice place, but very confusing trying to find our sections for the seats. Eventually get to the right places. Unfortunately, I had to buy tickets in two adjacent boxes, which I hope were separated by only a railing. Turns out they're separated by a half-wall and then a railing. Dora is giggling up a storm as she takes pictures of me around the corner from her. But then she moves to a front-row seat in her box, on the far side from me, so we're not even very close to each other. My box fills up, and so does hers, mostly, and then the opera starts. Pics.
It's "Falstaff" by Verdi, sung in Italian with sub-titling in English and Magyar. A silly plot, the sets are nothing special, but the music is fine and the building is beautiful, so I'm happy. Two long intermissions, with time to see lots of people in expensive clothing, and take some pictures of the various rooms.
But by 2/3 of the way through, we're tired and bored with the opera, and 1/3 of the way into the final act, we slip out. A little trouble finding an exit, but out the front and it's still snowing and sticking.
We head up Andrassy St and find the cafe I had been looking for earlier today, but it's closing and all I can do is take a couple of pictures of the ornate room. Back out into the snow, Dora's cold, we're looking for dinner. Pass a couple of places too expensive for our taste and feelings right now. See an okay-looking pizza place but Dora proclaims "pizza is not food"; for a moment this threatens our relationship.
Soon find a Turkish kebab cafeteria place. The food is plentiful but not heated enough; we send it back for another run through the microwaves. And the door is not closing properly; every time someone comes in, I have to get up and close it the last 3 inches, or ask them to close it. The coffee is disappointing too. But we're warmed up a bit and fueled up.
About a ten-minute walk home, through slippery conditions, snow falling steadily, Dora whimpering about the cold, and then wanting to stop and take pictures of us in the snow. Pics. Home by 11:15, cold and dusted with snow.
Did some Wi-Fi downstairs while Dora was watching "Godfather" (1) on TV in Magyar. Online, I find out that my brother's place in western NJ had about 2 feet of snow from a big blizzard.
Packing, down to hostel bar for breakfast and Wi-Fi.
Online, East Coast USA really got hit hard by huge blizzard, a couple of feet of snow, 18 dead, 10K plane flights cancelled.
Out of the hostel around 10:15. To Blaha Metro stop, and bought unlimited day-cards (HUF 1600 each), since we plan to do a lot of rides today. Onto train to Deak, out, onto 16 bus, up to Castle Hill.
Where we find that the schedule for getting into Matthias church is backwards from what we need; it's closed this morning, open in the afternoon. We tour the Fisherman's Bastion, and Dora buys a used fur hat with the animal's claw on the side from some lady for HUF 4000 (about US$14). Pics. She ducks into the Hilton Hotel to use the bathroom, and comes out saying she met the director of the hotel.
Across the street and into some free Hungarian museum that probably is not very well-known. Some sections on the Magyar language and politics were totally wasted on us, but then there were artifacts and uniforms and armor and films about hussars fighting battles in various modern films. Pics.
Out of there and caught the 16 bus. I lost track of time, and Dora pointed out we just left about 20 minutes before the church was due to open. But we're running a little behind, I think. Pic.
Bus back to Deak, catch yellow Metro and go out most of the way to City Park. Out and there's the East Asian Art museum I'm looking for, but it looks small. We go in, admission HUF 1000 (about US$3.50) apiece, use the bathroom. The exhibit is all Japanese, only about 4 rooms, beady-eyed women watching everyone suspiciously, even though just about everything is secure inside display cases, no photography allowed. Some nice stuff, engraved jewelry boxes and such. Pic.
Out, decide the area is worthless (embassies and blank-looking residences and apartment buildings). Into Metro again, yellow line to Deak, then Blue line up to a big train station (Nyugati Station) to check out how to connect to train to Kosice Slovakia where her son goes to school. Metro station is cold, some dodgy people around, connects to a cavernous train station with more dodgy people. Turns out to be regional trains. Through some corridors to another cavernous train station, which is international trains. Find the information office, the one area that is heated. Dora goes through a short line and gets the info she needs; the Kosice train leaves from another station. Pic.
Around and heading out when we see a McDonald's McCafe in the station, and it's heated and fancy. Pic. Dora goes downstairs and pays HUF 150 to use the bathroom.
We go out, looking for a restaurant. Quickly settle on the Burger House, and it's a good choice. Very nice people, Sochi speed-skating on a TV screen, nice coffees, great onion rings, fine hamburgers. Pic. We sit for about 2 hours, I think. Bathroom is down, down, down winding stairs, through a coded door, and shared with another restaurant nearby. Dora wants directions to see the Liberty Statue (pic), so drew a picture of it: pic to show to the waiter. Pay HUF 4900 for the meal and leave most of my coins as a tip. Out around 4.
Into Metro, blue line to green line, across the river, out at Szent Gellert. Dora wants to touch the statue of the lady holding a palm leaf up in her hands (Liberty Statue), but it's up at the top of a hill (on Citadella) and we're down at the base, the day is getting greyer and colder, the path is snowy, and we're running out of time. We do find the entrance to a Cave Church, but the actual church in the deep interior is closed. Pics.
Back down to the Metro around 4:30. Green line to Keteli, red line one stop to Blaha, walk to the hostel. Grab our luggage and out at 5. Back to Blaha, red line two stops to Deak, then blue line about 10 stops to Kobanya. Out and up and over and onto 200E bus with almost no wait. Long bus ride to the airport, getting there around 6.
Into line for Ryanair check-in, opening suitcases and shifting stuff to fit the weight allowances. No problem with check-in.
Through Security by 6:30. Gave our last $12 or so of HUF's to Dora to buy coffees. Supposedly free Wi-Fi, but it's so slow to give me a login page that I have to go before I can use it.
Finally our gate-assignment appears on the screens, along with a 10-minute delay. We all flock to turnstiles leading to the gate, through, and find ourselves in a slightly-chilly cattle-pen area. Through a passport/ticket check, then we stand and wait on cold asphalt with no facilities available. And we wait and wait. There are a couple of benches, and when we shuffle forward a little, I grab a seat and let the line go past me. I sit and listen to my MP3 player while most other people stand. Dora is somewhere well ahead in line. Eventually a door opens and half the people go out, but the rest of us stay waiting. Later, we go out, and find ourselves queuing in the open air and cold wind as we slowly go up the steps of the boarding ramp. Inside, I find one reason for the delay: a bunch of twentyish idiots have shifted seats to sit with each other, and as the people who have those seats assigned board, the others have to get out and find other seats and shuffle around. Irritating.
More delays after the doors are closed, and I think we take off about an hour late. Bad, because we may arrive in Barcelona just as the Metro and trains are shutting down for the night.
Smooth flight. Land, out with a crowd of people, our suitcases are just about the first out, head to the curb, and in a minute the 46 bus is there and we're on. Deliciously warm here, compared to Budapest.
Not sure what time it is, maybe 11:45, and the Metro stops at midnight. We think this bus is going to Placa Catalunya, but it dumps us out just on the far side of Placa Espanya. Hustle back to the nearest Metro entrance, it's still open, hustle down stairs and escalators and through a tunnel and find we're in time for the last L1 train in our direction. Security waiting there to take a fighting couple off the train. Train comes, we're on at 12:10. Last train of the day going in this direction, I'm sure.
Out at F-i-P, and the normal upper escalators and exit are locked, so I have to hump the heaviest two suitcases up a long flight of stairs, and that just about wipes me out. Home through fairly quiet streets, into apartment by 12:45. Drink water, strip off dirty clothes, take a shower, to bed.
pic. Sat there for a while, then into Metro. Stopped for more fruit/veg, home after 4:30. Dora home around 10:15.
Cooked turkey for dinner. Out for groceries at 7:45. Dora home around 9:45.
I cooked spaghetti for dinner, had it ready as Dora came home at 3:45 or so. But she said it needed salt, and her son rejected it as too low-calorie and too heavy in vegetables, and cooked his own high-calorie dinner.
Dora crashed for a long nap. I napped, went out for a walk. Dora up at 8 PM or so, not sure if it's night or morning. I'm headachey; took an ibuprofen.
Cooked some beef-garlic-onion-pepper and had it over leftover spaghetti for dinner.
Out at 7 to pick up laptop from repair shop. But found out later, it still freezes. Guy at shop checked fan and replaced three heat-sinks. But Windows still freezes solid, mouse won't move, nothing works, at random times. Have to power off and restart. Seems to be a hardware problem. HP Pavilion running Windows 7.
Dora home after 9, immediately cooked a big mess of leftover spaghetti and leftover beef sauce.
Dinner with Dora, laundry, then handed another laptop to try to fix. Windows 8 in Spanish, a new adventure. Turned out the disk was almost completely full, doing lots of downloading via Spotify and Bittorrent, Windows Update failing because of lack of space, etc. Deleted a big movie/TV download, uninstalled two old anti-viruses and installed a new one.
At 8 or so, out with Dora. Walked down F-i-P and across Meridiana, feeling cold. Found a place for dinner, one we hadn't been to before, as I wanted. A Catalan place called Vermuteria de Sant Andreu. Had a reasonably nice time, but the food was a bit disappointing. Home again by 10:30.
Then down into the station, and catch S1 train. About 5 stops and out at Baixador de Vallvidrera. Up the hill. I've done 3/4 of this hike before. Hook up with one woman who's lived in Catalunya all her life, and is an English teacher, and wants to improve her conversational English. We're yakking away, and the leader of the hike is setting a pace faster than I usually go. So I'm getting some good exercise.
Up and up, and suddenly there's Tibidabo just above us, and then we're on Tibidabo and enjoying the views. Nice, but now and then a chill wind makes us all shiver. Into the basilica, mill around outside a bit, I eat my apple and drink more water. More chatting with various people. Pics.
We start heading down, a different way than we came, and we come to part of the town of Vallvidrera, a lot higher up than I expected. We nose into a cafe, but it's too small, and I want to go home anyway. Back uphill a bit, and there's a station for a funicular. Take that down to the railway station at Vallvidrera Superior, right onto a train. A little more chatting as we head home. I say adios and get off early at Provenca/Diagonal, catch L5 Metro.
Home around 2:45. Nice soup-and-salad dinner with Dora, washed a ton of dishes, then I crashed for a nap.
More work on the Windows 8 laptop. Have removed 4 viruses and one unwanted application, and installed about 60 Windows Updates. But something still is eating the disk space nearly as fast as I free it up.
Headachey in the late evening: took a Dolocatil, then a Neobrufen.
Out at 10:30 or so with Dora. To bank, to phone store, to locutori, to computer repair shop. Dora argues with them and gets almost nowhere, but unaccountably comes out in a better mood. To another bank, then home to drop off stuff. Back out, to Metro, and luckily we catch a train right away. But there's a Metro slowdown-strike today, trains will come infrequently, and this one is packed.
To end of line at Vall D'Hebron, wait 15 minutes for a bus. Longish ride and then moderate walk to a big hospital. In and I wait while Dora finds the doctor to get results for her son. Then down to the cafeteria for lunch, although somehow we went down one flight from 2 to 1, then up one flight from 1 to 3 ? Coffee and sandwiches for lunch.
Out and walk downhill to university area where a couple of bus lines start. But we can't find the start of the 33 bus for Dora, and it turns out she was going to take a taxi anyway, she's late for work. I get the 60 bus. [Found out later, Dora couldn't find a taxi, and then the 33 bus came, so she took it.]
Long, slow ride on a packed bus, but I have a seat. Eventually get near Rio Janeiro avenue, but it's further out than the section I'm used to, and I go one stop too far. Back uphill several blocks, find stop for 132 bus, it comes immediately, and I get on. It goes right where I need to, off a couple of blocks from home, and home by 3.
Online, ordered a water-pump rebuild kit ($75) for my boat. Ordered a new oil-cooler ($328).
Progress on the Windows 8 laptop: used WinDirStat and found that AVG Web Tuneup is using 284 GB of disk. Got rid of it, system seems okay.
Out for a walk and groceries.
Dora home after 9. I cooked ribs and rice-and-veg for dinner.
Dora said she had to work at 2, but then said she can go later, and started cooking a big meal. Had a nice meal of ribs and rice-chorizo-egg-vegs. The she went to work and I did the dishes and then crashed for a nap.
Glued a drawer to fix it. Found that Dora's HP laptop which freezes in Windows also freezes in Windows Safe mode, and then found it also will freeze when doing a BIOS disk-test, so it definitely is a hardware problem. And later, I was able to get it to freeze in a BIOS memory-test, so it's not the disk, even better.
Out in evening to exchange fan-base for laptop. Back home, installed temperature-monitor software on my laptop and the one that freezes. Mine is running at less than 50C, the one with problems is running at almost 70C.
Dora home a few minutes after 9. And we went out to a bar/cafe to watch Barca play Valencia on TV. A one-sided game, Barca 2-0 when we got there. I had a big chocolate ice-cream, Dora had coffee and chicken. Score 7-0 when we left a few minutes before the end. Home at 11.
More messing with the laptops. Installed the temperature software on the 3rd laptop. The story seems to be this: the laptop that freezes is running 20C hotter than the other two, but its processor is rated with a max temp 10-15C greater than the other two. So maybe that's not the problem.
Dora home at 3:30 or so. I started a ribs-and-rice dinner, and she took over the cooking.
Out at 5:30 with Dora. To Metro, out at Arc, tried to find the Carnaval starting parade. We're a bit late, and found ourselves chasing the tail of it through narrow, crowded streets. Cut across to the end at Born CC, and hard to take pictures with the parade moving and everyone crowding around closely. Some nice music played by a band; lots of lets-get-excited raving in Cstalan by an announcer. Saw the Queen Belluga make her entrance via zip-line from a 5th-story window of a nearby building. Pics.
Out of the crowd, down and around past people queuing to get into a fashion show (Dora was envious), and up Laetana. Into a huge offices-and-classrooms building to ask about medical exam textbooks. Got directed elsewhere. Had coffee-croissant-bathroom stop in our usual cafe next to Jaume I Metro.
Into Metro, out at Verdaguer, found another classroom complex. Bought a textbook for €33, but there are 5 more and they have to be bought elsewhere.
Into a very packed Metro train, and home after 8:30.
Home again, and cooked beef-rice-zucchini for dinner. Dora off to work at 2, I crashed for a nap.
Out at 4:30. Seeing little kids in costume for Carnaval. Bought a couple of very cheap masks in a shop. Bought a heavy load of groceries at Dia.
Around 5, heard lots of whistling outside, wondered if maybe it was a small parade. Went out, and it was just the primary school next door letting out, many of the kids were in costume, and someone had given whistles to all of them.
Went to the nearby ferreteria, to ask about how to put new formica on the inside of the bathroom door. The man directed me to a cabinetry workshop near Dia, so I went there, but they don't do anything with formica/plastic, only wood. Back to the ferreteria, and the man didn't have any other ideas, he says formica/plastic is not common here. Maybe I should just remove it and sand and paint that side of the door.
Out at 6, to F-i-P Metro, out at Arc. Got totally turned around trying to find Born CC. Finally got there, and went inside, and there's a line to get into the Carnaval dance event.
No one else (except the performers) in costume, but when the line started moving to let us in, I put on my white mask. Got inside, and soon it was hot and crowded. Too crowded to take pictures; took a few and they were lousy. I edged toward the door, watched the first dance number, music not so interesting, left.
Fun to wander through old town, wearing the mask. Sit in Sant Maria del Mar church (without mask) for a few minutes, and did the same in the cathedral. Through to La Rambla, up to Placa Catalunya, over to Universitat, almost no one in costume. Sat for a little while, then into crowded Metro and home by 8:30.
Out with Dora at 11 or so. To Metro and to Universitat, and found the computer-repair shop (Ccom², AKA Chipnova y Datos SL, at Sepulveda 153bis) we used about 18 months ago. Now the laptop won't even boot, just sits there flashing lights. Their diagnosis is that the display chip is gone, same problem they fixed 18 months ago. I ask if that chip is rated for the 70C the processor seems to be running at; the guy doesn't know. We leave the laptop to be repaired.
To Viena coffee-shop for coffees and cake. Pics. Long stop at a lingerie shop for Dora. Finally into the Metro and home by 2:30 or so. I'm tired and soon go to lie down. Dora starts cooking up a storm.
We have a nice "lomo saltado" and salad dinner: pic.
I went out at 6:30 or so, to find a Carnaval parade a mile or so away. Found it, put on another mask, but it didn't work well, fogged up my glasses. Then the parade started moving, hard to get pictures, lots of groups of kids all in identical uniforms/costumes. I watched and walked along for a few minutes, then headed back home. Saw some interesting street art: pics.
Later, Dora and I tried on the Carnaval masks at home: pics.
Out at 3:15 or so. To ATM, then to Metro. Out at Arc and down to Born CC yet again for another Carnaval event. A small nice jazz/swing band playing, decent saxophone. Some small kids, and a few adults, in good costumes, but very hard to take any pictures. I had my white mask, but didn't put it on, wasn't in the mood. A bit colder today. Street art: pics.
Wandered over to Laetana in time for the parade starting there at 5 or whatever. Nice, lots of horse-drawn wagons and big groups walking, easy to view.
Back to Born CC. More decent music, a different band. Then the "battle of oranges" turned out to be symbolic, just releasing a lot of orange confetti with bright lights and orange balloons that the crowd can tap up into the air. Pics.
Back to Arc and into Metro. Home after 7, cold and tired and hungry.
Leftover rice-beef for dinner. Soon headachey, took a Neobrufen.
Dora home around 9:30.
Still headachey, took a Dolocatil.
Out with Dora at 1. Wanted to make a quick stop at a bank ATM to pay the Jazztel bill, but it turned into stops at two banks, wrestling with ATMs, arguing with tellers, eventually got it done.
Ribs and leftover rice for dinner. Dora off to work 3-9.
Out to buy a squeegee for cleaning windows. Somehow "limpiar ventana" didn't get the idea across. But I got one in second shop I went to.
Headachey again in the evening; took an ibuprofen.
Out at 11 to buy a bulb for the light over the table. LED bulb for €9.
I made a lasagna for dinner. Dora home at 12:30, tired and sleepy. She approved of the lasagna, then off to work at 1:30 or so.
Washed the windows.
Out for a walk, and to buy roses for Dora. I'm flying out the day after Valentine's Day, so I might as well score some points while I'm still here.
Leftover lasagna for dinner. Dora off to work 2-9.
Took down the bathroom door and stripped the curling Formica off the inside of it. Sanded the rough surface. May have to use some wood-filler on it before painting. Put it back up for now.
In the evening, looked at the water-heater exhaust pipe. I think birds are trying to nest in it again; that led to an expensive repair/replacement last year. Good news: the pipe joints are held together with metal-tape, and I was able to undo and then re-do the lower joint. Tomorrow I'll take the whole thing apart and install some kind of screen in the outside end of it.
Started doing another Spanish tax form (720), and I have to gather all kinds of bank info.
Drank some more of the the herb liquor "Cerchar" I bought a few days ago. Not as smooth as the Tunel, but nice.
Took the water-heater exhaust apart and pulled it in. Out to ferreteria and bought metal screen. Raining. Out again, looked at metal tape, too expensive, decided to re-use the old tape. Bought fruit and veg. Home and put the screen on the heater exhaust.
Dora home at 3. I cooked a nice ribs-vegs-rice dinner. Soon Dora crashed for a nap. Later, I joined her.
Up at 6:30 or so. Wanted to go to a parade tonight, but it's cold and Dora doesn't want to go out. There will be parades the next three nights, too.
Trying to gather bank info for the Spanish tax form, and none of the US banks have routing numbers in any of the European systems.
Looked at Social Security estimators (here). I'm expected to live to age 83. The monthly benefits I'll be paid look pretty big to me.
Walked down to Placa Jaume; crowds of people everywhere, since today is a holiday here. Longish line to get into City Hall, but it went reasonably fast. Nice tour inside City Hall; I saw it last year, but Dora has never been inside. Pics.
Out, and to Basilica Sant Just, a church I'm not sure I've ever been inside. Pic. Pleasant, and they had a shrine to the Black Virgin, I think. Dora sprinkled holy water all over me a couple of times.
Out, to Jaume I Metro, to Llucmajor, walk home. I'm tired, lay down for a while. Dora cooks up a nice ribs-and-leftovers dinner. Dora crashes for a nap, and sleeps and sleeps. I join her for a while, then back up.
Out at 8 or so with Dora. To Lucmajor, Metro to Jaume I, to Placa Jaume. Jammed with people. We circle around it, see a pitiful little light show at the Basilica Sant Just, go down Ferran to La Rambla. No sign of the parade I expected. Back to Placa Jaume, watch the light show there, which is pretty awful, with huge rumbling bass through speakers. Lots of people everywhere; surprisingly warm evening. Street art: Pics. Eventually to a cafe for coffees and croissant and crepe. Pics.
Still no sign of parade; maybe it was 9 this morning instead of 9 this evening ? Eventually back to Jaume I Metro and home by 10:45.
I went out for a walk; lovely still warm night, and not many people on the streets here. Hit an ATM, also.
Online, emailed my primary vote in the Democrats Abroad primary; voted for Hillary Clinton.
Bummer: washing machine has stopped working, giving an error code that means something wrong with the motor. I took off the side-panel, pushed and pulled at everything, tried everything I could think of, no luck except the error code changed a couple of times. Gave up. Looked in my files, and we bought that machine used a little more than 13 months ago, so no chance of it being in warranty.
Out at 5:45 or so. Metro to Placa Catalunya. Dora sad because I'm flying out in a day or so, for about 6 weeks. Or maybe she's sad about the washing machine, I'm not sure.
Walked down La Rambla, through hordes of people; never seen it so full. Down to Ferran, and no sign of the parade that should be coming through here from Placa Jaume. But after a few minutes, a police motorcycle came out, and soon went back in escorting a tow truck; I think a parked car might have been blocking the parade. We sat in Placa Reial for a while, then went to Ferran as the parade started approaching. It's a carrefoc, a fire-parade.
Lots of people in devil's costumes, whirling around with sparks flying and then a big bang. Group after group of them, probably about 8 groups. And several groups had dragons or other figures, some spouting sparks and bangs. A mix of adults and some pretty young kids; some of the kids were wearing face-shields. They wound around the corner, onto La Rambla, then into Placa Reial. Crowds of people. Pics.
After a while, we were tired, and decided not to go to the next event, outside the cathedral. Instead, we headed across La Rambla and down a side street, and into Hotel Espana for coffees and chocolates. Sat for an hour or so in a very nice room, all the furnishings very tasteful. Quiet and elegant and even some football on TV, in a discreet sort of way. Pics.
Eventually out, up to Placa Catalunya, and into a crowded Metro train. Home at 9:30. Soon Dora made nice rice-egg-chorizo-friedbanana for a quick meal.
Strong wind and brief fairly heavy rain at 11 or so.
Washing machine giving yet another error code, fourth code so far, one that makes little sense. I fear the main circuit board is failing.
Glued a broken corner on a chair.
Turned on the washer in the morning, left it showing an error code, and a couple of hours later it started running normally. Later, put in a small load of laundry and it ran okay.
Caulked the bathroom sink area. Cooked a ribs-vegs-rice dinner. Out for a walk with Dora.
Online, filed my 720 (foreign assets declaration) form to Agencia Tributaria. A pain, had to list all details of every bank account.
Out at 8:15, over to the big bar on F-i-P to watch Barca play Celta de Vigo. But the place was almost full, and we got stuck at a table in a high-traffic area and far from the nearest TV screen. Several 4-person tables had one person sitting at each; we got grief here a couple of months ago when the two of us tried to sit at a 4-person table, and the place wasn't full then.
The game was okay, the coffee okay, the montaditos mediocre, the service poor. By halftime (1-1), we'd had enough, and went home.
Iberia couldn't find my reservation; their flights here always are screwed up for me. People at American desk fixed the problem, put me on a flight 25 minutes earlier. Through Security, hustled to gate, waited, got on, flight took off late through stiff cross-winds.
Uneventful flight to Madrid, exciting landing through more cross-winds, train to other terminal, passport check, security questions, more check, finally to gate. Wi-Fi but no AC power.
Long flight; why is this one taking 8.5 hours from Madrid to Philly, when usually Barcelona-Philly takes about that long ? Got headachesy; took an ibuprofen and later a sumatriptan. They kept giving us lots of food and drink. Lots of movies on the screen, and I played backgammon and listened to my MP3 player.
Arrived on time, I think. Plenty of snow on the ground but not on the roads. A couple of degrees below freezing, but it's supposed to be quite warm tomorrow. Through Immigration and baggage and Customs. Got just enough Wi-Fi to send email to my brother. Caught 5:11 train, connect, picked up by my brother, home by 7:15. About 18 hours of travel.
My brother says my timing is good; the weekend had the lowest temperatures of the whole winter, and I missed them. And of course a couple of weeks ago, they had a blizzard that dumped more than 2 feet of snow here.
Napped for a while, did the dishes, then out to ATM, for a walk, then to Dia for groceries. Out again later for a short walk and then bought fruit and veg.
Out at noon with Dora. Metro to Horta to go to a tax office. Back home, and I cooked beef-onion-peppers-tomato over leftover rice for dinner.
Dora out to work before 3. I went out before 4, Metro to Universitat and then walked to computer place to pick up repaired laptop (€98). Walked down through CCCB/MACBA area, over to La Rambla. Into Tourist Info to get a bus map, but turns out they're available at office back in Universitat station. Long Metro ride home, some problem with the doors on the train, we sat for several minutes at a couple of stations, and the driver switched from front car to back car halfway through the trip. To hardware store to look (unsuccessfully) for an LED bulb.
Out again later for a few groceries. Dora home at 8:30 or so.
Out for a nice walk around noon. Neighborhood is much quieter than usual, most shops closed, far fewer people on the sidewalks, nice. We wandered down F-i-P, then stopped for coffees in our favorite bakery/cafe.
Nice ribs-rice-salad dinner around 2:30.
Out at 4:30 and down the street to Heron City Center to go to a movie. Saw La Modista (The Dressmaker); nice, but in Spanish so I couldn't quite follow all of it.
Suddenly occurred to me that right now, plus or minus a couple of weeks, marks 15 years that I've been retired. [A reader dug up the old log entry: last day of work was 1 March 2001, at age 43.]
Out a couple of times in late afternoon to walk and do a lot of grocery shopping.
Turns out Dora is working 24 hours, so not coming home tonight.
Put something together and into the oven. It was supposed to be hamburger-bourginon, but I couldn't find sour cream (crema agria) in the stores, just kind of put together some hamburger, mushrooms, noodles, mushroom soup, mushroom cream. However it comes out, good or bad, I'll eat it. [It was edible.]
Out for a couple of walks during the day. Couldn't get rid of a slight headache; took a Dolocatil early in the morning, a Neobrufen around noon, a muscle-relaxant in the afternoon, finally nailed it with a sumatriptan later. Leftover hamburger-noodle thing for dinner, and Dora said it wasn't too bad.
Out at 9 or so, down to Heron City Center, found a bar/cafe to watch the Espana-Romania football game while having coffees and some chicken and onion rings.
Did some caulking in the bathroom.
Out again at 5:30 or so. Bought more caulk. Walked. LED lightbulb store still closed, even though sign says it should be open. To Dia to buy groceries.
Out again at 7, to a couple of stores, but started feeling sick and had to rush home.
Around 2, back to Metro, Dora off to work, I headed home. Stopped at ATM for cash.
Made chicken and leftover rice for dinner.
Out at 5:40, to Metro, change at Vall d'Hebron, down to Lesseps. Found the language school by 6:15. Took a little written test, then a small oral test by the teacher. Paid €183 for a month or so and a coursebook (expected it to be €165).
Out at 6:48 and caught the H6 bus. Which turned out to be a mess: standing room only, lots of traffic, construction, took an unexpected loop. Home by 7:35. So I guess I'll be taking the Metro to and from school.
Studied the new Spanish coursebook, to try to catch up to the existing class. Not too bad, got about halfway there, much of it I've studied before.
I went out at 8:40, to Metro, connect, to Lesseps, to language school by 9:15 for 9:30 class. Did a little paperwork and studying, then suddenly everyone showed up right at 9:30. Three female students, female teacher, and me. Material is identical to what I had in an earlier class, but a little more room for questions and explanations in English in this class, which is nice. Students from Denmark and Lithuania, and one who is a French teacher here, didn't catch where she's from.
Good class, gave some homework, and I have to read more of the coursebook to cover what they've already covered. But I'm ahead of a couple of the other students in several ways, and struggling to understand some other areas. Typical. Done at 11:30. Outside, checked out an interesting raised sculpture-plaza thing for a few minutes, then into the Metro and home.
Dora home at 2:30 or so, and we had ribs-and-rice dinner, then soon crashed for a long nap. I went out for walks and grocery-shopping in the evening, then Dora went out to work a 9 PM to 9 AM shift.
Out for a walk and grocery shopping in midafternoon.
Online, ordered a small fan through ebay.es, for delivery through correospaq. Paypal converted €16 to $18.71, which is a rate of $1.17/€. Google shows $1.14/€ today, so not too bad a rate. Euro has strengthened a bit since a couple of months ago, when it was more like $1.11.
Out for another walk. Weather colder, hordes of people on the sidewalks. Dora home around 9.
At 7:45, out, and longish walk over to Sant Andreu and the clinic where Dora is working today. Started looking for a bar that will be showing El Clasico (Barca vs Real Madrid) at 8:30. As I expected, every single bar that is going to show it is jam-packed, every seat taken. Went into 4 or 5 bars and not even a stool at the bar is vacant.
Ended up sitting in the plaza and watching an outdoor screen at a bar, from a bit of a distance, with about 20 other people. No problem, I don't care so much about the game. Nice people-watching, and it's a nice evening.
Dora came out of work a little after 9, we walked around a long block looking for a place to watch the game, or just a cafe. Places closing up. Gave up, into Metro. 8-minute wait for a train, because there's a slowdown going on today. Eventually home. Barca scored as we got to our building, and someone came out of a bar and started setting off rockets that went up and exploded loudly. Later, we heard Barca lost 2-1.
Used an electric-stimulation device on the muscles in my arm, to try to ease the tendinitis. Not sure if it helped.
Out after noon. To Metro, out at Diagonal, walked down Rambla Catalunya. Today is an event called "Stroll With A Hat", and lots of people are wearing nice or funny hats. Fun to look at, but some of them are strolling at a snail's pace, stopping for photos, clogging up the place. It got to be a bit much.
Down to Placa Catalunya, sat there for a while, then down Placa Angels. Stopped for a while to listen to a nice horn band; I've seen them there before: pic. Down to the cathedral plaza, and sat there for a while. Then down to Placa Rei and into a couple of parts of MUHBA, the Barcelona city history museum, which is free today. Eventually out and into Metro and home, tired.
Ate a sandwich, did some computer, took a nap. Woke up with a bad headache. Took a sumatriptan, but it didn't really work.
Around 7, took a paracetamol-plus, and that worked. Went out and bought a roast chicken for dinner, had some with rice, felt better yet.
Online, filed FBAR tax form with US Treasury Dept.
Leftover roast-chicken and rice dinner, then Dora off to work at 2. Later I went out for a walk and bought some fruit and veg.
Out for a long walk around 8.
I'm thinking of going on a trip to Valencia, even though Dora can't go (she has to work). She's upset by that, and when I asked her where I should stay in Valencia (she stayed there for a while, once), she suggested "in the river".
To the Spanish class. Only two students today, me and the French-teacher. Which was good and bad; lots of attention, but little time to look up words. Asked questions got things repeated, learned some stuff. Out before 11:30, home.
Ribs-beans-salad dinner. Dora off to work; I crashed for a semi-nap.
Out to El Corte Ingles to pay the electricity bill.
Online on AirBNB, submitted a reservation for a room in Valencia Spain (about 3 hours south of Barcelona) for 2 weeks in May-June, about €20 per night ($314 total). I'll be going by myself; Dora has to work. She's very unhappy about me going by myself, and unhappy that we won't be together on my birthday. But I decided I'll never go anywhere if I have to keep waiting to find out when she might be free. Room reservation confirmed a minute later.
Online on RENFE, bought train tickets roundtrip to Valencia for €40.50 (about $47).
Around 7:30, went out and met Dora at F-i-P Metro on the way home from work, and went to a cafe for coffees.
At home, got phone calls about my online order of a fan; apparently their delivery service won't deliver to CorreosPaq.
Watched Barca play Atletico Madrid on TV. Seemed a rough game, lots of yellow cards and a red. I saw about half of the game, and must have seen 6-8 yellow cards. Barca won 2-1.
Dora out to bank; I started cooking turkey. Turkey and rice dinner.
I walked Dora to the Metro, then she was off to work and I went for a small walk. Gorgeous afternoon.
In the evening, out for a long walk.
Leftover-turkey-rice and salad dinner with Dora.
Headache; took a paracetamol-plus and napped.
Finally got delivery of a fan I ordered online. Vendor didn't give the name properly, so delivering it through CorreosPaq failed.
Still have headache; took a Neobrufen.
Online, bought tickets for Dora's parents to fly to Peru in September, my gift to them. Her father is getting old, this may be his last chance to go, their relatives back home are dying off.
Couldn't get rid of my headache until after I had some fruit and drank a big glass of water. Not sure if the sugar or the water did it.
Walked Dora to the Metro after 2, then I went for a walk and to buy some fruit and veg. Sunny, breezey, cool afternoon.
Out at 6 for a walk and to buy an electrical plug. Raining.
Out again at 8 for a walk; very light rain.
Online, bought tickets for a tennis tournament about a week from now. Just for the first day of qualifying, probably won't see anyone well-known. But I've never been to a professional tennis tournament.
Did a load of laundry.
Out after noon. Hit an ATM. Longish walk down past Hipercor and into Sagrera area, to find a food-fair at an abandoned warehouse/factory place, Nau Bostick. Event is a bit small, but some nice-looking women. Confusion when I tried to buy something: signs everywhere that you have to buy tokens, but turns out those are only for buying drinks, everything else is cash, and the people manning one table under a sign talking about the tokens aren't selling the tokens, some people at other tables are doing that. Finally got a Chicken Korma, which was tasty but slightly small.
To Sagrera Metro, and down to Placa Catalunya. Hordes of people everywhere. Sat on La Rambla for a while, strolled halfway down, went into a free historic-photography-of-Barcelona exhibit in La Virreina Centre de la Imatge. I didn't know there had been some kind of worker's revolution in 1909, the Semana Tragica. Also nice pics of the exposition in 1929, and some 1930's film, etc.
More strolling on La Rambla, went into Art Santa Monica, exhibits disappointing, but a bathroom and then a comfy sofa. Down near the Columbus statue, then into the Metro, connect, out at Virrei Amat. Grocery shopping, and home after 4, tired and footsore.
Made spaghetti for dinner.
Online, ordered LED lightbulbs. From Hong Kong, for 1/7th the price they cost here. They'll take 6 weeks or more to get here, may not make it through Customs, and we'll see if the delivery through CorreosPaq works.
Yahoo Mail has been down all day.
Ribs, rice, salad for dinner.
Offered to go out with Dora to various things tonight, including dancing at a disco, but instead she chose staying home and watching TV.
Later, brought in an exercise machine from the balcony, but looks like parts of it are missing. Out for a walk, tried to pay tax bill at ATMs but failed, bought groceries.
Online, trying to buy tickets for a vacation to Rome, found the flights I want, nothing happens when I click the "continue booking" button to buy. Tried again and again, closed it for half an hour and tried a couple more times, finally changed to a different browser and it worked right away.
Out for a late-night walk.
Beef and rice dinner with Dora. Found the console part of the exercise machine; still missing some tubes.
Out for a couple of walks. Dora home an hour early from work.
Online, started doing my Spanish income tax return for 2015.
Out with Dora after 11. To government complex, then bank, then Post Office. Need to go to another bank a bit far away, running out of time. Back home, and I cooked spaghetti and a couple of ribs. Quick dinner, then I'm off to a special Spanish class.
Metro to the Spanish school by 1:30. One-hour free class about common gestures on the street in Spain. My usual teacher, but I didn't know any of the other 5 students. Most of them were a little more advanced than me. A fairly fun class, learned a few things. Watched a funny video. A web site about Spanish gestures: Diccionario de Gestos Españoles.
Out at 2:30, and walked across and then up to Park Guell. Past a pretty quiet "Hate the Police" demonstration with some tough-looking police troops watching it from across the alley and staring it down. Into the park, bustling as usual. Eventually climbed up to the top area, sat for a while. Down lots of steps, out, down side streets, eventually found the street I wanted and found a stop for the 32 bus. Bus came in about 2 minutes, home after 4, tired.
Online, plane tickets for Rome trip are confirmed, so that's good.
Tried to use the CD-player in the living room to play my Spanish-class CD, and found the speakers connected all wrong or not at all. Stripped wires, fixed everything, got it going. For some reason, can control volume only via remote control, can control track only via front panel buttons. Then I listened to the CD and understood almost nothing of what they were saying, didn't get the point of 2/3 of the homework; discouraging.
Out later for a walk and to try to add money to a couple of cellphones, but internet was down in the phone place.
Dora home a bit early, and cooked some egg-and-rice for us.
Did more work on Spanish income tax return. Had to switch to a different browser to make it work.
Through AirBNB, reserved an apartment in Rome for our vacation in mid-May: apartment. About $105 per day for a 6-day stay.
As usual, one other student in class. First 1/4 was mostly listening to audio, and I did terribly (so did the other student; audio speaking much too fast for a beginner class). I'm feeling bad; made it about 3/4 of the way through, then I really started to fade. Out before 11:30, Metro to home, took a sumatriptan, went to bed.
Later, signed for a letter from post-carrier, took a Neobrufen, had some lunch, back to bed. After a while my head started feeling better. Dora home before 3 and started cooking. Ribs and green rice for dinner.
I napped a little, later went out for a couple of walks and to get the cellphones recharged, buy groceries, buy more ribs.
Around 8, we crashed into bed. Up a bit later for a while; if I keep sleeping now, I'll wake up at 3 AM and be unable to get back to sleep. Spent some time cleaning up Dora's Yahoo email Inbox, which had 3000 unread messages and who knows how many read messages. Installed a bunch of filters to try to cut down on the spam that is flooding in, and deleted about half of the messages.
Out before 11, to ATM, then out with Dora to Metro and then train. Most of the way across town, to a Justice Ministry building, to find out about legal papers sent to Dora. I started fading again while I waited for her, tired and a little headachey. Finally she was done (with no joy, pretty much a wasted trip). Out to a nearby cafe, took a Dolacatil and had coffee and a sandwich, felt a bit better. Back to train, then Metro, hot and crowded trip back to F-i-P. Dora off in one direction to bank and then work, I went home, in by 1:45, time to lie down for a while.
Napped, took a Neobrufen, ate some leftover rice, had a yogurt, napped some more. Still feeling punk.
Dora home at 8:45, I went out for a quick trip to the fruit/veg shop. There's supposed to be a free concert of some kind at the Nou Barris govt complex at 9, but I don't feel like walking that far, probably not a good idea.
Dora made rib-egg-rice for dinner.
Took a melatonin at 11; we'll see if that does anything. Took a Neobrufen at 11:30. Slept okay, but woke up headachey.
Dora called at 10:45, and I took a Neobrufen and went out to meet her after work. Metro through Sants Estacio and to Palau Reial. She was hiding in a Dunkin Donuts, so it took a few minutes to find her. Sipped some coffee, then out and up to Pedralbes Tennis Club to see first day (qualifying) of a tennis tournament. A first time for both of us, just wanted to see it. Pleasant and interesting, but I'm still headachey. Pics. Watched about 90 minutes of tennis and called it a day. Out and down to Avinguda Diagonal, checked out menus on several cafes and restaurants, decided to go home. Into Metro and eventually out, stopped to buy a roast chicken, home by 3:15 or so.
Dinner of chicken and rice, then in for a nap. I'm still feeling bad. Napped for an hour and a half or so, still no better. Took a Nolotil.
Feeling worse in the evening. Running a slight fever, I think, and using an ice-pack gave some relief for a while. Slight sore throat on one side, but looking at it with a mirror, it seems normal. Dora saying I might have the flu, but I'm not coughing or nauseous. Around 10, took another Nolotil and a Melatonin, and soon went to bed. Felt reasonable until 4 AM or so, took a Neobrufen.
We had some chicken-noodle soup, then I went back in for a nap for a couple of hours.
Woke up feeling a bit worse. Dora says I have a fever (38.7C, BP 135/95). Out for a short walk, back for more napping, soon headache got worse. Took a Nolotil and a Dolocatil and started Zitromax (Azitromicina) anti-biotic. Used an ice-pack. And Dora thinks she's starting to get sick too.
Ate some chicken and chicken soup, and felt better. Soon took a Nolotil and a Melatonin and went to bed. Felt and slept pretty well. Took a Paracetamol-plus at 5 AM or so.
Ribs/rice/salad dinner with Dora, then she was off to work at 2 or so. I'm still feeling pretty good, a little tired, still have a sore throat.
Went for a walk, felt tired but okay. Later took a Neobrufen.
Online, read and translated about 30 pages of the instructions for the Spanish income tax, trying to pull out key terms.
Went for a walk and bought some groceries. Dora home around 8:30.
Fading by 10. Took a Dolocatil and went to bed early.
Slept horribly, just could not get settled.
Took a Paracetamol-plus around 5 AM.
Took a Dolocatil and an anti-biotic. Ribs/rice dinner with Dora, then she went off to work.
I felt tired all afternoon. Later went out for a walk, bought some groceries. Dora home early. I took a Neobrufen and we had some tea, and I felt a little better.
Out with Dora to bank, to El Corte Ingles to send money to her mother, to Subway for coffees. Dora's father had a health scare yesterday, but the news today seems good. Home at 12:30, ate yogurt, out at 12:45. Into Metro and to Spanish school.
Another special "clase de cultura" today, this time about Sant Jordi (St George). Saturday is Dia Sant Jordi, when a man is supposed to give a rose to his woman, and the woman gives a book to the man. An interesting class, learned a lot about St George and the holiday, learned some Spanish too. St George probably born in Turkey, was Roman soldier posted to Tarragona area, in 5th century AD. Around 15th century, nobles merged his name and sainthood with a flower festival. Then in 1995, someone stuck a "books and author's rights" component onto it, in Catalunya only, I think.
Out at 2:30, loafed a bit, strolled down Gran de Gracia, eventually to Diagonal Metro. Lots of walking inside the station, and the trains are packed. Eventually out at Virrei Amat, stopped at fruit/veg shop, home.
Out for a walk in early evening, bought some groceries at Dia.
Dora home before 9, and I was cooking stuff. Added a bottle of pesto sauce, boiled spaghetti, and we had dinner. It met with Dora's approval.
Slog through rain to Metro, connect, out into heavy rain, to school. Wet feet. Class was okay, dragged a bit as usual. Listened to a bunch of audio, both of us had a hard time understanding most of it. Back through rain to Metro, home.
Afternoon got sunny, so we did some laundry.
Leftover spaghetti and pesto-egg-etc for dinner.
Turkey-and-rice for dinner. Dora out to work before 2.
Went for a couple of walks, bought some groceries, bought a rose to give to Dora for Dia Sant Jordi. Dora home after 8. Quiet evening.
Into Metro, crowded, connect at Urquinaona, packed, out at Barceloneta, hordes of people. Over to Catalan History museum, free entry today. Spent an hour or two in there, pretty interesting.
Out and sat on the seawall for a little while, throngs of people and lots of souvenir-vendors. Into Costa Coffee, had coffee for Dora and a scrumptious caramel latte for me. Bought another rose for Dora, and grabbed another that someone abandoned on a nearby table.
Into Metro, stopped to buy fruit and veg, home by 4:15 or so. Leftover turkey and rice for dinner. Put laundry out to dry, and soon the sunny day turned grey and trying to rain.
Leftover turkey-rice and salad for dinner, then Dora off to work before 2.
Loafed all afternoon. Out in the evening to buy groceries at Caprabo and ribs at the butcher shop. Out again later for a walk and buy fruit/veg.
Ribs-rice-salad dinner with Dora, then she was off to work.
Out for a couple of long walks and various grocery shopping in the afternoon and evening. Sunny and cool.
On the computer, spent some time reading Spanish income tax instructions, until my head hurt.
Quick ribs-rice-salad dinner, then I'm off at 12:50 to a special Spanish class. Today is the second day of a Metro slow-strike. No delays for me, but the opposite platform was full, and my second train was full.
Spanish class not so good. It was about films, about which I know little, and most students were a much higher level than me, and the teacher made no concessions. Learned some new words, not too bad.
Out at 1:30, and the Metro is worse now. Opposite platform is jammed, and when a train came, only 2/3 of the people could get on. On my side, not too crowded, but the "time to next train" kept hopping up and down. Had to wait 10+ minutes for a train, which was crowded, then slow. Sat at a couple of stations for a couple of minutes with the doors open. Eventually made it to Vall d'Hebron, down escalators, lots of people waiting, and a train arrived fairly soon. We packed onto it, and it sat there for several minutes without moving. Slow trip with the train getting more packed as we went along. Got home at 3:30, took an hour total instead of the usual 35 minutes or so. But at least I was nowhere near the city-center, where it's probably horrible. Dora probably had a bit of slow time getting to work too, but she wasn't going into the center either.
Out in the early evening for a walk, mail a letter to USA, do grocery-shopping. Weather grey and trying to rain.
Headachey; took a Paracetamol.
To school, and found that the other student won't be there today, so just the teacher and me. A good class, I did a lot of speaking and then we went through everything I said and she corrected it, then we went over some new stuff, watched a little bit of a video, went over some common expressions. Then good-bye, maybe I'll be back in a few months, maybe not. Back to Metro, home after noon.
I started cooking turkey-garlic-onion-mushrooms around 2. Dora home at 3:45, had it over leftover rice.
Dora studying medical stuff for an exam. In the evening, I went out for a long walk, cool weather so I put my hood up. Drew a quick picture of Dora studying (pic); I've been meaning to try some drawing and painting. Guess I have some room for improvement.
Rice and leftover chicken for dinner, then crashed for a big nap.
I want to go to the center, but Dora has to study, and she slept late this morning and then napped long this afternoon. So I went out by myself at 5. L1 Metro to Catalunya, strolled down La Rambla, over to CCCB. The advertised "get onto the roof of the museum" turned out to be just "get into the room on the top floor", which I've been in before. Wandered a bit, then found the plaza where there's supposed to be a big flea market, but no sign of it. Over to La Rambla again, into Santa Maria del Pi for a while, over to the cathedral, into the cloisters, then sat out in the cathedral plaza for a while. Wandered to Jaume I Metro, sat there for a while, then into Metro and home by 7:45, feet tired.
Out at 8:30, around the corner to a bar to watch the Real Madrid - Manchester City football game. Dora joined me after 9. We went home at halftime. Game ended with no scoring in second half.
Took down the bathroom door and put a coat of paint on it and the doorframe. Cleanup was a disaster because the paint is oil-based and I didn't buy any paint-thinner. Rubbing-alcohol didn't work. Threw away the brush and roller, and ended up with my left hand fairly white (la mano blanca).
Paint drying slower than I expected; will have to leave the bathroom door off overnight.
Out for a walk and sit in the plaza. Dora home after 3. I'm headachey still; took a Nolotil capsule. Dora cooked mushroom-sauce and pasta and eggs for dinner. I napped.
Out for a walk in the evening; cloudy and threatening to rain. Bought a brush and roller in the big ferreteria, but got confused looking at cans of paint thinner and didn't buy any of that.
Back out soon, but now there are 4 people waiting at the ATM. Checked a couple more bakeries, tried to pay at the phone store but one customer is doing something complicated there, checked a couple more stores for cakes, went home without accomplishing anything but exercise.
Dora changing her mind about what she wants to do; finally we head out. Down across Meridiana and a long walk to Deutschebank where she has to do something. To a Chinese restaurant for lunch, and they're slow and there's more food than we expected, but it's nice. Finally drop Dora off at the Metro, a bit late for going to work. I walk up F-i-P and try the ATM again, put in the phone number, and now it's asking me for some ID number, and I have 6 of them, which does it want ? Gave up and went home.
Put another coat of paint on the bathroom door and doorframe.
Out for a long walk in early evening. Looked into a bakery, finally went to Mercadona and bought a lovely big cheesecake for only €7. Out for another walk later.
Dora home around 9:30. Dinner of leftover Chinese food and leftover spaghetti-mushroom. Then a couple of big slices of cheesecake for each of us; delicious.
Did touch-up painting on the bathroom door; it may need another coat, which means another can of paint. Also painted the wood strip along the bottom of the mirror in the bathroom. Did that a couple of times; the wood is drinking the paint in.
Finally did a load of laundry, despite the weather. Maybe it will dry tomorrow morning.
Went for a long walk in the evening, paid phone/internet bill at BBVA ATM, bought fruit, then home and cooked spaghetti for dinner.
Out for another walk at 11 or so. Put more paint on the wood strip under the bathroom mirror.
Dora home at 9:30, and we crashed for a long nap. Later, I put the bathroom door back on, and it looks okay. Better than it did with the formica peeling off, better than it did with the gouges and glue exposed, but not great. Pics before and after.
Dora stirring after 1. he started cooking rice, I went out into the rain, to the Peruvian place, to buy a roast chicken. Group behind me ordered 5 chickens. Home and ate.
Out at 5 with Dora. Down a block or so, to a bar we've never been in, to watch some of the Barca-Espanyol game. Sloppy game but fun to watch, but there's a guy smoking just outside the door and ducking back in, another guy yelling at the ref half the time, and a woman with flu sitting next to Dora. So after 25 minutes or so, at halftime with score 2-0 Barca, we left.
Went for a nice long walk and eventually home. Watched last 20 minutes of another game on TV. Barca won their game 5-0. Out for another walk later.
Online, starting to research details for what we will do on our trip to Rome (3 days from now), and tickets for the big museum Borghese Gallery are sold out already. But there are half a dozen other huge wonderful museums and palazzos to see, not to mention buildings and ruins and shopping and restaurants.
Online, more wrestling with the Spanish income tax forms. They're starting to make some sense: found the pages for interest income, dividends, capital gains/losses from stock trades.
Trip to Rome:
We doze on the flight, tired from getting up early. Land a few minutes early, off the plane, no Immigration or Customs check since we're staying inside the EU. Buy train tickets from a kiosk at baggage claim (first time I've used my credit card in chip-and-PIN mode; good thing I looked up and memorized the PIN yesterday). Then our bags come out. Longish walk to the train, and our timing is good, train arrives 5 minutes later. Some trouble validating the tickets; you have to put them in the opposite of the way the arrow on the ticket points ! Train is warm; no air-conditioning. No space for luggage, which is strange for a train to the airport. Not a lot of legroom, either.
About 6 stops and half an hour to Trastevere station, out, find our street easily, and the landlady is waiting on the sidewalk outside. I'd tried to send her an SMS from the train saying we were arriving, but she didn't get it. Good thing we're right on the time I estimated in email to her a week ago.
Apartment is nice; clean and new and high ceilings. One nasty surprise: extra €42 (€3/person/day) for tax to the police/govt. Would have been nice if that had been mentioned in the AirBNB page. They leave us by 12:50, and we relax and start to settle in. Pics. Wi-Fi works, and our Spanish AC plugs fit the outlets here.
Showers, and relax a bit. Out at 1:45 or so. To train station, but no Tourist Info there. Back past our apartment, exploring the neighborhood. Pic. Ate lunch at a Kebab shop; food okay. Wandered some more, found supermercado, bought groceries, home by 3:15. TV remote doesn't work.
Napped, then out at 4:45. To train station, bought 7-day Metro/bus/train passes (€24 each). Did my good deed for the day: saw a woman drop her multi-day pass, ran after her to return it to her. Found the right train. Two stops, and off at San Pietro station.
A longish walk to St Peters in light rain, and we managed to do a circle around the outside (long) before getting to the entrance we wanted [turns out we did it right; going the other way would have been much longer, around all of Vatican City]. My sneakers have little tread left, and the smooth cobblestones are very slippery when wet. Lots of people sheltering under the huge arcade around the plaza. We were trying to go in through the "Holy Door", and I think we didn't manage it, but Dora thinks we did. Supposedly if you go in through it, your sins are washed away, although there's some fine print about that.
In through the vault, where a couple dozen dead Popes have crypts, then up to the Basilica. Loads of people in there, but the place is enormous. Pics. A Mass is finishing, and we saw the Cardinal (I think it was Angelo Comastri) leaving afterward, wearing white robes and a red skullcap. Took lots of pictures, huge sculptures, enormous place, as the guides start to shoo everyone out of the central area.
Outside, and the rain has mostly stopped. A longish walk down Via Conciliatori to the Castel Sant Angelo. Looking for the Tourist Info offices, first near St Peters and later near the Castel, but never found either one of them. Castel closing as we arrived there, not that I was expecting to go in today. Hung around the Tiber River for a little while. Pics. Then down to a major bus stop in front of a hospital. I read the maps correctly and we took a 23 bus to where we needed to go, but got off one stop early (the only map we have apparently doesn't show ALL of the bridges).
But perfect placement, we're in a major restaurant area. Pic. Back and forth trying to choose, finally into Osteria Pizzeria Margherita. I had a nice beer, we shared a roast aubergine with tomato and cheese etc. Dora had spaghetti (a little disappointing, and VERY al dente) and I have ravioli with artichoke and bacon (nice, but not great). €38 total.
Out and walked down to the next bridge. Caught tram 8 easily, took it to Trastevere station. At the corner to our apartment, intercepted by the landlady's husband, here to fix the TV remote. He's been waiting an hour ! I'd emailed that we might be back by 8 or so, maybe, and we actually got back at 9. We apologize a lot, and he says it's no problem, and soon has new batteries in the remote and all is well.
Out at 10:30 or so ? Sunny weather ! To tram stop, took tram to end of line near Piazza Venezia, next to Monument Vittorio Emanuele (pic). Slowly got oriented, made our way up to Via del Corso. Stopped in a couple of shops. Into San Marcello church (pics), which is stuffed wall-to-wall with art and chapels etc. Up the street to Tourist Info, where all they had was one kind of map, which we added to another Dora grabbed out of a puddle yesterday. Still don't have a really detailed map of just the center.
Back down Via del Corso, and eventually up to the top of Capitoline Hill (I think), to Capitoline Museum. €14 apiece to get in. Huge place, full of art. First to the underground level, which has a bunch of old tombstones and coffins, but ended with a balcony with a great view of the Forum. Back out, took lift upstairs, started going through rooms full of paintings and sculptures. Nice, but some of it not labeled. Several enormous spectacular halls, with enormous paintings or frescoes. Pics. This place could use more benches to sit on; getting tired. Half of the visitors are speaking English. To a central octagonal hall, with several gorgeous huge statues. Looked through some more art, half-heading to the exit. Eventually out to the central square. Sat for a few minutes to gather ourselves.
Down the hill, generally heading for the tram, and found a decent-looking cafe (Bar Rudy). Had sodas and bruschetta and chicken (for Dora) and lasagna (for me) for lunch. Food is okay, and it really hits the spot for us, and €18 total.
To the tram. Crowded; had to stand. Got off at the right stop (they don't have signs), into the supermarket for a few items, home a bit after 3. Soon crashed for a big nap.
Out a little before 8. To tram, to Venezia, and hustled up Via del Corso to the San Marcello church again, for a free concert (pics). It got started 5 or 10 minutes late, but had a nice soprano and a baritone and the pipe-organ, performing several Ave Marias and some Bach and Mozart etc. Nice, and fun to look around the church some more.
Out, and up Corso, then eventually over to Trevi Fountain, which is a bit of a mob scene. Up to Via Tritone, but the shops are closed now. Over and down to Quarione, and back towards Trevi Fountain. I'm coaxing Dora to do some shopping, and finally she buys a couple of dresses for €10 each. Then I'm looking for some dinner, Dora says she's not hungry. Eventually I pick a place, Al Picchio. I order a sausage-mushroom pizza and a sambuca romana, Dora orders the spaghetti pesto. The place is nice, and the food is terrific (pics), and I get a buzz from the sambuca. Dora had no problem eating all of her pesto. €27 total.
Out, past Trevi Fountain, down Corso, back to the tram. We're not sure if this is one of the last of the evening, or they run for another half-hour, but we're on and we have seats. Home by 11:30.
Crossed the river (pic), and to Piazza del Popolo. Not too interesting there. Pics.
Down Via del Babuino, and I talked Dora into going into a place for lunch. Nice place, fine decor. Terrific pizza, poor lasagna (just pasta and tomato sauce). Pic. I think we've learned: when in Rome, don't order the lasagna. With sodas, total came to €30.
Walked down to Spagna (Spanish Steps), but the steps are closed, everyone is just milling around below. We decided to head home, after 3.
Into Metro, took it to Valle Aurelia, across and into train station. Jumped onto a train just before it pulled out, and turns out we picked the wrong direction. No problem, we'll get off at the next stop and turn around. Nope, this is an EXPRESS. And there are no seats, so we have to stand. Ticket-checker skipped us; I think he recognized idiot tourists. Fortunate, because eventually the train took us outside the permitted zone for our passes, and if someone checks us, we could be fined.
Train breezed through about 8 stations, finally let us out at La Storta. Across to the other side, fortunately without having to go through a ticket-check. Train heading back is going to be a local, of course, supposed to be here in 8 minutes, and ends up being about 15 minutes late. Fortunately plenty of seats when we get on, so it's not a bad trip back.
Off at Trastevere, home at 4:40. Tired. Napped, snacked, computed.
Out around 8:30. Took tram to river. Walked S along it in Travastere, but it's a somewhat barren area. Looped back up to the main road and across it, and much more activity there. All the restaurants are crowded, lots of street vendors. Dora bought a scarf. Got a bit lost, asked which way to the river, backtracked. No nice place to have coffee, not even anywhere to sit down and rest; this town needs a lot of street-benches like they have in Barcelona.
Bought a big 3-flavor gelato and enjoyed that. Out to the river, back down to the main road, Dora bought a hot chocolate and we sat on the base of a fountain/monument and drank that and rested for a while. Then onto the tram, off, bought a few groceries at a mini-mart, and home after 10:30. Had bread and cheese for a late dinner.
Out around 11. Rainy. To tram stop, took it to the end. Raining harder now. Over toward Monument de Vittori Emanuel, and bought a smallish umbrella from a vendor for €5. Up some steps to get the view from halfway up the monument. Down, around corner and walking down toward the Colosseum. Puddles, raining, lots of people. Pics. To the Colosseum, took a couple of pictures, kept going. Went a little too far before turning left; I'm trying to find the Monti district, which is supposed to have good shopping. Through a park, eventually got to where I wanted to be, raining harder now. Ducked into entrance of the National Oriental Museum, found a couple of chairs, and relaxed and watched the rain for 15 minutes. Raining harder.
Out, headed down Via Giovanni Lanza, and not finding the promised shopping. Now Dora just wants to go home. I coax her into a pizza place, which turns out to be tiny, expensive, no hot drinks. Out of there, down to Cavour Metro, into a restaurant across the street, La Archetta. Nice place, but the tables are jammed together, elbow to elbow. When I say something to Dora, I can feel the two couples on either side listening to every word.
We have nice caffe-lattes (but in tall glasses instead of cups with handles; too hot to hold for a while). Nice bruschettas. But they screw up our orders and bring the wrong food, and we have to wait an extra 10 minutes. Finally spaghetti-pesto for Dora, and fettucine alfredo for me. Mine is quite nice, but Dora's food isn't hot enough. Every time I look outside, it's raining harder. Total comes to €36.
Out, down into Metro, quickly get train to Piramide station. There, we have a lot of trouble finding the train we want, which is strange, we only need to go one stop, I thought there would be a lot of trains. Finally find it, on, get seats, short trip. Out at Trastevere, rain has stopped, home by 2:30.
Out before 5, hoping to find a Barca or Atletico Madrid football game on a TV in a bar. Raining again. Walked down the main street a ways, to two bars/restaurants I'd seen earlier that had big TV screens, but both places are closed now. Onto the tram and went into the center.
Off the tram, up Via del Corso with a couple of detours, and to a shop we went to the other day. But the scarf Dora liked is gone; someone has bought it.
Over toward the Pantheon, stopping twice to go into churches that looked dumpy from the outside but are huge and marvelous inside. I think first was Oratorio del Caravita, second was Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola. Second church had organ music playing, terrific "tree of knowledge" sculptures everywhere, and then a mass starting. Found that I have left my camera and both maps at home. [But went back the next day: Oratorio pic. Ignazio pics. ]
No good shopping to be found around here. Got to the Pantheon and sat and people-watched for a while. Went past it and started heading back to the tram. Stumbled upon another marvelous church, Basilica Sant'Andrea della Valle, wonderful frescoes and other art.
Eventually worked our way out to a tram stop. Out near home, into the supermercat, glad it was open at 7:30 on a Saturday evening, got a bunch of groceries. Saw a sign outside a bar saying they would have AC Milan football game on the TV at 8:45, but I don't have the energy now. Home by 7:45 or so.
I had expected music and prayers, maybe some other ceremony, but it turned out to be ONLY an appearance by the Pope. At noon, a window opened high up on one of the side buildings, and there was the Pope, and he appeared on a couple of big TV screens too. Pics. Applause from the crowd, 10-15 minutes of speech in Italian which most people didn't understand and half of them ignored, more applause, then the Pope was gone. Dora was a little disappointed; she thought it would go longer or there would be more stuff.
We waited a bit, but there still was a huge flow of people down the Via Angelica and to Via Ottaviano. Stopped in a couple of shops so Dora could buy half the clothing in Rome. Into the Metro, crowded train, out at Barberini stop. Up to street, started walking down Via Tritone, looking in shop windows. I'm running out of energy.
We go into the first restaurant we see, Caffe Academmia, which turns out to be okay but prices 20% higher than usual. I use ATM in the entryway to refill my empty wallet. We have bread and sodas and a simple salad and a pizza (pic), they tack on a service charge, total is €40. Coming out, we go past several smaller places which might have been a better choice (or might have been fully occupied, who knows).
Down to Piazza Colonna. Into a church (Chiesa di Santa Maria in Via), which is nice but a bit darker than most: pic. Across street and into a high-tone shopping mall: pics. Down Via Corso, and we stop in the first two churches we went in yesterday, so I could take pictures this time.
To the Tram stop, and a longish wait for a tram. Two come together, one won't let anyone get on, we all crowd onto the other. As we leave, another arrives. At our destination, after we get off, two more pass by in same direction as us, in quick succession. Home by 4:15 or so, crash for a nap. Later took a paracetamol. Still headachey.
Out at 8:45, into the rain. Down a couple of blocks to a bar, to watch football on TV. Not a bad place, plenty of space to relax, TV maybe a little louder than I'd like. TV is switching among 3 games, spending a minute or two on each one, trying to show the more interesting plays, I guess. It's a little disorienting, but since I don't care about any of the specific teams, it's fine with me. We have coffees and share a pastry. Whole bill comes to €3.70; we should eat in this place for every meal. Left at halftime(s); back home by 9:45.
Still headachey at 11; took a sumatriptan.
Out before noon. Onto tram, into center, went to Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. Huge palace, stuffed with art and marble and huge ballrooms and galleries. Half the paintings were Flemish; the rest classic Italian etc. Nice audioguides, and a fair number of chairs where we could relax while listening and looking at the paintings. A little frustrating that most of the paintings were not in the audioguide, and all of the paintings were labeled with artist's name but no other information. Pics.
Out, looked into a couple shops, bought gelato cones which started dripping the second they were handed to us. Sat near the tram eating them, then onto tram. Home at 3. Still headachey; took a paracetamol, napped.
Out around 6. Took the tram the opposite way, to the far end, just to see what was out there. More shops than I expected along the way, but the far end not too interesting. Took it back in again, almost to the river, but got off and did some shopping at stores and sidewalk vendors; Dora bought a couple things.
Back onto the tram and into the center. To several stores, and Dora bought a couple more things. Sat in San Marcello church for a little while, then back to tram and headed home. Stopped in the small bar for a couple of caffelattes and a panino, everything was fine but then they hit us with a €2 "table charge", so ended up being not so cheap. Home after 8:30.
Still headachey; took an ibuprofen.
Heavy rain at 4:40 AM.
Arrived at 8 for a 9:50 flight, so of course check-in and Security were zero-wait, and the flight is delayed. Sat looking out into the arrivals car drop-off area for a while, and watched as a couple of soldiers and then more and more police appeared, cordoning off an area for the arrival of some bigwig. We waited and waited, to see who it was, but finally a policeman came inside and rousted all of us sitting on our benches, so we gave up and headed to the gate.
Plane took off about 25 minutes late, very cramped legroom, we're very tired. Landed about 20 minutes late, then baggage took 10 or 15 minutes longer than usual. Headachey; took an ibuprofen.
Took Aerobus to Universitat Metro. People handing out free ice-cream cones in the Metro entrance. I had both hands full of luggage and declined, but Dora was smarter and grabbed two, and it turned out to be nice ice-cream and revived me a bit. Had to stand all the way in the Metro.
Dora trying to decide whether to go home or go straight to work; decided on home. Home by 1:40.
Made a big pile of dirty laundry. Dora out the door at 2:05, to work. Started a load of laundry.
My Yahoo email is working again ! Will have to fix the recovery methods to be useful; one was a phone that is not a cell-phone, so can't receive an SMS, other is an alternate email that went down in exactly the same way at the same time as the primary email. GMail working again too. Turns out GMail could have asked me for a verification code or a security question, and I knew the answers, but they didn't ask, just insisted on things I couldn't answer.
I loafed, went out to buy groceries, went out for a walk. Nice to be back in Barcelona.
Dora home at 8:15, not exhausted as I had expected. I cooked pesto-spaghetti for dinner.
Trip to Valencia:
Smooth ride, up to 200 KPH at times, listening to my MP3 players, trying to sleep a bit. Arrived 5 minutes late, at 11:15, but to the south station instead of the north station. Found the shuttle bus stop and started to wait for it, but within 30 seconds realized I could see the north station, and the streets I wanted weren't all the way up to the entrance of it. So, started walking, rolling heavy suitcase and computer bag.
Walk was farther than shown on my Google map; they have some bug when it comes to showing distances. But found the place no problem by 11:45, landlord Jorge answered the buzzer. I went up in the smallest elevator I've ever been in. Met Jorge, the room is fine, I'm sharing the apartment with him and another guest, a guy from the Netherlands. Started settling in.
Out at 1:15 or so. Walked back to Gran Via, found ATM, got some cash. Walked down to near north station, missed my turn, corrected. Past a church I wanted to look into, but a wedding was coming out. Up to Placa Ajuntamente and found Tourist Info, got a nice map and some brochures. Took some pics (pics), around and back down to the church, but it's locked up tight. Back to the apartment building, but went past it a couple of blocks and found a Mercadona, bought groceries. Various street art: pics. Home by 2:35, a bit tired.
Had some lunch, then Jorge showed up and we chatted a little, then Koin (spelling ?) from the Netherlands showed up and we chatted more. Nice people.
Trying to find something to do tonight. But chamber music concert listed in brochure is nowhere to be found online. Tonight is a special night for some museums but the schedules and restrictions are very complex. I think I'll just go wandering, maybe.
Out at 8:45 or so. Across Gran Via, up Castro, to tower, right turn and to a series of tourist streets and plazas: Plaza Tossal, Plaza de la Virgen, Plaza de le Reina. Into the cathedral for a while; nice art, but the ceilings are plain concrete, strange after seeing the churches in Rome. More street art: pics. Around central mercat, down Baron de Carcer, Calle Hospital, eventually toward home. Did a loop around the block to see what's there. Home before 10:45. Pics.
Bought an Orxata / Horchata from a street-vendor. As I neared Placa de la Virgen, it was full of noise and people with kids and balloons and "FSIE" four-leaf clover flags. Guessed that it was something to do with education. Found out later that FSIE is a federation of education trade unions.
Worked my way around the crowd. Found a church by accident and looked in for a minute. Eventually to the archaeology museum, which turns out to have free entrance today, so I went in. Nice but a bit plain, and lots of steps up and down in not-well-lit conditions.
Out into the noise, and wandered some more. Into a basilica where people are settling down for a service, I think, and also confessions are being heard. Stopped in another church somewhere. Over to the dry riverbed area, big temple there seems to be closed for renovation. Back into the center, wandered some more, loads of people everywhere. Pics.
Headed home, adding to my collection of street-art as I went: pics and more pics.
Home at 2. Called Dora and chatted with her. Koin just getting up, after partying all night at some big music place between the harbor and the science city. Soon Jorge came in, as we were cooking, and wanted to go to a local restaurant, but we're not up for it. Had lunch, Koin hungover, a couple of Jorge's friends came in.
Out at 8:30. Around the block to a kebab place, where I couldn't make them understand that I wanted plate 13, until they brought out a menu and I pointed to it. Had dinner, then expected a long hunt to find a bar to watch the Copa del Rey football game. But 50 meters away was a big Chinese-run place, "Parran III", with lots of empty tables. Had 3 beers while I watched Barca play Sevilla for 90 minutes plus 30 minutes of overtime. Tough game, Barca got a red-card early and had to play a man short, but scored 2 goals in overtime to win 2-0. The crowd seemed about 1/3 for Barca, 1/3 for Sevilla, 1/3 don't care. Home by 12:15.
Out at 2:30. To Angel Guimera Metro stop. Puzzled a bit at the ticket-machine; I don't see all the options I expect. Bought a 10-trip card for €8. More puzzling at the stairs; neither direction seems what I want. Eventually figured out that there are more routes downstairs. Went down, found the platform I wanted, back and forth trying to figure out which direction I wanted. Waited a couple of minutes for the train, went 3 stops, out at Alameda stop.
Looked at the ticket machines again, went to the human counter, and the guy told me the machines sell only paper Metro-only tickets, the Metro-and-bus ticket I wanted is a plastic card you can buy only at the human counter. So I bought somewhat the wrong thing (but I can use it anyway).
Up and walked along the dry riverbed area. To the Bella Artes museum and found it's closed on Mondays. Through the Jardines del Real, then headed out away from the center. Not a very interesting area, as I expected. But I'm content just to look and walk.
Found Jardines de Orrioles, went through there, through a shopping mall next to a stadium, eventually found the Machado Metro station. Onto Metro, about 6 stops to Angel Guimera. Home by 5. Pics.
Out at 7:15. To Metro, took it to Maritim, transferred to another Metro, and to the harbor. Walked out to the end of the pier, looking at marina and boats and beach. Concrete everywhere; this place is massive. Other wing of it is a big container-port. Pics.
Retraced my steps and went down onto the beach for a little while. Dipped my feet in the water; pretty cold. But a few people are surfing and swimming.
To the waterfront promenade. A couple of guys have built enormous sand-castles and are hoping passersby will give them coins. Walked north for a while, but I'm not in the mood for a restaurant, and there's not much else here. Walked back south, back to Metro stop, don't see anything else I want to look at.
Onto Metro, two connections this time, out at Angel Guimera. Walked home, then a few blocks past and around, looking for somewhere to buy a snack. But only little fruit shops are open at this hour. Went into one, then remembered I bought some doughnuts this morning, so left. Home a little after 10.
Out at 1 or so. I want to go to the "science city", but just found out the Metro doesn't go near it, so I have to figure out the bus system. Eventually found a bus stop, and it said buy a pass at a store. Tried one place that advertised transport passes, but no luck. Found another estanco, paid €2 for a card and then €8 to charge it for 10 bus-only trips.
Walked down to the north train station and looked in for a minute. Past the bullfighting arena and soon found the bus stop I needed. Missed a 35 bus by 1 minute, but another came 2-3 minutes later. Got on and swiped my card, but later not sure I did it right; next time I did it on a bus, a green light appeared and I got a "ping". So I probably rode illegally the first time.
Off at the science city. Place is huge, had to look at the map to figure out where to go. Pics. Loads of kids outside having some kind of organized lunch while on trip to here. Found the entrance to the science museum and was relieved of €30.30 for admission to science museum and aquarium. Aquarium alone costs €28.50.
Looked through the science museum, and the building is spectacular, the exhibits kind of standard science-museum stuff. A few interesting things, such as a section on wood and products made of wood. Probably the coolest was some newborn chicks. Pics.
Out and over to the aquarium. In, and the layout is confusing, constantly taking stairs between ground level and underground level. Nice walrus and sea-lions and seals. Big tank of tropical fish, another of sharks and grouper and such. A house for more walrus and some small whales. Light too low to take decent pictures, and flash not allowed.
Dozed for a little while, then went to the 4:45 dolphin show. Campy and a little kid-oriented, but the animals were nice. Pics.
At end of the show, out with the crowd. Checked out a small butterfly house, then out of the aquarium and long walk up to the bus area. Hard to find the stop I wanted, managed to miss the bus by 30 seconds, but another came in about 5 minutes. The busses seem a lot more frequent than the Metro trains in this town; opposite of Barcelona.
Into the center of town, longish walk home, stopped in nearby pastisseria and bought a piece of lemon-cake.
Home by 6:30, tired. Ate the hunk of cake, wonderful. Later ate various stuff for dinner: nectarine, sandwich, yogurt, donut.
Watched some TV. Had to repair the antenna connector and stretch a power cord across the room to do it.
Out at 2:30 or so. Caught the Metro, three stops to Alameda, walked up to Museu Bellas Artes. Free art museum. Lots of religious art, also plenty of circa-1900 art by Espinoza, Joacquin Sorolla Batista, etc. Quite nice. Pics.
Out, across the dry riverbed, and longish walk up to the Beneficencia area. Looking for Ethnology and Prehistory museums, turns out they've been consolidated inside a Cultura building. €2 admission; thought they were supposed to be free. Lots of stuff, but none of it great.
Out, down Castro, hit an ATM, crossed Gran Via, got a little lost, home by 5:45. Saw lots of street art today: pics.
Tired, didn't go out in the evening. Later worked online on my Spanish income tax return. Got through interest, dividends, capital gains/losses. Lots of fun.
Out at 10:30 or so. A couple of blocks to the Metro, through the turnstile, realized I'd forgotten my umbrella. Brief debate, then back through the turnstiles (wonder if they're smart enough not to charge me for this), back home, grab umbrella, back to Metro. Two stops to 9 de Octubre station.
Longish walk up to Bioparc, a safari-zoo place. €24 admission. Now it's sunny out.
Vaguely safari-like in a few sections: rhinos mixing with zebra and ostriches, giraffes mixing with antelope. But most is animals in outdoor pens separated by species. Nice animals: rhinocerous, elephants, hippos, lemurs, lions, giraffes, etc. One of the giraffes was in the moat, having trouble getting out because it's so slippery, I think, and a couple of human attendants trying to guide it out. The lions were very interested in the proceedings.
Confusing layout, and groups of little kids getting in the way everywhere. But a nice place. Pics and more pics.
Out, and I'm tired and hungry. Walk back to Metro, home before 1:30.
Koin here is taking a 20-hour-per-week Spanish class, plus lots of free after-class activities, for €219 per week. I don't think I could do something that intensive; my brain hurts after a 2-hour class.
A bit of upset in the apartment: Koin suddenly realized a big bag containing his musical instrument is missing. I very much doubt that someone stole it from here; any thief would take the laptops and such. He's going to see if he left it in some bar. But security here is not up to standards of Barcelona: the door to the terrace doesn't latch and lock, and we don't lock all the windows and lower the persianas and extra-lock the front door when the last person leaves.
Headachey in early evening; took a Dolocatil.
Chatted with Dora for 40 minutes on the phone. Nice to talk with her, but much of the talk was about her financial and tax situations, and made me depressed.
Out for a couple of hours. Walked into the center. They're setting up some kind of sports event in the Placa del la Virgen. Some kind of service in the Basilica; people with pine boughs or something on staffs, with a piece of fabric ? [Later found out: it's Corpus Christi, I think.] Pics. Saw a cheap restaurant on the way in, couldn't find it again on the way out. Stopped at a Mercadona and bought a quiche for dinner. Saw lots of street art: pics.
Online, did a few more things with Spanish income tax return. Looks like I owe no tax for 2015. I should push the final button and submit it, but I put that off, want to look things over one more time.
Out at 2:30 or so. To the central market before it closed at 3: pics.
Wandered around the center, sat for a while. Eventually down to Tourist Info. To the bullfighting arena, but the museum isn't free today, so skipped it. To MUVIM to ask about concert on Sunday. To Mercadona for groceries, then home by 5. Saw lots of street art: pics.
Out after 7. Hustled into the center, and into the cathedral for a horn concert. First couple of pieces not so great, but the rest of the program was pretty good. Spectacular setting, but the light made it hard to photograph. Pic.
Out at the end of the performance, around the corner, and into the Basilica. I just want to see the building, but 30 seconds after I sat down in a row, a bell rang, everyone rose, and two priests proceeded in. So I sat through about half of the Mass, trying to understand what was being said, and admiring the building. Pic.
Out of there, and excitement outside: a bunch of statues on wagons [called "Rocas"] are being wheeled into the plaza, I guess for Corpus Christi. Tried to read the inscriptions on them, and one seemed to say it was made in 1512, can that be possible ? [Yes: The Rocas of Corpus Christi Fiesta in Valencia] Others referenced the 1900's or 1960. Workmen yelling at people to get out of the way as they wheeled in more wagons. Also a bunch of statues/props lined up near the fountain.
A lull, I sat for a while and people-watched. Started to leave, and here come two more wagons pulled by horses, and a little later a small band. Pics.
Home by 9:45. Wi-Fi down. Microwaved a pizza for dinner. Chatted with Dora on phone. pics.
Online, finished and submitted my Spanish income tax return for 2015. No tax owed. Submission seemed to work fine.
At 8, grey weather and high winds. Double-door-windows in kitchen don't latch too well, door onto terrace doesn't latch at all, and they're trying to blow open. Wedged one of my sandals in the terrace door to hold it closed. But it turned out Jorge was home, and he soon fixed both situations.
Started working on my Spanish wealth tax declaration (form 714).
At 8:30, out and around the block to the "Parran III" bar to watch the Champions League final, Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid. Good game, found myself rooting for Atletico, and they managed to tie the game about 10 minutes before time ran out. 1-1 at end of regulation at 10:45, I've had two beers, and I went home.
Online, game still tied after 30 minutes of extra time. Going to penalty kicks. And Real Madrid wins.
Out at 11 or so. Wanted to get to start of the noon parade, see costumes etc early, then head to noon concert at MuVIM. Into center, but couldn't find the start of the parade. Saw lots of street art: pics. Gave up and headed to the museum.
Lovely piano concert at MuVIM, titled "Sleep of Waltzes", performed by Martin Munch. Two wonderful Strauss (senior) pieces, two fine Chopin pieces, two nice Tchaikovsky pieces, two so-so Ravel pieces, and two so-so compositions by Munch. Quite nice. Pics. Home after 1:30.
Out at 2 with Jorge and Koin. A couple blocks over to restaurant "Ca'Miri", owned by Argentine friends of Jorge. Nice lunch, good conversation. Koin is from The Netherlands, only 19 years old, studying Spanish here for a couple of months as part of some kind of study-abroad thing. He and his parents lived in a small village in Malaysia last year and loved it. He's traveled through much of Europe and several countries in North Africa. Jorge has lived in Alicante, Barcelona, London, south of France. We all talked about politics and Spain and various countries, etc. Nice time. Koin's lasagna looked terrific, we shared beef which was quite good, had nice desserts and coffees. Back home before 4:30.
Out at 4:45, into center to see parade at 5. But the parade was very disappointing, just the wagons pulled by horses, and a couple of groups of people in costumes, and a small band. Pics. Back home by 5:45, hot and tired. More street art: pics.
There's yet another parade, at 7, but I'm skipping it.
Worked on Spanish wealth tax declaration. They have a custom application for it, and that doesn't have English-language support, and you can't copy out Spanish text to then paste it into Google Translate. So a lot of typing to translate stuff.
Out at 10:30 or so, walked a big loop to the W and NW of the apartment, stopping at a couple of big govt park/school/etc complexes, and walking in the dry riverbed park a bit. Pics. Home by 12:30.
Loafed all afternoon and into the evening. Quiche for dinner.
Out at 9:15 or so. Walked in an odd direction, SSW from apartment, and found things pretty boring. Big bridge I wanted to cross turned out to be cars-only, so had to detour several blocks to find the pedestrian bridge. Up through part of Ruzafa, but most things closed at this hour. Street art: pics.
Out to the edge of the center, but made a wrong turn and added to my trip. Happy to find Xativa Metro station, perfect timing to catch one of the last trains. Took a 1-hop trip that saved me 3/4 of a mile of walking. Home by 10:40. pic. To MuVIM museum. They had an exhibit of posters and films and such from the Spanish Republic era in 1937 or so. Not a very exciting exhibit, and a strange building, going up and down elevators, with one section on other side of a plaza. Pic. Wandered through some streets and home again.
Out again in late afternoon. To IVAM modern art museum; had a little trouble finding it, but got there. Nice building, but the exhibits were disappointing: photos of USA at start of WWII, USA in 50's, and some of Valencia. A few modern art paintings. The only photo I took: pic.
Walked down toward the center, then home, stopping at Mercadona for groceries. Lots of street art: pics.
Salad for dinner. I've been eating too few vegs. pic.
Down past the Palacio de Congresos (pic), which is less impressive than a nearby gas station (pic).
Wandered through Jardin de Polifilo. To the Metro, and my card is empty, bought a single-ride ticket at twice the per-ride price. Home before 1:15.
Out after 4. To the silk market. Building is nice but fairly plain and empty. Nice gargoyles on the outside. Pics. Sat in the center for a little while. Home at 5:45. Street art: pics.
Out at noon or so. Found the number 5 bus, not too close to home. Took it around the center, got off one stop earlier than I planned, but not bad. To the Museo del la Ciudad.
Which turned out to be wonderful ! Great building, lots of great art, mix of old and modern. Had the place to myself; not a single other visitor, no guards except at the front desk. Most of 2nd floor a museum of weights and measures, not very interesting. Courtyard and gates pretty nice, too. Wow ! Pics.
Down and into the Museo de Ceramica. Had to hustle through in the 40 minutes or so before they closed. Lovely building, nice ceramics, rooms so ornate that it was hard to take good pictures. 2nd floor more modern ceramics, not so interesting. Pics.
Out, over to Plaza Porta de la Mar, caught 5 bus. Street pictures: pics. Home before 2:30.
Did a little more work on my Spanish wealth tax declaration (form 714).
Out at 9:15 or so with Jorge and Koin. Originally, we had planned to go to a local place for pizza, but then Koin cancelled because he had pre-paid to go to some party/event. Then Jorge invited me to go with him and Carmen to a reggae bar/concert. Now Koin is free for an hour or two, so we three are going to the bar to meet Carmen, then Koin will go to the other thing later.
Into Jorge's car, and we drive 3 or 4 miles south. Find the bar, and find parking several blocks away. Into the bar, and Carmen and two girlfriends are waiting for us. We sit at a table and say hellos and try to talk. But it's a bit noisy, and two of the women speak almost no English. I tell them it's my birthday today, and one of them asks how old I am, and Jorge says "don't ask", which amuses me. Then I tell them I'm 58, and they're a bit taken aback, they're all probably in the 28-30 range. And Koin is only 19 years old. Doesn't bother me. Me impressing all the women: pic.
We get beers and order food. This is a vegan place, and the menu is very confusing, and Jorge just orders vegan burgers for the 4 of us who want to eat.
Hard to talk to the women, with the background noise. Koin, who maybe has a little more Spanish than me, complains to me that he's only catching a word or two here and there of what they're saying. I'm sitting a little further away, and hearing almost nothing. But as the music starts, we shuffle chairs and I end up next to the one who speaks English. She went to Princeton University, too, near my home town. But in a loud bar with us right in front of the band, chances to talk are limited. I try.
The music is okay, just two singers and pre-recorded stuff, but it's not reggae, it's some hip-hop and a little rap and some other stuff.
The food takes forever to come; I think they overlooked our order, and after Jorge asks where it is, it comes quickly. But it's totally uninteresting: veggie-paste between some fairly nice home-baked buns, and some bland chips.
We finish up, and eventually leave. Home before midnight. Jorge surprises me with a miniature bottle of cognac as a birthday present.
Out at 11 or so. Down a couple of blocks to Av Angel Guimera, onto the 3 bus. Off at Nou de Octobre, and found the Museum of History of Valencia.
Interesting museum, inside an old water-reservoir. Some nice pieces, and obviously they spent a ton of money on this place, but on balance pretty unexciting. Low light makes it very hard to take good pictures. Pics.
Out of the museum. Took 4 lights to get across an enormous, complicated traffic intersection; no coordination among the lights for the various crosswalks. Caught the 95 bus, and off near Museu del Carmen.
Big place, former convent. A big complex, and one of the halls is cavernous. Some nice modern art and some not very interesting, and a big section of children's drawings (about the refugee crisis), and various traditional parade statues and such. Pics.
Garden (complete with St George and the Dragon statue) seen on the way home, somewhere along Paseo de la Pechina, maybe part of the botanical garden: pics.
Street art (last one has "No TTIP" next to it): pics.
Home at 1:30, tired and hot. Nuked a pizza for lunch.
Did more work on my Spanish wealth tax declaration (form 714). Bad news: I owe about €600, the only income/wealth tax I've had to pay to USA or Spain for 2015.
Out at 9:30 with Jorge, and around the corner and about 4 doors away to a pizzeria. Nice place, great food, a little warm inside since we were close to the oven. Pic. We had the menu of the day, about 4 courses including nice salad, some kind of ham-slices thing, some okay baked-eggplant-cheese, fine pizza, fabulous chicken with mushrooms, crappy french-fries. I had tiramisu for dessert, Jorge had coffee and then alcohol. Home by 11.
Jorge made noises about having a drink together, but then was on the phone for an hour or so. I went to bed.
Out of the apartment a little before 10; the guys still are sleeping. Raining hard as I went down in the elevator, but not too bad by the time I got to the street. Longish walk through light rain to the train station, but I had the umbrella I bought in Rome. Only made one wrong turn. They have an irritating habit with the signs here: when you're in a big plaza, and trying to figure out which road out is the one you want, all the signs on the building corners say "Plaza X" instead of "Calle Y". I know I'm in the plaza, tell me the street name !
Into train station at 10:26, and the status board is showing my train number with two different departure times and destinations. But with the same platform number, so I go through security and head there. Way down to the end, my train arrives, onto it. Got to the wrong seat originally, but figured it out after a minute. Departure about 5 minutes late, just before 11.
Uneventful trip, except for some kids running around and kicking the back of my seat a bit in the first 15 minutes. Arrived at Barcelona Sants about 5 minutes late, long walk to the other end of the platform, through the station, onto very full Metro train. The Metro stations look pretty full, too; I thought the strike was over. But I'm here right at "head home for dinner" time, although it is Saturday.
Out, down the familiar sidewalks, home a little before 3. No Dora; she's working a 24-hour shift, 9-9. But she left a birthday present, a box of chocolates, on my pillow.
Started dealing with mail. Emailed renewal for registration of my sailboat. Later went out, mailed a letter from El Corte Ingles counter. To butcher shop, but it's closed (forgot it is Saturday). To Dia for a load of groceries.
Made spaghetti for dinner. Feeling tired.
I went out to donate clothes and buy more fruit and veg. Then I cooked turkey-rice for dinner. We crashed for another nap. I went out for a walk. Headachey.
We went out in late evening for a walk and to have smoothies at a bar while watching some Brazil-Ecuador football. Still headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Slept very badly; maybe a couple of hours of sleep during the night.
Rice and leftover turkey for dinner, then Dora out at 2 to work.
In the evening, out to butcher's shop and bought ribs. Out again, walked, hit an ATM, sat in the plaza, to Dia for groceries.
Did a little more work on my Spanish wealth tax declaration (form 714), trying to figure out how to pay the tax. Not simple.
Dora home at 8:30 or so. Got her to read several sections of the tax-paying instructions, and it's still not quite clear. Have to file the form and pay at a bank on same day, and I want to do that when Dora is around to translate. Will push buttons on Wednesday morning and see what happens.
Out at 2, to Metro, connect, met Dora at a cafe near her work. A leisurely lunch. I headed back home on Metro, through hot streets, stopped at Bon Area for meat, home after 4:15.
Out around 6 to mail letter, hit ATM, walk, buy baguettes. Dora home after 8.
Out for a walk, bought a yoga mat. Out again to the fruit/veg shop.
Looked at the exercise machine, but when we moved apartments a piece of it got thrown away, and some bolts to hold it together also went missing. And I'm not convinced this machine ever did anything to improve the health of the user anyway. I can probably get a dowel and some bolts to make it function again.
Ribs and rice for dinner, then Dora off to work.
Back and forth with tech-support for the tax agency. They seem to require a bank account number before you can submit the form, but then you can pay in ways other than through a bank account ?
Opened up light switch in the bedroom, the twin of the one I replaced a while ago which then blew up within a week, and it's horrible. Burned inside the touch-plate, and wires that are 50 years old and look like the insulation is dodgy. Pic. Really need an electrician to replace all the wiring in this place. Put it back into place and left it as it was, non-functional.
Went for a walk. Later, headachey, took a Dolocatil. Dora home after 8.
Online, more back-and-forth with the tax agency. They're painting me into a corner; I may have to open a Spanish bank account solely so I can file this tax form. And everyone complains that the Spanish banks are a nightmare to deal with.
Dora home at 2:30, and I cooked a fried-chicken, rice, zucchini dinner.
Online, renewed my health insurance. Planning to buy into the state health system here when I'm eligible in October.
Still headachey in the evening; took a Dolocatil. Out to recharge the mobile numbers, and take a walk.
Still headachey at bedtime; took a Sumatriptan, and that worked.
Metro to Verdaguer, found Triodos Bank office. Lots of people waiting. Started waiting at 10:10; spent the time reading an article in their newsletter, looking up words I didn't know. They called me about 45 minutes later. The lady spoke some English but I spoke as much Spanish as I could. Out at 11:10 with a new checking account. But it's empty; they don't handle cash, so all the cash I pulled out of the ATM a couple of days ago is still in my wallet.
Walked down to Sagrada Familia to see it a little. Lots of tourists. Pic. Metro, stopped for a couple of groceries, home at noon.
Cooked a nice pesto-spaghetti dinner, but Dora is stuck in some govt office, finally I ate my dinner a little before 2. Dora never did come home; she went straight to work (with a detour to a cafe).
Later, out to walk and buy fruit and veg. Dora home at 8:30, not in a good mood, because of govt and work.
Big ribs-turkey-rice-salad dinner, then we crashed for a nap.
Out around 6 with Dora. Tried to find the Euro Copa game on a TV in any bar, but no luck. Had drinks and a jamon-croissant in a cafe.
Out by myself at 8:15; Dora has to study. To Metro, long ride to Sants Estacio, connect, out at Maria Cristina. Ducked into a church for a minute to see it: pic. Longish walk uphill to a park where there's a free concert: pic. Nice swing music, with a 5-piece band: trombone, trumpet, clarinet, guitar or fiddle, bass. Lovely evening after a slightly hot but breezey day. Fine crowd, too. The band played some Count Basie, "We'll meet again", "When the Saints go marching in", various other stuff.
Walk and Metro rides back. Home by 11:20, a bit tired.
My new Spanish bank account now works ! Initiated a transfer to put money in it from my US bank account, and in a few days I'll be able to pay my taxes out of it.
Out in evening to buy groceries, and go for a walk. Spaghetti for dinner. Dora home around 8. pics. Eventually to Arc and Metro. Stopped for groceries, home after 5:30.
Dora home after 7. Her son home from university in Slovakia around 8. Watched Portugal play Iceland in Euro Copa football on TV.
Out for a quick walk, then I cooked a ribs-and-rice dinner. Dora off to work before 2.
Pressed the buttons to file my Spanish wealth tax form, with payment from my new bank account. Then tried to figure out if the money will go automatically, or I have to do something on the govt tax web site, or I have to do something on my bank's web site. Confusing. You're supposed to file and pay on same day, so I need to figure this out soon. Answer seems to be: it will happen automatically in a couple of weeks.
Went out at 7:15. To Metro, to Arc, down to Parc Ciutadella. Free symphony concert next to the big monument.
The first half wasn't so great. Mostly-high-school symphony, their sound wasn't too strong, and the venue was noisy (lots of people jogging by, soft music playing out of the monument, people chattering around the edges of the crowd). But the second half was a different set of students, and they were better and the music was better. A bit of a bummer that I had to stand the whole time. And kids came around 3 times asking me to buy a ticket for something. But a nice place, lovely weather, fun to listen and people-watch. Home at 10, footsore.
Dora home at 5:30.
Found a clogged drain in the refrigerator and unclogged it.
Dora headachey and crashed for long nap. I went out to buy fruit, then for a walk.
Watched Germany - Poland football in Euro Copa on TV. Was sipping cognac, some went down the wrong way, my breathing almost stopped ! Took a couple of minutes to recover.
A better symphony than the one that was here two days ago, and set up better. I was able to get a seat, and the symphony being up higher means the music is louder. And a nicer selection of music, popular swing and show tunes. Pink Panther, Leonard Cohen's Alleluia, West Side Story, Blues Brothers, more. Quite nice.
At the end, I was planning to go check out a street food-fair in Born, but I looked up toward the Arc and saw football on a big screen there ! Sponsored by Ciudadans, one of the political parties. Tonight is the Spain - Turkey Euro Copa game. So I went up there. Nice crowd, but the seats are full. I stood around the edge with lots of others, and watched the last 35 minutes or so of the first half. Spain scored twice around the 40-minute mark, and the crowd went wild. Pics.
Back to the Metro, home by 10 or so. Walked into the apartment to find the same game on the TV (score now 3-0), and Dora soon handed me a plate of rice-and-egg and a mug of iced-tea. Nice. Watched the rest of the game.
Dora's son left a smartphone he doesn't need, so I guess I'll have a smartphone now. But we need the access code.
Had thought of going to Parc Cuitadella today for the science weekend thing, but after dinner I'm sleepy and it's late. Good call: 45 minutes later it was grey, then it was raining.
Decided it was time to upgrade my laptop to Windows 10. Did backups. Pushed the buttons and got it started. Went for a walk. Several restarts. No hurry, let it go over a couple of hours. Finally done, and started testing things, fixing settings. Seems okay.
Out after 2 with Dora, a little later than desired. To Metro, missed a train by 10 seconds, had to wait 6:30 for the next. Connected at Maragall, ran down a tunnel and caught connecting train with 5 seconds to spare. Out at Vila Olympica.
Dora is going to the university here to take a medical test. Lots of people milling around, posted lists of names hard to read, finally found a receptionist and got the right info.
Down a couple of blocks to find lunch, and the cafe was very slow. After a while, Dora grabbed half an undelivered sandwich that had been sitting near the kitchen since we arrived, and started to eat it. Dora tells me there's a Metro strike starting at 5; I might not have come if I'd known that. Got our sodas and sandwiches, wolfed them down, out at 3:45.
I left Dora to go to the test, and I headed into Parc Cuitadella. The science fair I wanted to go to is closing down; didn't realize it closed early on Sunday. Wandered up to the cathedral, nothing interesting happening in the center. Street art: pics. Up through Placa Angels and to Metro at Placa Catalunya, hoping to beat the strike.
But I got there about 4:45, and it turns out the strike started at 4:44. Board says 10:30 to next train, but the time bumped up a couple of times as we waited, probably was more like 14 minutes. People had to push and shove to get on, and it was packed for another 6 stops or so. Thinned a little after that, but I was happy to get off at F-i-P. Home around 5:30.
Dora home at 7:50. Test didn't start until 4:45, went to 6:15, then a long process of handing them in one at a time, then the Metro was a mess.
Watched France - Switzerland football on TV. Good game, but ended 0-0.
With mixed feelings, I'm committing to putting Dora's son through medical school. She's scraped and borrowed and paid the first year, but I'll pay the next 4 years, at about €20K per year (school, living, travel, etc). I have plenty of money and she wants this desperately.
Dora out at noon to banks and govt offices. I gave myself a haircut. I cooked ribs and rice. Dora home after 1:30, lunch, then she's out to work 2-8.
I loafed all afternoon, went for a couple of walks. Dora home at 8:30, soon cooked a big beef-rice dinner for us. Watched Slovakia - England football on the telly.
There's a free concert tonight I'd like to go to, but it's far across town, and there's a Metro strike again, worse than the one I hit the other day.
Out a couple of times to buy groceries. Out for a couple of walks. Dora home after 8. Turned on the TV, and there's a warmup for another Euro Copa football game, Spain vs Croatia. Cool ! But a fairly sloppy game, and then Croatia won 2-1.
Today is the Brexit vote in UK. I'm on a lot of expat online forums in Spain, and people have been going crazy about this for weeks.
Out with Dora around 7:30 in the evening. Walked about 12 blocks to a "carrefoc", a fire-parade. Tonight is Nit de Sant Joan, when there are bonfires and parades and lots of fireworks (only the explosive kind, not the pretty kind, unfortunately). The carrefoc turned out to be stationary and kind of small but noisy. Pics.
We hung around for a while, then headed home, looking for a cafe. Ended up at a Chinese place in a plaza quite close to home, had drinks and a sandwich. Lovely warm evening.
Thought of going to a free concert at 11, but people outside are throwing a lot of high explosives, and we don't feel like going out again.
Dora wrote down bad things on paper and then burnt them in fire; a tradition.
The HP laptop we had repaired exactly 3 months ago froze again today. Argh !
I went out at 6:30 in the evening. To Metro, out at Arc, walked across into old town. On the right street, in a confusing section. Looking for a jazz jam session thing that's held the last Sunday of each month. Looking for address 55, so of course I find 59, then 57, then six unmarked doors, then eventually 53. Back and forth, around the block, and eventually decide it must be the little civic center place, and the jazz has been preempted by the election today. Gave up, wandered to Cathedral. Heard a nice French-horn player. Street art: pic. To La Rambla, wandered, sat, eventually into Metro and home. Had a drink and watched Hungary - Belgium football on TV.
Online, reserved a room in Zaragoza for two weeks ($228) in October, for a vacation (similar to my Valencia vacation). And there's going to be a huge week-long festival while I'm there.
Dora home at 9:30, and we napped. I cooked ribs-rice-salad for dinner, then walked her to Metro before 2, to go work 2-8.
We have a spare smartphone, but can't get it unlocked, so I factory-reset it, and started setting it up. A learning experience: I've never had a smartphone before.
Italy / Spain football on TV at 6. Dora home at 8:30.
Tried the Google Translate app on my smartphone, and was amazed. I knew one could use it to take a picture of a Spanish-language sign, and it would translate the words to English. But I held it up to a Spanish sign, and in real time I could look at the screen and see the words slowly flickering back and forth between Spanish and English. Didn't have to take a picture, didn't have to highlight where the words were, image was moving a little as my hand was not totally steady, and the words magically went back and forth between the two languages.
Out after 8:30 with Dora. Metro, connect, out at Montbau. Up the hill to a free open-air concert. Turned out to be an acoustic guitar trio, with some amplification. In a dell/park among apartment buildings. Pics. Pleasant music, but a bit hard to hear. And some bugs, and firecrackers, and occasional passing traffic were distracting. But a lovely warm evening, and it was nice. We left after 45 minutes or so, had a slow trip home.
Dora home from work, but instead of having dinner, she launched into a lot of hair-washing and auto-hemotherapy (a blood treatment) and who knows what else. Eventually I cooked some ribs and rice, and she came out saying "don't look at me".
In the evening, lots of messing with smartphones. Now we have a total of three smartphones (Dora carries two), and four SIMs (one of Dora's has two). Two of her SIMs need recharging.
I went out at 8:15; Dora is doing more beauty treatments. I kissed her goodbye, and my lips felt number for a couple of minutes, probably from some anaesthetic goop she put on.
To Metro, out at Diagonal, caught a bus, off and walked up into Turo Parc. Another free concert, this time with a vibraphone (I think I've never seen one before) and a saxophone (player switched between a couple of instruments, probably soprano and alto, a couple of times). Music a little too slow and soft for the first half or so, and there's a busy cafe just behind the seating. But then they played three loud, lively pieces that were quite nice.
Out and walked down to Hospital Clinic metro. Woman seated next to me talked loudly on a phone for about 5 stops, then paused to answer a second phone, but fortunately she left the train just then. Home by 11.
Online, checked my new Spanish bank account, and the wealth tax payment was taken out this morning by Hacienda, right on time, no problems.
Out after noon. Recharged SIMs at Pakistani shop, changed a bill at a bank, walked, looked in several places for postcards. Back home, and started cooking. Dora home late, and we had turkey and rice.
Out for a walk later, good exercise, but it's hot and humid even at 8:30. Got cash from an ATM.
Could go to another free concert tonight, but Dora wants to watch Portugal - Poland football on TV, and that's fine with me.
Dora out after noon, to deal with the tax office, then to work.
Now I have WhatsApp on my smartphone.
I felt tired, but went out for a couple of nice walks. Dora home at 8:45. We had been thinking of going to another free concert, but changed our minds and watched Wales - Belgium football on TV. A good game. Then I went out for a late-evening walk.
Out at 8:30 with Dora. Metro to Hospital San Pau. Heading for a particular Peruvian restaurant, but first looking for a bar to watch a bit of the Germany - Italy football game. Immediately found a likely place, Bar Castañeira at Calle Cartagena 298, and settled in. Big plates of ham and pan-tomate, a cafe for me and a soda for Dora. Watched the first half of the game, and it was a good one.
Out at halftime, a couple of blocks over to the restaurant, Restaurante Peruano Andino at Corsega 589, and found they're showing the game too ! So we settled in, ordered food and drink, and watched the game. Very good Sangria, an okay mango juice for Dora, Anticuchos (beef on skewers, with potatoes), and some pork-yucca-tomato-onion thing. On the side, a very nice spicy cilantro sauce. Pics. I thought everything was fine, but Dora (who is Peruvian) said the cook must be Spanish, the meat was not spiced at all.
The game was 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes, same after additional 30 minutes. The penalty kicks were wild, some complete misses, some blocks by the goalies, and finally Germany won. We and just about everyone else were rooting for Italy, so it was a letdown.
Down to Sagrada Familia, where the basilica was dark and there was a sardana dance happening on a lighted stage. But we weren't interested, into the Metro and home by midnight-thirty.
Starting at 9, watched France - Iceland football game on TV. France jumped out to a 4-0 lead by halftime, and won 5-2.
Then the Euro Copa final on TV at 9, Portugal vs France. A wild game. Ronaldo out early with a serious knee injury. 0-0 at the end of regulation time. 20 minutes into overtime, Portugal did a hand-ball in front of France's goal, but France got called for it. The free kick bounced off the crossbar. A couple of minutes later, the guy who got away with the hand-ball scored. And ten minutes later, game over, Portugal wins 1-0.
Out with Dora at 11:45 or so for a late-night walk/run. Still hot outside.
Out with Dora around 11:45. To Metro, to center. I got off at Urquinaona, went to Spanish school and registered for a class (€40). Dora went to a medical building near Placa Catalunya to get her certificate. I walked over, sat for a while, and met her there. Back into Metro, out at Arc, walked to another office to drop off her certificate to be stamped. Found a place for lunch, and the food was cheap and filling but mediocre. Dora back into Metro to go to work 3-8.
I walked down to the park, across to the Cathedral. Hot, lots of people, sun beating down. Sat for a while, bought postcards, up through Passeig Angels, sat some more. Eventually into Metro and a crowded ride home. Into apartment by 3:30, turned on the air-conditioning.
Out for a walk in the evening. Saw a red light with bulb not working, came home and used smartphone app to report it to the city. [Got an email a couple of hours later saying it had been fixed.] Out for another walk. Dora home after 9. I went out later to pay a last-minute bill at an ATM, and buy a phone card for Dora.
Out with Dora at 5:15 or so. To Metro, connect at Catalunya, out at Drassanes. Metro seems to be more crowded these days, hard to get a seat. The stations are warm but the cars usually are air-conditioned.
To Museu Maritim, where there's a free outdoor concert. Supposed to be jazz and Brazilian and Trinidadian, and it was, but I think the group is from Whitmore High School in Harrow (London), and a lot whiter than I expected. But it was fun. A big steel-drum band, and when they took a break, a 6-horn and keyboard and drums combo took over, and they were good too. Pic.
Finished after 7:30, and I had thought of going to a particular restaurant, but it's a longish walk, and Dora is tired. So into Metro. Confused by the entrance, I almost lost a trip, but then we went through together so I got it back.
Onto train, crowded, went 1 stop, and then didn't move. After 3 minutes or more, Security told everyone to get off. 4 or 5 train-drivers walking back and forth, some issue in the driver's cab. A couple of Security guys, later a couple of city cops, then two maintenance guys came running up, keys jangling. A minute or two later, the train left empty, and a minute later another train arrived, already pretty full. We crammed on, one stop to Catalunya, another fairly crowded train to F-i-P. Walked home, doing a little window-shopping, and home around 8:30. Tired.
Out at 11 or so, to Metro, to Arc. Went to govt building and picked up Dora's medical certificate, now stamped and apostilled etc. Wandered over into the center, stopping in at Esglesias Santa Maria del Mar, sitting in front of cathedral, sitting on La Rambla for a while. Then into Metro and home by 1:45 or so.
Trying to fix something weird on Dora's laptop: IE opens and starts opening an infinite number of help web pages. Scanned for viruses, removed a program that was giving an error message but not flagged by the virus-checkers. Eventually messed with the keyboard and that may have fixed it, maybe it was a stuck key ?
Dora home, and she was furious that the government people crinkled her medical certificate in several places, and put an unnecessary staple through it.
I made ribs and salad and leftover rice for dinner, crashed for a nap, later out for a walk. Feeling okay today except my stomach still is a little upset.
Out with Dora at 9:30 for a walk/run, under dark grey clouds that sprinkled a little rain on us.
Out at 1:30 with Dora. Metro to Dos de Maig, and to El Senorio restaurant (a Peruvian place, and Dora is Peruvian).
A bit of a hassle at first: Dora got the waitress to put us at a 4-person table, another guy came and started to move us to a 2-person table, Dora wanted to leave. I talked her into staying and we sat at an outside table.
I had ceviche pescado, Dora had chicharrons (pork), we had fruit drinks. My ceviche was fine, a little too heap-of-fish for my taste, but spicy and okay. Dora's pork entree came out mostly as huge chunks of pork-fat, and she sent it back. They brought out her plate again with mostly meat, and it tasted great. €30 total. Pics.
We strolled down towards Sagrada Familia, stopping to sit for a while, then coffees in Copa Cafe. Did a circuit around the outside of Sagrada Familia, which was the usual frenzy of tourists. The church underneath seemed to be closed for construction or something, so into the Metro. Home, stopping in a couple of shops to look at clothes.
Out at 11:15 with Dora for a walk around the neighborhood. Warm and still weather; supposed to be hot on Monday.
Spaghetti-pesto for lunch.
Out for a late walk with Dora.
Dora home at 2:30, and we had turkey and rice for dinner.
In early evening, Dora had a Skype-interview with a big ambulance service in Jerez de la Frontera, and it went well. So we may be moving to the south of Spain ! This has been a prospect for a while, but now it's getting more likely. Dora's job situation in Barcelona has been pretty bad, no one willing to do a stable full-time contract. And 2/3 of her family lives near Jerez.
Class was frustrating. Learned a few things, but still can't understand most of what the teachers say; they say it too fast and no gaps between the words. Done with class, went to Metro, seems to be running normally, chatted with Gary from class as we rode home. Stopped to buy fruit.
Leftover turkey-rice-salad dinner with Dora. She went out at 5 to meet with a potential client. Later, we spent a couple of hours on Idealista looking at apartments to rent in Jerez de la Frontera.
Cooked spaghetti for dinner. Out for a couple of walks.
Dora home around 9. She's had no luck talking to her boss about a long-term contract, so I think we'll be off to Jerez.
I went downstairs to accept some legal papers from a delivery person. Out for a couple of walks.
Very grey and hard rain at noon, with some thunder and lightning. Out with Dora at 12:45, but quickly I headed back home while she headed to a bank near work, then to work 2-9. Sunny in midday, then grey and trying to rain again. Went for a couple of walks. Looked for more apartments in Jerez. Dora home before 9.
After noon, Dora starts working at throwing stuff away. Of course, she's making decisions the opposite of what I would do, keeping dishes I hate and getting rid of the ones I like, but at least stuff is going out the door. Late got her to throw away some papers.
Dora sagged after 5 or so, with a sore throat and achey head. But then after some pills she did some more throwing-out.
Dora home around 2:30. I cooked pesto-sauce and spaghetti for dinner.
Out with Dora at 5, Metro one stop, to a lawyer's office. I waited outside. We walked home, stopping to buy some stuff. Hot, and Dora's a bit sick, and I'm tired. pic. Later took a sumatriptan.
Dora home at 2:30. I cooked a rib, beef, onions, leftover rice, lentils, salad for dinner. Soon crashed for a nap.
Tried to buy plane tickets to go to the South. Screwed it up the first time: got PM instead of AM. Cancelling it took some doing. Then Windows 10 decided to restart my laptop out from under me, losing some small unsaved text. Eventually did a new reservation.
Out for a walk, and the sidewalks are more and more crowded. Out again before 11 for a late walk.
Put out laundry, then started cooking turkey-chicken-potato-onion-mushroom. Dora home before 2, and she started cooking rice. Big dinner after 3.
Dora searching her whole filing system (mainly suitcases full of papers scattered around the apartment and out on the balcony) for the title of the apartment. Finally found it.
Out at 4:45 to go to the lawyer. I waited by the Metro. She said it might take about 20 minutes, but it was 90 minutes. But she said everything is now in the hands of the lawyer, who will go negotiate with the mortgage company to take the apartment back (without having to pay any more on the mortgage, we hope). Dora limped home with a broken strap on her shoe.
I threw out a load of Dora's old medical papers and booklets, with her groaning every time I put something in the bin.
Out for a late walk. Still quite warm out.
Out of class, wandered down to cathedral, across to La Rambla, up there, sat for a while. Into Metro, home, stopped to buy ribs. Dora home, ribs and rice and salad for dinner.
Got Dora to start throwing away lots of old papers. Went out for a couple of walks, to buy fruit, dump garbage. Still feeling bummed about Spanish class.
Sorted out various old electronics to get rid of. About 6 old flip-phones, and matched chargers to a couple of them. Three old cameras, mostly not working. A videocamera, not working. When Dora got up, I persuaded her to let me get rid of them. So I took them to a clothing-donation box and put them in, then went for a walk, then bought a couple of groceries.
Headachey; took an ibuprofen.
I cook ribs and salad and pesto-spaghetti for dinner. Later, Dora sorts through tons of clothes and I take a couple of big loads of them to the orange donation box. More tearing up and throwing away papers. I went out for a late walk; warm and humid.
Dora out to work around 2:30. I took a big bag of shoes to the donation box. Bought shipping boxes at El Corte Ingles. To other apartment to pick up mail, but no one home. Out for a walk. Later got the mail (just one notice) from other apartment, and took another walk. Dora home around 8:30. Got her to sort through tons of medicines and medical stuff, throwing away half of it. Several large loads of stuff out to the bin.
I cooked ribs and rice for dinner. Dora off to work at 2:15. I put out the laundry to dry, did the dishes, hauled a huge load of stuff to the donation box. Long hot walk up to Correos to pick up mail for Dora's sister, but they've changed to early-closing hours for August. Groceries at Dia and fruit shop.
Dora home around 8. I convince her to let me throw away a bunch of stuff. Then we take the big wood-and-glass cabinet down to the street, to be picked up by the big-item garbage truck. Most of it fits in the elevator, but we have to slid the biggest section down 4 floors of stairs.
Out to fruit shop. Out for a late walk. Then the guy who was supposed to come earlier to pick up some stuff calls at 10:45, he's coming over. So he arrived and we carried various stuff down to his car: examining table, microwave, curtain rods and coathangers. Then I showered and went to bed, and he came back and Dora did a medical treatment for him.
Carted first box to El Corte Ingles shipping counter. A shade less than 23 kilos, a shade less than €30 to send. An hour later, sent second box, almost exactly same weight and cost. Bought another box.
Dora home around 8. I got her to do more throwing away of papers and clothes. Her son arrived from the north around 10. I saw the last 30 minutes of a Barca game on TV; forgot it was on tonight. Took a load of garbage to the bins, and a load of clothes to the donation box, which it stuffed full now.
I knew the south of Spain was hot, but hoped our target city, Jerez de la Frontera, wasn't too bad, since it's only about 10 KM inland from the ocean. But the weather sites show it's going to be 97F there for the next couple days, not cooling down to 92F or so until next Thursday. So this is going to be a shock, especially for Dora. We'll be staying in another town for the first week or so, until we find an apartment, but she'll be working in Jerez each day.
Dora starts into a frenzy of paper-shuffling, some into a shipping box, some torn up into garbage. Then clothing, some into the box, some to be donated. One box is filled. I cook ribs and leftover rice and lentils for dinner. Dora manages to fill another box.
Dora out to work around 2:30. I taped and addressed the first box, hauled it to El Corte Ingles, shipped it (25.3 kilos for €32.65), got facturas for all three boxes I've shipped. Then did it all again for the 4th box (19.3 kilos for €26.62). I'm not sure I'm getting cheapest rate of shipping for each box; it's confusing.
Took the garbage paper to the bin. Took a load of clothes to the donation box.
Loaded up a 5th box, mostly with my stuff, plus one of Dora's old laptops. Hauled it off and shipped it (18.5 kilos for €24.89).
Dora home early, around 7, and soon was packing and throwing stuff away. We hustled to El Corte Ingles before they closed at nine, and shipped the 6th box (about 23 kilos, €30.62) and Dora sent a fax.
Back home, showered, and I cooked a pesto-spaghetti dinner. Dora came back carrying two MORE empty boxes to use later.
I went to bed after midnight, Dora more like 2 AM.
We pile in and are at airport terminal 1 fairly quickly, 20-25 minutes or so. Much nicer than Metro to train to shuttle bus.
Into a long line for Vueling, but this line is for those who already have boarding passes, so it moves quickly. Little girl next to us manages to dump a whole package of cookies on the floor right next to us. Both of our suitcases just a couple of kilos under the 23 kilo limit.
Bathroom stop, through Security, and then a 10-minute halt as Dora searches for a missing earring, eventually found in her purse. Longish walk to the gate, we're there with half an hour to spare, to cafe for coffees.
Dora hustles into line to get on the plane; I dawdle and get on near the end. Her usual griping about not being able to stow her extra carry-on right over her seat; it's 3 rows forward from us, no problem. Uneventful takeoff, and good-bye to Barcelona (for now).
Next diary page is here.