Friday March 30 Ė Vienna to Barcelona


This will be pretty short. This was really just a travel day. Put the finishing touches on packing this morning, and Iím pretty sure I took everything I intended to. Always a little trepidation, wondering if Iíve forgotten something, especially after 3 weeks! Expensive but uneventful taxi to the airport. Unpleasant surprise about baggage allowances Ė since Iím flying just to Barcelona, and my return to the States is with a different carrier, they gave me only a small domestic baggage allowance. So I had to pay monstrous overweight charges, at least double the cost of my original ticket. I know, I know, thereís always something about Carlyn and luggage! At least it got to Barcelona with me.

Iberia Airlines is very cost-efficient. You canít get so much as a drink of water on the plane without paying extra! $2 for water, $3 for a soft drink, $12 for a bad airline sandwich. I bought a water (remember, I wasnít allowed to carry on my own), but passed on the food. My seatmates were two teenage girls, Austrian, who are going to Barcelona for a week as a sort of field trip for their Spanish class. They have classes in Latin, Spanish, English, as well as German Ė they have a field trip to England next month with their English class! Obviously some well-heeled girls. But very nice, and very friendly. They were so excited about their trip!

Arrived in Barcelona around 4 PM, taxi to my hotel in the Gothic quarter. The hotel looks across to the Cathedral, and itís on a pedestrian square, so there shouldnít be much traffic noise! My taxi driver didnít speak English, and I donít speak Spanish let alone Catalan, so I wasnít able to converse with him. Nice hotel, no problem with English here. My room is small but attractive, and thereís free wireless internet in the room, which is very convenient.

I had hoped for an early dinner, since I didnít really have lunch, but I find that they donít serve dinner here until 8 PM!!! So I got directions to a nearby market with a grocery store inside. The market is really cool! All enclosed, with vendors of every possible food, from fish and meat, to cheese, stands with nothing but olives, egg vendors (the eggs are piled in the display areas as if they were potatoes or something equally durable! I didnít take pictures today, but Iíll be back there. I found the grocery store, and got some yogurt and bottled water (without carbonation, thank you very much!). I couldnít find any milk. Perhaps thatís in a different store, though youíd think if they have yogurt and butter and cheese, theyíd have the milk too. Maybe no one drinks it here.

Close to 8 PM I went downstairs for advice on restaurants. The concierge looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for places around 15-20 Euros for main course. He claims you canít eat for that price (that would be $20-27) in Barcelona, which I found hard to believe. So I went off exploring, and discovered Barcelona waking up for the night Ė people out in droves, shopping, walking, just generally living life on the pedestrian malls. And I found a delicious light dinner Ė grilled chicken and aubergines (eggplant) with mushrooms, bacon and hollandaise sauce, served with a delicious crusty bread, for about 5 Euros. Wandered the outdoor shopping area a bit, though at 9 PM everything started closing down.

Walking back to my hotel, I heard music in the distance, Vivaldiís Seasons, sounded like organ music maybe coming from the Cathedral. As I got closer I decided it was a string group, and then when I was closer yet I realized, my God, thatís an accordion playing like that! He was really amazing. I had no idea an accordion could sound like this! He had a CD of his own, and I had to buy it. Itís playing right now, a Bach organ toccata and fugue. Granted, the sound isnít as rich as a nice pipe organ, but just the fact that the accordion can be played like this is a real revelation to me. (He probably sounded even better than his CD where I heard him, outdoors in front of the cathedral in a very small courtyard, where there were lots of stone walls off which to reverberate.)

And that was the end of my dayís adventures. Iím back in my hotel room, using what I now realize is the hotel-next-doorís wireless service Ė but hey, if they donít put any restrictions on it, who am I to complain!

Love to all,

Carlyn

Last updated 12/07. Copyright 2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to richard.c@morenus.org