Archive for May, 2006

Wednesday, May 31, in Barcelona

After a weekend with temperatures in the 30’s, this morning was extremely pleasant to me. It was 13 C and because of the humidity levels, you could see your breath. I thought it was great but it’s going up to 21 C today and the sun is already starting to crack the cloud cover. Toronto has gone the opposite way with weekend temperatures in the teens and current temperatures in the 30’s, go figure. Anyhow, we got up, or should I say, I got up to get ready to go to the gym. Alex, all cuddled under mounds of blankets decides that since it’s her birthday, she doesn’t have to go to the gym. It didn’t take all that much for me to get back into bed and sleep for another two hours. There goes another day. When we did get up, we went to one of our regular cafes on Diagonal and had coffee and a bocadillo. After that I walked Alex to her bus stop and watched her go off to work. I’ll skip school today and meet her at 1:30 at the archives. We’re going to a restaurant down by the beach, called Agua, for her birthday then I have to get back home. I have an exam tomorrow, 2 hours of Spanish testing, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek. For her birthday, I gave her one of the most romantic gifts she’ll ever receive, a Polar heart monitor. That’s what she wanted to measure her exercise intensity. Anyhow, here’s a photo, from our balcony, of today.

Have a great day and Happy Birthday Alex

Morning view from our balcony - Barcelona

May 31, 2006 at 8:35 am 3 comments

“But You Do”

Did the title of today's blog get you interested. You'll get the explanation later on. We did the tourist thing this weekend. On Saturday, we got up nice and early and headed to the train station at Placa Catalunya. We were heading a short distance out of town to visit a cava winery. Cava is Spain's bubbly wine. Not permitted to call it Champagne, the Spanish created their own name for this popular and, in my humble opinion, amazing bubbly. I prefer it to Champagne because it's affordable and more than rivals it's cousin in many ways. The tour began in the meeting centre, with a 20 minute movie introducing us to the history and facts about Freixenet. Alex's blog has more details on that.



Outside the entrance to Freixenet, the trees were all in bloom with these amazing and fragrant flowers. Of course, I couldn't resist taking at least one photo.


Trees in Bloom

The cellars were 20 metres below ground and to me, the perfect temperature. We saw thousands and thousands of bottles stored in racks just waiting to reach maturity. Each hall had a different variety of wine or cava in varying stages of maturity. From here, we took an electric train to the factory where thousands and thousands of bottles were stored on pallets ready to be prepared for shipping. We ended up in a beautifully appointed tasting room where we were each given a glass of cava, It was really worth the effort to visit this wonderful place.


The Cellar

We took the train back home and arrived in our apartment at around 2:30. It was an amazing day, around 25 C in the shade so Alex suggested we go to the beach. On our way there I thought I'd send my friend M a text message letting him know we were going to the beach. He decided to join us. Meanwhile, Alex contacted her friend J and she joined us also. This turned out to be my favorite type of afternoon, totally spontaneous. We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and sunning ourselves. Somewhere around 6:30 or so, J gets the idea to go to a cava bar she knows of. Wow, more spontaneous behaviour, I'm really enjoying this. Off we go. We get to the bar and the crowd in the street indicated how full it was. If there was room for us inside, it was not obvious to me but J plunges into the crowd and starts making her way to the back of the bar. Bar is a bit of a misnomer. This place serves sandwiches first, but if you want, you can get a bottle of cava to go with it. We're slowly making our way to the back and people are laughing, trying to get out, trying to get to the counter and trying to get to the back (like us). The ones standing still are balancing sandwiches in one hand and cava in the other. Some are also holding the bottle. We finally get to the back and Alex and I find space for one against the wall. We both squeeze into it while J and M get the cava and food. People were squeezing by and I cannot tell you how tight it was. I mean, I was intimate with every person who passed by us and the atmosphere was amazingly friendly. We met this young couple and I never got their names. He was an Italian from Rome, the happiest dude you could ever meet and she was an Argentinian living in Barcelona. We hit it off right away and to people watching us we looked like we had been friends for years. We laughed and told jokes, acted stupid and laughed some more. You had to be there to get the full conversation which centered around being a fisherman, having had a chat with God and many other things that I can't remember and we had to communicate in French and Spanish as neither of them spoke english . Anyhow, it was time to leave so we carefully made our way back to the street. Once out there, J decided we should have gotten their email address so she plunges back into the crowd and disappears. Meanwhile, the guy from Rome pops out of the crowd and greets me with a huge hug and handshake like I was his long lost brother. I asked him if he was still killing fish (you really had to be there) and he said "Nope, killing people now". I said "no way, that's not nice, you're not doing that ". He replies "no, but YOU do" and he points to M. You really had to be there because it was so spontaeneous and quick that we all collapsed into uncontrollable laughter. I must point out that M is an ex Royal Marine and has a Royal Marine Commando tatoo on his arm. Nobody had mentioned this but the guy from Rome must have noticed it and his parting words made note. It was just too funny.

Alex and I went home, had a shower and went to this Japanese restaurant near our place. We had sushi and wine and by the time we got home we were totally finished.

Sunday, our original plan was to go hiking in Monserrat but it was too hot, we were too lazy and the beach was too close. Too many toos. We spent the day at the beach planning next weekend. We also had to discuss budget because we can't maintain a tourist lifestyle for too long (another too). Anyhow, the weekend is over and Alex and I are going out for a walk. She just prepared an amazing snack of cheese, sausage, bread andcava out on our balcony. Time for the walk.

Be healthy everyone.

May 28, 2006 at 6:53 pm 1 comment

Another Amazing Weekend

Hola amigos. It’s been awhile since I’ve written. I don’t have any new photos so I kind of feel that words aren’t enough. On Friday, Melissa, Alex’s friend arrived from Porto, Portugal. Saturday morning we walked with her down to the old town. Our intent was to go to this sport store and buy some synthetic gear for when I skated. The clothes I have now just don’t work. Anyhow, on our way to the store, we came across an unexpected treasure. A small medieval church had it’s doors open. We seized the moment and went in. Keep in mind that these photos are taken in the centre of bari gotic and completely out of sight to passerby’s…..

Cloister of unknown medieval church in BCN

Cloister of unknown medieval church in BCN

Inside medieval church

From there Melissa went off on her own. Alex and I went to the sport store and walked around a bit, had lunch and headed home. That night, we all went to el Born for our first private party in Barcelona. It was N’s 30th birthday and we felt honored to be invited. N and X have this amazing apartment there. We arrived around 9:30 and were one of the first to leave at 2:30. It was an amazing evening and we met so many interesting people. I can’t thank N enough for her consideration. I do have to confess that Sunday was extremely low key. Alex and Melissa went out to Sagrada Familia and I just hung around reading. That’s about it. I’m sure Alex has a far more interesting perspective. It looks like a very interesting weekend coming up so check in next week.

May 23, 2006 at 7:01 pm 3 comments

The best player in the world

Pedala Ronaldinho!!!!  

May 19, 2006 at 10:58 am 3 comments


Wow, what a night. We went to a local bar with a friend of Alex's to watch the soccer (futbol) game. Barcelona was playing for the  championship of the Champions League. They were playing against a British team, Arsenal. Well, first of all let me tell you that being in a bar while this game was going on was an experience itself. Arsenal was winning 1 – 0 after the first half but Barca was getting lots of shots on the goalie. Whern Barca got their forst goal in the second half, the place went wild. Even outside you could hear horns blowing and fireworks going off all over the city. When Barca got their second goal, everyone was on their feet and didn't sit until the game was over. When it ended all hell broke loose. Car horns, fireworks, sirens, bells, horns and whistles, just to name a few. Even now, the singing is going on and the horns and fireworks are continuing. It's absolute mayhem out there, really. I think it's going to be tough to sleep. Well, Barcelona won every cup there was to win this year. A very succesful season for an amazing team.

Ok, back to reality, I have to confess, I lost my schedule to the gym every morning. Today, I went swimming up in the Olympic pool on Monjuic. Boy, that water was cold.

Ok, can't write much, there's too much going on outside, I need to go watch. Here's some photos of some statues and faces.

Bronze Man in Taragona

Hospital Face

Fountain Lizard in Barcalona


Man in Barcalona

Wow, I can't beleive the celebrations going on, a couple of fireworks went off and scared the s… out of me, time to go watch

Night all 

May 17, 2006 at 9:35 pm 2 comments

Another Weekend

We started the weekend with plans to go down to the waterfront. On Friday, we met N and decided to go roller blading on Saturday down by the waterfront. Alex and I went early because Alex was going to rent skates. We got her skates and talked to the owner a bit. He told us where to find a good place to skate so once N showed up we headed to the spot. Alex put her skates on at the store and stored her shoes there. Off we go, sun is shining, sky is blue. We get to the spot we were told about and it was amazing, like skating on ice. After about an hour of skating, N headed home to a prior commitment. Alex and I headed back towards the store. Guess what, the store closes between 1:30 and 5:00. We had to skate all afternoon. Actually, Alex was amazing. She didn't complain at all and we laughed as we made our way around, looking for somewhere to park our butts. We looked like two people who had been through a triathlon. I had to pull her most of the way because we were in some pretty hard places to skate, hills, rough sidewalk, and cars. We finally found tables outside a cafe where we parked ourselves for 30 mins. We couldn't go into the restaurant because Alex only had skates on. Anyhow, the day ended and we were both exhausted. We laughed about it all night.

Sunday morning we got up early and headed up to a place called Parc Guel. It's an amazing place and we only explored a part of it. See the photos below;

Parc Guel

Walking along the path

A Bird's Eye View

Parc Guel

Walking around the park we came to a tower with 3 crosses on it. There were musicians playing and it all seemed very surreal.

A group of musicians at Parc Guel

While there, we saw a formation of jet fighters coming in low over the Mediteraenean towards the airport. They were trailing smoke and when they got to the airport they pointed straight up and broke formation at the top. They then circled and landed at the airport, one after the other. It was too far to photo but it really was impressive since we were looking down on the formation.

I captured a nice pic of Alex with the city behind her.


We had to get home to clean up a bit and meet Pearl and Al. Their flight was leaving early Monday morning so they stayed with us on Sunday night. We took them up to the hospital and walked around Gracia for a while.

A & P at Hopital San Pau

 They took us out for dinner and for dessert, we went to a xocolateria in the Gracia. It was packed and after we ordered we knew why. Amazingly decadent. They left at 4:30 the following morning. It was great sharing Barcelona with them. Today was back to reality. I was tired but didn't know it until I went blading after class. Needless to say, it's a quiet night for Alex and I.

Have a great one

May 15, 2006 at 9:02 pm 1 comment

I’ve Been Tagged

Today was a very quiet day. Didn't do much except go to school and meet Alex at Catedral Santa Maria del Mar in the old town. A friend of ours is finishing her job at Custo so Alex wanted to see some of the clothes there. We went for lunch after that and then walked around a bit before getting home. Oh, and I tried to take 100 Euros from and abm machine. Everything went as planned except giving me the money. I called my bank and they told me that the machine itself will find the error on its own within 24 hrs. Now that's automation (I'll let you know if it does). It's funny that an ABM can find and fix it's own problems yet when you pay a bill through online bankling, they remove the money immediately but don't send it to the recipient for a few days. Makes me wonder how much of their profits are from working with money that isn't theirs to start with.

If you've been to Alex's blog you'll see that she tagged me to complete the game of threes. It was easy for her to remember where she was and what she was doing but I must confess that I have a bit, no, make that a lot, of trouble remembering what was happening. I’ll give it my best so here goes……

20 years ago I…
1. I quit smoking
2. Joined Pointe Claire Masters
3. Sold my MGB

10 years ago I…
1. met my wife on the internet
2. Sold my motorcycle
3. Bought my first pair of inline skates

5 years ago I…
1. Took Alex to Paris on a business trip
2. Joined Pointe Claire Canoe Club
3. learned to dragon boat

3 years ago I…
1. Changed lifestyle
2. moved to Toronto
3. made some good friends

1 year ago I…
1. Became a true urbanite by selling my car
2. Learned to play the guitar
3. took Alex's parents to Paris for the first time

So far this year I…
1. Survived Alex'sdreaded comps
2. have moved to Barcelona for the year
3. lived in a foreign country for the first time

Yesterday I…
1. Spent the day at the beach roller blading
2. Watched jellyfish float by the breakwater
3. Watched the last two episodes of Lost, after downloading them from the Internet

Today I…
1. Went to school
2 Downloaded 18 new songs from Itunes
3. Had an amazing 2-course lunch menu for 7 euros in the old town

Tomorrow I will…
1. Go rollerblading
2. Find some new skating paths
3. Write some emails to friends

In the next year I will…
1. Learn some Spanish songs on my guitar
2. Become fluent in Spanish
3. Go for a holiday in Formentera

I will not tag anyone, this takes too much thought. Here's a picture for you.

Have a great evening



May 12, 2006 at 9:17 pm 2 comments

First Skate In a Long Long Time

This morning I made it to the gym and had a great swim. They have made up my workout but I haven't started it yet. I read it and got so tired from just reading it that I had to do my own thing. Actually, I have to figure out the different strokes in Spanish. Alex headed off to the archives and I went home to pack my new blades into my new "blade knapsack" and do my homework for school. I went to class and we had a sub teacher. Sarah, our regular teacher has a really bad cold and yesterday she could hardly speak. Anyhow, time slowed to a crawl because I was going blading right after class. School ended and I was the first out of the room. I ran across the street and got on the number 59 bus to take me to the beach. The bus heads off toward Las Ramblas and keeps going around Placa Catalunya. I thought it a little strange but figured it might be going a different route. We went by the school and kept going. Now I know something’s not right but a part of me figures he'll turn soon. He did turn, but the wrong way. I had no clue what part of the city I was in so I thought I'd stick it out. The worst thing to happen would be ending up where I got on. Forty-five minutes later, we're heading back down towards the sea. It was at this point I went up to the driver and asked " Los autobus ves a la playa ?" The driver responded with a si and I asked "quando ?". He says "poco" so I went back and waited some more. I finally asked some woman in front of me with my broken Spanish and she said si, poco. Ok, 90 minutes later we're heading towards the beach. It turns out that I got on the bus 1 stop after the turn to the beach so I ended up doing the entire route back to the stop before the one I got on. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I skated until Alex was ready to leave the archives and now I am the proud owner of legs that don't want to listen anymore. God, if I had been skating the entire time, I wouldn't be able to walk. Here's where I skated today …..

Olympic Village

Big Yacht


The lower upper half toys

Down the boardwalk

Ok, I'm fading quckly. I'll be going blading again tomorrow. Have a great evening…ouch

May 10, 2006 at 8:44 pm 2 comments

The Weekend Plus

Wow, what a weekend. We went to visit Pearl and Al in Salou. A gorgeous place 90 mins south of Barcelona. It's a beach and tourist town. We went down on Friday night and stayed until Sunday. Saturday, we took the train to Tarangona. We really wanted to see the roman ruins and Alex wanted to see the cathedral. We weren't disappointed. We had a sunny day and we walked all over. See the photos below of Taragona.

Cathedral in Taragona

Alex in Taragona

Pearl, Al and Alex

I was most impressed with the roman ruins. We saw the amphitheatre by the ocean but we toured the circus maximus ruins further up the hill. I had such strong feelings of the place and the gladiators who once fought there. We walked the same route that they would have used to go into the arena and I stood in one of the cells where they would have prepared themselves for the upcoming events. Touching the walls that they may have leaned against after a fight was amazing. I always sense the presence of past souls whenever I touch or come close to anything of stone. Even simple rock conveys so much to me. Anyhow, let me just say that I really enjoyed being there.

Roman Ruins

 We returned with Pearl and Al to Barcelona on Sunday and took them up to Gracia in the evening. It was totally relaxing and we stopped for supper in a Lebanese restaurant. They were magnificent and even gave us postres (dessert) on the house. After supper we walked over to the placa (square) where the famous gelateria is. Al wanted his ice cream and he'd heard so much about this place. He took his number (51) and looked to see what number was being served (6). We waited and he finally got his ice cream.

Monday morning, Alex and I got up early and headed off to the gym. Alex did weights and I swam. They had done up my workouts but because we had to go to the bank at 8:30, I just swam for 45 mins. Alex headed off to the archives and Pearl, Al and myself headed down towards Placa Catalunya. I took them to check out some roller blade prices at Decathalon in the old town. After that I left them on their own and went to school. We met up after class and walked over to the archives where we waited for Alex. Al fell asleep on a park bench. I guess it was in preparation for the next walk.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, we walked over to the other roller blade place and I bought my blades. I bought a pair of K2's VO2 Max and a back pack to carry them in. They are a beautiful skate as you can see in the photo. They have 90 mm wheels and the boot is really comfortable.


Ok, off to bed, have a great day

My Roler Blades


May 8, 2006 at 9:03 pm 6 comments

A Blading Problem

Ok, this post is totally off the subject of Barcelona. I'm looking to buy another pair of inline skates. My old ones, which I left in Canada, are ancient, weigh at least 10 kgs each and are like a pair of cement shoes. They even clamp on like cement shoes. I've been looking through different models and I am really having a difficult time choosing. I was interestedinitially in the 5 wheel models because I just wanted to put on the mileage. You know, strap them on, put your hands behind your back, lean into the wind and skate. As I thought about them, it dawned on me that those skates would require an exagerated rythm. Like speed skates, I'd need to really exagerate the foot lift and I'm pretty sure I don't want to get into that type of skating. The reason you'd have to skate like that is because of the wheel length. Think about it, five 90 mm wheels makes for a really long rail which translates into a really long stroke. Ok, those are gone, now I'm shopping in the 4 wheel market. I think I'd like blades with a wheel size between 84 mm to 90 mm. 90 mm wheels still make for a long wheel base, even with only 4 wheels, but I think I can adjust. I'm considering Rollerblade's Lightning and the Crossfire, K2's V02 and V02 Max and Salomon's Pilot 90 Pro and Motion 7.

I'm tending towards the Rollerblades but I think that's a bias on my part. If anyone who reads these blogs has any suggestions at all, I'd be really happy to read them in the comments. 

This city has an amazing place for blading down by the water. You can probably skate for kilometers withour turning around and your right by the beach. Hmmmm, last time I skated near sand I got a great road rash.You cannot make really sharp turns when there is sand around, learned that the hard way (just like I learn everything else). Anyhow, with Alex starting to go to the archives every day, I thought I'd head down to the boardwalk and skate.

See ya 

May 4, 2006 at 9:41 pm 2 comments

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