Review of 13 /14 Feb 2009

Before we get off and running. . .this is how I pack for 14 days.  (That’s a highly important skill when traveling!)

This and the very end will be about the only combined days.  (Not many things exciting enough to write about regarding being stuck in a plane or airport for over 12 hours.)

OH!  And I will be adding pictures of flowers that we could not identify.  I use “we” very loosely here, as I can identify such things as dandelions, and roses, and. . .ivy. . . 😉  It’s kind of like an “Easter Egg hunt” for my Aunt Mother Nature (and anyone else who wants to play).

Bummer, just ran into a problem. . .I wonder how many photos would  be a good idea?  How many are overwhelming, and how many are too little????  Ahh, the quandaries . . .  On another note. . the time markers on the photos of this “day” are a bit wonky as we forgot, for awhile, to reset our camera clocks.

13 Feb.

Preparing to leave, each of us behind our respective suitcases.  (We had to repack my Grandma’s to get her down to one!)

We were expecting much heavier traffic enroute to the airport, but made it there in record time which gave us about 3 hours worth of “waiting”.  I actually found this calming.  There was nothing left for us to do.  I had managed to get all my “wanna-get-dones” completed before we left, so I was feeling mighty relaxed.  We just spent the time wondering around.

On the plane there was a lady that would twist her hair and then transfer it to the next finger in rapid succession (like that coin “trick”).  The thing was, from my vantage point it looked like a fury was attacking her noggin.  Wonder if she realizes she has this habit, and how it appears to others?

A kid across the aisle loved the plastic cups given him.  He would hold the cup between his teeth and pop it up to his nose.  Drove his mother, who was trying to sleep, berserk.

I got maybe two hours of sleep.  Which isn’t so hot given that I had awoken at 04something the 13th.

14 Feb

Uncle J has just met up with us at the airport in Brussels.  So, now we are five, ready to tackle Barcelona. . .once the plane gets us there.  By the way, Uncle J has a beard!  Never have I seen him with one before, so it kind of caught me off guard.  Oh, and for the first time I heard the story of his chipped tooth (he fell out of a tree in 2nd grade).  Grandma says he should get it fixed. . .and shave. 😉

Arrived at Barcelona around noon.  I crashed on the plane even before takeoff!

We took a bus from the airport to downtown Barcelona.  On the way we saw a dog, Golden Retriever, walking himself!  He had his collar with his leash connected and folded neatly in his own mouth just trotting happily along his own route.  We actually saw a number of dogs “walking themselves”, but this was the only one with leash “in hand”.    Not a lot of responsible pet owners picking up after their dogs.  We found our hotel without any problems, checked in, grabbed our cameras and were off to explore on foot.  It felt really good to be able to move!

Our hotel was situated between Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter.  We went toward the Gothic Quarter first.  We happened across a hidden courtyard with orange trees in it.  Quite striking.

And this would be?

Sadly, this photo came out a bit fuzzy, but I was impressed by Grandma’s spirit given that we were all exhausted and hungry.

The courtyard gave us a view of the cathedral that we were headed towards, but after enjoying the green we went back into the “street” in order to get better views.

You would not believe how good this position feels after being cooped up on a plane!!!

We finally made it to the cathedral and headed inside to explore.  One thing we had read about previously were the geese that had made their home in the cloister.

Found ’em!

Oh, and one thing that just became a fact of life on this trip. . .almost all the things that we saw were being worked on (preserved / reconstructed) in some fashion.  So, scaffolding and cranes are just par for the course in the photos.

After viewing the cathedral we went on a desperate search for FOOD!  Finally found some small out of the way little restaurant.  It was good, and it set us into the mindset of European eating (AKA taking an unholy FOREVER) which was to be our lot in life for the majority of the trip.  The other 4 had paella — which is a national dish of Spain according to Uncle J.  I had chicken brochetta which was yummy. This was to actually make this day a bit rougher for us, as we were forced to sit still for a fairly lengthy period of time.  And being, essentially, day 2 with very few hours of sleep. . .

So, we determined to go off on Las Ramblas to try to wake ourselves back up.

Lots of vend0rs there and street performers.  I think this is definitely more a European thing.  People that dress up in home-made costumes, striking a pose and expecting you to toss money in a box.  Strange.  The only American city we can come up with that may have something equivalent is San Fran.  Oodles of people. 

But, then we found St. Joseph’s Boqueira!  It’s an open market that sells just all sorts of items from fresh to prepared.  Had we known about this, I think we all would have been terribly happy to just find things to munch on here.  As it was we only got fruit, but it was good.  One item of note though, all our clementines (a family favorite) that we get here locally are a product of Spain.  Couldn’t find any good ones there, and the ones that I did find were much more expensive.

This would be one of the areas where I actually have a lot of excellent pictures of individual vendors, but in the mindset of possibly too many photos, I’m just adding this one.

At this point Mom and I were totally pooping out, so everyone trucked back to the hotel to take some ibuprofen and go to bed (by 1900!).

**********************************

Mar. 3, 2009

Sorry, can’t figure out how to keep up with current events “separately”.

While I was away Jay was playing “substitute teacher”.  Understand that this applies only to the little guys, as the older two are essentially self-taught at this point.  To keep Jay from feeling overwhelmed all he had was phonics and math games.  Oh, and some history reading.  I would get emails saying things like “I remember you told me I had to do ____, but how am I supposed to do that again” (or, “Where is this book?” or. . .)  You realize he had all this in writing too, right?

Then, as I was talking to him yesterday (Sunday, maybe?) to get an idea of what he had done. . .

Well, today, I’m back on the job.  The first order of business is to catch up on what wasn’t done.  And to determine if the items he thought to add were helpful / hurtful. . .

Ahh, and I have to do laundry.  We have a “truism” in my family.  You never fully feel “home” till your laundry is done.  And I’m so ready to feel at home!

Just overheard:  Mikhail is playing himself in a game of SkipBo (he dealt two hands).  His brother just came downstairs and Mikhail announces, “I’m winning!”

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