Saturday, May 07, 2005

Dreaming to Barcelona

Last night I dreamed about Anna and Colin, mostly Anna, and my sisters were bickering about which Dora song was the best, the old one or the new one. I think that was sparked by our dinner conversation about sibling rivalry - that and of course how much we miss our kids, so much more this second week of our holiday. From the reports sounds like Colin is talking so much more than when we left. We miss his sweet, fun personality. And every little girl I see makes me think of Anna, and how much I´d like to show her things. We are determined to take our kids, when they get a little older, to Europe to expand their minds, like our parents did for us.

Internet access has been difficult, but should be much better for the remainder of our trip - this cafe is only €1 per hour (about $1.25). There are 2 cafes spitting distance from our hotel. So leave a comment, already!

I forgot to tell you all over Italy and France the wisteria and chestnut trees were blooming. We enjoyed a second day in France, just staying in Cannes. A tourist information person recommended to us a "fantastique" stroll through the city. I told her it sounded like a beautiful day in Cannes, and she said, "Oui, like every day in Cannes." We strolled through the pedestrian streets, ogling the shops and the patesserie. We decided to go ahead and buy our lunch at a bakery, in case it closed unexpectedly (happens a lot) - and of course we had to sample our lunch as we strolled. We had one baguette covered with pesto, chicken, tomatoes, olives, and cheese, and another, cut in half with ham, cheese, and butter. The butter was so fresh and creamy, and really set of the crusty loaf. Then we wandered through the weekly market. In addition to produce, there were huge bouquets of flowers (12 for €6!), and tons of bizarre looking fish, some of them terminally gasping on the ice. Then we hiked up to the castle and church overlooking the port for some beautiful views, hiked down and took a bus along Le Coisette/the beach, got of and wandered through the ritzy section. We got back on the bus as the skies turned suddenly threatening and got back to our ship at 2 for an early departure.

We had to sail all the way from France to Mallorca, Spain, and we ran into some weather. The seas had rolling waves, but fortunately neither of us got sick - not even Anthony! After dinner we went to the other dining room for its big windows - it really helps to look at the horizon - and it was entertaining to watch the crew fight the tipping of the boat. We went to bed early (not much else to do, couldn´t watch the shows). Mercifully the seas became calm about 3 am.

We didn´t get to Palma de Mallorca until about 11 am. We went to their cathedral. It was quite impressive outside, with flying buttresses, but a little dull inside, although the leaflet said it was the most beautiful gothic cathedral in all the world!

Then we went down to the beach, because I was determined to swim in the beautiful turquoise Mediterranean waters. It was COLD! I had to lay on the beach to warm up and dry off, definitely in the minority with my bikini top on. After nursing 2 babies, they just aren´t what they used to be! We walked the long way back to the boat, along the port´s shore, about 3.5 miles. The Spanish sun was intense. After a shower and a cocktail, we were ready for our last dinner on board.

So far, we have really enjoyed Barcelona. We hiked up the sleepy Ramblas first thing after getting off our boat. At 8 am it was almost empty, unlike the picture below!

We ditched our bags at our hotel and went to the train station to get our tickets. We had reserved a night train to Madrid for tomorrow night. The station was a mass of travelers and multiple ticket windows. The signs are in Castilion spanish and Catalan (the local dilect) but not many in English. We finally found where we needed to wait, and when we got to the window, I said, "Hola, habla ingles?" No. I took a deep breath, drank a mental margarita, and dove into my Tex-Mex. "Reservation.... Madrid.... Manana....Ventitre...." (it leaves at 23.oo or 11 pm). She understood that, and said "Cash o visa?" but then printed us tickets for seats, not a private car with a bed. So I said,"No.....telefono.....reservation....con letto" she said it was all full, we could get a couchette on an earlier train (sharing fold down seats with 4 other people). We are too old for that. After much pleading on our part and some checking on her part, she found a private double on the train we wanted. It took forever for her to cancel the first tickets (printing a duplicate cancelling each part and stamping Anullata on each part, then stapling together), but finally we were saying, "Muchas gracias, senora," and leaving with what we wanted.

The metro in Barcelona is efficient and fast, as in Milano and London. We went to Sagrada Familia, the cathedral still under construction, designed by Gaudi.

Its architecture is familiar but modern.
I thought it was fascinating to see the work in progress, but Anthony was a bit bored. They started in 1866, did a lot of work between the 1880-1920, and have a long way to go.

We wandered through a local market. It had the same dazzling produce as those in Italy and France, but also had stalls with lots of hanging pork legs (jamon, like prosciutto).

The fishmongers were tough ladies covered with scales and fish blood, weilding large cleavers.

The butcher stalls were amazing - some seemed to specialize in the leftovers - I saw skinless sheep heads with horizontal eyes looking at you, cow hearts, lungs, lobulated kidneys, huge dark livers, tongues -- wow. Then at one poultry shop the woman was hacking chickens (heads attatched) and I noticed square plastic containers of dark yellow orbs - then I realized these were the yolks that came out of the uterus, that hadn´t been made into eggs yet! Wonder what they do with that? We ate a great lunch at a little cafe, sitting on a plaza, then retired to our hotel for siesta. We plan to walk around tonight and eat some tapas. Tomorrow its the Picasso museum, hike up Mt Juic, and night train to Madrid.

Please leave a note, we´ll probably check back manana!


EdamameMommy said...

Man, thanks for the long post. I've only had time to read half of it, and I'm commenting now because I have a feeling if I wait and read the whole thing, the kids will wake up before I have time to type.

We miss you and I am thinking of you TONS -- imagining all the strolls and bet you've been living the french phrase "faire du leche les vitrines" which literally means do the lick the windows (window shopping)

This weekend has been great so far. The kids are napping hard and will be sad when they wake up that all our company has departed. Most of all, they will miss Patchie. Graham is OBSESSED with Patchie. He really really likes her. He is gentle (imagine!) and attentive, most of the time. Paige and Graham were living it up with Nana for our picnic lunch today. Nana was feeding them proscuitto, and they looked like two little birds. Andrea was so helpful wrangling the kids for me the whole time she was here. I look forward to the day that she gets the call that her adopted child is ready for her! It looks like that might happen this fall. She is hoping it will occur around Christmas so that she can have extra time off to bond with the baby. The school district gives her ZERO days of maternity leave since she isn't birthing the kids. Unbelievable!

So hope you've enjoyed the ramblings. We are also in heaven with Emily Coleman here. I think we'll catch a movie called CRASH tonight.

Any Spanish phrases sinking in? Graham has one for you. He says "Bem Bem Bem" and opens and closes his fist, arm extended. He means to say "ven ven ven" which translates to "Come, come, come"

EdamameMommy said...

Oh, and by the way, I would TOTALLY argue that the OLD Dora is much much better. Or as Tico would say "muchisimo mejor!"

THey cut out all the good songs (map and backpack) to put in the star bullshit. WHY?????

Anonymous said...

Nana says:
Hello from Austin! I finally arrived this evening at 6:00 pm. After our lovely picnic in the park with the Walker's and Andrea, Grandad and I drove down to Galveston. It's a very easy port to get to, drop off and move on or park at. I bid your Dad farewell at 2:00 and started my drive to Austin. The return traffic looked so bad through Houston that I checked the map and found I could take State HWY 6 NW up to I-10 west. Seemed OK and it was tho it took longer to go through all the small towns with lights and slower speeds. At least I was moving and not stuck in traffic. Lovely drive on Hwy 71 thru La Grange and Bastrop. Got here 5 minutes before Lee and Cinda came to pick up Bev. Em & Bev had waited dinner for me so we quickly ate and said goodbyes. Anna & Colin were happy to see me but like in Houston they both were more excited to see Patches! Our little dog has turned out to be a hit with the grandkids!

I know you are missing your little ones as they are you. Cinda wished me a Happy Mother's Day tomorrow and Anna said, Tomorrow is Mother's Day? I said, yes. She said, But my Mommy won't be here and I have a present for her. I said, you can celebrate with me tomorrow and with your Mommy on TUESDAY! OK, Anna said and then wasn't sad any more.

They are doing great but will be so excited and happy to see you both on Tuesday evening.

Everything about your trip sounds wonderful. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, sweetheart! Love, M