# 9 – San Feliu & a home-cooked meal (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Today’s installment of where I was and what I did one year ago today. Enjoy!

~

22 September 15

This morning we got up leisurely around 8:30 am and got ourselves ready for the day. We all walked down to La Mallorquina and got ensaimadas. Mom got some other dulces, too. We went back to the apartment and ate on the terrace until Sonia came.

She dropped us off at the doctor’s so Mom could have her blister looked at. They have universal health care here so Mom paid 62 Euro and was treated by a super nice doctor and nurse. They dealt with her blister and bandaged her up. She’ll have to have it looked at again in BCN.

After that, we went walking and looking for a new oro de Toledo letter opener for Dad. We found the store we were hoping to find and the proprietors were phenomenally nice. They warmed my heart. Sandy & I also bought some stuff. Then we went back to the apartment after stopping for an horchata for Mom who is still searching for a good one.

Sonia was at the beach when we got back. But she came up shortly and she, Sandy, and I went to get lunch at a local bar/café where Sonia knew the guy working. She & Eric used to have a bar here, then they had a restaurant, so they got to know a lot of the service folks around town. We got sandwiches and fries and took them back to the apartment. The sandwiches are simple: meat and cheese, or just meat, or just cheese. The bread is smeared with tomato. Delicious.

It started to get a little cloudy and slightly chilly. Sometime between the night before and now, we’d made a plan to go see Monica and Nuri at Monica’s place in San Feliu. So we took off, Sonia driving us (bless her heart!) She drove us first by S’Agaro to see it. It was nice. She dropped us off at Monica’s and said she’d pick us up in a couple hours.

Nuri was staying at Monica’s. It’s a pretty big apartment. Nuri has a room for herself, then Aida, Irina, and Monica all have their own rooms as well. We sat and talked, or rather listened to Nuri. Thank goodness Monica has a dog, Willy, that we could give attention to! When Irina got home from school around 5 pm, Mo, Sandy & I took Willy for a walk so Mo could show us around San Feliu. It’s very old, dating back to the 1200s. There are little history markers around town which gave historical tidbits. It had been a ship-building town and was bombed heavily during the Spanish Civil War. I found it quite charming with its old buildings, very narrow streets, and conveniences.

We went back to the apartment, and Sonia & Eric arrived. We exchanged addresses and said our goodbyes. I’m glad that Mom got a chance to reconnect with her sister, and I hope things are fine between them now.day-9b-sonias-apartment

Before we went back to Sta Cristina, Sonia & Eric took us to meet his mom, Carmen, and her partner, Jose, who happens to be the cousin of Elvira. Small world. We had a lovely visit with them.

Then we went back to Sonia & Eric’s apartment where Eric would cook dinner for us. While he cooked, we all chatted and got caught up thanks to Sonia’s WiFi. Sandy & I took this selfie. I think Sandy looks super cute.

We had dinner around 10 pm, and it was a feast! I had been ‘complaining’ about how I hadn’t had breaded pork yet, so Eric hooked us up. We had escalopa de lomo, butifarra, jerdez, chorizo, pan con tomaday-9c-dinner-by-ericte, roasted red peppers, and sangria. A home-cooked meal. It was spectacular, all totally delicious.

It was a wonderful way to end the day, among family & great food. Eric drove us back to Playa de Aro. Tomorrow, he & Sonia will pick us up in the afternoon to take us back to Barcelona. It’s supposed to rain here tomorrow, so I’m glad I got in the Med when I did!

# 8 – Mediterranean moments y familia (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Here’s the look back on what happened one year ago today!

~

21 September 15

Sandy got up at 7:30 (not on purpose). But we had noted that sunrise was at 7:30. Mom got up, too. We hurried outside and saw a beautiful sunrise over the sea.
day-8a-playa-de-aro1-sunrise

I wrote in my journal for a while, then Sandy convinced me today-8a-playa-de-aro2-primas get in the Med. I was waffling. But she told me to remember what MT’s advice had been: no regrets! It was about 10:45 am. The chill of the water literally took my breath away, but as I got used to it, the only word to describe the experience was perfection. It’s so calm, you just float in the salt water. Estoy muy contenta. Sandy didn’t get in, so after, we went up to the apartment, and I showered. We were sitting outside when Sonia came.

We chatted some, then went into town to change money and go to the pharmacy. Eric and Nicole were going to meet us at a restaurant for lunch. Changing money took longer than we thought. We walked by the old apartment and took a photo. Then to the pharmacy where they told Mom she should see a doctor about the blister. We will go tomorrow.

Then it was time to go to a restaurant that Sonia & Eric knew about called Rosamar. It sits on a cliff above the Mediterranean with spectacular views. It was stunning.

We went over to where Eric & Nicole were waiting, but there were some bees coming near so we moved under a covering but still outside. The flies and bees were still ‘bugging’ us. Nicole couldn’t take it. She kept jumping from her chair and waving her arms. The waiter brought a citronella and placed it right by her, but it didn’t help much.

We ordered and were talking nicely, shooing away the flies, but Nicole was very agitated and sassy to her parents who were upset by her poor behavior. It was uncomfortable. Eric yelled at her. She was crying. Sonia was embarrassed & Eric was pissed. Nicole is a teenager, and it showed. I felt bad for all of them.

For lunch, Sandy & I shared croquetas, then I had maccarones. Para la postre: un crocanti! 2 cervezas.

After lunch, we walked a little bit to take more photos.

It was mostly a pleasant afternoon. Eric & Nicole left on his moto, and Sonia drove us back, but not before we stopped to take more photos of the sea.

Then we awaited the arrival of Nuri, Monica, Aida, and Irina.

When they arrived, it was good to see them, albeit a little strange. We all hugged and kissed right in the middle of the sidewalk in front of our apartment. The best surprise was that Nuri had brought the portrait that had hung in the living room of Roca y Batlle and gave it to Mom. I almost burst into tears, but I held it together.

We walked and talked and ended up going to La Pijama to get drinks and some food. It was a little late for lunch, but too early for dinner, but we were there, so we went with it. I had some deep-fried camembert.

We sat and talked, either as a large group or in smaller groups. Nuri & Mom mostly talking together. We took photos.

Through the evening, it was clear that Nuri dislikes Sonia, pero mucho. Es una lastima. We were walking back to the apartment, Nuri & Mom were behind all of the cousins. That’s when we heard Nuri say some not very nice things about me and Sandy and Sonia. It was a bummer. We’d had such a pleasant evening up til then.

After they left, and the plan for tomorrow was still kind of up in the air, we went up to the apartment. Mom hadn’t slept very well the night before so we decided to switch beds. So I ended up in the ‘master’ bedroom that night.

One more note about this location. There is a petanque tournament going on here at Hotel Aromar. A huge group of French players are here in the hotel, and the tournament is directly in front of the hotel. They turn on the PA early and are making announcements all day. It’s become a bit of a running joke. So much petanque!

# 7 – To Platja d’Aro (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Sorry for missing a day. I’ll try to double post to stay on track, no promises though. Work has been complete craziness.

~~

20 September 15

We got up fairly early (haha, around 8:30 am) to get ready to leave what I came to call the apartment, Casa Tibidabo. We had breakfast on the terrace (for the first time)day-7a-terrace-at-bertran. Then we set to cleaning the apartment and getting our stuff together. We were done by about 11 am, and Sonia arrived around 11:30 am. After chatting a while, we got our luggage and hauled it up the streets of Barcelona to Sonia’s car, which would have been rather uneventful, except that on the way, we passed by the church where Mom & Dad were married!

Sonia drove us out of Barcelona. There’s a highway now that goes to Costa Brava where before you had to go through towns. It’s very green here. Nice drive, all the while talking about the family and everything.

First stop was Sta Cristina where Sonia lives in a cute little 2-bedroom.

day-7b-santa-cristina-daro
View from Sonia’s apartment

It’s government housing, and she only pays 300 euro a month, which is quite inexpensive. It was very cute. She made us canalones and a salad. Yummy! Then she brought out her photo albums from when she lived with us in La Mirada. She says it was the best time of her life J After that we all piled in the car to head to Playa de Aro! It’s not far, in fact, Sonia works in Platja.

On the way into town, we stopped at the cemetery where Avi & Mama Pepita (Mom’s parents) are buried. day-7c-playa-de-aro-cemeteryPoor Mama Pepita doesn’t have her birth/death dates on the headstone. Sonia said it might have been a matter of money at the time. Sad. I’m glad we stopped though.

Then it was on to Playa de Aro. It’s changed a lot. It’s much more about la moda. Many stores, not as many bars/cafes. There’s a McDonald’s. L But one part that is still mostly the same is the beach.

We arrived to our next apartment which is part of Hotel Aromar. It’s on the third floor, and it faces the sea. It’s an incredible view.The sea is so calm.

After we got to the apartment & admired its views, we went to the supermarket for some drinks and snacks. Mom didn’t come because her blister is the size of a house. 😦 We took a drink on the balcony and called Nuri and Monica to make a plan for them to come the next day (with much drama in the conversation). Sonia & Nicole then had to leave to get Eric so Mom, Sandy & I walked down to the beach to put our feet in the Mediterranean.I didn’t remember the sand being so rocky, but what bliss to sit there.

Eric & Sonia came back (Nicole wasn’t feeling well) and we walked to a local bar/café called Costa Brava. They were showing a basketball game (Spain vs Lithuania), and the patrons were very into it. We had canas, patatas bravas, chipirinos (fried fish), albondigas (very good), calamares a la romana, and chicken wings. I was tired, the bar was loud, but it was still good. When the basketball game was over, they switched to soccer where Barca was playing. They scored 3 quick goals, and it was festive. Sandy liked being around the locals rooting for their teams.

I was able to show Sonia photos of the Lorca house, and talk a bit about Han and D. Sonia is good people, as is Eric. I said to her, “Te veo como un adulto.” We had a good laugh.

After ‘dinner,’ they left and Mom, Sandy, and I hung in the hotel lobby to use the WiFi.

Then we went back to the apartment where we read a bit then went to sleep. The beds in this apartment are much better than the little monastic beds at Casa Tibidabo.

One last look at the view of the sea from our balcony. Sigh. day-7d-playa-de-aro16

# 6 – Bus Turistic & Tibidabo (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Here’s today’s installment!
~~

19 September 15

I woke up with a cold 😦

Today was the day we would ride the Bus Turistic, thanks to the free tickets from Melanie. We went to Farga to get something for breakfast. Since I wasn’t feeling too great, I opted for orange juice to go with my magdalena. Before the bus, we stopped at the pharmacy where, after hearing my symptoms, they gave me a powder anti-histamine. I poured it into my OJ and drank it down.

I need to make a quick aside about the magical pharmacies of Barcelona. Remember my leg pain? After a day and a half or so of using the cream I’d gotten at the first pharmacy, my legs were completely cleared up. Plus I wore compression socks everywhere from then on (the day I got the rash or whatever it was, I hadn’t worn the socks) and didn’t have any issues. Then this anti-histamine was also miraculous. You’ll read below, but seriously, there’s practically a pharmacy on every corner, they have things to deal with just about anything. Mom had gotten some stuff to manage her blister, too, which was helping, but it was still there, and huge.

Back to Bus Turistic. We started out on the top level of the bus. It was kind of a cooler morning, but it was still nice. It’s an audio tour, so as the bus drives around, the audio tells you what you’re seeing. I took a couple pics.

There are three routes of the Bus Turistic. We started on blue, then we changed to red. The bus is a hop-on/hop-off tour so there are multiple buses running all the time. When we switched to red, the top of the bus was full, so we sat in the bus. It was not as good. The windows are decorated or wrapped and it impedes the visuals out the windows. I think on the red route, we went up through Olympic Park. I was feeling rather miserable. We didn’t hop off anywhere. But then we decided to change to the green route. When that bus came, there was room on top, but since I didn’t want to be in the open air with my cold, I stayed inside while Mom & Sandy went up top.

The green route is kind of boring, no big sites, so the bus was pretty empty. It was awesome for me because that’s when the anti-histamine kicked in. It was not a non-drowsy formula, so I snoozed on the bus. I did manage to get these shots either between catching some winks or after.

We decided to get off at Port Olimpic/the beachfront to have some lunch. Mom remembered going to some restaurant with her mom before and was trying to figure out which one. We went up and down the area where the restaurants are, looking, checking out the menu del dia. Finally, we selected El Cangrejo Loco (The Crazy Crab). I was starting to feel better, but then lunch came and everything was better! This meal was one of my favorites. I had for primero a big ol’ plate of Iberico ham. Gah! So good! I also had calamares and then spaghetti con shrimp. For dessert, crema catalana which is like a crème brulee but is lemony instead of vanilla-y.

day-6b-el-cangrejo-loco3-crema-catalana

We also had a great view!

day-6b-el-cangrejo-loco1-la-playa

We all really liked this restaurant.

day-6b-el-cangrejo-loco2-grupo

By the time we were done, it was like I’d never even had a cold (miracle pharmacy!) We hopped back on the bus, this time on the red line again. It was much less crowded so we were all on top. I took lots of photos!

At one point, we hopped off near Paseo de Gracia because that’s where 2 of Gaudi’s most famous structures are located: Casa Batllo and La Pedrera (more on those later)

We hopped back on, and I took more photos of the amazing architecture all over the city.

The bus also stopped at La Sagrada Familia, another Gaudi work. We didn’t get off the bus because we knew we were going to come here another day. Still, when it’s right there, you can’t not take photos. Lots more on that later, too.

We ended up back on the blue route which took us back to where we’d gotten on the bus in the morning. The bus handily stopped right near where you get on Tramvia Blau to go up to Tibidabo. So many memories came to me on this ride up the mountain, and then on the funicular up to the top. The tram/car that goes up the street to the funicular passes through some cool neighborhoods with gorgeous houses. Maybe Mom told me this, but I thought of this neighborhood as I read “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The funicular is exactly the same as when I was a kid. It’s equally fascinating and scary. I don’t know if Mom & Sandy were having similar thoughts.

We weren’t going up there to ride anything but just to look at the city. We hit the jackpot. It was clear and not too dark yet. We took photos of the park itself (so old-fashioned!),

of the view,

a nice person took photos of us,

and then the light was hitting the church in such a way that we were crazy trying to capture it.

We also had churros and walked around a little bit. We went down the mountain around 8 pm. We bought some bread. We went up to El Putxet again, then we went home, had sandwiches, and went to bed. Saw so much of the city today. I am so in love with it.

# 5 – Montserrat (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Turns out the 18th and 19th were not good writing days either! Seriously, we packed so much into each day that it’s a wonder I found time at all! Here’s what happened a year ago today. My bullet list is very short, basically Montserrat and a few other points about the day, so I’ll elaborate more:
~~

18 September 15

Sandy hadn’t been to Montserrat in a while. I had been there with Dad in ’94, but I wanted to go. Mom was not down. She has been there countless times, as a kid for school field trips, and then as a tour guide. It did not call to her. Her blister was growing so she decided to stay around BCN.

One thing I totally remember about this day was ruling the subway system like a boss. I think we had to take about 3 trains to get to the last train that would take us up to Montserrat. It’s not easy sometimes to understand which direction they’re going and what time and where to get off. But something about it all just clicked for me. It felt awesome.

Montserrat is a monastery built up in the mountains. Montserrat translated is ‘serrated mountain’ because that’s what they look like.

I should mention that breakfast that day was croissant with chorizo. Yum!

So after the subway/train ruling, we were on our way!

Upon arrival, we just took it in.

It’s truly a sight to see. There were quite a few people who had the same idea we did!

To ‘get away’ from the throngs of tourists, we noticed a little trail and decided to take it. It was a trail dedicated to Verdaguer, a Catalan poet.

It was lovely, but we didn’t know how far it went around the mountain, and we wanted to get to the monastery.

However, before we did that, we decided to get some food to avoid any hangriness later on. We went to a cafeteria and bought some cheese & sausage and some chips. Probably water or Cokes, too. I didn’t take any pictures, but I’ll tell ya that sitting up in the mountains on a warm sunny day with my sister eating cheese, sausage, and chips was all pretty great. We missed Mom, though.

On to the monastery.

It’s incredible, very breathtaking. I didn’t take a picture of it, but the courtyard before you go in the sanctuary is a large area. There were many tourists who posed so it looked like they were holding up the top of the church. It was a strange sight.

We decided to wait in line to see La Virgen. One of the stories of Montserrat is that it is where the La Moreneta was first seen, one of the black Madonnas of Europe. There was a long line to see her. I didn’t remember having done it before, and Sandy was eager to do it, so we decided to stand in the line. I don’t remember how long it was, maybe an hour.

Going through the church on our way to see her was wonderful in itself. They keep the access to her very limited so you see stuff you don’t get to see if you just go in the church.

La Moreneta is tiny. She is sitting on a throne with Jesus on her lap. Jesus’s hand is raised in blessing. She is also holding an orb of the earth in her right hand. As we approached, we realized that each person got a moment to themselves with her. She is behind glass, but the orb is not, so you can touch it. You’re not allowed to take photos.

Sandy was ahead of me, so I watched what she did to know what to do (story of our lives!) My moment with La Moreneta was lovely, peaceful. I again was struck by the history, the hundreds of years she has seen. It was not long enough, but there were lots of people behind me!

After that experience we each had, Sandy & I found the gift shop to be extremely tacky. But we walked around a little bit more to get that ickiness off.

We ended up in the cafeteria/restaurant. We bought a sandwich to share and ate it on the train down the mountain. (BTW, the trip home was another boss ruling of the metro system!)

When we got back around 5:30 pm, we heard about Mom’s day which involved a lot of walking around La Rambla trying to find a place to exchange money, but I think she had a good day. Her blister was hurting her pretty bad 😦

That evening, we took Mom to the Jardines de la Tamarita. It was lovely.

Then we found a restaurant for dinner, Restaurant Molina. I had croquetas and canalones. I had originally ordered mussels, but they came back and told me they were bad. I don’t remember any of us loving this meal, but, again, being in Barcelona made up for a lot of that!

# 4 – more Bari Gotic y familia (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Here’s today’s 2nd post about what we did one year ago today in Barcelona! And it’s another bulleted list!
~~

17 September 15

  • My legs were no better after a night’s sleep. Mom went to get breakfast & to see when the pharmacy opened. It was open so I went back out with her to get a cream or something to put on my legs.
  • Today we were having lunch with Ferran, Mom’s cousin, so we headed back to La Rambla…
    day-4a-la-rambla …and made our way to Can Culleretes, thinking our reservation was at 12:30pm. But surprise, when we got there, the restaurant was just opening. We checked the reservations, and ours wasn’t until 2:30pm.
  • So we wandered through the Gothic Quarter (never bad!). I love this photo of the bookstore cat in the sun.
    day-4b-gothic-qtr2
    We had some churros. In our wandering we came upon an ancient Roman wall!
  • We took a cab to the El Born neighborhood,
    day-4c-el-born
    one that Mom had wanted to check out. I had never been, but when I go back (:)), I’ll look into staying there. I thought it was lovely.
  • Mom specifically wanted to visit a church, Santa Maria del Mar , but it was closed. However, as a tour group came out, Mom hopped inside the door quickly to just get a glimpse. That was good enough for her 🙂
    day-4d-santa-maria-del-mar2
  • El Born is also home to Museu Picasso. We didn’t have time before lunch to go in, sadly, but the gift shop was open to the public so we spent some time in there, buying souvenirs (including Picasso’s own drawings for the menus of Els Quatre Gats!) That was a good stop!
  • We walked back to the Gothic Quarter, which turned out to not be very far at all, and made our way to Can Culleretes where Ferran was waiting for us with flowers for Mom. It was so sweet.
    day-4f-can-culleretes
  • This restaurant is a MUST! Spectacular food. For primero, Sandy & I both had cannelones (they made Sandy tear up!), they were exquisite.
    day-4f-can-culleretes2
    For segundo, I had lomo con patatas fritas. Postre: tarta de chocolate. Plus 2 beers.
  • The restaurant itself, aside from the food, is remarkable. The oldest in BCN, est 1786. There was amazing art, photographs, and drawings.

    Another meal with great company & amazing food.
  • Strolled La Rambla on the way back to the subway and then home for a bit.
  • I had been “What’s App”ing with Melanie, Eric’s daughter, who works for Bus Turistic, to get free tickets. We figured out we could meet at the Tibidabo stop.
  • Sandy and I went to meet her, but we had some time so we explored a park that’s right near the bus stop: Jardines de la Tamarita. It was lovely!
  • We met up with Melanie who gave us the tix for all 3 routes, very nice of her. Then we went to buy some more ham, cheese, and bread.
  • We collected Mom and went to El Putxet and walked around the neighborhood some more.
  • Then we went home and made sandwiches and plans. Going to Montserrat with Sandy tomorrow!

# 3 – Bari Gotic y familia (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Sorry I missed a day, but I had a great evening seeing Heather’s new place in San Marcos then going to dinner. So here is the report for 9/16/15, then I’ll follow up with a 2nd post for 9/17/15 🙂

I didn’t get a chance to actually write in my journal for the 16th and 17th, but late on the 17th, I went back and made a bullet list of the highlights of those days. I’ve copied the bullet list but have expanded on some points!
~~

16 September 15

  • Sandy & I went to get breakfast (I failed to mention that the day before, with all the walking, Mom began to develop a blister L)
  • Back to the Gothic Quarter. Government Square:
    day-3a-gothic-qtr
    Such amazing little streets:
    day-3a-gothic-qtr6
    The motto of the day was, “Don’t forget to look up!”
    day-3a-gothic-qtr5
  • The Cathedral. It’s such an amazing place/building/structure. No words do it justice. There was a stage being set up in front of it for La Mercè (festa major of BCN on 9/24), so that took away from the experience a bit, but it’s still magnificent
  • Mom took us to Sant Felip Neri church which is nearby. One of the walls still has markings on it from the Spanish Civil War
    day-3c-church-of-sant-felip-neri
  • We found some benches beside the cathedral. We sat down for a while to have some water, and enjoy a lovely breeze.
  • After our break, we went to see the Roman columns from 1st century BC that have been protected and preserved. It is astounding to imagine the things those columns have endured.
    day-3d-roman-columns
  • We briefly stopped at Plaza del Rey
    day-3e-plaza-del-rey
  • We returned to Els Quatre Gats (yay!) for tapas y para tomar algo. The food was great (fries & croquetas)
  • Mom said she was done walking and decided to go back to the apartment. Sandy & I decided to explore a bit. We walked down to the waterfront in an attempt to ride the Port Vall tram but didn’t take the right route. It was still a nice walk to a part of BCN we hadn’t seen.
  • We walked back up La Rambla. We bought magnets and had ice cream.
  • When we got home around 4 pm, I discovered that I had overdone it. My legs had developed a heat rash, or something. Both lower legs were red, splotchy, hot. It wasn’t vasculitis, but it was not good.
  • Sonia, Eric, and Nicole came over. The first time we’d ever met Nicole! We chatted a while and then we all piled into their car (unsafe!) and went to visit Jordi & Elvira. Jordi is Sonia’s dad, and he’s my godfather. His health has been declining as has Elvira’s, but they were both in great spirits. They lived in the same place where Jordi & Nuri had lived. It was a trip to be there. I had very brief recollections of being there, but for Sandy, it was stronger. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures from there, but I think Sandy or Mom does.
  • After the visit, Sonia & Nicole took the bus and the rest of us were in the car. We headed down toward La Barceloneta to have dinner.
  • We arrived before Sonia & Nicole, so we had a drink at Juanita LaLa, a fun little bar.
    dscf4328
    I should mention that my legs were hurting pretty bad at this point. I was powering through, but damn!
  • After Juanita LaLa, we walked down the waterfront a bit to a restaurant called 3 Nusos. We met Eric’s other daughters, Melani and Katya. It was a great time. All the food was spectacular. I had croquetas and lobster ravioli.
    day-3h-3-nusos-ravioli-de-bogavante
    I know Mom & Sandy really liked what they had too. I don’t remember talking much as I was in terrible pain by this point. But I was also intent on enjoying the moment and soaking in every second. The dinner was one of those long, luxurious affairs, with lots of food, drink, and conversation.
  • We took a cab home and went to bed by 1 am.