Monday, May 7, 2012

Girona: Ups and Downs

Heading from Barcelona to Girona, we just happened to take the same train as Sam and K.O.!  It's always fun finding people you know in some other part of the world.

Girona's a nice town, medium-sized by Spain standards I think.  Sam's friend/employer Marty Jemison of  is loaning us his apartment for the week, called Can Bici.  It's in a great part of town, only 15 minutes walking from the old part of town, and out the front door it has a great view of the town and the mountains to the west.

We've had a beautiful ride at dusk and a beautiful ride up Els Angels.  The weather so far has been awesome blue sky with big puffy scattered clouds that move in during the afternoon.

On Saturday, Sam took us to a friend's house whose family was having a big afternoon lunch.  We rode 1.5 hrs out to the house, which was an awesome affair, with 11 people around the table and food for 20.  They had an outdoor grill and brought out several huge plates of meat -- ribs, chicken, different pieces of lamb, rabbit, fish, several different kinds of sausage, liver from something, and god knows what else.  There were salads, deviled eggs (always a favorite), homemade mayonnaise, and other things.  All of this was washed down with wine, finished with a few desserts, and topped off with some after-meal shots of a liquor that tasted like an herbal Jaegermaester.  After lots of chatting, we took the fast way back; with the tailwind it only took 20 minutes.

We met up with Peter and April at their hotel.  It was a blast hearing about all their adventures.  They've been criss-crossing this region for weeks now.  We all had a nice dinner together.  I was really feeling the jetlag; I've been too excited to sleep more than 4-5 hours at a time.

The next day was not so good for me.  [Skip the next paragraph if you don't want gory details.]

Woke up with pressure in chest, puked a little, went back to sleep.  Woke up a few hours later, pressure in chest and nauseated, went with the glass of warm salt water, asked Emma if she put enough salt in, and by the end of the sentence I emptied my stomach.  Emptied the other direction as well.  Ugh.  Everybody ate the same stuff (except Sam only had the fish of course), so not sure about the cause.  Pretty sure it was a meat product at fault.

Went for a quick ride up Els Angels with Sam and Emma.  Emma rocked it, powering close behind Sam and I, and we were all rewarded with a great view.

Fantastic dinner with the Spiros at a place Sam had been to before.  Great conversation, lots of interesting food.

I woke up this morning without quite as strong nausea, only to find out Emma's stomach was hurting!  Bummer!  It helps to know it's probably mostly a 24hr thing, but I can attest (and Emma agrees) it's been pretty painful.  A water bottle full of hot water earned me the most points today.  I can already tell she's improving, but we'll see how things go tomorrow.

Went for a beautiful ride with Sam during one of Emma's naps; we weren't able to push it too much, but took some videos that I'll post later.

Friday, May 4, 2012


We're staying in Ciutat Vella, on a quiet street a few blocks off Las Ramblas.  We rented an apartment for the night.  Had some great tapas last night, including some solid patatas bravas as well as calimari.

Woke up this morning for a jog along the waterfront, and on the way back got quite lost in the zigzagging neighborhoods of Old Town.  Instead of stopping and asking for directions, I just keep running and eventually found a big church that I recognized.  Brought a few croissants back to Emma to make up for my tardiness.

Some people here seem busy; others smoke their morning cigarette with a deliberate slowness, almost like they're waiting for friends to arrive.  It is a bustling city, to be sure -- garbage trucks holding up traffic and street washing trucks spreading city grime evenly across the narrow neighborhood streets.

I feel bad for the dogs.  You see owners giving them a quick morning walk, and the dogs seem quite dejected.  On the other hand, I saw one happy mutt -- no owner in sight -- and as soon as I wondered where he was heading, it took a dump in the middle of the stone street.

We went to the market.  It's pretty extensive.  The meat stands are most impressive: lots of ham legs hanging from the ceiling, but also skinned rabbit and whatnot in the glass cases.  Sharing a cafe Americano and tortilla patata for breakfast hit the spot, and I grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich to bring for the train.

Travel day

After a few meetings in the morning we took a Super Shuttle to LAX, heading for gawdawful Heathrowe.  I thought I was pretty lucky getting placed next to one of the only open seats.  Turns out a 3 foot tall tyrant was placed directly behind me.  A few times his kicks were a bit soothing, but other times they just woke me up.  Got through two movies: Mission Impossible (which achieved the rare bad - bearable - bad transition) and Ides of March (depressing pic about the game of politics).  I also chipped away at some work on the laptop while Emma dug into a romance novel using the Kindle app on her phone.

It is always a pleasure going somewhere with TravelEmma.  For those who have not spent time with TravelEmma, she is a checklister.  Even if you may have traveled once or twice before, she will regularly give advice on where to put your wallet and passport, under the guise of "making conversation".  In fact, a few times I found myself looking for an item of mine, only to find it has magically migrated to her purse; "just putting it somewhere safe," she says.

However, the real way you can distinguish TravelEmma from regular Emma is by her behavior when surrounded by people (e.g. on an airplane, waiting at a gate, security lines, etc):  wide-eyed, yet expressionless, she quietly stares at the people around her.  A mother doting on a young child receives extra attention -- occasionally with a raised eyebrow that some would call "judgmental".  Sometimes her stares last long enough so that her original smile has since drifted into a bit of a snarl; at this point, I try and get her attention before the people notice.

But take all this with a grain o' salt, as I'm working off 1.5 hrs of sleep while Emma's cheerful after at least 7 or 8.  Off to Spain!