Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Because It Wouldn´t Be A Trip to Europe If Mom Wasn´t Pickpocketed.
OK, I have to admit, that hasn´t actually happened yet on the trip, although we had a very close scare today. Mom has a system for foiling thieves that´s actually pretty clever. Her purse has 4 zipper compartments on the outside. She keeps her real wallet carefully hidden deep down in the depths of Hades, but there is another wallet (the Decoy) that stays out in an easily accessible pocket. After enough times finding a stranger´s hand in her handbag, she decided this approach would work. I still think a bunch of haunted kleenexes are a pretty just revenge, and she does keep a couple of those in there too. Anyway, so today she was certain that her Decoy had taken a walk on the Ramblas, but she did track it down later in the hotel.

So, where are we now? Where have we been? What have we seen? Have we been on the run from the law since the last time you heard from us? So much intrigue. I can see that you are at the edge of your seat and I will relieve your anticipation.

Yesterday was our last day in Granada, and it was cold and rainy most of the day. So, of course, we visited the Alhambra, a 14th century moorish palace known for its gardens and heavenly fusion of plants, water, and earth. Brrrrrrrr.

The Alhambra can only be described as tranquil. I bet it´s breathtaking in the summer. The fountains, pools, water staircases, streams and other water features create in interesting effect among the plants and the vistas overlooking Granada and the Sierra Navada mountains in the distance. The souvenir shops of Granada are also not to be missed. Most are run by Morrocan immigrants who import all kind of wonderful tchotchkes from northern Africa such as intricately inlaid wood, bone, and shell boxes, clothing, embroidered handbags, giant hookas, you name it. Cool stuff. And, as I´ve probably mentioned, the cafe con leche in southern Spain is
some of the best coffee I´ve ever had. Which is saying something. So, I had a brilliant idea that was sure to get me back on a much-sought-after federal watchlist. I was thinking, I should buy a big, shiny hookah and a bag of coffee and mail them home, wrapped up in other souvenir purchases. The postal import sniffy-dogs would spot the coffee as a sure mask for something more villainous, and then they´d see the hookah, and be sure they had hit paydirt. Sure, they´d probably break my hookah and confiscate my coffee, but what the heck would I do with a hookah anyway? I´m just after the watchlist status.

Because anyone who´s anyone is on SOME kind of federal watchlist.

Oh, you know, I forgot I was telling a story here. Anyway. So we´re done with Granada. Last night we caught a trenhotel (an overnight train with a private sleeper car) to Barcelona. I didn´t sleep very well, and all night the woobly-woobly-woobly of the train kept me on the edge of sick. Didn´t actually get sick, thank goodness, but once we got onto terra firma and sat still a few minutes, I about tossed my cookies. You know when you´ve been on a boat a really long time (like 12 hours) and you get off, you can still feel the sea? Like that. And wouldn´t you know, I have one more train hotel to ride on this trip, from Paris to Frankfurt. Maybe I´ll find some dramamine (or a French equivalent? Val, maybe you know of something?) that will prevent motion sickness.

We went straight from the train to our hotel (ahem, again, hostal) and what luck! They had our room ready for us at 10am. And more luck! Our own bathroom, in a fairly large room with a nice window overlooking the pedestrian street below. So far I like Barcelona better than anywhere else we´ve been in Spain. Maybe because it reminds me just a little more of France. And the shopping here looks like it will be top shelf. Not much shopping today except for chocolate, fruit and nuts at an outdoor market. But we did go visit the Sagrada Familia. It´s just amazing. Whether it´s your taste or not, there´s no arguing with the fact that it is an architectural masterpiece.

For our workout today we climbed one of the towers in La Sagrada Familia. There´s this 20-inch-wide spiral staircase that winds up, up, up to the top of a tower that was somewhere between 90 and 120 meters (I´m not sure which one we were in, so I can´t tell you) but it was a LONG WAY DOWN. I like that sort of thing, but I think mom was only there to be nice. She and SNG could vacation together and would never leave terra firma. Sorry, mom. Next time, you can pick the workout...

Tomorrow we shop. And then it´s our last day traveling together! Sad! She´s such a fabulous traveling companion. Always ready for fun. Or a quick nap. Or a coffee. And speaking of which, we´re headed out to dinner very soon. A place the travel guide recommends for their salads.

Please drop me a comment so I know someone is reading!


Brock Sampson said...

I was polishing my '69 charger, and needed a break. So, I came in and read you blog. Great stuff.

Goofch said...

Do you have any cookies?

SNG said...

I wish I was there with you!