Barcelona (2)

31 01 2012

While in Barcelona I caught up with some friends. I’d met MJ on a train about a year ago on the way back from Castellón. She’s from Don Quixote country, living and working in Barcelona within an Opus Dei community. We have some interesting conversations where she encourages me to read the Pope’s writings and I chat about what I’m reading in the Bible.

Wandering through the Cathedral MJ realised what I meant when I said that I don’t eat Christ’s body in the comunion. She was so distraught for me, pleading me to more profoundly know Christ. but it actually a really great conversation because for a while we’ve been gently teasing at the differences but I’ve been struggling to show why they matter. So to be able to stand in the cathedral and talk about what it means to say we have a different understanding of Grace and to have the emblems before us, really gave meaning to our discussion. I’m hoping for some more good conversations as soon as I can get the energy to put in all into written spanish…

On the other hand, we got the chance to catch up with Whittens who are serving in a church in Poble Nou, Barcelona. It was awesome spending some time with their family, and heading off to church on the Sunday to meet the Giffords and a who rat of other people I’ve only heard of in prayer letters – and sing Nikki Chiswell songs in Spanish – so random!

On the overnight bus out of Barcelona, with a slightly sprained ankle (stepping off a kerb that afternoon) I was surrounded by a mob of 14year old highly hyped boys from Zaragoza, incredibly excited about their impending flight… for the whole 4 hours of the bus trip it took to arrive at the airport. But drifting in and out of sleep I made a plan. To return to Barcelona. Possibly for a month of TESOL certification? Could I swing a theological subject up here? Anything to get to know the place better….

Barcelona (1)

29 01 2012

Naomi and I talked about heading the Barcelona the whole time she was here – a year ago on a 12 months short-term. This last year she’s been in France so we found a few days to hit Barcelona together.

I got up early, drove to Córdoba, caught the train to Córdoba, the bus to the airport in time to sit in the plane on the tarmac for an hour. Naomi didn’t have much better luck, arriving at the hostel to find out that the guy couldn’t be there to let us in until 7:20.

But in the end it all worked out really well. Nomes me a great American girl, also locked out and they passed the hours in a little bar around the corner where I arrived 20 minutes before they let us in. And for that small setback they gave us a 20% discount on our stay! So well on track for an awesome weekend.

We wandered around for some dinner before the American girls, friend came in from Madrid and bought some basics for the little kitchen. The accommodation was a 4 bedroom flat, three for rent and the fourth for the guys who keeps the place in order, a lovely chatty  Columbian John Leguizamo look-alike studying sports psychology. It was really central and very relaxed – the perfect accommodation.

Over the ext few days we wandered about Barcelona in a semi planned meander and unearthing unexpected highlights. We ate at a fantastic crepe cafe – the size of a shoebox, stumbled across a free Lomography workshop and met some fantastic people. Travelling with Naomi is awesome because afterwards you have such good photos! Check them out 😛

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chill, Fog and a little too much heat

17 01 2012

So it’s been cold – real cold. Not as cold as other years – but inside this flat, with it’s big door sized windows and tiled floors, I wonder around with tights under my trackies and socks with slippers. I was a little ashamed in the face of so many impending guests.

So meet my new flatmate – Burnie (short for Bernardo).

While Burnie heats the flat – I have a hot water bottle that heats the bed. The other night I filled the water bottle a little too full and went to bed without a cover on it. I must have been really tired because normally if my foot strays to close, it jerks away. But in the middle of the night I became aware I’d gotten too close and in the morning I had one of those deep welts that come from sustained heat. So I left for my mini-break trekking on foot around the city with a blister.

Having said that, he days have been quite clear and sunny, so despite the fact that it’s an icebox in the flat, when you hit the street we’ve had glorious weather! But the fog settles in during the night and doesn’t lift till around 11am so often I jump in my car to head through an hour of cloud. And that with buses and trucks doing 110 in a 90 zone, overtaking in 1 lane each way.

Kings Walk

8 01 2012

The 6th of January os the Kings Day, a day for getting together with family, giving presents and eating the Roscón – a ring, cream filled sponge.

This year we decided to get the church out in the countryside and invited the men from the Buen Samaritano Rehab centre to join us in a walk around the hills near the local town of La Granjuela. It’s an hour or so, with a stop for sandwiches. The youth took along their dogs, the old – their walking sticks, and we ended up heading back to the Knowlsons to share coffee and roscón with those who hadn’t made the walk.

Beautiful day – loads of fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New Years Eve in La Puerta del Sol

4 01 2012

I have thought for a while now that if you live in Spain, you ought to – at least once in your life – celebrate New Years Eve in Madrid at La Puerta del Sol.

After coming up to my place for Christmas, Anani had to work the week until New Years and I had a house guest. So we planned our Córdoba exit for the 29th. I drove my first time ever to Madrid, not only to the centre – but in an act of complete lunacy – to the Royal Palace arriving at 7pm. There are never more people in the city and on the road!

After dropping Matt to meet his sister we did a quick lap or two …. or 16 trying to find a park in the centre of a city of the third largest city in the European Union – in full christmas holidays. Sheets were closed and 6 lanes of traffic redirected, entire sections impassable and police everywhere.

So eventually, on the point of cracking it – we fled to the outskirts, parked Red in a business district and came back in by bus. We got to the accommodation around 9pm, dumped our bags and went out to take in the atmosphere.

Our accommodation was dirt cheap – a deal Anani found through a friend – but managed to be so economic by having 7 bunks to a room. I don’t think Anani has ever shared mixed accommodation. Having gotten into bed at 1am with only another couple of girls in the room, it was a bit of a shock when 3 6-foot something strapping germans walked in and started ripping off their t-shirts. But that was nothing compared to 4 in the morning when the light switched on and a girl came stomping through the room chased by 6 friends whispering ‘catch her!’. After reclaiming their tipsy friend and exiting the room after returning it to darkness they seem to have dried her out a bit before coming back in to proceed to unzip and re-zip every zip on each individual bag.

When we woke up the next morning, sheets lung off and sweating – given they maintain close to 26° – the girls gather for their launch on the bathrooms, 3 to each of the 2 bathrooms (for the entire hostel of 4 rooms) leaving them an hour later, flooded. Which is surprising given how many times we heard them declare they weren’t going to bother to do their hair “because if my hair is looking flat this evening, even if I have to miss a shop, I’m going to come back and wash it before we go partying tonight…!”

When we finally got going, we headed out to La Mancha to a pueblo where a friend of Anani’s works as a doctor. He took us for a tour of his town, the local castles, lakes and windmills before an awesome Italian before we had to return Red to his quarters on the fringe of the city.

Prepared for a second horror night, the room ended up incredibly quiet and we woke up refreshed the next day ready to chill in the city before heading out for Thai for lunch (So exciting!). Then for the evening we caught up with a bunch of Chileans and Argentinians for a fantastic meal before hot tailing it across town to be in Sol for the dropping of the ball. It was a mad crush getting into the plaza – to fall is to be trampled – but we made it with our grapes ad bottle of kiddy champas.

The countdown began, the ball dropped, I chased the peeled grapes in juice around their can trying to keep up with the chimes (memo to self – toothpick!) and welcomed in the new year.

The atmosphere was incredible, party everywhere. And to be honest, I left thinking this might be more than just once in a life time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ECM Christmas Party

3 01 2012

Each year we have an ECM Christmas party between Christmas Eve and Reyes on the 6th. This year with this that and the other, it was almost impossible to find a date, s instead we had a reduced version at the Knowlsons on the 2nd. It was meant to be a soup lunch – and I was pumped to pull out the Shrek soup and give it another burl. but we all got caught out with the same problem – 31 on saturday, 1st on sunday moves the holiday… so between us we had almost no food and no open shops. So it was a little of a re-jig and my leek and potato and frozen peas ended up in a concoction of Kate’s. The ever faithful spinach cob dip, without spinach or cob… But as always it was an awesome time of hanging out with our ECM family – great food, a wander to the park, loads of chatting: a recharge to start the year. This year, we had 2 special guests of honour, Jeannine and Moriah who were visiting from Málaga, spending a few days with me in the flat eating chocolate and watching chick flicks (Jane Austen marathon!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.