Today we are headed home. Our adventure begins by trying to find the rental car return. All I can say about that is that some things are easier than others. 😜 The two hours they advise to arrive at the airport before departure is definitely a necessity in Barcelona. The airport was line after line of waiting. I think we had to show our passports 4 times. As an added bonus, my ticket got flagged for a random screening and so I got a special tour of a private screening area. Unfortunately, I didn’t even get a pat down. Finally we made it onto the plane and it brings me much relief to be taxiing down the runway.
Normally I would be full of anxiety but this time it’s just feels good to be headed home. We still have customs ahead in Newark but I’m hopeful that it will be uneventful. Until then, I have 8+ hours to spend writing or watching shows. I feel inclined to try and capture a few more details before they start to disappear from memory.
A list of memorable moments – In order of our 7 days (starting at zero as all proper indexes should)…
Day 0 (Saturday): The cheeseburger in the New Jersey Airport at the Vesper Tavern. This would be my fairwell to the US as we would not be eating beef abroad. Jim’s parents urged us not to as there is still a threat of mad-cow in Europe. I feel that with as many hambourgesa establishments we saw, this was overly cautious, but I heeded the advice anyway. It’s the longest I’ve gone without beef since I was 2 years of age I think. 😂
Day 0 (Sunday): Our drive down the coast and first taste of Spain in Tarragona. We walked(climbed) to great heights in an ancient building and took in breathtaking sights of the Mediterranean Sea and the city. This was one of my favorite days the whole trip. I was scared and electrified at the same time to be over the Ocean and in a different land and culture.
Day 1: The morning was the Segway tour and my favorite part was the parks and walkways built on the dry river bed. The City of Arts and Sciences was impressive but I’m a sucker for pretty flowers and interesting plants so that wins out. That day we also had our introduction to Tapas at elDorito cafe. We did shopping at a local grocery store and cooked several of our own meals while in Valencia. Our apartment was cozy and well cared for. We were on the 6th floor and the terrace overlooked a school where the children would play all morning and afternoon. There was a book of poetry from Pablo Neruda on the nightstand and I even spent time trying to translate. Our stay there was lovely. I must also recount that the bed was the worst I’ve ever slept in (aside from a sleeping bag on the hard ground) and the shower only had enough hot water for one quick one. Despite these details it was still my favorite of the three places we stayed. It says a lot about what one values I suppose.
Day 2: More of Valencia.. We visited the central market and Valencia Cathedral and one more beautiful church in the morning and then the Aquarium in the afternoon. Honestly my favorite part of the day was sitting and having lunch and drinks at a random place close to the apartment. The drink was Agua de Valencia and we shared capris salad and margarita pizza. Mmmm.
Day 3: We wake early to drive to the beach to glimpse sunrise and then pack our bags and say fairwell to the fair Valencia. We travel back up the coast to Barcelona stopping on the way to see the ancient Roman aquiduct. In Tarragona we had our first bad meal experience (but not the last). That afternoon we arrived at the Hilton and checked into our room (on the 16th floor) and had a nice long hot shower. Since there was not a lot of hot water at our first apartment, it was so good. Here’s a fine detail though.. the shower setup at the Hilton was the dumbest I’ve ever seen. One narrow piece of glass to contain the water spray from the shower and so each time someone showered, the water went everywhere. It was a slipping hazard as far as I’m concerned. They may have been trying to keep a modern look, but someone is going to slip and break a hip and sue them I’m certain, but I digress.
Being on the 16th floor we could see a long distance, both of the city and the coastline. It was an incredible.
Day 4: This was my mostly solo day and I was content to wander the hotel for familiar things. I found the exercise room and the pool area (which was super nice and quite void of people as I was passing through). I wrote a little and then went down to the ground floor to cross the street to the mall for lunch. I was quite nervous to be out alone and wondered (as I have several times this trip) how I ever did this alone 9 years ago in London, England, France and Ireland. I think I’m getting more and more fearful of the world as I age. Perhaps I was just naieve back then and certain that my super power was “traveling invisible” (so very, very many blog posts ago).
In any case, I was glad to be reunited with Jim I’m the afternoon when we had dinner and drinks. That night we cuddled in the comfy bed and he started a movie on the TV and I could barely stay awake.
Day 5: In the morning I woke again before the sunrise and that was probably the best one of the trip. I wanted to let Jim sleep so I was careful to slip behind the curtain to watch. Mid morning was our bike tour in Barcelona and that was just OK. Our guide was Maurice. We hit three or four noteworthy places but didn’t stay too long at each. Had I to do it over again I may choose to just visit the Sangra Familia and spend time inside. Had I to do it over again we would have researched and bought tickets for Guell Park ahead of time too. I think we were short changed on both and will carry some regret for that.
Still, I am grateful for what we did see… parts of the park, the outside of the Cathedral, the Arch, the beautiful flowers and fountains and the beach. The city is a good one. The narrow streets with endless shops and cafes and residences. It’s very unique compared to what we are used to.
Day 6: We took a bus Tour to Girona. It was very much more of the same… old buildings, structures, walls, churches. On this one we even got to tour a very old ruined castle. I was pretty tipsy by then though due to too much wine at lunch.
Here is where I must correct an earlier statement in my blog. At one point I said something like, “they already voted for Pedro so everything was cool”. I was trying to be clever quoting Napoleon Dynamite. Pedro is the current President, this is true, however this counties politics are not without their issues. You see, Barcelona is in an area known as Catalonia, and that area had some politicians that wanted Catalonia to break free and become independent from Spain. Those people were arrested and thrown in prison and are currently on trial. Someone asked our tour guide why there are yellow ribbons everywhere. It’s the people of Catalonia showing their support of their leaders who started “the resistance”. As my eyes were opened, I started seeing them everywhere.
I guess it’s not “all cool” and it seems like even a seemingly peaceful country such as Spain has its problems. And while I’m at it, I might also mention the graffiti that is out of control everywhere. Every city and street and garage door and building had some. There were some that looked like works of art and otters that just looked like gang-tags. It looks as though it’s just expected or accepted.
Our last night in Spain was uneventful and we shared a few more drinks and another pizza in a sports bar near our apartment which was worthy of a poor review on airBnb.
That brings us back to today.. day 7 and our trip back home. By now we are probably most of the way across the Atlantic Ocean. We watched one movie to pass the time and the rest was spent on this. It was time well spent I think.
As I recall the Newark airport does not have free WiFi and so I’ll not be able to post until we land in Omaha. Hopefully the rest of the journey home will be smooth. Can’t wait to see my kittens 🐱🐱 tonight!!
☮️ 💕 and 😊,