Saturday, May 22, 2010

Endurance Day

We met at CC at 8am Wednesday morning, got on the bus with Graham Higgs our cheery driver, and made it to St. Louis, slowing gathering people as we went. Then followed a short flight to Newark, a few hours there, a long overnight journey to Barcelona. Long for me, since I can't ever find a way to contort and sleep on a plane, so I didn't even try the more exhausting activity of fake sleep and head-jerking. I did read a long chunk of Louise Erdritch's A Plague of Doves and watched Invictus and bits of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. A productive stretch of airborn captivity.

With Ann's haranguing about preventing jet lag--and the hotel not having our rooms ready—none of us got straight to sleep. We dumped our luggage and went exploring in small groups for a few hours, until the last members of the tour arrived on a different flight. We noticed the prevalent balconies, full of geranium and roses, the presence of deliberate public art, from streetlights like twisted desklamps, to elevated beams of gray steel with purple flowers spilling over, to a myriad of building fronts all competing for attention--modern and comfortable, but very much not an American city. My group found an outdoor cafe, some calamari, some olives, some red wine. A pleasant hour, despite the construction noise and all the attention the American women got from passersby.

Back at the Catalonia Park Putxet Hotel, we met the last of the group, and with our tour guide, Liz, all of us set out for our first Metro experience, then a walking tour of the old quarter of the city. Impressive, but a lot of walking for us, and our group rather scattered out. I confess, much of that first day is a haze—and we haven’t slowed down at all.

A nice dinner of cold pasta salad, salmon, and red wine, starting arguing about whether we wanted to see a bullfight, and got back to the hotel about 11 p.m.

Quick notes—

Shelly broke the ATM at the airport—something I didn’t know was possible.

Marcia didn’t fry her camera battery, luckily not plugging it in without a current converter. And ask her about her theory of the safety of pink luggage.

John managed to dramatically shatter his glass of wine at dinner.

Brittany reports it all but impossible for an online student to sign up for our Study Abroad classes...some glitch in the system we need to work on.

And Christina tried to befriend an African gray parrot, but started with “hello,” which put the poor Spanish-speaking bird into English-shy muteness.

But we have arrived, and we have survived.

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