Sunday, December 31, 2017

Since I've been back

convert your wine glasses into little lamps with trencadis shades from a Gaudi gift shop

Picassoesque tile from Cordoba

Allie enjoying all our snow

I am wearing a necklace I got for Julie from a Madrid gallery. Not sure if I am wearing it correctly or even if she liked it

family room lights

presents before we hauled them away to Shanna's

since it has been so cold and snowy, lots of birds depend on us

broccoli-red pepper braid I made for Xmas brunch

Hannah learning about screens

all the grandbabies. They couldn't open presents until they sat relatively still for a minute

Again Hannah shrieks in terror due to scary Grandma

new Barcelona poster

cute centerpiece from museum party we went to last night. We got to keep it

our local art museum has lots of Tiffany

my vintage Mary Frances purse I took to the museum party I had my nails painted in conga line coral to match
My big find since I've been back: an Adele Simpson dress that fits me just right. She designed many first lady dresses back in the 70s. Also I am wearing necklace I bought at a Barcelona Christmas market. The textured tights I bought yesterday cost way more than the dress

Since I have been back, more than 2 weeks, it has been a lot of ups and downs. I've been struggling to keep positive and not burst into tears at some disappointments and frustrations, most which I can not go into here. Some issues have been resolved; some seem impossible to resolve.

We returned at midnight to a wall of snow. From sun and palm trees to this glacial expanse. And the next morning, Steve could not start the snow blower. As we found out several days later, leaving gasoline that has ethanol in it causes the carburetor to gum up. Again keeping this house involves a steep learning curve that we keep falling off of. Three hours the other day to install a new garbage disposal and that's with help.. Meanwhile I got my exercise shoveling. Then yet another visit from the water guy to figure out why our filters keep plugging up.

We had one day of warmth such that all the snow melted away only to be replaced by a series of storms and cold. So far the low has been ten below. I waited until it was a toasty 2 below to run that day. And it won't get any warmer in the near future.  So exercising enough has been a challenge. I was able to bicycle during the relative warmth of the first week (still had frostbite of the toes). Just the other day, we finally got the missing part to the elliptical trainer so I can at least do that inside. And extra bonus, a friend gave me a month's membership at her fancy gym starting Tuesday. True she called me at 3:30 am in Spain to tell me that(!!!) but to be fair, she didn't know I was gone.

It was a very white Christmas no thanks to the foot of snow dumped on us the night before. And very windy. I can run when it's very cold, it actually isn't as slippery then but I really hate wind. Fortunately on the very cold days, it was calm. Off to Shanna's to watch the kids open presents.

We've had Maya a lot and probably will in the future. She is very challenging.

It is New Year's eve. No plans but we did go to a party last night that our lawyer arranged. Yes let's go out with a lot of strangers. We did know one couple as it turned out and it was in the art museum so we could wander around that. And they had food from the best caterer and lots of fancy drinks so we did enjoy ourselves. I hardly ever get dressed up but I did for this.

Three months until spring. Can I last that long? Hopefully it will be warmer in Seattle and Costa Rica, January and February trips.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The last day of Barcelona

Plaza de Espana

the bull fighting arena was converted to a mall

inside the mall

Plaza de Espana looking the other way

deserted streets of the Barri Gotic outside the synagogue
me in the tram up Montjuic No one else was in it not even a driver. Suddenly it took off

up through this tunnel

We climbed a long way through gardens

finally to the castle on top

our hotel way below

The bus ride down the hill went past the Olympic complex

Our hole in the wall lunch place near La Sagrada Familia. Very good

near where we found the tram

castle gardens

Xmas tree inside the arena mall

I hit publish when I meant to just save and then was too lazy to convert to draft. And as usual, all my photos, a mix of Steve's and mine, are out of order. 

We walked through the Plaza of the Sagrada Familia through their Christmas markets looking for lunch. Although I planned out our activities in advance, I didn't research  lunch stops all the time. We stopped in a promising place in off the main street. We had three different waitresses attending to us, all very friendly. The food was very good though I can't remember what we ate other than another version of crema catalan, a less rich crème brulee.

On to Montjuic, which is Jove's mountain, not Jewish mountain as I was led to believe. Three options to get there. There was a cable car that goes across the water whose landing was very close to our hotel but it was only one way and very expensive. A tram that doesn't operate in the winter but it turns out to be still running, or a bus that runs to the top between Plaza de Espana and the very top.

This tram was hard to find. I assumed it would be out in the open not at the end of a series of long deserted tunnels. There it was: two cars, doors open and no other passengers or even a driver. Steve was dubious whether we were even to be there but the doors snapped shut and the tram slowly began to move. It eventually came into the light and stopped. Turns out we were only half way there. We made the long climb through multiple sets of stairs in a pretty park. Did I say we had been on our feet for a long time already that day? Finally we arrived at the castle, a very old looking fort but surrounding it were plenty of viewing spots to see the water below. Steve loves high places to take photos.

We missed a lot of the sights in the mid section of the hill, pretty plazas, the Olympic park, the Joan Miro museum, which I had no intention of going in but it is in an interesting building. We did see these sights flash by on the bus ride down. The bus ended at the Plaza de Espana which had lots of interesting buildings that we were too tired to explore. The sun was setting. We went back to the center of town, Placa de Catalunya, for one last look at the Barri Gottic looking for the synagogue, which was hard to find. We stopped into a very friendly empanada shop (Thai coconut chicken empanadas, yum!) nearby. The owner went over backwards to help us find it, 2 minutes away. Then onto our bus which we caught on the very busy Via Laietana going by The Fun Factory with a huge moving dildo especially designed as the sign said to find the G spot. No need translate as everything was  in English. I did take a photo that captured the movement on my iPhone through the window. Fairly obscene. I will spare you.

Back at the W, into their fancy bar to claim our free cava . Not looking forward to going home. I could open up the news feed and get headlines

Ann Arbor to get another 7 inches of snow today.

Another 7 inches? What chaos awaits ?

We had a very leisurely brunch the next morning as our driver wasn't going to be there until 9 am. Lots of cava along with there many other taste treats. The driver, a very nice interesting man, was right on time. And for some reason, no traffic in our way to the airport so we had plenty of time to sample the many offerings at the duty free, lots of alcohol. Hopefully it would make me sleep.  And our friendly Brooklyn flight attendant kept bringing me wine. A miracle I could move. Meanwhile cold and snow all over the place in the Eastern US. We flew to Kennedy where we waited for hours and hours. Our plane was there but the flight crew was stuck in the snow elsewhere. Then we waited in line to be deiced  We arrived almost 3 hours late. Naomi picked us up as she had to work early in the morning and we would have Maya. Our huge driveway had more than a foot of snow though the neighborhood had carved a small area to park a car. Fun to unload the car trudging back and forth.

And on to the many challenges here

La Sagrada Familia

When I asked Steve what he wanted to see most on our trip, he said La Sagrada Familia. I hadn't gone inside before due to limited time and budget. It was special. The first photos are with my iPhone but due to its size, special lenses are required

This sort of has that Jesus as Mary Poppins vibe

down below

they had a video screen that showed parts of the church from where we could not go

the start of Steve's phots

as  you can see, we weren't alone

When will this church ever be done? Not in our life time

You will be pleased to know that after La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece though he left detailed plans, we slowed down considerably with the photo taking.

Yes it was marvelous. On to Montjuic


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