Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reading, reflecting and a bit of radio

Last night I found a beach bar and sat under a big umbrella (which would eventually come in handy when it started to rain) and had a beer, something to eat and a couple hours of people watching and relaxing reading...
This little bar is actually IN the sand, steps from the promenade, lots of folks wandering onto the deck dripping wet in their bathing suits.
Not far from the beach bar, walked by this plaza and it looked kind of cool. I love public art, so shall probably come back at some point to see the sculpture when the weather is clearer. It was 30C but windy, so the air was full of mist and sea spray, quite pleasant actually....
Earlier, musicians on the promenade and lots of people dancing, including these fun loving girls (got several good pics of them, so offered to email them) and this dude in his wheelchair... and babies and all ages... There are lots of waterfront musicians here.
Oh, and just in case you decide to take off your bathing suit and wrap yourself in a sarong... and then after a couple of beers decide you want to go swimming again, this is how the re-donning of the bathing suit is done at the beach bar:
A few random reflections 2 weeks into my trip:
  • I am incredibly appreciative of the CBC at the moment; while I am very happy to be abroad, there is nothing like Canadian news and familiar voices to ground me. While watching The National happens a day late, podcasts such as The World at Six, The Current and As It Happens are available immediately. Just one of the things that makes Canada so awesome.
  • This is the first time I have travelled with a full suite of technology and I love how it facilitates things like the above, as well as to keep me doing a bit of contract work. Email would be accessible anyways, but it is nice to have it at my fingertips. I am quite enjoying random comments from people I know who are reading my blog - often with their own tips on what not to miss.
  • The sparrows I enjoying in the mornings appear to be, on reflection, swallows...
  • I wonder if seagulls are a North American thing, as being able to hear the above birds without seagulls in the background made me notice their absence... hmmm.... I've been down by the beach a few times now and I don't remember them.... will have to pay attention to that...
  • I may not be into the rhythm of the formal siesta here, but I seem to be mastering the ability (and inclination) to just lie down and sleep whenever I am drowsy....
  • Aside of books/postcards and food/drink/transportation, I have spent a total of 27E since I got here: a watch with Salvador Dali's melting clock face on it (20E), and a little bracelet from one of the seaside artisans (7E)
  • I should write some of those postcards soon.....

About reading..... I am totally enjoying time to read again, I have no idea when I stopped reading regularly, I think it's something I didn't even admit to myself. Having always been a reader, I think I was shocked to notice that I had allowed my world to be taken over by tv (mostly news and documentaries, but still...) in my spare time. Skimming travel books is not reading! Anyways, it's such a pleasure and I am seeing that finding English books will also be one of the themes of my trip.

I finished my second book here, "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery (which I enjoyed immensely), on Saturday night .... (If you have read the book, you'll understand why I chuckled when trying to decide where to put that second comma in the preceding sentence!).... so my mission the next day was to find a new book. Oops! The shops are all closed here on Sundays, many restaurants and bars too, so I figured out quickly that finding a bookstore open, that also had English books, was just not going to happen. Interesting that later, when wandering near La Ramblas, I stumbled across a place called "Travel Bar" that had inside it a book exchange for travellers. Marvelous! Well, in theory, anyways. Mostly French, German and Spanish books, and the few English books were texts or bibles.... Eventually found a series of three novels that didn't really look like my thing, but, what the heck, any book in a bookless storm!!! So grabbed one.

I got probably 1/4 of the way through "Eclipse" before I figured out life was too short to spend this much time on a weak story about modern day vampires and werewolfs in the Seattle area.... (funny, as I looked it up on Amazon to put in the link, it says it is not being released until August, but somehow I have a copy... I guess I should feel special, but I don't.... someone else will, I'm sure, be delighted by the find when I take it back to the lending bookshelf...).

I used to resist not finishing a book, always holding out the hope that it might get better, but I now think that's rubbish: if a book is not connecting with me (or me to it?) best let it go and find something else....

So Monday I was off to find a real bookstore with a real selection, however modest, of English books. I found a couple (which I'll post a list of at some point), and am presently reading "The Bay of Angels" by Anita Brookner. I am engrossed and immersed -- that's the book in the pic with my beer above.

Lonely Planet has a tip about a 2nd hand bookstore in Poble Sec that apparently has a large cache of English books, shall swing by in the next day or so to check them out... cuz books that are both good and cheap would be good!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looking foward to your "Tour de France" perspective.

SLM

Roberta said...

Ah yes, SLM, must write about that soon! I am so busy doing not much of anything, but I am sure I can fit in that blog post soon ;-)
Roberta

Stephanie Corker Irwin said...

For whatever it is worth, I think i vividly recall heaps of seagulls on the beach in Portugal!
Escaping the cubicle farm seems like such a far-fetched-dream...being gone from the farm, on a beach with a book and not knowing which book to pick up next sounds surreal!!!
Keep the goodness flowing...we love it:)

Andreea said...

You seem to be having a blast, wish I was you !!!

To give you some updates from Vancouver a few brave souls in our department have started doing the Grouse Grind every week. We are getting fit !

Keep writing your wonderful story, love reading it.:o)))