We got here on a Saturday at breakfast time, although it was more like after-party time to us. The flight was uneventful which is always a good thing. I sat in business class while my husband sat back in sardine class. His company bought the business class ticket for him, and my ticket was purchased using frequent flyer miles (coach). Last winter we had gotten two tickets to Czech Republic with miles – and we both got bumped from coach to business class for the round-trip. Not this time. In fact, when my husband went to ask the Delta agents in Atlanta about me getting bumped from coach to business – they were downright douchey. The husband is “Diamond” because he flies so much. I am “Coal.” Actually, he got me Gold status, but besides the free checked bags, it didn’t seem to help much that day. He decided I got the good seat on the way over and he’ll get the good seat on the way home.
I think I was the only one up there not drinking the free booze. What the hell is my problem? I’m not a big drinker and I knew I’d be taking an Ambien to sleep. And we’ve all heard stories about the effects of booze mixed with Ambien. Who knows – perhaps I would have found it necessary to walk up and down the aisle removing everyone’s headphones. Maybe I would have gone to the cockpit door, knocked, then said “Landshark.” I sat behind Flava Flav. He’s a rapper. In the vein of not being a paparrazzi rat, I won’t tell you anything about what he read, ate, drank, or how many times he got up to pee. I will only tell you that he seemed lovely.
We landed, got to the hotel, took a nap, then went downtown via metro. The metro (subway) here is great. Easy to figure out so far and very clean. I also liked the way you can see from one train car into the next. In NYC, for example, there are those slammy doors, and noise, and wirey things, and balancing between the cars, and scary monsters. Here you could walk between trains if you wanted to. They are also very bright inside. The odd thing is that once the train arrives, you have to open the door by pushing the handle. The doors don’t automatically open like in other cities. They have kiosks selling stuff like other cities, but they also have wall-sized vending machines. So if you need a sandwich, a candy bar, OJ, a liter of water, rolling papers, condoms, soda, or some Chips Ahoy – they’ve got you covered.
We took a stroll down Las Ramblas to get to the marina. Of course it’s pretty. I suppose that’s why tourists end up there. And the people painted to look like statues were pretty cool. But I wanted to choke the guys who were selling these things they want kids to put into their mouths to make this really annoying sound. I can’t really describe the noise. What parent is going to buy this thing for their kid? The one who wants to beat their child to death I suppose.
Walking around the marina was beautiful and we settled on a place to eat. I don’t know what we were thinking – eating in a high traffic, touristy part of town. The place looked beautiful but was overpriced. Wait. It wasn’t even overpriced. The food blew. At least what we ordered. I can’t even remember the name of the place. Our salads were just okay and for a main course we decided to split an entree of local prawns. It was $36 Euros for a plate of about eight steamed prawns. By the time we removed the heads we were down to something resembling cocktail shrimp. Langostinos my ass. Bland. Uck. Of course all the tables around us seemed to order the right thing. Sea bass baked in salt and paella with the real prawns. We tipped the waiter nonetheless, then realized tipping is not a normal thing in Spain. He ended up giving us a free beer and glass of wine – restaurant karma.
Man punches Audi
On the way back to the metro station we were waiting on a sidewalk to cross the street. I appreciate that you get a green walking man signal here rather than the white man in the U.S. who is hunched over. They even welcome bikes to cross too! Anyway, we heard a bit of a commotion to the right and we saw a man in a small dark vehicle get out of his car and walk back to a guy in an Audi and try to open the driver’s door. That didn’t work, so he punched the window. I believe he was yelling too. He did this for a bit, went back to his car, and it seems he was still pretty pissed because he got out of his car and went back for a second round of Audi window punching. We crossed the street after the punching and after we got to the other side I made a point to look at the woman who was in the small dark car; the date, wife, sister, or girlfriend of this window puncher. I thought about what conversation must be going on inside that car. And what about the conversation inside the Audi? I’m guessing a woman was not driving the Audi.
Another thing about transportation here: I heard there are more motorcycles here than in any other European city. Tonight on the way to dinner my hubby remarked that it’s very odd to see women standing at the gas pump with a helmet on, filling up a motorcycle or moped. Mainly because they are standing there in skirts and sandals. I say it’s really weird that all the mopeds and motorcycles are black! What’s the problem? There are seas of them all over the place, and they all look the same. Hello? Where are the pink ones? The turquoise ones? The zebra-striped ones? C’mon! This is Gaudi land. One of Pat’s (husband) work buddies says he bets the fun-colored bikes are in Italy.
We did the bus tour yesterday to get the lay of the land. It was fun. It’s freaking hot here. Missouri hot. We went to Montjuic. A mountain. Great view. We walked by another marina area. Lots of areas by water here. Lots of boats. Saw the beach area. Saw lots of areas. My brain started to get mushy. We took a nap then went out for dinner – determined not to go to a place crowded with tourists. I wanted to find a hole in the wall. I wanted to find a place where the chefs cook for a smaller number of people rather than a huge crowd. In the latter case one ends up eating food found typically at Ponderosa. No thanks. One of Pat’s friends suggested a place, so I Googled it, and it got good reviews . It is called Cera 23. It was in a neighborhood called El Raval and we had to walk in a quiet alley to get there. Looking at the alley, one would never know a restaurant was down there. It was great! Long story short – we ended up eating there again the next night after our concierge sent us to a tapas place that was overcrowded with tourists and had a long wait. Over the course of two nights, we had two good appetizers: crispy prawns and a ceviche of white fish. Our main dishes were fab too: a hake with a wonderful sauce and black rice with seafood and squid ink. It was very rich so I was glad Pat and I shared everything. I had a blackberry mojito – very good. The place is owned by two brothers I think. They were very sweet.
Yesterday Pat was working so I went to La Sagrada Familia – the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen. It really was amazing. I’ve seen many churches over the years; Notre Dame, Chartres, St. Pat’s, Sacre Coeur, and various basilicas in the U.S. and other churches in Prague, Montreal – and places I’ve forgotten about. But there was something about this particular church. I used the audio guide and it was nice. It talked about how Gaudi wanted the perfect amount of light in the church so perhaps that was part of it. I really liked the choir loft idea – it was overhead, but along the side walls toward the back for perfect sound. I suppose the church will be done in a number of decades.
Before I went to the church, I went into a department store called El Corte Ingles. It was near the metro stop near our hotel, The Princesa Sofia. It’s always fun shopping in foreign countries. I had just enough French (four years) to figure out enough words to get by in Catalan. (Reading, not speaking.) So yesterday I had to figure out if the sale price was already listed on the tag or if it would be taken at the register. It didn’t really matter – I didn’t buy anything. But I did like this skeleton mannequin. I guess I need to buy some of their dang face cream.
Time to get out the door for today; a visit to a Gaudi building or the Picasso museum. I suppose I will wear my bright, purple Asics again. Nobody gave me weird looks yesterday. Plus I need to turn off the TV. The channels in English are BBC and I’ve been listening to reports about the royal baby boy all morning. The headline I liked best before the birth: “Kate’s cervix big as a baby’s head!”