Thursday, July 02, 2009

Barcelona arrival, observations and reflections

OK, finally some time for some Barcelona arrival details (adventures?), observations and reflections... First some pics:

Had fun buying a few groceries here today.... You weigh and tag your own produce here:
Here's a section that you don't see in the grocery stores back home, just grab a leg and stick it in your basket:
Spot where I had breakfast this morning, the little tables in the back, I had a "bikini" which is a ham and cheese sandwich, yummy, and a latte:
Inside "my" bar, called 15, about 2 blocks from my hotel, on a sidestreet, this great bartender looks a lot like Tina Fey and kept my beer and peanuts stocked... "my" bar because I went back 2 nights in a row...
Las Ramblas was crowded, all the other spots were packed and it was HOT out... but this little wine bar was deserted and lovely, ice cold air conditioning and equally cold wine for 1.80E...
Another view of "my" bar, 15, from the outside, love all the little tiny bars here:
My feets as I sat and journalled on one of the shady bench/chairs at the upper end of Las Ramblas, mostly occupied by locals; when you snag a spot, it's worth sitting for awhile:
How to move a big plant:
Click on this pic to enlarge it - I love the elderly Spanish lady out on here balcony with her mirror, checking out her hair and primping:
The happy pills store sells candy (I wondered!):
This is interesting... the locals bring their garbage down from their apartments in bags, and deposit it in these mini-dumpsters. Note the big foot lever that lifts the lid, no need to touch anything dirty! Barcelona is really a very clean city, Vancouver could learn a lot from their practices here. Lots of cute tiny garbage trucks and street cleaners everywhere. Yesterday when I was having a continential breakfast in a bar/cafe in a teensy lane, the recycling truck came by and the cooks all ran out with their flattened cardboard, in the end chasing the truck to toss it in.
A cold beer at Plaza Catalunya after my adventures at the Ingles department store (big building in distance). This time of day, perhaps 5pm, the plaza was craaaazy busy, people, bikes, mopeds, motorcycles, cars, trucks, busses, everywhere... great people watching!
The department store adventures included getting a cell phone (hmm... all the menus are in Spanish, I bought the cheapest one I could get (with a sim card, so I can use it in the next country as well), but it appears to have a camera in it, cool, if only I could figure out the Spanish menus...
And, my expedition to get a plug adapter that actually fits my laptop's 3-prong plug. I thought I was so smart, buying a European plug device before I left Canada, never thought to actually see if the North American end would fit into it... My male and female were incompatible;-) So, here I was, with a dying laptop battery, work to do on my laptop which has a special application on it, and no juice. Was laughing at myself, thinking where on earth would I find such a thing here, but a kind fellow I met in the bar the night before told me where to go, and he was right. Solved, for under 5E and me shouting "Yes" in the hardware department as the smart people working there solved it for me.
My other adventure worth noting is that I had hotel reservation screwups upon arrival that let me test out my travel adaptability from the get-go. This was the only accomodation reservation I'd made through a travel agent (she'd booked my flights and insurance, so I thought, what the heck, and she'd found me a very nice place at a reasonable price). Only problem with the Hotel Regina in Barcelona, which I'd paid for, was actually booked at similarly named hotel in another Spanish city. So, I arrive, tired from my trip, and, no reservation. Rolled with the punches, paid for a single night (they were booked the next night), went out and had dinner in a cute little bar and some gelato, then crashed for a few hours. When I awoke, I emailed my travel agent - who was mortified (said she is chasing the hotel wholesaler for a full refund) and offered to find me something for the next 3 nights. While I went out and had a glass of wine and read a love story from the only English book in Hotel Regina's lounge, she worked, and I came back to a message from her. She was going to book me into a 4 star hotel for the next 3 nights (on the house), so off to sleep I went. Awoke in the morning to an apolgetic fax, that after trying 20 hotels she had to settle for a 3 star, which is just fine. I moved and all is well. Might only have ended up spending 125E for the 4 nights in the end, but we'll see.
All this was manageable because I'd treated myself to a taxi from the Barcelona airport, so I wasn't overly cranky when I arrived. Good thing. And that decision was made because after repacking my backpack after being forced to check it for the flight (too heavy), I managed to split the zipper (on day 1!)... managed to fix it, I thought, but to be safe, decided to take a taxi.
The bag is still holding together, thought it's decidedly lighter, after I ended up throwing a bunch of stuff away already, to lighten my load. I feel like a classic story for the unexperienced single-bag traveller... I'd heard most people end up tossing 25% early on. Well, me too! Tossed 3 shirts (now truly down to 4), a travel towel, a laptop bag, a small Paris travel book, some socks, the adorable spork and spoon, old spare glasses (I have prescription sunglasses, and a prescription), an extra lock, 1 of the money belts (one that was like a real belt with a looong zipper inside, but it was too tight and too hot), laundry detergent, and other stuff. It helped. Tho I think I'll probably purge more...
One shopping observation: everything is so cute here: a single boccincini in a little sealed pouch, gazpaccio soup in juice box, scotch tape the size of my thumb, sleek teensy bright coloured razors... tiny and cute is a theme I am going to enjoy here.
OK, so those are highlights so far... I am LOVING the relaxed pace of having a month in a city, as all I have really done for the last few days is rest, wander, eat, relax and acclimatize, I'll have plenty of time for the sights later.


Mabel @ Barcelona said...

Nice to read you like it here. I so do recycle so you´ll learn all about it and the heat.... bought you a nice fan. I am still doing without! See you tomorrow!

Roberta said...

Thanks Mabel, I'm "looking forward to" the 68 stairs... I'll put that fan where I can find it quickly. CU tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Great to see you are enjoyin gyourself and that your travel whoa's are small. Keep up the good work on your blog as I am looking foward to following your adventures.


Roberta said...

Hey SLM, good 2 hear from you. Yes, it's all good. Glad you are enjoying the updates. More adventures to come soon... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Roberta
Just caught up on your adventures.
Look forward to your future posts.
Talk to you soon.
David Parrill

Roberta said...

Hey David, thanks! Sorry we never got to have that final drink before I departed, but will raise my glass to you here ;-)

Anonymous said...

Barcelona sounds so interesting.I especially liked about all the small cute items!

~ T.