I'll be missing all you Nutters!
04.05.2009 - 04.05.2009 75 °F
I wake to some funky beats. Tony is out there starting the day off right! Woo hoo!
Gee will be hooking up some amazing curry later and I would love to stay. But Karen has introduced me to Victoria and Lawrence who are headed to Barcelona today. They are up for a travel companion, and traveling with these amazing folks is an opportunity I just can't pass up. (Thanks V&L!!!)
I guess Becky has also hooked us up with a place to stay in barcelona tonight. Woo hoo! How can I be so lucky? (Thanks, Becky!!)
I get my things together, hang out a bit, then exchange contact info and say farewells. Karen drives us to the train station.
About 10 minutes away from the house, I realize I've left my camera battery and charger plugged into the wall. We are cutting it close for the train, so I just figure that I'll get another battery in Barcelona. I needed a backup anyway.
(Of course, there were a ton of gorgeous images I would have loved to take pictures of on the way to the station, at the station, from the train, once we arrived in Barcelona, my first meals in Barcelona, our room, Vic and Lawrence, etc. But at least it will give a small break to anyone who is actually looking at my pictures
The train is super fast (like 295km/h fast!). It also goes by the coast. Seeing the Sea from a train is splendid! Thanks for pointing it out to me, Vicky! (I was resting my eyes
I had some confusion buying the ticket on the train before the last stop. I handed the ticket guy a 20, but he kept repeating "30" "30". So, I thought he was trying to say that no, it was 30 euros. So I got out another 20, but he wouldn't take it, and kept repeating "30". the Spanish guy sitting next to me tried to clarify as well, but i finally asked for the cost (cuanto cuesta?) a few times and he stopped saying "30" and said "9.30". So, the whole time he needed 30 cents, because he had no small change. I wondered aloud to Vic and L why he didn't just say "cents" or "centavos" instead of repeating "30", but whatever. Then, the Spanish guy started talking to me once he heard me say "centavos".
That's when I realized that all those years of Spanish in school, and just hearing Spanish from being Californian - have paid off. This Spanish business man and I were actually able to carry a limited conversation. I had assumed that the Catalan and Castillian was so different from American Spanish that it would not be useful. But he said most people here understand it fine. And I understood him. Very basic, of course - but enough that I knew I could get by comfortably here. Woo hooo! We talked about cultures and economy. Here, they percieve the English as being very wealthy and seem to have some resentment about it. (I've noticed that people are often more welcoming once they realize I'm not English. hm.)
(Side Note: Many spanish professionals still wear full suits to work. And many of them ride motorcycles or mopeds, so you see a lot of bike riders in suits in Spain.)
We arrive in Barcelona! Yaaay!
Lawrence has everything dialed-in. Maps, routes, ticket rituals. I'm used to having to muddle through all this stuff myself, and it's really amazingly nice when someone else knows what they are doing and I can shift into auto-pilot for a bit. Whew! (Thanks, Lawrence!)
He encouraged me to get a metro ticket that's good for 10 trips - to get me through the next few days. (I end up using every last one of those - my last one being the one to go back to the train station to head out to Madrid - perfect!)
We leave our big bags at the consignment in the Barcelona Sants train station. Then, walk to the metro and head to the office to pick up the apartment keys.
Keys in hand, we head to the apartment Becky worked out for us. (Thanks, Becky!)
We drop our stuff, and decide to go to the cafe across the street and strategize. I order a cafe con leche and a salame dulce con leche (Literally: sweet salami with yogurt. It's A type of cylindrical cake that looks like a salami when cut, but the similarity stops there. They give you plain yogurt to dip it into.). It tastes marvelous - actually, everything from that cafe is marvelous. We share a piece of foccacia pizza that may be the best I've ever had. Yum!
After a bit, we go back to the apartment and decompress, settle in. Then, we decide to grab some food. victoria has a great travel guide and she's a pro at finding the best spots. (These two are so great to travel with!)
In the mean time, a fire breaks out in the trash bin out front of our place. We watch the fire crew put it out, then stand around smoking cigarettes. Hahaha!
Yay, Tapas! Vicky finds a great restaurant in the book, and they locate it on the map. My first Tapas experience is wonderful. We try all sorts of tasty things. The Spanish really know how to eat. This is right up my alley... focaccia, chorizo, fried calamari, fried artichokes, lasagna, potatoes with paprika dressing, cod and peppers, asparagus. With some nice beers to wash it down. MMMM!!
We decide to stop for a drink on the way back to the rooms. Vicky generously rallys us to celebrate my first night in Barca properly - With a salud!
Apparently, if you order a mixed drink, they bring out the bottles and make the drinks at the table. They pour the booze until you say 'when', then add the soda. and it all costs the same for one drink. They have this great rum "Havana Rum" 3 or 7, silver or spiced. And they actually brought out Coke in a glass bottle to make the Rum & coke. Nice!
We head back, sated and ready for some good rest after a long weekend. Aaah, the shower was great. Even though the water went cold for a few, and my towel dropped into the tub and got wet before I was done. A shower is really a great luxury!
Time to turn in. I move my bag to the corner and a centipede (i think) winds toward me. Yikes. one by one, it heads toward the bags on the floor. as i pick one up, it heads for another one. once all the bags are moved, and it has no place left to hide, it heads under the bed. I run to the dining area to grab a bowl hoping it doesn't dissapear. Its only a little ways under the bed, so i'm able to put a bowl over it. That should be fine until the morning.
It's only about 2-3" long. I would have expected them to move more like a caterpillar and be slow, but it was more like a sidewinder and pretty fast.
That's enough excitement for one day
Nighty night - out like a light!