Monday, June 29, 2009

Barcelona, the Last Word

[click to enlarge] A couple of last things about our visit to Barcelona. First, our apartment: It was a sort of U-shaped apartment with a bedroom at each end and two in the hallways in a building from the 18th or 19th century. We noticed that our streets were as narrow as anything in the Gothic district, but we still had cars and butano trucks going up and down them. We loved our wee balconies -- no one more than Joss, who played as much as we'd let him in the potting soil of the flower pots. I don't think we had a minute of direct sunlight anywhere in the apartment, and I think most of the apartments in our neighborhood were the same. It was sort of seedy; had a New Orleans dilapidated vibe. And it was typical of most vacation apartment rentals in that it had castoff furniture and a poorly-stocked kitchen made mainly for weekends of drinking. Twelve hours after our arrival the kids were drinking their breakfast juice out of shot glasses. But it had a washing machine and a dryer which I used daily, and a tub as large as a sandbox, and was close, and we wouldn't have seen half of what we saw if we'd lived 45 minutes out in the suburbs. For four days we can groove on seedy and shot glasses.
[click to enlarge and notice our middle child] The second thing, and it makes me weep to admit it, but my Barcelona was not easy to use. The Metro was fast and efficient and air-conditioned, but the AC heated up the metro stations to sweltering. So you would sweat while waiting, then cool off while riding, and then get all sweaty again going back above ground. The kids wanted to avoid the metro because there were so many people on it; they were worried they wouldn't get off in time. Or on in time. But as I said, the McFarland Family Public Transportation Motto is No Child Left Behind. Knock on wood!
Add to that Fluffy's wicked cool stroller, and the metro was nearly impossible. Elevators were mostly nonexistent. I asked a woman if there was a map of the stations with elevators shown and she said "no, you just read the signs when you come off the trains" and I asked "how do I find the elevators if I'm above ground?" and she told me I was out of luck. Once we were below, there was nearly always some problem with the stroller/handicapped entrance. We had to hunt down the metro worker with the key or the security guard and get them to override us through. It was a pain and was not for the faint of heart. We tried to figure out busses, but they never seemed to go all the way to our desination. Perhaps we should have called Antionio and asked him to chauffer us in his maxi taxi, but even that was problematic. As it was, he brought us from and returned us to the airport because he was one of only a few cab drivers who could fit our mondo family. Did I mention that the airport was brand new? Opened less than a week? No wonder I didn't recognize anything there!
The third thing is that I discovered as much about my husband on this trip as I learned about anything. Once we arrived he admitted that what he really wanted was a FV Barca scarf to which I said "Who are you and what have you done with my husband?" This was much stranger than that cable car thing. Rob typically has a hard time feigning polite indifference to the scores/teams/seasons at his own university -- he's tired of the large sucking sound they make as all of the alumni dollars drain their way. But I bought him a scarf. I figure that he's got to have his own version of Barcelona, and the soccer team is now his. Rob also is a shopaholic in a new place. Whenever he got out of the house he'd come back with three or four new bags of something from a random store or market. So much so that we went home our last night to eat the pizza and Coca de San Juan and all the other treats that he'd bought. We packed three fuets home with us. Now that we're back in Vienna he wishes he'd bought a dozen; I'm wishing that we'd bought an entire leg of jamon serrano. He was also an enthusiastic traveler. Loved the crazy stuff and the dirty stuff and old stuff and the gothic stuff and the modernist stuff. Didn't get undone by the heat or the dirt or the strangenesses. I'll travel with him any time.
Lastly, you'll notice that what we didn't do on this trip was go to any of my areas or visit any of the members, investigators, friends or baptisms from the mission. I thought about it a lot, but every time I tried to envision it, I could just see the four kids being bored and not understanding anything and having to eat paella with langostinas and mejillones and calamaris. So we didn't do it. I would have taken them to one of my areas if we'd had one more day, but the closest one was also the ugliest. We saw a couple of similarly gritty areas on our last day, so I just pointed those out to Rob. Since I only visited Barcelona and not my mission, I figure I'll have to go back again. Right? RIGHT?!
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Tueller 3 said...

Now we know what to get Rob for Christmas--a BYU Football shirt! And here is my comment!

Zina said...

I decided to spend my evening catching up on 24(!) of your posts that had piled up in my Google Reader. (It was either that or sew (I'm too tired) or finish "Breaking Dawn" which I'm sick of.) I haven't finished but I made a pretty good dent and it was a good read -- I just started closing windows and discovered that I had open windows for: a Google Image Search of Maria Theresia, a search for "vociferous," a German/English online dictionary for "bezirk," a Spanish/English dictionary for "jaleo," and to look up the hymnns by Haydn and his brother. :) Oh, and Google Earth to remind myself where Barcelona is relative to Vienna.

So I guess you could say it's been an educational evening. :) Thanks for all the photos and stories -- like I've said before, I'm not yet back in a place where I can even imagine taking my kids to Europe, (I loved and related to where you talked about packing everything but the sink for the zoo and then actually using it all,) so it's fun to do a little vicarious traveling via your blog. (So far I've gotten to the Magic Fountains and I'll have to catch the rest another time.)

Tim Olson said...

Mary Ann,
I tried to reply to you through the mission website, but I forgot my password and it's more trouble than it's worth at this point. So here I'm leaving a comment on your blog.

Your exhaustive vacation methods are inspiring to say the least. It would take our family four times as long to see half of what you have documented on your blog. We still haven't been back to Spain yet, but are planning a trip for March to go see Fallas in Valencia and hopefully catch up with some people and places further north and south of there.

Have you talked to Alicia? She is in Badalona for a few more weeks. Check out her blog at Are you on Facebook? I've reconnected with several mission companions and just about all the youth of the Badalona and Premia branches on there. Strangely they mostly all live in Utah now.

Also I don't have an email for you. The last one I had for you was like ZsdjfDs!