Barcelona 1

I’m taking over the blog today as Peter is off on his conference, Majella.

Sam and I slept in and said farewell to Peter as he headed off to his conference and we headed down for a substantial breakfast of bacon, egg, sausages, pastries, cereal, coffee and juice. We then set off to buy our Barcelona cards which would give us access to transport and tourist sites for the next 3 days.

Our first destination was supposed to be the motorbike shop Peter had located on his iPhone the night before. However, we took the wrong train which took us to what we had planned to be our second destination – the dock area where we hired bicycles for an hour. We used that time to check out the docks and beach area. Sam wanted to go on the road but his more cautious Nanna thought better of that. There were ample off road paths for us to follow and we enjoyed our exploring. Our next adventure was to take the very small lift to the top of the Mirador de Colom, the large statue dedicated to Christopher Columbus which marks the entrance to the city. We were promised a great spectacle from there, but we had an even more amazing spectacle when we came down and were heading back to town. There was a man walking across the street wearing nothing but tattooed underpants. Luckily we only caught the back view.

We then managed to find our way back to where we hoped to find some motor bike accessories for Sam to buy. We located the Yamaha shop but it had little of interest, other than lots of bikes, so we tried a few others n the area and had more luck.

Sam had a great day. He went cycling, checked out a bike shop, and made some new friends.

After a busy morning, we then retreated to the hotel for a siesta and a cool off in the hotel pool. That revived us sufficiently that we could venture out to find the local food markets where we were somewhat amazed by the range of offal on sale, including sheep’s heads, tripe, liver, intestines, hearts, lungs, brains and testicles. The variety of seafood, cured meats, cheese, fruit and lollies were more to our taste, and we enjoyed some fresh fruit juices as we strolled through the aisles. We continued our shopping and exploring along the Rambla, stopping for some photos with some of the street performers. We then returned to the hotel one more time to await Peter’s return.

I did arrive home eventually (8:00 pm) and we went to dinner but, after we came home, Majella and Sam fell asleep without finishing this, leaving it to me, Peter.

I assume that the daily routine of the conference is a result of the fusion of a large number of papers and Spanish custom. Each day begins with a plenary session at 9:00 or 9:30 am, takes 90 mins for lunch from 1:30 pm until 3:00 pm and runs the last scheduled session up until 7:45 pm. I had warned Majella that I would not be back until after 6:00 pm and, depending upon what was interesting in the program, might be as late as 8:00 pm. Given our experience with trying to find dinner the previous night I did not see that being a problem. It wasn’t really, except that when I arrived back at the hotel around 8:00 pm Majella was quite keen to go for dinner.

I’d checked email on my phone just before leaving the conference and knew that Jane and Lea had left messages for Sam on our Tripit page so I wanted to let Sam get those and respond before we went out. Once that was done we headed off for dinner to a little restaurant that Majella had spotted during the day and noted with the intention of going there too eat paella for dinner. We found the restaurant and were ushered inside. By the time Majella and Sam noticed that the two men already in the room were smoking we had already committed to eating there and had ordered seafood paella for each of us, orange juice for Sam, sangria for Majella and beer for me. We sipped our drinks, and Majella and Sam held their breaths, while we waited for our meals.

When the food appeared it was in the shallow pans characteristic of the dish with a considerable helping of rice mixed through with red peppers, calimari, mussels in shell, prawns, a small crayfish, and crab claws. They were topped off with a large chunk of lemon for squeezing. The food was tasty and I managed to finish mine in good time, enjoying the occasional surprise as I worked through the rice. Majella and Sam also enjoyed the meal but, although Sam managed to complete his with some difficulty because he had eaten a chocolate pastry before coming out, Majella pulled up short.

Once we had finished dinner, we walked around a few blocks and across Placa Catalunya to look at the fountains before heading back to the hotel. There we had Sam record a short podcast and called Jane and Lea using Skype-out before Majella and Sam dropped off to sleep leaving me to finish this and convert some files for my presentation before retiring for the night.