scribbles tagged ‘holiday’

Summer cabins

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

DSCF5517Vacation allowances in the USA are not as plentiful as in Europe. One weekend a friend leant me her lakeside cabin.

A mini holiday!

The cabins I’d visited in Scandinavia had no running water, no gas, no electricity. We had to stock up on water, candles, and collect firewood when we arrived. Half way between a holiday home and camping, like staying in a shed. A shed in a fabulous location.

Talking to the locals here, many have family cabins, their family will travel from all over the country for gatherings in the cabin. In my friend’s cabin, I stayed alone, watched the sun rise and set.

I listened to the birds and completely failed to be bitten by any tics or have any wildlife encounters. No bears emerging from hibernation, no swarms of mosquitoes… almost like civilization in the wilderness. Wilderness? There was good cell phone reception but my Satnav didn’t want to play, it announced that it wouldn’t give me turn information them did that passive-aggressive ‘silent’ treatment thing.

This Minnesota cabin was luxury. A fully equipped kitchen, light switches, flushing indoor toilet. Best of all, a fabulous lake view, the sound of children laughing in the distance and the timelessly beautiful ambiance.


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SatNav desertion

Monday, May 25th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

SR 70 WISt Paul’s, Minneapolis, Duluth, the bigger cities of Minnesota, appear deserted during the spring weekends.

This Memorial holiday weekend I decided to drive ‘Up North’, a local spring tradition, in search of the populous. The Interstate out of Minneapolis was full of pick-up trucks loaded with, or trailing, ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles). The smaller, State Routes, had signs for ATC crossings with mud tracks leading to and from them.

I left Minneapolis after work, with a B&B booked about 2.5 hour’s drive away, according to the land lady and my SatNav. I should get there before sundown. Traffic, and having to slow down to avoid hitting the deer who jump out from the forest to wander across the road meant the journey took longer than planned.  I learned that many ‘Roads’ in the wilds, of Minnesota and Wisconsin, are not ‘paved’, ‘tarmaced’. They’re mud and gravelled. They look like roads on the SatNav, but really they’re ‘tracks’. I guess keeping them in decent condition isn’t worth the expense for the local city. Those ATVs are useful.

As darkness fell my SatNav announced that it would no longer give turn by turn guidance.


It bailed on me, in the dark.

I have no map of the wilds of Wisconsin.  I panic’d, pulled over into a soft verge and reached for my cell phone. No reception. Bugger.

ThreeSisters B&BI grabbed my Surface 1. It still showed the Bing-delivered route directions that I’d checked before leaving. Phew. I worked out where I was, memorised the distances, road names and turns then drove on.

A pleasant surprise to find my pre-SatNav skill of memorising maps and directions was still in good working order. I pulled up at the Three Sisters B&B just before the tavern opposite, Gliders, stopped serving it’s hunger quenching pizza. Just in the nick of time. Pizza to the sounds of ABBA and a host of frisky frogs. Cheerfully surreal.

The landlady joined me for Pizza and told stories of her life, those of her 2 husbands & 4 children. Awesome, such a friendly and open hearted place.

SatNav desertion
2 votes rating 5

1 wonderful musing »


Monday, June 16th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

I don’t spend much tome looking at myself in the mirror. I catch a glimpse when brushing my teeth, or a fuzzy glimpse after I bathe as I throw my towel around trying to wrap myself in dryness.

Zultanite ringBut my hands are almost always there, tapping on the keyboard, gathering food, lifting a glass. I see my hands many times a day. They show my age. I still remember the smooth skin of their youth and notice the miniscule mosaic shapes of age emerging. They get enough attention, I don’t care to draw the attention of others to my hands. Until I saw a little light magic in a Turkish gemstone. Zultanite.

Zultanite ringThe stone changes colour depending on the light source. Captivated by the magic of perception reflected in this gem, on my Turkish holiday I purchased a ring. Green in fluorescent light, strawberry pink in sunlight and Topaz coloured in another light who’s source I’ve yet to identify. Mixed reflection when mixed light sources are nearby. It makes catching a glimpse of my hands more joyous.

I fancy there is a genie of the ring and maybe there’s more magic that will change the colours in my life. I’ll rub it and see…

1 vote rating 5

1 wonderful musing »

Advanced teasing

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

AshtrayWaiting for a lift


Shifting my weight from foot to foot


Swinging my hips in circles, because…


Fiddling with my pocket contents.


Noticing this classic ashtray design, the (do not) use instructions, and evidence of a small rebellion.

Advanced teasing
3 votes rating 5

3 bits of fabulous banter »

work ethic

Monday, June 9th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Istanbul street vendoTurkey was a big surprise in many ways.

The country feels ‘rich’. Rich with water, it’s very green with many fields full of healthy looking crops. The countryside is littered with Dams and windfarms.  The roads are smooth surfaced and clearly being resurfaced regularly.

During my 2 weeks there I never saw a beggar, though they clearly have many very poor people. The poverty is evidenced by the many people doing jobs that rarely exist in places like the UK or USA. These people are selling food and flowers to drivers through the Istanbul traffic jams on a 3 lane motorway.

Istanbul street vendorCan you imagine collecting stuff to sell, walking onto a motorway and tapping on the windows of the drivers to try and get a little money for your efforts?



work ethic
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a House trip to the Ukraine

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Mum and dad had booked a holiday cruise through the Ukraine this summer. Unfortunately dad can’t go (dead). Mum liked the idea of my taking Dad’s place.

The internet is full of news about the rioting in Kiev. Police throwing Molotov cocktails at people protesting their lack of a right to protest.  Two too-cute-to-harass elderly ladies should sneak past easily when chaperoned by professional tour guides. Mum says “we might not get to go into some buildings dear, if they’re rioting nearby“.

Kiev and the Crimean Peninsula (Odessa, Yalta, Sevastopol)…. wonderful and rather more exciting than my normal vacations!

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butterfly baggage

Thursday, November 7th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Red AdmiralI haven’t gotten to almost 50 without learning a thing or two light-weight, easy, yet stylish travel packing:

  1. Avoid buying new shoes before, or while on holiday. I like to do a lot of walking when on holiday and this can lead to new-shoe breaking in blisters….
  2. Never buy new clothes in advance of travelling (except shoes)
  3. Pack stuff that you know you won’t bring back like teabags, sanitary towels, gifts for friends – this gives you space to bring-back different things without overpacking for the return journey
  4. Pack your tatty old underwear, wear it, chuck it.  Buy new underwear while on holiday. Always an entertaining experience, especially if there’re significant language barriers and sizing differences
  5. Under pack on ‘nice’ clothes and pick yourself a treat while you’re there, as a holiday memento. If you’re travelling outside of the UK it’s likely to result in cheaper, better quality and much more interesting clothing additions
  6. Only take one pair of spectacles and one hat (I normally fail at doing this)

I managed to get all my gear (technology and chargers included) for my 3 week 50th birthday USA tour into one bag, hand luggage size. There was some sitting on the case involved.  Will the case survive the journey… …will it get a friend?

butterfly baggage
5 votes rating 3.6

1 wonderful musing »

multi-tasking processor fuse blown

Saturday, October 26th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

watertowerApparently, I can’t write remotely readable blog posts while I’m on a road trip. Hopefully I’ll remember the details when I get back and start posting again in Mid-November.

Meanwhile, route 66 photo set on Flickr is expanding on a daily basis. Please ask questions about any photographs that baffle you. For example,

  • these are twin towers, but not THE twin towers
  • that is the sun behind the cloud
  • this is arriving in Amarillo, Texas
  • that is the bonnet of the sports car I’m driving (of course I’m parked to take this photograph…)

Cheerio for now…


multi-tasking processor fuse blown
3 votes rating 5

8 bits of fabulous banter »

cat cuddles

Friday, October 11th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

ghostly catWendy: I’ll need some quality time with my cat because she won’t understand why I’ve been away for a month

Colleague: Do you know how that sounds?

Wendy: yes (giggles)

Colleague: (giggles)

cat cuddles
2 votes rating 5

1 wonderful musing »

inbetween jobs

Sunday, July 21st, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

A room wih a viewA week break between jobs, during a national heat wave, I scuttled down to Devon and my favourite peaceful, energising place. A thatched cottage in Sheepwash that is the writers retreat.

flowersThe white painted walls remind me of the peaceful optimism of Scandinavian homes. Each room is quietly alive with freshly picked garden flowers. A Sweetpea aroma gently fills the kitchen following the fresh, daily, baked bread scent.

kitchen windowI sketch, read, write and research on the internet in the cool privacy of my room that supplies a gentle shady breeze from the village square.

The visiting writers gather for lunch in the courtyard in the shade of a massive awning hung from Bob’s workshop. The conversation moves smoothly from light entertainment through the business of writing to the content of novels. Always engaging, such good company. Writers come from all over the country, the world. I’ve met Americans and South Africans here. Given that almost everyone is writing a novel, I’m normally the exception, I still find the diversity of guests’ age and experience an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

I feel welcomed by all and rarely actually want to leave…

inbetween jobs
2 votes rating 5

1 wonderful musing »

golden jubilee

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

I’ll be 50 in November

I’m celebrating by doing something that would have inspired me as a teenager:  Driving the original Route 66 in a convertible. Flights and car booked today. Before the internet existed, I purchased paper versions of original maps. Finally, I’ll get to use them!

Friends will be meeting me before the journey, travelling part of the journey with me, and afterwards celebrating in my old home town of Seattle.  Finding a convertible to rent in Chicago, in late October, is not an easy task. So there’s already been some hard work and I’ve compromised. No Mustang…..

EXCITED levels are vibrating towards amber

Between now and October I’m collecting potential sights and stops on a Pinterest board:

Being wendy, I’ll be visiting train stations, Bus stations, Cemeteries and Court houses along the way.  Please suggest unusual places to visit en-route.


golden jubilee
2 votes rating 5

7 bits of fabulous banter »

short changed

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Morning cup of teaRecently I spent a long weekend on holiday with a friend – seeing the local sights pottering around in Thomas and on foot, eating local delicacies, and sharing a room in a thatched cottage.

I learned that I am more comfortable with silence than my friend. It felt like my friend talked almost non-stop. They didn’t, but it felt like it. As if they needed to fill every silence with words.

At first, I listened to all the words, then gradually my mind wandered away. Their words like a radio programme chattering in the background as my thoughts wandered around the fabulous autumn Devon views. My friend didn’t appear to need my listening, no input from me needed.

Normally living alone, with much silence, I found this stream of talking most strange. On the occasions when my friend was silent they were tapping away into their phone, or computer, presumably social networking. They would read, with verbal annotation and explanation, the text’s they’d received.  This total sharing is not something I’m used to. Unsolicited, it felt somehow inappropriate. I suspect it was actually some kind of generous gift of openness, non-exclusion. A sweet generous friend.

If I said something, made a statement, it would be followed by my friend’s analysis of the topic of my statement. I learned a lot about my friend. They learned about my silences and way of being,  little more.  They didn’t ask. I wonder if they felt short-changed.

short changed
1 vote rating 4

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Sunday, November 25th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Bideford towards the seaThis could be many places in the world. It reminds me of the pacific north west USA coastline, La Conner.

On a cold November afternoon Bideford, Devon, is beautifully calm with a sky full of colour. When I took this photograph I was in exactly the right place, nowhere else I’d rather be.

2 votes rating 5

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identity crisis

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 | tags: ,  |

Bude beach hutsThere are days when the wendy house wants to be a beach hut.

Technically speaking, as a play house, the wendy house can be any type of house.

Given this wonderful phenomena, for today, the wendy house IS a beach hut.

Pass the towel.

identity crisis
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2 bits of fabulous banter »

blob of the road

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Dartmoor - Thomas goes offroad!The Dartmoor ‘blob’ is akin to the Bermuda triangle with extra dollops of fuzzy boundaries.

In the photograph on the right we see how Florence, the SatNav, has decided that Thomas, the car, in not actually on a road and has to turn left, not on a road, in 0.4 miles. Such are the ways of the Dartmoor.

this is actually a roadFlorence is often suprised that we manage to stay on the Road when we’re out in Devon.

In  the photograph on the left we see how Florence proudly announces that Thomas is actually ‘Driving on Road’.


blob of the road
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Barcelonian street art

Friday, November 4th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

I was 19 the first time that I noticed graffiti as street art. It was a stylysed picture of a person body-pop dancing on a wall in Clifton, Bristol. Over the years graffiti as an art from has become much more prevalent and is often one of the joys of wandering round cities. Barcelona was full of it. Here are some examples from Barcelona

Por que? Fuck No Salvador Dali Dangerous Bunny Many of the protective shop-fronts are bespoke painted. This makes them look attractive and prevented less creative graffiti

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bubbles from a balcony

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Carrer UnioThe little old gentleman in the appartment opposite shuffles out each morning and early evening, He smiles and waves at us, watches the bubbles we are blowing into the gap between our building. The bubbles fall towards the pedestrians below. People see them falling, spin around and laugh contagiously

In the evenings the lady in the apartment next to the old gentleman leans out, looks upward and calls to her friend 2 floors above. We see the lights in the apartment above go out then see the friends together in the apartment opposite

Another young man sits most days in a room full of books with his windows and shutters thrown wide open. Lightly dressed, often barefoot. He rarely looks away from his books. A plump, elderly lady in overalls wipes his windowsills and brushes his floors while he reads and writes. They work alone in the same apartment

We never saw the person who owned the parrot or the person who stored their bike – hanging off the balcony

At night my imagination built stories in dreams about the unseen occupants

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top of the word

Monday, October 31st, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Virgin me!

Never been on the roof of a Catholic Cathedral…until….NOW!

on the roof of the cathedral

 Watching the mason’s cut stone, in-situ, to fit windows. Clouds of stone-dust swirling into the air. Orange roofs, the mediterranean, in the distance. Being on top of a Cathedral gives you all sorts of new perspectives and an appetite for Paella…

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cosey Carrer Unio

Saturday, October 29th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

A little second floor apartment off la Rambla in downtown Barcelona, Carrer Unio, is full of life at all times of the day:

  • deliveries to the many small shops and bars
  • trucks collecting rubbish from the communal bins
  • tourists renting bicycles and mopeds
  • a parrot living on the balcony opposite narrating the events
  • Revellers walking out or home

and,  one of the best sounds as we ate breakfast on our balcony. The chattering of schoolchildren:

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the i-check in version

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

wendy: Can I take this on as hand luggage, it feels a bit heavy?
airport check-in specialist (ACS): Can you lift it?

I demonstrate that I can lift it

ACS: Yep, there’s no weight restriction on  hand luggage, just size and I can see that’s the right size

Result! A 7 day vacation and all I’m carrying is hand-luggage!

Later I checked the information provided by the airline, there is a weight restriction. I preferred this ACS’s flexible, cheerful attitude towards his role.

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the i-pack lite version

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

wendy: I’d like a return rail-airbus ticket to Heathrow Terminal 3
Rail ticketing agent (RTA): Returning today?

Maybe he hasn’t noticed the suitcase I wheeled to the desk!

Wendy: No….
RTA: Tomorrow?

Does he think this case and shoulder bag add up to an overnight bag? If so, I have achieved my goal of travelling light!

Wendy: Returning 7 days from now. Can I use my network rail card for discount on that?
RTA: No, we don’t accept Network Rail cards….

I’m sold an off-peak ticket that looks exactly like a train ticket and wonder why the service provider who supplies the network rail card doesn’t allow it’s use on a Network rail service….

the i-pack lite version
1 vote rating 3

3 bits of fabulous banter »

voice of officialdom

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Another quirky Barcelonain passtime is burying cartoon characters in the Beach. Here we see a (cartoon) government official, who has been buried in the beech, still managing to let everyone know where the bins are placed:
Official beach signDon’t you just admire this government official’s dedication to duty?

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jungle breakout

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

The Catalonians of Barcelona keep their jungle’s hidden, cunningly, across many small apartments above small winding streets. Some Catalonians are more adept at restraining their jungles. Here we see one attempting a breakout

jungle balcony

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flashbulb memories

Sunday, September 11th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

The sound of the phone ringing gradually woke me.   Nearly 6am (Pacific coast time), only UK friends would call me at this unearthly  time in the morning.   Sleepily I reached for the phone and pulled it to my ear only to hear the dial-tone.   Who-ever called had hung-up.   I never found out who called.   Awake I decided to get up and make myself a cup of tea,   to enjoy the sunny morning before setting out for work.

In my doziness I stubbed my toe on the half-packed suitcase,  preparing for my planned sailing holiday in Greece.   Scheduled to fly out on September 16th I was looking forward to a club holiday with English friends I hadn’t seen for a long time, a reunion vacation.

I put the kettle and  TV on.   The sound of emergency services,  the stressful pitch of the voices, the urgency and drama was clear before I’d even realised what I was seeing.   I watched as flight 175 hit the South Tower.   I cried.

Nearly 3  hours later at work, not much work being done, by anyone.   Many people just didn’t turn up,   those who did were phoning relatives and friends,  trying to reassure themselves that the people they knew who worked in the World Trade centre were ok. Everyone seemed to know someone who worked in the towers or lived nearby. The general sense of anxiety mixed with silence lasted all day and soaked into the future.

All flights in the US airspace were grounded. I never joined my friends in Greece, a small loss in the whole scheme of things. My parents, in Italy, had nowhere to stay because American tourists, unable to get home, were staying in the hotel rooms  my parents had  booked

That day changed my world

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pour the Napoleon brand e

Monday, July 11th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Getting ready for Barcelona in October. How? Buying a light-weight rain jacket and some comfy sandals! This year I’ve been lucky enough to get an annual bonus so I’ve indulged myself with:

  1. Expensive “Ladies” Linen Barbour Jacket coated with a rough finish polyurethane. Essentailly a jacket that looks wet and has an over-priced classic British brand name. Almost Burberry. Does this make me a chav?
  2. Cheap black leather Sketchers‘ “tone-up” sandals. The advertising bumf supplied by the manufacturer says that a clinical study (of 8 people) showed that there is significantly more muscle activity when walking in these compared to normal sandals. That activity will make my bum firmer. Well, there’s fancy foot-technology for you! If the previous purchase hasn’t qualified me as a chav, surely this one will?

These summer purchases will compliment my Ray Bans which are itching to be put in my Tumi Barcelona carry-on bag beside my elderly Animal washkit

If I haven’t already, I’m about to crash through the cusp of chavy. That’s the equivalent of Concorde breaking the sound barrier, only for Brand purchasing

Yeah Baby!

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drawers for drawers

Friday, July 1st, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Riding the London commuter train back to Reading I realised I’d left my house keys in the office, luckily my neighbour was home, able to let me in with her spare key. It’s been a week for scattiness. I spent about 3 hours looking for my E11, EHIC, ready for my summer vacation.

Searching was a serious process that involved:

  • looking in all the pockets of 5 handbags (USA purses)
  • The contents of 4 old purses (USA Wallets)
  • 16 drawers, some containing drawers – I might have hidden the card in my underwear. It’s possible.
  • 4 trays of important ‘stuff’ , once recent letters that have faded to the bottom of unotuched piles
  • lesser-used jacket pockets

chest for drawersMy chest of drawers is more organised now that I’ve carefully inspected, sorted, folded and replaced each item. The search threw up some surprises, the condoms with a 2008 use-by date. Thrown away. Pre-Euro continental coinage from the 1990s, re-packed for posterity. No E11 card

Once I’d run out of obvious places, I gave up. A solemn swathe of paranoia about my ability to file and find key documents, a history of losing my passport, drove me to check that the passport was where I thought it should be. It was.

Tucked inside my passport was my E11 card.

A sensible place.



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premeditated tourist

Friday, June 24th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

This summer, October (I have a flexible definition of summer)

I’m off to Barcelona with a blogging friend, LaCroix, from Seattle

As the excitement ramps up to amber risk level I’ve been gathering advice from people who know Barcelona. Here’s some awesome suggestions from a London friend who’s in love with a person that lives in Barcelona:

  1. Day trip – Montserrat: Things to do: wander around and admire the shapes that inspired Gaudi, listen to boys’ choir, see the Saint, take the funicular to the top and check out some of the walks once at the top
  2. Day trip if you’re renting a car – Cadaques and Port Lligat, book well in advance to visit Salvador Dali’s house. Drive all the way up to the most Eastern point of the Iberian peninsula (Cap de Creus) and have a coffee/beer/snack at the top enjoying the amazing views.
  3. Montjuic – check out the Olympic Village during the day, pop in to Poble Espanyol, an open air museum and enjoy the distinct style of the Spanish regions. An absolute must are the magic’ fountains (Thurs-Sun 2100-2330, buy some beers or cava beforehand to enjoy the show!) between the National Palace and Placa Espanya.
  4. Eating at the market. Les Cuines de Santa Caterina – this is a general google search. Looks like your Lonely Planet guide should have the details. I’ve only ever eaten at the ‘bar’, not the restaurant part. Quite a trendy place, definitely a step up from the traditional tapas bars, yet located under the market roof. If you want to experience the basic market eating check and love fresh seafood out La Paradeta located in Born. Check out opening hours if you decide to go.
  5. Things you should eat/drink: I am not talking your usual tortilla/paella stuff (btw sangria is widely regarded a tourist drink, try it if you wish but don’t be deceived – in my 4 years or so I maybe drank it….1 time with the locals).
    1. Cruasanes de crema (mini croissants with custard filling), at one of the bakeries around town. I get mine from Moli Vell, perfect with your afternoon ‘cortado’ – a popular afternoon coffee (cortado means coffee cut with milk).
    2. Another thing to try at the bakery is Ensaimadas. It’s a Mallorcan thing, when I first tried it I thought nothing special, but if you find good quality ones they’re divine
    3. Pintxos – Basque thing. Get a few on your plate and then pay by the number of ‘toothpicks’ left from the pintxos (also known as montaditos). The fun is in hiding a few toothpicks and paying less
    4. Pulpo a la gallega – from what I’ve seen the locals eat pulpo as if it was chicken in the UK
    5. Pebrots de padron – one of the tapas – tiny green peppers. The fun starts when you get a spicy one!!!
    6. Ensalada rusa – this is a mediterranean version of the typical Russian dish (Russians have it for every big occasion, so I was surprised to find it made its way into Spanish cuising), one of the tapas
    7. Cava
    8. Jamon – ranging from industrially fed to acorn fed pigs, make sure you’re ready to appreciate the highest jamon category
    9. Pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato) – typical fresh Catalan bread ‘rubbed’ with tomato (sometimes garlic) and olive oil, probably the most Catalan thing you can find, they use tomato and olive oil like non-Catalans would use mayo or butter
  6. Paella – OK so you should of course try paella, but make sure it’s good. Don’t go for the €10 per person type restaurants. We investigated over the weekend and for quite a central location Kaiku seemed good. Silvia’s relatives have been coming here for years (when Barceloneta was still a fishing village) and it’s got sea views and it’s close to the beach and everywhere else. There’s another restaurant close to Barceloneta bearch – Can Costa but the reviews are not as good. Apparently quality paella is freshly made, on charcoal or wood, uses fresh ingredients and good stock, for that be prepared to pay €25 and up. The cheaper ones are often re-heated from frozen. If you’re sharing a paella between two you probably won’t need starters (unless very hungry)
  7. Go up Las Arenas a bull ring refurbished into a shopping mall (lots of Catalans are against bull fighting, as a. they see it as cruelty b. bulls are a symbol of Spanishness). The facade was lifted up several meters (quite incredible) and you’ll get great views of Barcelona (L’Eixample and Montjuic)
  8. Spice up your Gaudi day by popping into Vincon a designy shop two steps from La Pedrera – great for window shopping experience or buying stuff for Wendy House 🙂
  9. Read The Shadow of the Wind and visit some of the landmarks mentioned in the book. They even do the shadow of the wind tours. You’ll find lots of historic drinking/eating places mentioned in the book like Els Cuatre Gats (the four cats).
  10. Have a drink in hotel Barcelo Raval to chilled jazz music and then go up to the roof terrace to enjoy the night views

Interestingly, barrios (neighbourhoods) like Raval and Barceloneta close to the sea tend to be the poorer ones, as they used to be fishing villages, old buildings with no lifts. The further up ‘the mountain’ you go in Barcelona, the posher. Watch your bags at all times when on the beach and in crowds of people. On the Barceloneta beach literally attach your bag to yourself as thieves can grab it and run. Take minimum cash and documents when you’re out. If you’re vigilant chances are nothing will happen, but I’ve had all my documents, cards, mobile and money stolen once

How fabulous to be given such thorough and thoughtful advice from a friend. Excitement levels have definitely reached amber!

premeditated tourist
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crowning glory

Saturday, September 4th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

David captures a fictionalisation of the moment when the French Emperor Napolean crowns Josephine Empress of France. It’s a BIG picture. This version hangs in a room at the end of the Versailles Hall of Mirrors.

I rather liked that a tourist in the foreground is wearing a triangular crown made from newspaper. Very versataille: read or wear as oppose to ready to wear..

Napolean crowns Josephine Emperess

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walking amongst the homeless

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Arch De Triumph

The homeless slept on the streets by the monuments. Belongings stocked in supermarket trolleys. The open-top sightseeing tourist bus roll by as the rain clouds gather and the homeless sleep in the warmth of the daylight.

I saw several cardboard cities around the inner Paris suburbs, groups of homeless helping each other. Hiding from the weather, not from the public.

At pedestrian crossings the homeless sat silently on the floor holding out used paper cups containing a few coins.

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city of love

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Tour EiffelEarly evening In Paris, in the company of a recently married couple, leaving our hotel in search of the Tour Eiffel. Will we walk? Will we ride bus 63 then 24? Will we take the metro? Do we want to get there quickly or have a beer first?

The map with the metro and bus routes rustles she checks routes and numbers. The map never leaves her hands yet the decision making is clearly mutual. I chip in ‘Hoorah’ when having a beer is thrown into the mix then comment that I don’t mind how or when we get there.

The discussion takes minutes, it’s like an elegant dance. If alone I would already be sat in that bar drinking a beer, watching the world go by, listening to people and relaxing. In their company I am happiest to be stood on the street corner listening to the uncovering of each others values, finding out what works best for both of them,  together.  It’s sensible, practical, sometimes funny, time consuming. It’s love. I am watching love happen and glad to be temporarily touched by it’s closeness.

My understanding of a couples’ love has been changed by not having lived in it for over a decade.  I’m not speaking of the love of family, friends, my recently departed Matrix or her remaining companion. I’m speaking of the sharing and merging of selves. In my last decade there was the too-sluggish death of a rejected love, skirmishes into sexual relationships, the love of close friends and cats.  My view on the love between a couple is now mainly drawn from strong memories of my 4 very different loves from the last century, watching and listening to others, and the stories told in books, films, blogs and newspapers.

Tour EiffelThe loves that I see shining brightest is in sharing the detail of living. Things like shopping for food, preparing a meal, deciding how to spend the evening. All show love. Maybe those of you who are living in love find this odd when the passion and joy in the laughter, warmth, smiles, praise, sex, and scents can be so wonderfully intense and engulfing.  I can find laughter, warmth, smiles, praise, sex and scents in my life. When I’m with friends and family there is also the mutual knowledge of sharing the detail of life with someone who has gradually built an understanding of what works.  When the passion and the detail meet with another single person, this is the couples love. Not part of my life.

We stopped for some golden beers before taking the Metro to the Tour Eiffel. We danced through the park basking in the glory of the tower’s golden night-time plumage.

This post is dedicated to Paris, the traveler, her first love, her husband, and the memory of Matrix.

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